Bars on the bike: cycling nutrition

There are so many nutrition bars on the market, but how do you know what’ll work for you? You can’t possibly try them all in your own time. So this month Full Sus risked diabetes for you and tested the bars designed to be eaten on the bike by six major nutrition companies.

PVM Energy Bar
The world’s original energy bar, tried and tested, and that’s not a bad thing. If you have a sensitive digestive system you’re best sticking with a bar that you know and trust. It’s available in twelve flavours (including Pineapple, Lemon & Lime, Choc Strawberry, Chocolate, Strawberry, and Rum & Raisin) all of which have the same nutritional content. They can be hard work to chew, but unlike virtually every other bar they don’t need to be washed down with a sip of water or energy drink. www.energybar.co.za RRP R12 

PVM EnergyBar_1

Shayne’s tasting notes: Old faithful. The flavours across the board are nice. Quite obviously a manufactured bar by texture and feel – chewy and tough – not sticky to touch. Really competitive price. I did like the bite size options.

All PVM Energy Bars Nutritional Content (per 100g):
Energy: 1 635kj
Carbs: 55g
Protein: 11.50g

 

Raw Revolution
Raw Revolution’s bars are new to the SA market, but come off a strong American sales base and tap into the organic market. With all organic ingredients and agave nectar as a sweetener they’re perfect for those among you who prefer a natural supplement. Raw Revolution’s bars come in six flavours locally: Heavenly Hazelnut Chocolate, Spirulina Dream, Chocolate Coconut Bliss, Cherry Chocolate Chunk, Golden Cashew, and Chocolate Crave, all of which have slightly different nutritional contents as the ingredients differ. With Raw Revolution’s range you can find a flavour to suit your palate, but you should know that the moist texture will require a gulp of your drink to get the bar down while on the bike. www.rawrevolutionsa.co.za RRP R29.50

Raw Revolution bar

Shayne’s tasting notes: I loved the bar. Nice texture and consistency. My mouth was never left dry, it felt clean with no gritty residue. I will definitely take these bars with me on a ride.

Raw Revolution Heavenly Hazelnut Chocolate Nutritional Content (per 100g):
Energy: 1 894kj
Carbs: 42g
Protein: 12g

TREK
The TREK bars are raw wholefood bars, cold-pressed and protein rich. They come in Peanut & Oat, Cocoa Brownie and Mixed Berry flavours all of which have slightly different nutritional contents as the ingredients differ, just like the Raw Revolution bars. Both the Cocoa Brownie and Peanut & Oat flavours have a taste which we just couldn’t place and can only assume it’s the ginkgo biloba extract, it’s not an unpleasant flavour it’s just different – and it works really well with the Mixed Berry flavour. www.getnakd.co.za RRP R22.50

trek bars

Seamus’s tasting notes: I really enjoyed the Mixed Berry flavour and would happily use it on a ride. It’s not too sweet and breaks up the sweet monotony of energy tabs, drinks and gels nicely. But it does require a swig of water to rinse oaty residue down after the last bite.

Trek Coca Brownie Nutritional Content (per 100g)
Energy: 1359kj
Carbs: 53g
Protein: 17g

Enduren Bar
The Enduren bars don’t come in the modern matt finish packaging as the other natural bars or the high gloss of the scientifically formulated bars, rather they’re in a simple clear packaging. But don’t let that put you off, they’re formulated especially for endurance events and deliver energy from complex carbs, a small amount of glucose and fructose and MCT’s, from the coconut in the case of the Oat & Coca Energy Bar, or good fats, in the case of the Date & Oat Energy Bar. The fat or MCT’s are helpful additions because they provide energy almost as fast a glucose but without insulin involvement. The bars’ texture is not dissimilar to a kiddies Rice Crispy treat, so they dissolve relatively quickly in your mouth. www.enduren.co.za RRP R12.50

Enduren energy bar

Shayne’s tasting notes: Not as sweet as the other bars and a distinct taste of oats.  It’s a high carb bar with the lowest protein content of the lot. Great mouthfeel, not gritty, really good taste!

Enduren Oat & Coca Energy Bar Nutritional Content (per 100g):
Energy: 1 500kj
Carbs: 61.5g
Protein: 5.5g

 

PowerBar
PowerBar, though their sponsorship of the Tour de France particularly, have gained significant market consciousness. They also have the handy indicator tabs on their products letting you know if they’re designed for pre- during- or post-ride nutrition. PowerBar does four different types of bars designed to be eaten on the bike including various flavours of Energize, Performance Energy, Ride Bar, and their new Performance Energy Wafer Bars. We tried the Energize, Ride Bar and Wafer Bars. The Energize bars have a similar texture to the PVM Energy Bars, while the Ride Bars are akin to the world’s most indulgent chocolate bar, complete with caramel and nutty bits. The new Performance Energy Wafer Bars are probably the easiest bar to eat on the bike as they literally melt in your mouth like, well, a wafer. You might well have to test a few options to find a flavour that works for you. www.powerbarstore.co.za RRP from R30 (depending on the type of bar).

PowerBar_Ride Bar_2

Shayne’s tasting notes: The Wafer Bar is brand new on the market. Easy to eat on the trail, goes down easily with hardly any residue left in your mouth – bit of water and mouth clean, but did not need water. One question was how it would hold up on the trail being wafer?

PowerBar Performance Energy Wafer Bars Nutritional Content (per 100g):
Energy: 1 743kj
Carbs: 70g
Protein: 7g

 

Hammer Bars
Hammer bill their bars as the ultimate organic energy bar, but with their bars coming in at R10 more per bar than the most expensive competitor price could well be the main prohibiting factor. The bars are fee of refined sugars and made up of only natural, all-organic ingredients. They’re moist too, like the Raw Revolution bars, and available in five flavours (Almond Raisin, Oatmeal Apple, Cranberry, Chocolate Chip and Cashew). The flavours we tested we all subtle, which means they’re unlikely to offend your taste buds while on a long ride. www.hammernutrition.co.za. RRP R40.

Hammer Bar_2

Seamus’s tasting notes: The subtle flavours are easy on the palate and the bars aren’t too sticky either. All round a well-developed product. Hammer bars should be a safe option if you’re caught without a bar you know.

 

Hammer Bar Almond Raisin Nutritional Content (per 100g):
Energy: 1 848kj
Carbs: 50g
Protein: 20g

 

Final Word
Remember that you should always test any on the bike nutrition in training before a race to make sure your body is acclimatised to the product – the last thing you want is an upset stomach, cramps or just a product that doesn’t provide you with the energy you need. Use this guide to find a bar that suits your palate, budget and dietary needs and then test them in training before your next big race.

 

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