While energy gels have become the go-to source of fuel for most runners and cyclists, there are times when the craving for solid food is insatiable. Energy bars might be a little less convenient than gels, especially if you’re trying to eat them mid-run or ride, but they make up for that by being altogether more satisfying – and many people also find they’re less likely to cause stomach issues.
Energy bars, by their very nature, are high in calories and carbohydrates, which means that (a) you should do some exercise before or after eating them and (b) they tend to be delicious.
For most exercise that lasts less than 60 minutes you can get all the energy you need from your normal diet, but if you’re tackling long training sessions, or working out a couple of times a day, then a little extra boost is no bad thing.
Here are eleven great bars to consider if you’re on the hunt for a bar to fuel your training.
OTE Crispy Rice Duo Bar
These aren’t your grandma’s rice crispy cakes, although you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise when you first unwrap them. However, the two Rice Krispies-like bars contained in each packet have been designed by professional sports nutritionists to deliver precisely what you need to excel in your exercise endeavours. There are 20g of carbs in each bar, so 40g in the 65g packet in total, plus 7g of protein. There are vanilla and chocolate flavours, both of which are on the high end of the sweet scale as you’d expect – nay, demand – from a Rice Krispies cake.
Buy on Amazon | £25.43-£26.20 for 12 bars
NamedSport Total Energy Fruit Bar Cranberry & Nuts
As professional journalists, we’re always taking extensive, detailed notes when trying something out. Here are the notes for this bar: “Oh yes. Very yes. That is the stuff.” It’s a very tasty bar, with just the right level of sweetness and a marzipan kick. Each vegan-friendly 35g bar contains 30g of carbs and is made from nuts, crisped rice, honey and fruit.
Buy from NamedSport | £1.70
Lucho Dillitos Bocadillo
Straight outta Colombia comes a product that’s sure to give you a quick energy boost. Bocadillos are made from the guava plant and not much else – the only other ingredient in the original flavour is sugar (15%), with raspberry and coffee versions also available. As to the taste, it’s jelly-baby sweet, as befits a product that has 22.4g of carbs per block, of which 22.4g are sugars. There’s not much else except a trace of salt, plus vitamin C, calcium and iron (plants FTW). And the whole thing is wrapped up in a biodegradable banana leaf.
Buy on Amazon | £13.99 plus delivery for pack of ten
If you’re looking to cram as much protein into your diet as possible, consider this flapjack bar which crowbars in 15g of the stuff – that’s as much as some protein bars – using whey and caseinate. However, we’ve classed it as an energy bar because it’s predominantly made up of rolled oats, which are responsible for the 27g of carbs in each 60g, 222-calorie bar. Some kind of witchcraft must be responsible for making the blueberry muffin flavour legitimately taste like a blueberry muffin, but all three Smartjack flavours hit the mark. In fact, these were so popular that there was squabbling in the office when the samples were being split up… and, as well all know, spoiled journos fighting over freebies is the highest form of flattery.
Buy from PHD | £17.99-£19.08 for 12 60g bars
SIS GO Energy Bar
The good news about the SiS range of energy bars is that there’s something for everyone – there are small bars, big bars, bars with protein as well as carbs, bars with caffeine for an extra burst of energy… And the even better news is that all these bars are pretty darn tasty. The SiS GO bars are pleasantly moist and there’s an impressive range of favours that includes reliable crowd-pleasers like Chocolate Fudge and more intriguing options like Banana Fudge. You can never have too many fudge options, we say, although the Apple And Blackcurrant flavour won us over. Almost refreshing, it was. The bars also impress when it comes to hard numbers, packing in 25g of carbs in the 40g Mini Bar, which also have 4.7g of protein. The 60g GO Energy + Protein bar has 35g of carbs to go with 10g of protein for a well-rounded recovery treat after a strenuous run or cycle.
Buy from SIS | £24 for 20 40g bars (mixed flavours)
The Primal Pantry
It’s a good sign when you know what everything on the list of ingredients looks like. These vegan bars tend to mix dates (for sweetness) with a variety of nuts and seeds (an essential part of a balanced diet, let alone a vegan one) and there are six flavours to choose from, with the least carb-y-est still turning up to the party with more than 16g of the stuff. We tried the Acai Berry and Superseed flavour – and went back for more. It’s got a light, eminently palatable flavour that’s not excessively sweet, even though it packs in 15g of sugars as part of the 20g of carbs. There’s also a chunky 4g of fibre and 5g of protein. A surefire winner in our book.
Buy on Amazon | £22.50 for 18 45g bars
The tastiest range of energy bars on the market, bar none. Each bar in Clif’s range – highlights of which include the Chocolate Almond Fudge, Crunchy Peanut Butter and Cool Mint Chocolate bars – is made with rolled oats, so you get over 4g of fibre to go along with the 40g-plus of carbs and around 10g of protein they contain.
Buy on Amazon | £17.30 for 12 68g bars
Snact Banana Bar
You know that it’s what on the inside that counts, but do you know you should extend that line of thinking to bananas? Snact does. Its energy bars combine ugly, rejected bananas with oats and pumpkin seeds for a treat that packs in 17g-19g of carbs, plus 3g of protein and 2g fibre. There are three flavours, but for our money the Carrot & Spice edges out Beetroot & Cacao and Apple & Cinnamon thanks to the tasty trinity of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. It’s like a slice of carrot cake compacted down into an energy bar.
Buy from Snact | £5.99 for five 35g bars
Sens Energy Bars
The hook with these energy bars is that they are made with cricket flour. Around 55 crickets go into each bar, which accounts for the 7.7g of protein in the Dark Chocolate And Orange flavoured bar, and also makes them especially eco-friendly because crickets require less water, land and feed to farm than traditional livestock. Don’t worry – they’re also virtually tasteless. The Dark Chocolate And Orange bar gets our vote, but the Pineapple And Coconut flavour also hits the mark.
Buy on Amazon | £23.99 for 12 50g bars
Bounce Energy Balls
If you prefer your energy hit to come in a spherical shape, n look no further than Bounce’s range of balls. There are flavours to suit all comers, with Apple And Cinnamon winning over our tastebuds, and each ball is made with nuts and seeds to add some extra protein into the mix. Each 40g ball contains 15-20g of carbs, as well as a couple of grams of fibre and around 10g of protein.
Buy on Amazon | £19.98 for 12 42g balls
High5 Energy Bars
These bars are not concerned about protein, fibre and indeed anything other than carbs, providing 40g of them in each 60g bar, which are made of a mix of grains and fruit (there’s enough of the latter to count as one of your five-a-day, which is a bonus). They’re designed to be eaten before or during your exercise, which means they’re easier to chew and swallow than the other bars on this list. Flavour-wise, we reckon Wild Berry is the pick, but there are also Banana, Coconut and Peanut options to consider.
Buy on Amazon | £19.75 for 25 55g bars
For an altogether classier energy bar experience, look to Veloforte. The all-natural bars are stylishly packaged and even have fancy foreign-sounding names. More importantly, they taste ruddy good, with the Classico and Di Bosco bars even picking up Great Taste Awards in 2017. Fruity and nutty are the two words that describe the flavours best, and the texture is certainly on the chewy side – you’ll struggle to get a bar down mid-activity, but they’re a top option for before you start or during breaks. Each 70g bar contains around 45g of carbs, 3-4g of fibre and 5-6g of protein.
Buy from Veloforte | £6.99 for three 70g bars
Soreen Malt Loaf Bar
There are plenty of fancy ideas and newfangled recipes on this list, and 79-year-old baking company Soreen isn’t getting left behind – oh no. It’s taken the malt loaf it’s famous for and made it into a malt loaf… bar. As the maxim should go, if it ain’t broke, make it fit in a pocket. And it certainly ain’t broke: the slow-release carbs, B vitamins and amino acids make the squidgy, sweet treat a favourite of athletes from disciplines as varied as running and rugby. The bar contains 24g of carbs per 42g serving, but weighs in at a surprisingly light 124 calories for what is a dense, heavy snack.
Buy from Muscle Food | £4.95 for ten 42g bars