Gu Recovery Brew



When I attempted to remove my lower lip last fall as a failed comic alternative to riding my bike like a normal adolescent boy—not that I’ve been an adolescent boy in recent history, I became the surprised beneficiary of a still cascading collection of kindnesses that changed my definition of reality. The outcome, to be honest, has been pleasant, but the road to get there was one I’d rather not ride down again. Something about that whole scar tissue in the lips thing.

Not a selling point. Trust me.

I was fortunate that my plastic surgeon, a guy more accustomed to making normal people look fantastic, was adroit at taking the disaster of my mandible and rebuilding it into something that could execute a smile. In his instructions to me before I left the emergency room, he instructed me to get as much protein as possible as part of my liquid diet. That’s harder than you think. My dad and stepmother sent me a $50 gift card to Jamba Juice and I bought any number of protein shake mixes, not to mention bottled varieties in my quest to get both protein and variety.

It was, bar none, the two worst culinary weeks of my entire life, no disrespect to Jamba Juice and, the product that occasioned this post, Gu’s Recovery Brew. Gu Ambassador Yuri Hauswald reached out, and asked if he could send along a package that might speed my recovery. It was an easy yes.

From the first bottle I mixed up of the Chocolate Smoothie, I was sold. After drinking Ensure, Muscle Milk, Pure Protein and a few other notables, I pushed them all aside in favor of the Gu Brew. While some of them were higher in protein, none tasted as good, mixed up as easily or imparted as few side effects. Admittedly, Gu Brew is a bit lower in protein than some of the other options out there. Mixed with water (not what you want to do), you get 52 grams of carbohydrate and 8 grams of protein in 25o calories. Other than that, there’s a bit of sodium and potassium to help prevent post-workout cramping.

Mixed with almond milk (which is what we keep in our household instead of real milk, because it turns me into a mucus dispensary), it’s the closest thing I’ve experienced to the beloved Ovaltine of my childhood. That’s no small feat, either. Muscle Milk has a rather metallic edge to it. Get through 8 ounces of that and you’ll feel like you have accomplished something major. Pure Protein had an ability to resist mixing with the almond milk that struck me as a miracle of chemistry, giving me a newfound respect for the way the aforementioned Ovaltine dissolved in milk like teenage girls into giggles. And after a few days of Ensure, I think the hospital directors who select that as meal replacement for the critically ill ought to be force-fed 7-Eleven Big Gulps of the stuff six times a day.

One of my favorite features of the Gu Brew was something they’ll never, ever include in a marketing campaign. But first, a digression. Years ago I was a devotee of SmartFuel’s collection of products. Their recovery shake came in two flavors I adored—peach-mango and raspberry-lemon. If memory serves, a 16 oz. serving contained about 20 grams of protein and 30 grams of carbohydrate and tasted like heaven.

It also turned me into despicable methane dispenser. I would off-gas like I’d just been given a colonoscopy, which is the polite equivalent of saying I had a hot air balloon in my intestine. And when all that air came out it was silent … and you know what that means.

Gu Brew has yet to elicit a single awkward bottom burp. I can’t recall causing a single spider to bark in the making of this review. This would be where I add that I’m married, and love my wife enough that I wish to stay married, so the Gu Brew has a decided competitive edge over the other options, at least in terms of matrimonial harmony.

This stuff is not cheap. A box of 12 packets goes for $40, while the more environmentally sound 14-serving canister goes for $36. While it’s easy for me to claim that I think it’s been handy following some hard-ish workouts recently, my view of its success as a recovery aid comes from my plastic surgeon. During my recovery from my crash, I drank Gu Brew more than any other single product. With each follow-up visit to my plastic surgeon he remarked on the speed of my recovery, at how quick my tissue was to heal. Now it would be irresponsible to assign all the credit to the Gu Brew. I was in far better shape than most of my doc’s patients, so my recovery was going to be quicker than most, no matter what. But my doctor eventually noted that the speed of my recovery was so great that he was surprised and said that the amount and quality of the protein I was getting was paying off.

I’ll continue to experiment with other recovery drinks, in part just because it’s fun to try new drinks, but it’s nice to have a new go-to after not having a satisfactory solution for a good 10 years. Like all the other Gu products I’ve used consistently, Gu Brew delivers results I’m happy with.

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  1. cormw

    Padraig, I totally agree with your comment on Ensure. I was wired shut for 6 weeks after corrective jaw surgery and I had more than enough Ensure to last the rest of my life!!! Terrible stuff. Ovaltine on the other hand is the recovery drink of choice for me!

  2. Wsquared

    Padraig, I gave up on high protein recovery bars a while ago because of the aforementioned farts. (Most of them have a lot of soy.) Good to hear Gu works for you for recovery. I came up with my own alternative “home brew.”

    I start with a scoop of Nutribiotics 80% Rice Protien, 20 grams of protien per scoop, 90 servings per $25.00 can. Available in three favors: plain, chocolate & vanilla. Rice protien is high quality and easy to digest. I usually add it to a 12-16 oz glass of lactose free 2% milk, adding another 12 grams of protien, plus a little fat. I have never been diagnosed as lactose intolerant, but I find lactose free easier to digest after a ride than regular milk, and the lactose is converted to useful carbs during the processing.

    I usually mix it with Ovaltine for that great taste, vitamins and carbs. In the summer, I may add or substitute a scoop of Cytomax for electrolytes. After long rides, I may mix it all in a blender with a banana (carbs and potassium) and fresh fruit for a refreshing smoothy. If you don’t like Ovaltine, fruit is a good alternative.

    Re Gu: I really like their GU Brew electrolyte tablets. I carry a couple in my baggy for emergencies on hot summer days. You can add them to water any time on your ride, especially if you are in a place where you can’t buy prepared hydration drinks. I also suspect on really hot days, most hydration drinks don’t have enough sodium by themselves. Gu Brew tabs have significantly more.

    1. Author

      It’s nice to hear the love for Ovaltine. It is cost-effective for sure.

      I should mention that regarding the high-protein recovery bars, I had a different problem altogether. The caused a traffic jam in the back 40. Anything with 20g or more of protein stops the works. And those are the only things that do it.

  3. Wsquared

    If you have a problem digesting more than 20 grams of protein, in my recipe I suggest substituting water for milk. That gives about 20. I sometimes do that on hot days. Very cost effective. Works fine with rice protein over ice with whatever fruits and/or electrolytes you choose to add. If you are mixing by hand, stir in and dissolve the rice powder before adding ice.

  4. M Hottie

    Padraig, again, your way with words as brightened my day. I mean normally reviews of energy drinks can be like reading the phone book. But your description of the biproduct of some energy drinks made this one worthwhile. And I quote “It also turned me into despicable methane dispenser. I would off-gas like I’d just been given a colonoscopy, which is the polite equivalent of saying I had a hot air balloon in my intestine. And when all that air came out it was silent … and you know what that means. Gu Brew has yet to elicit a single awkward bottom burp”

    Bottom Burp. Love that and RKP.

    1. Author

      All: Thanks for your perspectives and kind words.

      M Hottie: Hey, if I can’t make you guys smile, what’s the point?

      Nick: Yes, she does.

  5. MCH

    I’m disappointed. There was an opportunity here for sooo much more potty humor. That aside, good review – particularly for addressing the dirty little secret of energy / recovery products.

  6. Moneyfire

    I’m a big fan of the Ultragen Recovery as well but will occasionally mix it up with Clif Builder Bars.

    As to the high protein “stoppage” issues, try adding fish oil caps to the diet. They definitely help in that regard.

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