Side Project – The Energy Bar Test Results

After months of careful testing, well eating bars when training or racing, the results of the energy bar study are finally ready.

As I have stated many times there is no science to this testing, and so it is purely subjective based on how much I liked the taste and whether I thought it worked or not.

The overall results are as follows,

  1. Power Bar Ride Energy Bar – Peanut Caramel Flavour
  2. High 5 Energy Bar – Berry Flavour
  3. Power Bar Ride Energy Bar – Chocolate Caramel Flavour
  4. Power Bar Energize – Mango & Passionfruit Flavour
  5. PowerBar Energize Bar – Chocolate Flavour
  6. High 5 Energy Bar – Banana Flavour

If I am honest there really isn’t too much between the top 4 bars and I would happily chomp my way through any of them in the course of a race or training. They all have decent flavours, textures I liked and wrappers that I could open easily, perhaps a point often forgotten but it’s no good having a bar you can’t get into easily.

For the bottom two I simply didn’t like the flavours and so wouldn’t buy them again, that is not to say they are bad bars or didn’t work, but for me I didn’t really like them.

It would perhaps have been a better test had I worked out some quantifiable tests to see if the bars really do work, but in the absence of them this subjective test will have to do!

It was good to try some different bars, and I think I will probably mix up my bar buying more than I have done previously,

For the next test I am wondering about testing cake to see if it has any benefit to athletic performance, the results of this I don’t care about but it would be a great excuse to eat a lot of cake!

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Side Project – PowerBar Energize Bar – Chocolate Flavour

I have finally reached and finished the last bar, I have no idea why it took so long to finish the last bar but at least I have now done it.

I have to say this was not my favourite bar, I didn’t mind the texture but the chocolate flavour just tasted a little odd to me.

The wrapper was easy to open, as it seems are all the PowerBar bars and the initial taste is ok but the flavour soon becomes a little sickly for me. If I had been asked before I started I would have said that a caramel flavour would have been worse, but it turned out to be the humble chocolate one.

Did it work, now that is the real question, well I have to say it did. In the absence of any scientific testing, I ate this bar before a run having not eaten anything else since breakfast having missed lunch due to a combination of reasons, and I never felt hungry during the run or a lack of energy, it was only a 45 minute trail run but  it had some hills to test the legs.

As I said initially this was not my favourite bar and that is because of the flavour, I simply didn’t enjoy it, it had a cheap easter egg sort of chocolate flavour, not something I enjoy.

In conclusion, this bar did seem to work but I didn’t like the flavour so probably won’t buy it again in the future.

Side Project – High 5 Energy Bar – Berry Flavour

Another energy bar and once again one I enjoyed. This bar is a flapjack style bar which gives a really good texture and also makes it chewy so it feels like real food as opposed to some sort of sticky mess.

I really liked the berry flavour, it is a strong taste and certainly to me tasted like it was supposed to.

I used the bar whilst out on a very muddy mountain bike ride, and ate it whilst fixing a puncture! The packaging was easy to open with gloves on and the initial bite was actually very satisfying. At the tim I ate it was was just starting to think about food I hadn’t reached the point of being hungry and I found eating this bar removed that feeling.

I did find that I didn’t need to eat anything else for the rest of the ride, approx about another hour and a quarter and didn’t feel hungry again so I would have to say that in terms of does it work that it did.

As I said above I enjoyed both the flavour and the texture of the bar and as it is like a flapjack it was visually pleasing to.

I am now getting down to the last couple of bars and so shortly I should have some sort of conclusion although I doubt it will be earth shattering!

Side Project – Power Bar Ride Energy Bar – Peanut Caramel Flavour

Another Power Bar and another one that scores highly in terms of both texture and flavour.

Like one of the earlier bars this is again a chewy bar and one that leaves you feeling that you have just eaten something solid.

I used one these bars before a cyclo cross race and found it stopped me feeling hungry mid-race which has happened in the past, it’s hard to say if it gave any extra energy but as the course was super muddy and I kept going it might have.

The second of the bars was eaten mid mountain bike ride and again it was satisfying to eat and certainly filled a hole at that time.

The flavour is as advertised and I really like the taste, as I said before these bars are chewy with a solid feel to them and so you do have to be careful not to take too big a bite ealse it can be tricky to chew and cycle!

I think that so far the Power Bar ride bars have bene my favourites as they have really good flavours, are solid and have a texture that I really like.

The only downside is that if you are are in the cold then the bars can become a bit hard if you keep them in your bag and when hard become like the old fashioned Texan bar which has been kept in the fridge, i.e. very hard!

All in all another good bar which I liked.

Side Project – Power Bar Ride Energy Bar – Chocolate Caramel Flavour

This another bar made by Power Bar, and it is slightly different to the last one I tested/ate. A bat which promised a more solid feel and flavour, and it certainly is a chunky little number.

I tested this bar by using it on the Ballbuster duathlon, a slightly risky strategy but I didn’t have much choice as I am finally out of my old favourite bars and so all I have is the bars I am going to test.

The first thing I noticed with this bar when I took a big bite, is that when it is cold it is solid and is actually quite hard to chew big mouthfuls of, with hindsight I should have taken a smaller bite but I didn’t. The initial bite took me quite a while to chew my way through due to the size of it, but the taste was good and the flavour was as described on the packet. Once you got into the bar the taste and texture were both good, it felt like you were eating something substantial and it also didn’t have one of those artificial after tastes.

On the second bite, i took a much smaller bite, I learnt from the first one, and it was much more manageable to chew and more enjoyable to eat. I started the bar on the first lap of the bike course and finished it coming into transition 2, so it lasted the entire bike course by just biting off manageable chunks.

As ever, the most important question is did it work, well I never ran out of energy on the bike or the second run and didn’t feel hungry on either, so I can only assume it did it’s job in  lack of scientific testing.

Overall I liked this bar, and I think it would be interesting to try some other flavours as this one was tasty and I think currently it has been my favourite bar to test, but there are still a few to go so we will see.

Side Project -Power Bar Energize – Mango & Passionfruit Flavour

An interesting bar this one, in that it appears to be very flat and for some reason I expected it to be very sticky once the wrapper was opened.

The actual wrapper was very easy to open, both with gloves on and off, and the bar was not that sticky. In terms of taste the flavour was really good, you could make out the fruits and it had an after taste that was quite refreshing.

In terms of texture the bar was like one of the fruit salad chewy sweets, a little tacky to the touch but not overly so.

I used two of these bars, one before a turbo session and the other whilst out on the bike, and I have to say that seems to work I didn’t feel hungry on either occasion and my energy levels were kept up, so in the absence of any scientific testing I would say this bar works.

Would I buy more of these bars? Yes I would, I have to say to that the flavour was better than the High 5 banana bar and when you combine that with the easy to open wrapper it is a good all round bar.

Side Project -High 5 Energy Bar – Banana Flavour

The first review is of the High 5 Energy bar in banana flavour, and as I said in my original post there is no science behind these reviews they are going to be subjective only, as I have no idea how to scientifically test them, and if that is the type of review you are after then I am sure many magazines have already done that.

The packaging was easy to open an the first bite certainly gave a very bananary taste, in fact it was very strong.

In terms of texture it was a little rubbery for me, although that may not be a bad thing, it just was not a texture I liked a lot.

As you ate your way through the bar the taste did change a bit, it became a sort of hybrid of banana and the taste of the foam banana sweets you get. A kind of strong yet very artificial flavour.

Did the bar work, well I ate this one in between a bike and run session, so after a hard turbo trainer workout and before I set out on an easy paced run. I have to say that I didn’t become hungry on the run and also felt like I had a steady amount of energy throughout with no initial peaks and a sudden tail off.

There was a bit of a downside, I found the bar did repeat on me a bit whilst running and the  after taste was not pleasant a kind of off artificial banana taste.

In summary, the bar seemed to work, it was a banana flavour but perhaps not one I would turn to again in a hurry as I sure some of the other flavours will be better. I could give it a score, but I have decided not to do that, the outcome would be if I would consider buying it again and whether I actually buy some more.

The answer is I probably wouldn’t buy this flavour again.

A Small Side Project

I have decided to do a little side project, and that is to try out a variety of energy bars to see which ones I like. Currently I use the Zipvit ZV8 Energy Bar in the uncoated chocolate flavour and have done for years, it is one of those bars that I just like the taste of and it seems to work. However, it seems that Zipvit no longer do that flavour and the other option i don’t really like.

So in order to do this I went to Holland and Barrett and bought a selection of bars from a variety of companies.

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Now the thing to point out at this point is that there will be no science in the reviews, I have no way of testing it other than subjectively, in as much as did it seem to work for me, did I like the taste etc.

So, over the next few weeks and months I will write up my reviews and see if I can find some bars I actually like.

A Different Kind Of Struggle

I wrote at the start of the year about issues I was having with my weight, the truth was I weighed far more than I should have, and the fact was I needed to shed some weight in order to be able to race, or for that matter train properly.

Since then my weight did come back under control to the point where whilst not as low as I would have liked it was certainly under control. This then led to another issue, those being stomach issues, properly more correctly referred to as gut health.

I have long suffered with issues in that region, the exact details I will spare you but let’s just say the song Ring of Fire was very apt!

The cause of these issues has also long been known to me, it is nothing more complicated than sugar. This ingredient is found in very many foods and is particularly prevalent in my favourite food of cake. I have a sweet tooth, I love the cake, chocolate, biscuits, a full fat coke, I think you get the idea.

Now, the simple idea is that you can just stop eating all of those foods and all will be well, but it is not as simple as that. I am sure I am not alone in that feeling of craving something sweet to eat particularly when you want a quick snack, yes I know there are other options but are they as satisfying? Ask yourself.

So cutting these foods out wasn’t that straight forward, but I knew action had to be taken as the issues with my gut were causing problems when racing and just in general life.

I can be quite driven when I want to be, it isn’t a natural state for me, but I can do it and so I decided the only option was to cut out the puddings, cake etc I didn’t believe I could do it gradually I just needed to do it all or nothing.

The first week I did this it was so hard, I often found myself getting the biscuit tin opening it and just staring at the contents, I felt like an addict I was scared one biscuit would lead to another, another and so on. I got to the end of the first week and felt ok. The second week went ok, a little less hard but still not easy, and at the end of that week I had a small pudding, I didn’t suddenly want another or anything after it but never felt like I had cracked it.

Another week went by, and no sweet stuff or desert, then another week, this time I had another small desert. The count of deserts was still less than the number of weeks I was trying this.

My gut health improved a lot and I was feeling better generally.

However, an second issue raised it’s head, the number of calories in all the sweet stuff is quite high and I found I was now struggling to eat the required number in a day as salad, fruit etc are much lower. This has now led me to keeping track of my calorie in take so I can ensure I eat the right amount, and now having an extra meal in the evening is quite common or even just a bowl of chips (I know but you can’t cut out all treats!)

Overall, I am now feeling much better, my weight has come down again I am eating a better diet and generally feel I have taken a good step forward. I haven’t really got rid of the feeling of being a sugar addict and only have the occasional ice cream, but I think I will eventually be able to have a dessert or something sweet more regularly without impact, but until I feel I have reached that point I will carry on my sweet way (pun intended!)

I know that there has been a lot of press around sugar and how much you should have etc and I am certainly not going to preach to someone how you should eat, but for me this is working and if it stops working I will only have one person to blame, myself.