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The LA Muscle Energy Gel uses a "performance enhancing dual carbohydrate formula" and is packed with caffeine. There is no doubt in my mind that it gives you a boost, but the taste – for me anyway – is extremely questionable. It certainly won't appeal to everyone.
As far as the texture goes, it's like most energy gels: smooth and easy to swallow – if you can get past the taste. Taste is highly subjective, of course, and different gels will appeal to different people, but this orange flavour tasted very unnatural and chemically to me. It left a bitter aftertaste on my palate, similar to swallowing horrible cough medicine.
Another problem is that although the packaging is robust and won't burst easily in your pocket, getting it open isn't easy. Trying to open it on the bike with one hand and my teeth was so difficult I ended up having to stop and use two hands. So not hugely convenient as an on-the-move gel.
Nutritionally speaking it does pack a bit of a punch. Per 70g sachet you get 111kcal, 27g of carbohydrates (9g sugars), 0.3g of protein, 0.1g of salt and 120mg of caffeine. That's a lot of caffeine. Compare it with High5's EnergyGel Plus, for example, which has 30mg per 40g sachet, and gram for gram the LA gel has more than double the caffeine.
The gel is a 'blend of isotonic carbohydrates and electrolytic minerals', according to LA Muscle, and it incorporates branch chain amino acids, which apparently increase muscle building and aid recovery. I can't really comment on this, so will take LA Muscle's word for it.
Performance-wise, it did seem to work. If you can get past the taste, you end up with a real caffeine kick and a gel that does perform. I found my energy levels maintained throughout a long ride thanks to the carb content.
At £1.99 per sachet it's slightly more expensive than other gels on the market, although if you bulk buy it is cheaper.
Overall, the gel works. If you're riding long and hard it may be a good buy for you, although the difficulty of opening it on the bike one-handed is a drawback. If you're putting in fewer miles (even if still substantial) then you, like me, might prefer other gels, or just to stop for coffee and cake.
A gel that works but might not pass muster with your taste buds
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Make and model: LA Muscle Energy Gel
Size tested: Orange, 70g
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The product is for anyone doing any sport over a long period of time.
LA Muscle says: "LA Muscle's Energy Gel with BCAAs and Caffeine is blend of isotonic carbohydrates and electrolytic minerals. This delicious orange flavoured multi-faceted energy gel is the ideal supplement for any regular trainer, athlete or body building looking for a pre or intra workout energy boost. It works by replenishing glycogen stores with a instant influx of 27g of carbohydrates whilst providing and replacing valuable electrolytes."
I find no fault with their claims, aside from the taste.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
With added BCAAs & Caffeine
Performance enhancing dual carb formula
Delicious orange flavour
The gel did preform well.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The gel gave me a good caffeine boost when I needed it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I liked the texture.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Difficult to open one-handed and tasted unpleasant.
Did you enjoy using the product? No
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The gel gave me a caffeine boost, so it seemed to work, but the taste would stop me from buying it, and the packaging is hard to open on the bike. I don't think it would be an option for me as a gel.
Age: 34 Height: 158cm Weight: 61kg
I usually ride: Giant Defy My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking