GU reformulated new branding energy gel endurance (4)

If you’re like a lot of cyclists, the term GU, much like Kleenex, has become synonymous with energy gels. Now after more than 20 years at the top of the gel game, GU has established itself as one of the champions of endurance nutrition, or “one of the faces on the Mount Rushmore of nutrition,” if you will. Originally created in 1993 as an alternative to the original Powerbar, the basic building blocks of GU remain unchanged with maltodextrin, fructose, and amino acids taking the spotlight.

As GU prepares for the future of endurance nutrition the company is undergoing a bit of a face lift with all new branding, packaging, and a few tweaks to the formulas. Longtime fans of GU don’t need to worry though, GU will still be as tasty and effective as ever, but it will have some new selling points especially if you are a vegan athlete…

GU Logo

Over the years, the GU energy burst has served the company well. Originally featuring 32 points, it was then simplified to 16 points and was extremely recognizable. Future GU products will have a new logo entirely, but one that builds off the previous energy burst. Technically with 6 points now, each arm of the new GU logo represents the three components of endurance nutrition – hydration, energy, and recovery (blue, orange, and yellow). The new packaging will feature just the inner hexagon, but in much of the GU branding you’ll see the hexagon with a thin border that will fill in for the 6 point burst with corresponding colors.


On the packaging itself, the new look is about more than just branding. GU has made a concerted effort to provide all of the nutrition basics on the front of the package where they are easily read for simplified nutrition planning. Need to know how many packets you need to reach 1000 calories for the race? How many mg of caffeine you will be ingesting? Sodium? It’s all right there on the front of the package for easy consumption.

The GU packets themselves also benefit from a new recycling program offered through TerraCycle. Unfortunately, the same packet technology that makes GU easy to consume and keeps them from exploding in our bags also makes them difficult to recycle. Thanks to a partnership with TerraCycle, receptacles will be available at major races and events that will allow GU packets and Energy Chew bags to be recycled. Additional efforts to be easier on the environment include using recycled cardboard for the new boxes that GU products are shipped in.

Then there is the GU itself. The most important takeaway from the new formula is that it still tastes the same, works just as well (if not better), and is now completely vegan. The key to making GU vegan was the removal of an amino acid called histidine. Originally thought to aide in performance, GU determined that our bodies already have enough histidine that is naturally occurring so they could remove it from the formula without any negative effects on performance. Additional changes include the removal of Vitamins E and C which were originally added to aide in recovery. Recent studies have shown that E and C are great for recovery, but not great for training. In fact, consuming them while training can actually hinder your body’s adaptation to the training.

Roctane also gets a revised formula with the removal of vitamin E while histidine gets replaced with Beta Alanine. Even with the changes Roctane is not vegan, but still has the same taste and is ideal for short, high intensity or long duration events.

As a recap, the new GU is Vegan, probably more effective, and still tastes just as good and is available in all your favorite flavors including Tastefully Nude (formerly known as Just Plain). Better yet, GU let us in on the new flavors that are set for release in the near future – Big Apple GU and Sea Salt Chocolate Roctane in April, along with Maple Bacon and Vanilla Spice later this Summer! We’re also told GU will be offering bulk gel later in the year along with a completely new product come Interbike.


Instead of GU Chomps, the product gets renamed as GU Energy Chews to help streamline the product names and eliminate any confusion. Since the new packaging extends across the entire line, GU Energy Chews benefit from the new easy to read nutrition information, and are also now sold in packs of 4 instead of 8. GU found that many consumers weren’t finishing a full pack, so they made them into a single serving to reduce waste.


On the hydration side, GU’s Hydration Drink Mix (formerly GU Brew) sees one of the biggest changes with a new lighter formula with 70 calories per serving rather than the original 100. Made with a 50-50 ratio of simple to complex sugars, the new formula is said to be more quickly absorbed without creating stomach distress. For those that still prefer higher levels of calories from their bottle, Roctane Drink Mix still offers 240 calories per serving (thought without the histidine). GU Hydration Drink Tabs change as well with the removal of Sorbitol which is a binding agent that can cause GI distress. Instead the tablets use Xylitol which is also better for oral health.


For the GU Recovery Mix, the biggest change is in the packaging. However, we are told that the formula will be revised to add more protein among other things later this summer.

As always, all GU products are Informed Choice Certified meaning you won’t have to worry about mystery ingredients on your biological passport.

For your part in the rebranding, GU wants you to show how you #GUFORIT on social media.


  1. 4 chomps?? I have never wished for less in the package. The few times I shared a few of the 8 in the pack, my riding buddies were glad I had 8.

    Is GU anti-sharing??

    More packaging per chomp is also bogus.

    Nice packaging and new marketing otherwise.

  2. Is this one of those fake articles that’s really a commercial? If it isn’t, it sure reads like one.

    I just drink water and if the ride is long I might eat some actual food. All this supposed sports nutrition stuff is a load of hooey. I fell for it a long time ago myself and remember trying to eat frozen Power Bars on ski lifts in Colorado… Yuck! Now I just eat home made oatmeal cookies or peanuts or something that didn’t come out of a machine.

  3. Time to find the sales online of the old stuff. The most disturbing thing to me about all this stuff is the packaging waste. Who gives a crap about the redesign of the package? A better redesign would be no package. Make some form of gel block that is dry like licorice sticks or something and doesn’t require a lame package.

  4. Would be nice if they had added a “litter leash” with the new design like the cliff shots have. So tired of seeing those little tabs all over the place. Otherwise, I am a big fan of Roctane Gu.

    I only use this kind of stuff for racing. Real food for training rides.

  5. Another packaging critique here. It’s stupid how many of these empty packages you find on a trail after a race. From the small tops to the whole package.

    Racers you just look like a bunch of @ssholes when you toss the waste on the ground.

    GU, find a way to solve this. It is terrible marketing to have your brand associated with trail garbage.


  6. @Mr. P: Despite the fact that a lot of racers really are fools when it comes to trail etiquette, maintenance, and garbage…. most are really conscientious of their ride materials. Trying to eat, ride technical terrain, and pocket the (poorly designed) gel packets is a tough task. I’m sure most of the litter is not just tossed, but either flies out of a jersey or dropped by accident.

    That being said: “We’re also told GU will be offering bulk gel later in the year along with a completely new product come Interbike.” — ABOUT EFFING TIME. How has no one else caught on to Hammer’s proper way of retaining an environmental customer? Cheaper and greener.

  7. Generally my girlfriend and I eat the ClifBar Blocks beforehand, keep one or two in our jersey or hydration pack pocket, and use the drink mix. We don’t have any litter or packets to lose. As for the comment about drinking regular water, that is great, but in Florida it is easy to dehydrate quickly. We found ourselves needing something that absorbs quicker. Also eating a full meal before a race or long ride will lead to cramps, and or puking. Personally I am not a fan of the consistency of the gel, but I do like the drink mix and chews.

    Overall they are a huge improvement from the old Powerbars. If you haven’t tried anything since those, than your view of sport food is skewed and outdated. The original Powerbars were really gross. Most bike shops don’t even carry them anymore. I remember in the mid 90’s chewing on those nasty things and sloshing down water from my bottle and really trying to pretend I liked it.

  8. Leave the packaging at home. Get a fuel bottle and fill with gel at home. Forget about tearing open pouches on your run or ride.
    How about reducing packaging and offering bulk for some products: 16 oz bottles of GU, resealable bags with 20 Chomps.
    C’mon GU, the first step in the cycle is Reduce

  9. So excited for the new vegan formula! I’ve been using the hydration drink tabs for months and love those, psyched to be able to try the energy gel now too! Thanks GU!

  10. As a marathon runner, I’m stoked that Gu revamped their formula so it’s vegan now. The new gels are great and I like that they’re faster acting than the old formula. I had to switch to Clif bloks when I learned Gu wasn’t vegan and they were far inferior. Glad to be able to train with Gu again.

  11. Thank you so much for making your products all vegan! I know many cyclist vegans who are very excited about this change to your product line, myself included. 🙂

  12. I was bummed when I found out GU was not vegan and stopped using them right away (for ethical reasons..not health/performance), so this change is hugely welcomed. I’ve already started in on them again. I’m glad it’s an option for vegans, as the non-vegan ingredient was irrelevant to the recipe considering the vegan alternatives that exist to replace it. Good on GU!

  13. So awesome! I have always been disappointed that GU wasn’t vegan, but now I’ll definitely be trying it!! Thank you for thinking about the animals (and vegans!) 🙂

  14. I tried a few Gu flavors when I first found out they were vegan, and for the right application (long events and emergency supplies) I’m hooked! I’m looking forward to seeing what the bulk packaging looks like. Hopefully the Roctane will be vegan soon too!

  15. I’ve been a fan of the drink tabs from the first time I used them. Unfortunately, the new orange flavor isn’t nearly as good as the old flavor. Interestingly enough the orange drink tab isn’t even orange anymore. It’s’ yellow – which isn’t really a big deal, but the flavor change is a big deal, to me anyway. Now, after buying boxes and boxes of the GU Brew drink tabs, I’m trying all the other drink tabs out there – in hopes of finding one that tastes similar to the old GU Brew drink tab formula. Oh well.

  16. since when does “Just Plain” energy gel go by the name “Tastefully Nude?” seriously? This is not a nail polish color or hosiery hue, (ahem at best) but an energy nutrient geared for distance runners and endurance athletes last time I checked. What hairbrained focus group suggested to you that sexualizing and rebranding your best selling energy gel AND sending it to your long loyal “Just Plain” customers was a good idea and would increase market share? This runner girl is moving to Cliff bar.

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