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Third-Party Testing Confirms Accurate Nutrition Information For Seven Other Gel Brands, Including Maurten, Gu and Honey Stinger

By the looks of things, the Spring Energy debacle was a one-off.

Recent third-party testing by a German sport nutrition retailer, as well as by coach and author Jason Koop has exposed significant inaccuracies in the nutrition labels of Spring Energy’s Awesomesauce, Hill Aid, and Canaberry gels, confirming suspicions initially raised by Reddit users that these products weren’t delivering the calories and carbs as advertised.

Unlike Spring Energy, seven other brands have been found to have accurate nutrition labels following third-party testing after questions were raised about the reliability of nutrition information on energy gels across the board.

Third-Party Testing Confirms Accurate Nutrition Information For Seven Other Gel Brands, Including Maurten, Gu and Honey Stinger 1

A Breakdown of the Findings

Spring Energy claimed that each Awesomesauce Energy Gel contains a whopping 180 calories and 45g of carbs. This is an attractive package for ultrarunners looking to stave off a caloric deficit, which, as Koop points out, will make or break a race over time.

When Koop got the viral lab analysis result back, it showed that each 54g serving contained only 75 calories and 18g of carbs, less than half of what the packaging claims.

This discrepancy prompted further scrutiny of nutrition labels across the brand and the energy gel market as a whole.

Third-Party Testing Confirms Accurate Nutrition Information For Seven Other Gel Brands, Including Maurten, Gu and Honey Stinger 2

Community-Led Investigations Spark Broader Testing

The investigation began in April when a Reddit user, u/sriirachamayo, conducted a simple dehydration test on Spring Energy’s Awesomesauce, suggesting that the gel contained significantly fewer calories and carbohydrates than advertised. 

This prompted a series of independent lab tests funded through a GoFundMe campaign, supported by 110 donors, which raised $2,805. The comprehensive testing included Spring Energy products and energy gels from seven other brands.

Lab Testing Results

The third-party lab tested a total of 13 samples from nine energy gels, including multiple samples of Spring Energy Awesomesauce from different batches

The results confirmed the earlier lab tests, which showed the Awesomesauce gel had only 30-38% of the labeled carbohydrates and 44-72% of the labeled calories, far below the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, which allow for a 20% variance in nutrient content claims.

The tested products included:

  • Spring Energy Awesomesauce
  • Spring Energy Canaberry
  • Honey Stinger Acai Pomegranate Energy Gel
  • Hüma Apples & Cinnamon Energy Gel
  • Näak Apple and Maple Syrup Energy Puree
  • Gu Energy Gel Strawberry Banana
  • Maurten Gel 100
  • Precision Fuel PF 90 Gel
  • Science in Sport Beta Fuel Strawberry and Lime

Except for Spring Energy, all other brands complied with FDA regulations, with their actual carbohydrate and calorie contents closely matching the labeled values.

Third-Party Testing Confirms Accurate Nutrition Information For Seven Other Gel Brands, Including Maurten, Gu and Honey Stinger 3

What Does All This Mean For Runners?

For ultrarunners, accurate nutrition labels are critical for effective fueling strategies. Misleading labels, like those found on Spring Energy products, can lead to inadequate fueling and compromised performance.

Ultrarunners typically aim to consume anywhere between 150-450 calories per hour, primarily from carbohydrates, to sustain their energy levels during long races.

Thankfully, this Spring Energy fiasco seems to be a unique one-off, as every other brand tested provided the claimed nutrition within FDA regulations.

Third-Party Testing Confirms Accurate Nutrition Information For Seven Other Gel Brands, Including Maurten, Gu and Honey Stinger 4

The Need for Regular Testing

The debacle and following investigations highlight the importance of regular, independent testing of sports nutrition products. 

The FDA recommends that nutrition labels be validated through lab testing of the final product rather than relying solely on ingredient-based calculations. This ensures accuracy and builds consumer trust.

The results of this laundry list of tests show that while most energy gel brands adhere to accurate labeling practices, Spring Energy’s Awesomesauce is a significant and unfortunate outlier. 

For runners, it is essential to choose products with verified nutritional content to ensure proper fueling and optimal performance. Moving forward, runners will likely continue to demand greater transparency and regular testing from all sports nutrition brands to ensure the products they rely on meet their stated nutritional claims.

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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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