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 ten great bars to consider if you’re on the hunt for a bar to fuel your training.
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. £24 for 20 mini bars (mixed flavours), buy on scienceinsport.com
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. £24 for 18 bars, buy on primalpantry.com, check price on amazon.co.uk
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. £1.60-£1.79 per bar, available at Tesco and Holland & Barrett stores, clifbar.co.uk, check price on amazon.co.uk
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. £5.99 for five bars, buy on snact.co.uk
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. £23.99 for box of 12 bars, buy on sensbar.com
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. £1.89 per ball, £7.99 for five, available at Tesco, Sainsbury’s and other supermarkets, buy on uk.bouncefoods.com, check price on amazon.co.uk
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. £35.75 for 25 bars, buy on highfive.co.uk, check price on amazon.co.uk
Extra credit goes to PowerBar for its range of flavours, which extends beyond chocolate variations to include options like Mango Tropical, Gingerbread and Bella Italia (tomato-ey!). Each 55g bar contains 35-40g of carbs and 100mg of sodium, a vital electrolyte to keep topped up during sweaty endurance workouts. £27.11 for 25 bars, powerbar.eu, buy on amazon.co.uk
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. £6.99 for three bars, buy on veloforte.cc
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. £6 for ten bars, buy on musclefood.com