An energy bar is a bar intended to help the athlete to realize his or her effort. It should not be confused with the cereal bar that does not have the necessary intakes or the protein bar (hyperprotein) which mostly provides protein and to a lesser extent carbohydrates, the latter being the fuel of effort .
Why consume an energy bar ?
I explained in the first paragraph of the sports drink why it was necessary to have an external contribution of energy (to summarize, the daily diet brings energy for 1 hour of effort but it is not enough after); this principle applies to an energy bar that is simply another form of energy intake. For me, energy bar is the ideal complement to an sports drink! It has the particular interest of providing solid and varying flavors.
What is an energy bar ?
Once again, just like the sports drink, the energy bar must have carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. I recommend sodium, magnesium, zinc, BCAA as well as vitamins C (or E), B1 and B3 (niacin). The dosage is important and allows to prove the effectiveness of these as demonstrated by the allegations.
Energy bar or sports drink ?
For me, an sports drink must remains the main energy supplier for the simple reason that a reconstituted 500mL can bring far more carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals than a single energy bar (not to mention the arguments in the following point) . So this is true for carbohydrates, then it’s more complicated for minerals! Take the grammages of the ingredients of the lowest grades of my drink comparison and compare the ingredients of the best notes on the comparison of bars … and you will see that it is not so simple. However, this argument about the amount of active ingredients added to digestibility (next point) means that the sports drink must remain your main contribution.
Any problem with an sports drink ?
An energy bar has defects that can be prohibitive:
- It must be easy to eat / chew during the race! So yes, it is not noted on the packaging but if you have a complicated bar to chew, it comes back to running with a kind of chewing gum and the appearance of side points, and the risk of getting upset … which will only have a negative effect on your performance.
- It must not have pieces of cereal. Certainly, as I said in the introduction, an energy bar is different from a bar of cereal, but what is more unpleasant than having a piece od cereal stuck in the tooth, try to remove it with the tongue while running!
Finally, an important point, eating during exercise increases digestive disorders, shortness of breath …. You will have less problem of the kind with a drink than with a bar. Indeed, the stomach will have to work in addition while being less irrigated because of the race and it difficult to cope with it
When to consume an energy bar ?
It is necessary to differentiate the cycling (and indirectly the cycling part of the triathlon) and other sports including running (trail, ultra-trail, marathon, 100km …).
The 1st city is a sport carried, the shock wave during the effort between the body and the ground is lighter, the consumption of solid is less “traumatic” at the digestive level. Starting from this observation, the consumption of energy bar can be quantitatively increased with why not 1 bar per hour.
On sports with shock waves (running …), the energy bar must remain anecdotal, some athletes that I am do not use solid on races of 7-8h! The energy bar should be consumed in small pieces, well chewed (otherwise it is the stomach that will have more work and it is not good), a sip of drink (water or energy) taken then to well swallow everything . If this consumption can be associated with a slight slowdown so as not to create side points (or others), it is interesting. Concretely (and this depends on the nutritive quality of the bar) but 1 bar every 3 hours is a good ratio. It should be noted that on ultra trails or endurance, the intake of solid is recommended on the energetic, gustatory and psychological levels.
For both types of disciplines, the bar must be tested during training, in conditions close to the race so as not to be trapped on D-Day!
What about salty bar , home made bars, protein bars ?
Knowing that an energy bar is by definition a carbohydrate bar, having a salty aroma behind me seems suspicious. Eating sugar that has a salty taste, hummm … For having tested myself some salted bars on the market, my theoretical conviction is confirmed by the taste of the bar as well as its nutritive poverty. After everyone is free to do what he wants.
Home made bars
I propose you a recipe of energy bar home easy to realize, 100% natural. It can be more or less protein, more or less carbohydrate depending on the ingredients you integrate.
It is a protein bar that does not have the main interest of bringing carbohydrates. As a matter of fact, more than 33% is protein. However, proteins having a role in muscle function (especially recovery), I recommend this kind of bar on long efforts at the rate of one every 3-4h.
As a conclusion
An energy bar is for sure a complement to an sports drink and not a substitute, it must have an interesting composition, it must be tested before the Day J. Be careful not to confuse it with a bar of energy. cereal or hyperprotein bar.
Sports Dietitian Nutritionist