Does It Work: Roctane Gel

>> Saturday, February 06, 2010

Let’s cut to the chase. Here’s the real issue: “Regular” Gu is about $1.35 / packet, and Roctane Gu is about twice that ($2.50 / packet). Is it worth it?

I asked for some info from Gu, and they sent me a very official write-up with medical references. (There were 26 references for a 1.5 page write-up.) Here’s how it started:

Roctane is GU Sports’ new, high-performance energy gel that utilizes a similar formulation to our original GU Energy Gel, but with significantly higher concentrations of amino acids and citrates. Roctane also utilizes an amino acid complex – Ornithine Alpha-Ketaglutarate (OKG).

Roctane has been in use as a nutritional research tool with in-house and sponsored elite athletes over the past seven years to test new ideas for improving athletic performance and recovery. We have utilized third-party scientific studies and our own practical feedback from athletes in a variety of sports.

They go on to write about key ingredients in Roctane. Here’s my take on the “science-talk” that they have in there:

• Higher levels of Histidine (by 3 times) to encouraging the biosynthesis of buffering proteins, to help with muscle fatigue and metabolic acidosis.

• Higher levels of citrates (by 2.5 to 3 times) to basically give you more energy.

• Higher levels of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs - Leucine, Valine and Isoleucine [by 3 times]) to promote protein synthesis and it “may delay the onset of central fatigue by blocking the tryptophan transport into the brain, thus limiting the production of serotonin.” This basically fights off the feeling of fatigue and keeps you alert and focused.

• Amino acid complex that’s NOT in regular Gu. It blocks the body’s entrance into a destructive catabolic process.

And sorry if this part gets too boring, but it’s better to have too much information than too little (right?). Here are their closing comments on these thoughts above:

The benefits of these ingredient groups can be summarized as improved muscle buffering by mitigating the effects of lactic acid build up; more efficient energy production and better recovery through decreased exercise-induced muscle damage; and greater mental focus through delayed onset of central fatigue. These characteristics allow the athlete to perform at a higher intensity for a longer period of time.

Roctane does not contain the vitamin C or vitamin E that is in original GU in order to make room for the additional volume of ingredients in Roctane. Since it is fairly easy to obtain your daily recommended intake of vitamins C and E by ingesting one or more packets of original GU, we removed them in favor of accommodating the added OKG and other increased concentrations of ingredients which are beneficial on those really hard days. If you are concerned about getting enough antioxidants, we suggest including a packet of original GU in addition to Roctane as a part of your nutrition program during intense training and racing.

With the exception of OKG, the original GU formula contains each of the beneficial citrates and amino acids mentioned above. It is the increased concentrations of these ingredients, and thus the enhanced level and efficiency of their benefits, along with the addition of OKG, which sets Roctane apart as the maximum performance gel for serious endurance athletes.

OK, OK... but, DOES IT WORK?

I used Rotane during all my races after about the Apple Duathlon in May of last year. It’s expensive and (in my opinion) unnecessary to use during regular workouts. I still use regular Gu during longer rides or runs when I need some calories, but I save the Roctane for pre-race and during the race.

Roctane Gu: Grade of B+ / A-. I’m cheap, and Roctane is a little expensive. Roctane could move into an “A” or “A+” if it got cheaper (but didn’t sacrifice quality [yes, I know I’m demanding!]). But that being said, I’ll still ALWAYS grab a Roctane or 2 for a race and keep the regular Gu for routine workouts. I think it DOES work in the way that they describe it above. Really. I feel like I’ve had a increase in the time it takes for me to feel fatigued while racing this year. And BTW, the flavors are GREAT - I love the Blueberry Pomegranate.

Have you tried Roctane? Do you think it’s “better” than regular Gu? Click on the “Does It Work” tag to see all posts in this mini-series. Happy weekend!!



Kitzzy 4:08 PM, February 06, 2010  

I've used them races and at the end of really long runs, and can certainly tell a difference. I agree though, that the price tag is hefty so I'm choosy about when I use them.

Question - when you use them for a race, do you only eat Gu Roctanes for the whole race or a combination of regular GU and Roctane? If so, when and how often?

Steve Stenzel 4:37 PM, February 06, 2010  

Kitzzy, I use just Roctane for most races. Sometimes, before a race, I'll take regular Gu. I've only been using Roctane since May/June, but if I had a Half IM coming up, I'd probably take about 50/50 during that race.

Anonymous,  4:54 PM, February 06, 2010  

Does it taste any better than regular Gu - if I don't like Gu, is it worth trying the Roctane? I'm not a fan of Gu's taste/texture and usually use Hammer Gels. Hammer Gel seems smoother and their flavors are pretty decent IMO.

Steve Stenzel 5:17 PM, February 06, 2010  

Beth, I actually eat gus, powergels, and hammer gels pretty interchangeably.

Roctane is a similar texture to Gu, but just a little thicker.

triblog carol 6:05 PM, February 06, 2010  

I agree 100% with you on this. I use regular Gu for training, and Gu Roctane for races. I think it does give me a mental and physical edge.

Maggs 10:30 PM, February 06, 2010  

I love Roctane, but yeah, it's a bit pricey. The couple times I've used it I think there's been a difference. And I seek it out a races or whenever there are freebies given out.

I usually use whatever gel I have on my long runs, but use 1 Roctane about 1/2 way.

Julie @ ROJ Running 9:10 PM, February 07, 2010  

I used to LOVE GU type stuff and I would agree it DOES work. However ever since I had my gallbladder removed, I can't process gels or liquids like I could before. If anyone ever asks you though, I think the new reformulated Sports Beans are AMAZING and do the same thing

Julie D 10:48 PM, February 07, 2010  

I was buying GU this weekend, and the lady said, "Those don't qualify for the deal" when I picked up the Roctane. They had those at the LV Marathon last year, and it made me feel very vamped. But for $2.50/gel, I can forego that vamping.

Katie 3:12 PM, August 11, 2011  

OK, I know this post is old, but you linked to it--so, question: what's with the caffeine in it? Does the caffeine help, hurt? What's the point of it being in there?

Steve Stenzel 4:12 PM, August 11, 2011  

Katie: Here's a bit from an article on caffeine usage:

"There are more than 74 good studies on the use of caffeine for both endurance exercise and short-term, higher intensity exercise. The vast majority of the studies conclude that caffeine does indeed enhance performance and makes the effort seem easier (by about six percent).

The average improvement in performance is about 12 percent, with more benefits noticed during endurance exercise than with shorter exercise (eight to 20 minutes) and a negligible amount for sprinters. More benefits are also noticed in athletes who rarely drink coffee, hence are not tolerant to its stimulant effect."

Katie 4:24 PM, August 11, 2011  

Ok--thanks! I guess I'll have to read up on it! There's so much to know!!!

I'm curious as to how much/how often caffeine is beneficial...but I can go do a little searching on my own!


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