The best and the worst sports drinks and energy bars
I wrote the title for this piece first, and then thought, ‘if I have to list all the worst, most disgusting sport nutrition products I’ve tried, I’ll be here all day.’ Some of them are so vile they make me grimace and quite frankly, I’d rather go hungry and thirsty, or just get a cake. Maybe if you’re in serious training of some kind, forcing down some chalky bar or chugging a salty drink is ok, but I’ve never been serious about anything in my life.
Anyway, this post is about the good, so which are they and why do they rock?
First up, yer drink. If I’m riding for anything less than an hour, I try to stick to water, as for short periods of exercise, that’s all you need. For anything over an hour, I swear by Nuun, because it tastes really nice, and all the other hydration tabs I’ve tried don’t. The grape flavour is my absolute favourite, I have to try and limit myself to small sips or I’d down the whole lot as soon as I leave the house – that’s how nice it tastes.
If you’re going a litter harder or longer, or if it’s really hot and you’re sweating a lot, these hydration tabs are ideal, as they contain electrolytes that help with all manner of things, from fluid control, to blood pressure and exhaustion. If you’ve depleted all your electrolytes, then all the water in the world won’t help and you will feel totally crap. Nuun’s little tabs are also sugar and carb free, which means all the good stuff goes straight into your system.
Next, gels. Some of these should not be called food. They should have a warning on them, or be used for torture. The ONLY ones that taste nice are Science In Sport’s GO Gels, which are a kind of watery jelly texture, meaning they’re easy to consume. These do have carbs, and are a good pick me up if you start flagging.
The other gel products that I like are Clif’s Shot Blocs, because they do a similar thing but they’re like chewy sweets. Yum. I’d steer clear of Clif’s coffee flavoured gel in a tube though, as I still have nightmares about the one I ate.
And finally, the best energy bars. If you’re riding for over an hour, it’s always a good idea to eat something, even if you’re not hungry. Basically, as you cycle you deplete your stores of carbohydrate. You really need to avoid this happening, otherwise you’ll ‘bonk,’ which basically means you’ll start feeling really, really rubbish and struggle to get home.
If I’m going to eat something, I want it to taste nice, whether I’m cycling or not, so that rules out so many energy bars you wouldn’t believe!
The best are Clif Bars, which are really enjoyable; an actual treat. The texture is kind of like a flapjack but with less grease and sticky stuff, but having said that, they’re not dry in any way. My favourite flavours are Peanut Butter, White Chocolate and Macadamia and Oatmeal Raisin Walnut. I could actually live on these, I love them that much. Another good one is Bounce Energy Balls’ Peanut Butter Blast – this is like a big, chewy peanut butter flavoured toffee – tastes brilliant but as it’s so chewy I tend to eat these off the bike in between runs when I’m mountain biking, rather than on the go whilst road cycling.
So there you have it. Yummy things that will help keep you going, and that taste good not crap. Win!