I was late to the Zwift party, only joining in 2020. But as they say, “better late than never!”
That’s right… whilst my Zwift friends were enjoying group social rides in Watopia, I was toiling away on a dumb trainer, thrashing myself to the Chris Carmichael Training DVDs. The voices of the coaches became all too familiar, and I hung on their every instruction. This included the encouragement to “drink” because as the coach explained, “any slight dehydration can lead to as much as a 10% drop in performance.” After many years of hearing this, I have become conditioned to ensuring I remain hydrated when training.
The Carmichael DVDs were and are excellent, and I certainly worked hard and sweated much. But then I discovered Zwift. On Zwift, I sweated more. Remaining hydrated was more important than ever, especially when I discovered racing on Zwift!
If you have ever raced on Zwift, you know even in short events it is essential to remain hydrated because amongst other things, proper hydration allows us to regulate our temperature. If you get too hot you can’t maintain the effort and therefore the pace.
Most of the time I just use water for hydration. However, there are instances when I am undertaking longer events where I need that extra little something with my water. That’s when I use Energy Drink mixes supplied by GU.
It’s important to note that I am merely explaining the product that I use. Furthermore, when using such a product, read the details on the packet to ensure that you don’t have any allergies to what’s inside. And while this may be considered “overkill”, if you are considering using such a product, I would always advise speaking with a suitably qualified and experienced person, such as a relevant Health Care Professional, like your Doctor, especially if you have any concerns. Furthermore, I would always try only a small sample to ensure that you have no adverse effects.
Please note, this is not a paid advert. I have been using these products for the last 7 years! Since my recovery from cancer, GU is my go-to choice after sampling an extensive range of similar products.
The origins of GU date back to 1993, when Dr. Bill Vaughan created the first GU Energy Gel to solve the challenge faced by his daughter, an ultra-marathon racer. She needed an easily-digestible and compact form of energy and at the time, there wasn’t anything suitable on the market. This led Dr. Vaughan to create an alternative food that contained only the critical carbohydrates for energy and essential amino acids for muscles support. This new gooey, easily-absorbed food mixture was aptly named GU Energy Gel. And so GU was born.
GU Energy Labs is based in Berkeley, California. They are considered the first major maker of energy gels and are now run by Bill’s son, Brian Vaughan. GU is sold worldwide, so check out the link to your geographical location which can be found here. US customers can buy directly from their website (guenergy.com), likewise UK-based customers can purchase directly from guenergy.co.uk.
Following their success with energy gels, GU expanded to offer a range of different products including three different types of Energy Gels (GU Original Energy Gel, GU Liquid Energy Gel, and ROCTANE Energy Gel) plus GU Energy CHEWS, GU Energy Stroopwafel, and GU Drinks in the form of powder mixes.
GU offers 4 different types of Energy Drinks:
- GU Hydration Drink Tabs
- GU Energy Drink Mix
- GU Roctane Energy Drink Mix
- GU Roctane Protein Recovery Drink Mix
Each drink offers something slightly different.
GU Hydration Drink Tabs – These small tablets are designed to be put in your bidon. They provide a boost to your water by supplementing it with electrolytes. Each drink tab contains just 10 calories, in addition to 320 milligrams of sodium and 55 milligrams of potassium. The tablet is designed to help maintain fluid balance and delay fatigue by replacing electrolytes depleted during exercise. I always pop one into my bidon if I am doing a long ride.
GU Energy Drink Mix – This has a mixture of electrolytes and carbohydrates which are rapidly absorbed. According to GU “this 70-calorie serving of GU Hydration Drink Mix contains carbohydrates (maltodextrin and fructose) that use non-competing pathways to help maximize carbohydrate absorption and utilization while diminishing stomach distress.”
The point about minimizing stomach distress is what attracted me to the products in the first place, and personally speaking, the results are positive.
GU Roctane Energy Drink Mix – This is their most recent addition and has been created for high-intensity and demanding activity which GU states gives you a “Solid Performance without the Solids.” I’m not convinced with the marketing line, but it’s true nonetheless.
You can mix the powder in your bidon for what GU describes as an “all in one source of energy and hydration.” It is designed to help you avoid getting to the state where you suffer sudden fatigue or loss of energy, referred to as “hitting the wall” or “bonking.”
GU Roctane contains more electrolytes and carbohydrates than the alternative GU Hydration Drink Mix, with one serving containing 250 calories of both complex and simple carbohydrates. The scientific details about what is contained within the powder, taken from GU’s website, are as follows:
- Carbohydrates (maltodextrin and fructose) that use non-competing pathways which can help maximize absorption, increase carbohydrate utilization, and diminish stomach distress, so you get energy that kicks in quickly and stays with you
- Sodium, the primary electrolyte lost in sweat that aids in hydration by maintaining fluid balance
- Branched-chain amino acids (L-Leucine, L-Valine, and L-Isoleucine) which may reduce mental fatigue and decrease muscle damage while jump-starting recovery
Additionally, with the exception of the Grape flavour, the Energy mix contains caffeine, which is designed to help you stay alert and focussed, which can be difficult at the end of an intense session or race where the key moves can be missed and races lost.
There are various different flavours to try: Tropical Fruit, Summit Tea, Lemon Berry, and Grape.
This is the product that I use and have had in my bidon during the intense Zwift Academy training events and my favourite flavour is Tropical Fruit. Each flavour varies so best to try a few sample packs before deciding on what is your go-to mix.
GU Roctane Protein Recovery Drink Mix – After an intense session, you may want to consider a recovery drink. This is something that I am learning about lately due to the intensity of my structured Zwift training, where I need help getting ready for the next session, which is usually the next day!
GU offers this recovery drink because “your body needs an easily digestible and portable way to replenish key nutrients. ROCTANE Protein Recovery Drink Mix delivers 20g of high-quality whey protein to initiate muscle tissue repair and rebuilding.” I’d better place my order!
Hydration is vital whilst Zwifting and undertaking any sport. It doesn’t matter if it’s a race, training, or simply a gentle ride, hydration is key. There are many different sports nutritional/supplementary drinks on the market and I have given you an insight into the product I use.
If you are interested in using sports nutritional/supplementary drinks, I strongly recommend reading the packaging, doing your research, and even speaking with suitable experienced and qualified people, such as a Doctor or your Coach. To use GU’s marketing phrase “GU for it!” (I seriously think they need to think of some better catchphrases!)
For those who are based in the UK and Ireland, I have managed to secure a discount code of 30% for anyone who fancies trying GU. The code is Perkins30 and works only on the following site guenergy.co.uk