Gu Roctane Review

If you hang around running stores, outdoor retailers, or sporting goods stores nearly as much as we do, then you’ve […]

By on December 9, 2008 | Comments

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 for about $55.

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Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.