Gu Roctane Review

Gu SportsIf you hang around running stores, outdoor retailers, or sporting goods stores nearly as much as we do, then you’ve probably noticed Gu Roctane along side the other energy gels over the past few months. You’ve also likely noticed that it’s between 50% and 100% more expensive than the competition. As any personal insight we could give regarding performance enhancement would merely be inconclusive anecdotal evidence, we’ll stick to the subjective insight we’re comfortable giving: both Roctane flavors – Blueberry Pomegranate and Vanilla Orange – have a taste that’s worth the price.

Gu Roctane Blueberry Pomegranate Vanilla Orange“How’s that possible?” you ask. Well, the tart and not-too-sweet taste of both Gu Roctane varieties make them a welcome break from the overly sweet taste of Gu Energy Gel, Clif Shot, PowerBar Gel, and the like. However, it’s key to see Roctane only as a break from the other energy gels for three reasons. First, insiders have informed us that you should alternately consume Roctane and another type of energy gel. (The Gu Sports website suggests as much.) We’re not sure why this is the case (the caffeine content isn’t outrageous at 35 mg/pack), but we’ll take their word for it. Second, alternating Roctane with other gels bring down the overall cost of nutrition products for a given event. Lastly, we think that like any energy gel flavors, it would be easy to get sick of the taste if you ate one or two flavors exclusively. Embrace variety.

Ok, back to the Roctane flavors themselves. First off, we don’t have a favorite. We love them both. The Blueberry Pomegranate is true to the name and tastes like you just poured a glass of POM juice. Neither the blueberry nor the pomegranate taste is overly dominant, while the not-too-sweet, not-too-tart finish has a hint of earthiness to it. The Vanilla Orange tastes like a wonderful orange creamsicle and that’s all we have to say about that!

On the nutrition side, Roctane is a mix of simple (fructose) and complex (maltodextrine) carbohydrates to provide both fast and slow energy. Pretty standard energy gel stuff there. As (parenthetically) mentioned early, Roctane also sports 35 mg of caffeine per pack. That’s not unusual as energy gels typically range from 0 mg to 50 mg of caffeine. Sodium…. potassium… yada yada yada.

Things get more interesting when you notice Roctane contains 1.2 grams of amino acids per packet. Gu Sports explains that histidine “act[s] as a buffer and slow[s] the energy-sapping lactic acid build-up in muscles.” The company goes on to explain that it adds “the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) leucine, valine and isoleucine to serve as another fuel source, aid in recovery and help maintain mental focus and reduce fatigue by limiting the central nervous system’s production of serotonin.” Supposedly, the citrates in Roctane help convert carbohydrates to energy and reduce lactic acid build-up. Finally, Gu throws an organo-gastronomic mouthful – Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (OKG) – into Roctane. Though a polysyllabic train wreck, OKG is supposed to limit muscle breakdown, which, in theory, helps extend ultra-length performances and speed up recovery.

We’re not going to tell you how to use Roctane. It’s an energy gel… you get it, but Gu Sports has some usage tips in case you’re extra inquisitive. If you are dying for performance testimonials, you can also read some over on the Gu Sport website.

While you can read Gu’s “The Story of Roctane,” the real story is SO much better. Ask about it the next time you are hanging around a western 100 miler… preferably at the Hardrock 100. In the mean time, check out the vintage, underground Roctane packet below.

Gu Roctane HardrockThe Stuff of Legends

Have you used Roctane? If so, what did you think? Did you like the taste? Do you feel like your race benefited from it?

If you’re interested, you can pick up a case of GU Roctane Energy Gel (24 packets) from Amazon.com for about $55.

There are 22 comments

  1. AnthonyP

    I first learned of Gu Roctane at the Iroquois Trail 100, and started using it together with my "other" gels. So far, so good. The gel is a little bit thick for my liking (I tend to prefer the gels to be more liquid-like), but I seem to have noticed benefits from using it. It was my gel of choice in the last 100-miler I ran.I've only tried the Blueberry Pomegranate, but the taste is pretty good.

  2. Yassine Diboun

    I also first used Roctane just before and during Iroquois Trails 100 and have been using it since. I agree, it is wise to mix it with others and have found that the flavors are not too overpowering either. I will say that I'm happy to be taking a little break from gel consumption but when I do get back to it Gu Roctane will be in my Race Ready shorts! I feel that the BCAA's and other ingredients really help me from bonking or getting through rough parts of an ultra.

  3. Clara

    In response to Anthony, I also like thinner Gu. However, the other day I ran a race and the Gu was actually hard and thick like taffy because it was so cold outside. For the first time ever, I chewed my Gu and actually liked it. I recommend that we freeze all Gu and enjoy it during the races! :)

  4. BGill

    I tried each Roctane flavor once and personally wasn't too impressed with the flavors. Then again, I'm not a big fan of fruit-flavored gels in the first place. I stick to the Chocolate Outrage GU as my go-to energy source. As for performance, I wasn't doing anything too long when I tried them so I can't comment. I like the idea of the added amino acids though. Anyone know if they're planning on additional Roctane flavors down the road?

  5. RunningMtns

    I haven't tried Roctane, but I can easily believe it might be an improvement. I've been using my own proprietary gel mix that is 30% fructose for a year and a half. and I can definitely tell a difference (I get amino acids elsewhere in my race diet). Fructose is metabolized through different (and non insulin sensitive) pathways from glucose and most starches. This makes it possible to consume more overall carbohydrate, and several studies with endurance athletes have shown the benefit from fructose supplementation. Be aware however that fructose upsets some runners' stomachs.

  6. cs

    I've read and experienced fructose causing water retention. This doesn't necessarily lead to an upset stomach but can make it hard to eat b/c you feel full and often sluggish. I stay away from fruit juice for this reason. Usually dextrose is recommended partly for this reason, but the speed of metabolism argument is compelling.

  7. Bedrock

    I have used the Roctane some since first using it at MMT this year. I like the blueberry pomegranite flavor better but I do not like orange flavors generally. I recall reading that one of the reasons for alternating was due to potential stomach distress coming from the amino acids. I am not a scientist but who am I to argue. as others have stated, it is a little thicker so i coouldn't see doing a whole race on it anyway.

  8. Trail Goat

    Yassine,I, too, was mixing Rotane with other sports gels at Iroquois Trails… but that didn't stop my from dropping. ;-) (Note: I did not drop due to energy problems.)I think it's interesting that folks prefer thinner gels. (I'm assuming like PowerBar Gel.) Personally, I prefer the thicker gels. Plus, the thicker gels take up less pack room per calorie, which matter when space counts. I guess they are tough to eat if they are cold, but that's solved by holding them in your hand for a couple minutes.

  9. Brian Beckstead

    Overpriced! Who needs 35mg of caffeine per gel anyway? Hammer gel is more gentle on the stomach, has a full amino acid spectrum, is thinner consistancy, and less than half the cost! Go Hammer Gel.OK I admit I had a bad experience and DNF'd at the Bear 100 while using Roctane.Thank God for Dave Hunt…and since when does Dave run with a stick?

  10. Trail Goat

    Thank goodness for David Hunt, indeed! David and I were climb a grunt of a snow covered hill on the way up to Windy Pass in the Squaw Peak 50 miler when I snapped that photo.

  11. TriMoot

    Well, not to post too long of a comment, yes my training partner and I both used Roctane during our winter training for our spring marathon along with other Gu products and other none Gu gels. The 1st thing we noticed was the flavor was easy to handle and didn't seem to bother our stomaches. We also noticed over time that whenever we used a Roctane we would be running along and notice that our pace was much faster than normal. This occurred each time we used Roctane but not while using other gels. I know it wasn't a scientific testing lab and we weren't hooked up to monitors and a treadmill but we just noticed it over all our long runs and over 5 months of training.Just for what it's worth.TriMoot

  12. houdini987

    Would the "proponents" of Gu Roctane suggest it for the shorter distance runner? I'm training for the Hartford Half and recently started using the standard Gu product but this sounds like it would give me an added boost during my training runs (3-10mi) and especially on race day.

  13. Bryon Powell

    Houdini,I'm sure the "proponents" would encourage you to use Roctane during 3 to 13 mile runs. I don't think it would hurt. However, I'd have to question why you are taking any gels during such short runs unless they are over extreme terrain. You're body has more than enough readily available carbohydrate sources to get you through 13 miles on road without caloric supplementation.

  14. houdini987

    Thanks Byron,Unfortunately I have to say a 5+ mile run actually still qualifies as "long" in my book. :) But what you're saying makes perfect sense (re: energy stores). My coach recommends taking gels at certain intervals to help stay hydrated and keep my energy level up, especially on race day. And I guess I should get my system used to the concoctions before then. I'm not out to post an epic time, just want to finish and not destroy my body in the process.

  15. Bryon Powell

    houdini, Glad you didn't think I was suggesting your run was short. I was just explaining the energy stores issue. You should try and train with that which you'll race with.

  16. Sam

    The only thing that struck me about this was the serotonin production inhibition. Not trying to insult anyone's intelligence, I'm just about to use this product though and this part interrupted me. Serotonin, as I've been informed, is a neurotransmitter that acts upon mood and such things like focus yes, but usually the increased production of serotonin promotes good mood and general focus (except when, obviously, too much is produced…), not the decrease in production. I was wondering whether or not they meant the inhibition of the re-uptake of serotonin or if in fact they did mean the decrease in production of serotonin from the central nervous system. Essentially, from what I've picked up about neurotransmitters, I would've figured that an increase in production or perhaps the implementation of SSRI's would improve focus and mood and help improve in turn running.

  17. Sam

    Yep, just looked at the website, some tricky words were used. They say that serotonin is linked to depression and says that this leads to sleepiness and fatigue. What they failed to mention was that the lack of serotonin is what causes depression and hence, fatigue. However, this was a "research suggests…that may" so, hopefully it doesn't decrease serotonin production too much via tryptophan. The only thing that would really concern me would be that if it really does inhibit serotonin production while it's consumed, I hope the body wouldn't become used to that and then slow its production of serotonin naturally.

  18. Lisa

    I recently ran a 50K trail race, had used Roctane a few times prior, vs. the regular Gu (with x2 caffeine), which is what I would normally use. The few times prior to the 50K, when using the Roctane, I didn't notice the usual "kick" I noticiably get from the regular x2 caffeine Gu I typically use, but thought it was maybe in my head. I liked the consistency and flavor of the Roctane, and being I had already tried them before and they also had the x2 caffeine, I decided to use them for my 50K race. Out of all the training I did for that race, I always feel strong. The ONE day I felt weak and completely fatigued, was the one time I consistently used the Roctane Gu, about every 45 minutes. I could not figure out why…and my stomach was upset as well. I was talking to a friend last night, and had mentioned the Roctane Gu. He said when he has used it in the past, it makes him fatigued and he crashes during a run. Then it it me, that is what I had used during my 50K, and it was the first time I had consitently used that product…and the first time I felt SO MISERABLE. I think I am one of the few unlucky ones who's body does not work with this product. I will stick with the regular Gu products.

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