The Truth About Energy Bars; It Will Shock You 

The Truth About Energy Bars; It Will Shock You 

If you're an avid cyclist, chances are you're also an energy bars and gels expert. You've probably tried every brand on the market and have nailed it down to one or two brands that you never leave home without.

Energy bar companies make some pretty big and bold promises, things like increasing energy and improving alertness, and some even claim to boost your bike performance, but do these claims stack up? Or are they just part of the multi-million dollar campaign ads aimed at taking your hard-earned cash?

Unfortunately, the chances are, once you cut through the snazzy ads and the flashy packaging, the most you're going to get out of your $7 energy bar is a decent dose of sugar and caffeine. 

Start By Making Smarter Choices

With our busy lifestyles and the pressures we all face, most people feel run down, tired, and quite honestly downright exhausted. Now, when you add the extra energy expended for a ride, it's easy to see how your body can quickly become nutrient deficient. Because of this, it's hardly surprising that nutritional supplements have flooded the market, offering convenient health snacks for on the go.

However, this can be good, especially for people who like to ride early in the morning before breakfast and want something small to help them stay fuelled while riding. The fact of the matter, though, is that energy bars will never replace the nutrients you can get from healthy snacks like a boiled egg or a handful of nuts.

That being said, you're much better off choosing an energy bar from a well-known brand than eating a bag of potato chips or some candy. But remember, just because an energy bar has more vitamins and minerals doesn’t automatically make it suitable for a long ride. 

Understanding the Downsides of Energy Bars

Let's take a look at some no BS facts when it comes to the energy bar, gels, and drinks market.

Excessive Sugar and Calories

Sugar in a bowl and sugar cubes besides the bowl

I bet you didn't know that the vast majority of energy bars contain more than 400 calories? Now that's nearly half of the calories you'll burn in a 60-minute ride. If you're an elite cyclist, this won't be a problem, but if you're a weekend warrior, those extra calories can cause significant weight gain. 

Extra sugar is also less than ideal, especially for riders who may struggle with high blood pressure or other cardiovascular conditions. 

Jam-Packed With Caffeine

Coffee beans

Although caffeine is legal, did you know that it's still classed as a stimulant drug? Excessive caffeine can cause problems such as nausea, poor sleep, jitters, headaches, and even tiredness.

But apart from those adverse effects on the body, excessive caffeine can have more severe and long-term effects like irregular heartbeats, seizures, high blood pressure, and even hallucinations. Energy drinks are NOT a substitute for a nice little espresso or a sports drink, simply because of the excess caffeine.

Energy Bars Are Not Meal Replacements

Have you ever eaten an energy bar at dinner or lunchtime and then sat down feeling satiated and fulfilled? I haven't; in fact, energy bars make terrible replacements for a healthy, well-balanced meal. 

Nothing can beat a natural organic snack like a handful of nuts, some fresh fruit, or even a peanut butter sandwich. However, if you don't have time, energy bars and gels are better than nothing, but you should do your best to steer clear of them.

Several excellent apps help track your macro and micronutrient intake, but the trouble is, as with most apps, they drain your iPhone in a heartbeat. The easiest way to combat a dead iPhone battery is to purchase a charging case for your iPhone. There are a few iPhone case chargers, but you must ensure you buy one that is an iPhone compatible charging case.

Many well-known brands claim to have added vitamins and minerals, but they fall a long way short of supplying your body with the nutrients it needs to perform your best while out on the bike. The only genuine way to perform is to take the time to eat REAL FOOD. 

Unknown and Unlisted ingredients

If you thought excessive caffeine and extra calories were bad, wait until you hear about the unlisted ingredients that most energy bars contain; oh wait, you won't hear about them because the companies hide them from you.

Ingredients largely untested and not third-party tested, like guarana and taurine, have been known to cause harmful side effects like irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure. Many, if not the vast majority of these brands, contain ingredients that have not been tested or approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

These untested ingredients can cause problems for cyclists, especially for those who may be taking prescription medicine. It's always best to play it safe and read the label carefully; if you're unsure, DON'T eat it. 

Energy Bars and Gels Are Expensive

Energy bars are expensive, especially for what you get, which, as you've seen, is not much. For $5, you're much better off buying some bananas, organic peanut butter, or trail mix. Not only do these alternatives to energy bars taste better, but they're much better for your health too.

When it comes to energy gels, your best bet is to drink high-quality bottled water instead or a sports drink to help replace the lost electrolytes caused by excessive sweating.

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