Monday, November 4, 2013

Going Hard With GU: Roctane & GU Brew Recovery Review

Disclaimer:  I was given these products from Running Free in exchange for a review as part of my Team Running Free sponsorship.

Those of you that read along know just how much I put my body through on a regular basis.   I raced 13 races this year with number 14 happening in December.   Almost all of those races were over an hour and a half in duration.  That means I go through a whole lot of fuel both in training and in racing.

I have been using GU for years now.  I find it to be one of the most palatable gels out there.  It's not too sweet and the flavours are excellent.  So when GU released their ultra endurance gel, Roctane in Canada in late 2008, I was totally game to give it a try.  GU made some pretty lofty claims about this gel, the main one being that it was able to act as a buffer in slowing down the release of lactic acid, thus allowing you to go harder, longer.  Seriously?  Sign. Me. Up.

This is the science behind the product, straight from GU's website:

We start with original GU's superior mix of complex and simple carbohydrates that provide quick and sustained energy, electrolytes for replenishment and caffeine to tap more power and diminish pain.

From there we increase the amount of histidine, an essential amino acid, to act as a buffer and slow the energy-sapping acid build-up in muscles.  We also add more of 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.

Finally, we add a new ingredient, the amino acid complex Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (OKG) which limits the body's tendency to break down muscle protein tissue during extremely hard training and racing days. OKG keeps you going longer and promotes a speedier recovery.

Roctane is GU sports’ high-performance energy gel that utilizes a similar formula to our original GU Energy Gel, but with significantly higher concentrations of amino acids and citrates, plus a new amino acid complex—Ornithine Alpha-Ketaglutarate (OKG). These ingredients mitigate the energy-sapping effects of lactic-acid build-up, produce energy more efficiently, improve recovery through a decrease in exercise-induced muscle damage and maintain mental focus through delayed onset of fatigue signals from the central nervous system. The result is a premium sports nutrition product that allows athletes across all sports to perform at a higher intensity for a longer period of time.

Science wasn't my strong suit in high school but even this makes sense to me.   The product itself didn't disappoint in terms of it's claims.  I just had to manage to get it down my gullet first.  The first few flavours that came out were, let's just say, an acquired taste:  blueberry pomegranate,  pineapple and vanilla orange.  They all tasted a bit odd and the pineapple was super sweet.  I'm chalking that up to having to mask the taste of the additional BCAA's.  Anyone that has used BCAA powder when weight training knows just how nasty that stuff can be unless it's heavily flavoured.   I used the pineapple for a while and then switched to the blueberry pomegranate as I found the sweetness of the pineapple on too much for longer races.  GU has since released several more flavours, all of which are much more palatable.  There's cherry lime, strawberry kiwi, island nectars, passion fruit and my hands down favourite, chocolate raspberry.

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 With the arrival of the newer flavours, Roctane has become a staple in my racing arsenal.  I use it for all my endurance events and I can honestly say it works.  As G likes to say, it's almost like rocket fuel.  It gives you that little extra oomph and helps you push just *that* much harder for just *that* much longer.  I find it also helps keep me mentally dialed in when I'm racing.  I know I need something when my mind starts to wander in a race.  When that happens, it's usually time for a gel. I find even half of one is enough to make a difference when I'm going through a race induced fog.  This Roctane stuff is no joke.  It's like premium race fuel for your race car.  As long as GU keeps making this, I'll keep using it. 

The one thing I didn't notice from using Roctane was an improved recovery.  But Gu has you covered there as well with their GU Brew Recovery.  There are plenty of recovery drinks out on the market and most of the ones I've tried taste disgusting.  They are chalky, sour tasting and they don't generally mix very well.  Not this one.  I can put 2 scoops of it in a shaker bottle with some almond milk, shake it up for a minute or so and voila, it's all mixed together nicely.  And it actually tastes good too!  My favourite is the chocolate (go figure) but the strawberry watermelon is also a good one. 

Gu Recovery Brew is made with whey protein isolate which is about 90% pure protein (from dairy) which is just what your achin' muscles need after a hard workout.  It also contains the amino acids arginine and glutamine which help promote recovery by supporting a strong immune system and lessening the negative effects of intense training.  Of course, it also contains simple and complex carbs to replenish your glycogen stores and to top it all off, it also contains over 100% of your daily allowances of vitamin C and E to keep those free radicals at bay.



I've been using this product for the last few years and I can honestly say it works.  It's become a regular part of my training routine because the older you get, the more important recovery becomes and the way I push myself, I need all the help I can get.

Now for the good news!  I'm giving away 3 of the newer Roctane flavours!  Head on over to my facebook page to check it out, there's only a little over a day left to enter AND, it's open to US and Canadian residents! 

Do you use a recovery drink after a hard workout?

What is your go to race fuel?


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