Ok, I'll admit it, I wanted to hate these things. I am a confirmed au naturale nazi. I refer to bananas as "energy bars in a peel" I pretty much feel as though anything in a plastic or foil package as antiphonal to the reasons I ride anyway, being all natural and green and stuff but...
Sadly, I can't hate these things. The test scenario was quite simple, I headed out for my morning before breakfast run direct from bed, with no eats or drink before heading out. Typically, I'll run on empty for about 90 minutes or so and then do a banana with some Elete. So, instead I substituted a GU Gel pack for the banana.
In terms of energy they are roughly equivalent 100 Calories for the GU and 115 for the banana. For all you weight watchers and fat phobics, the banana has 1 gram of fat, the GU has none. The banana 1 gram of protein, the GU none.
The GU delivers 35 mg and banana about 602 mg of potassium, the GU also delivers 50 mg of sodium but the banana shows up really short in that department with a mere 2 mg. The GU delivers 100% of the minimum daily requirement of vitamins C and E.
Now If you have ever tried to peel a banana while riding, you can readily appreciate the convenience of the GU packet, a quick rip of the tab with the teeth and a quick squeeze or two and you can suck up the entire GU pack and barely lose a beat of your pedal cadence. Wash it down with some water or electrolyte and you're home free.
The stuff has the consistency of loose pudding, and the Chocolate and Vanilla flavors come pretty close the the taste and feel of their pudding equivalents. I have been through a bunch of the flavors and found none objectionable, I kind of liked the vanilla, chocolate (which is kinda weird since I am not a chocolate fan) and the Lemon.
Now if you want them to cover your morning caffeine fix, you'll have to take the Chocolate Outrage, Vanilla Bean, Espresso Love, or the Tri-Berry. The Lemon Sublime, and the Strawberry Banana are caffeine free.
Did it work? Quite simply, yes! At about the point where I would bonk, I'd suck down a GU gel and in about 5 minutes, I was riding like I was properly energized. The GU delivered the energy faster than the banana would have and the wrapper was easier (and a lot less messy) to stuff back into my jersey pocket (another lie- I usually toss the banana peel in some vacant lot as it is biodegradable).
But this is a real plus side to this GU pack issue. If you collect fifty empty GU packets, Sports Street Marketing will send you five free full packets of GU. To find out more about this great environmental program, Click here.
Quick, simple, and easy, GU is a decent alternative energy boost. Will I give up bananas? No, but if there are none around or if I don't want to be bothered, GU is really not bad. Just make sure you wash it down with something to avoid sour mouth from the sugars. Really, try 'em they're not all that bad even if you did want to hate 'em.
Side note from another Editor:
...I have been to the GU plant several times. The chocolate is made from real chocolate. I've seen these huge 10lb bars of high end chocolate prior to melting. I felt like I had found the golden ticket...