Spring Awesome Sauce Gel Controversy Uncovered - The Running Channel Advertisement

Spring Awesome Sauce Gel Controversy Uncovered

BY: Mark Dredge
30 May 2024

This all started in early April 2024, when an ultrarunner thought they’d try and replicate one of their favourite gels: Spring’s apple and cinnamon-flavoured Awesome Sauce. 

As they looked at the ingredients, they questioned how it could have the stated nutritional value of 180 calories and 45g carbohydrates per 54g gel. The gels are known for being made with real food ingredients, and they contain rice, apples, maple syrup, yams and other flavours. Maple syrup is the most calorie- and carb-dense ingredient in Awesome Sauce, but the whole gel would need to be just maple syrup to meet those nutrient values. Them apples were not as they seemed.

As the Redditor works in an environmental chemistry lab, they decided to do a test and dehydrated the gel, basically removing all water and just leaving the macronutrients. The dehydrated gel weighed just 16g, meaning 16g of carbohydrates and not 45g, which would also equal only around 60 calories. They posted their findings to Reddit

A second Reddit user replicated the dehydration test, and compared the results to Maurten 100 and SIS Beta Fuel. Again the Spring dehydrated down much below the stated 45g carbs, whereas Maurten and SIS were consistent with their stated values. German online store SportHunger got the same results, as did a test facilitated by endurance coach Jason Koop. A GoFundMe was set up to run further tests on these and other gels. UPDATE: The results of these tests are below!

Spring eventually responded in a lengthy message, the short version being that they had it tested, and ‘although the results indicated that on average our products deliver the designed nutrition value, we have recognized weaknesses in our processes and ingredients which can introduce unwanted variations in some batches.’ They are already working on making a new and improved Awesome Sauce. 

As consumers we tolerate, and probably expect, a small difference from what’s listed as nutritional content, perhaps a few calories or grams of carbs (and legally there can be 20% leeway), but being less than half the stated value is pretty significant! 

A gel like Awesome Sauce appeals to many runners because it uses real ingredients and has a very high stated content of calories and carbs compared to most other gels (they’re also very tasty!), so if these gels, which are one of Spring’s most popular products, do turn out to contain less carbs than advertised, that’s going to matter to runners. 

Many of us will plan our nutrition before a race and will attempt to get a certain number of calories and carbs to optimise our performance. We will factor in how much we hope to consume, and carry the right gels or nutrition for us. We want to know that we’re fuelling in the best way for the event we’re taking part in. 

If you’re a fan of Awesome Sauce and happily use them in your fuelling, then there’s no reason to stop, just be aware that you may need to take on additional calories, and you might want to follow the story to understand how you should use them in the future. 

UPDATE: 5 JUNE

The independent investigation into Spring’s energy gels has revealed results consistent with findings of others. The test looked at four different Spring Awesome Sauce gels and found that the true carb content ranged from 12g-18g, and calories were 53-86 per gel (so way below the listed 45g of carbs and 180 calories).

As part of the investigation, other gels, including those made by Maurten, Precision Fuel and Hydration, Science in Sport Beta Fuel, Gu, Näak, Hüma and Honey Stinger, were also put through the same tests and all were accurate to the stated nutrition content on their labels (with the allowance on the fair leeway).

The same advice as above stands true: if you like Awesome Sauce and wish to continue using it, then be aware that the carb and calories content is lower than you expect, so factor that into your nutrition strategy.

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