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Are Energy Bars for Suckers?

Old 09-03-11, 10:08 PM
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Are Energy Bars for Suckers?

I currently take Powerbars on bike trips, and guess they do the job. But I just read this:
Energy bars are an option, but real food is better, says USA Cycling-certified coach Eddie Monnier. For three-plus-hour rides, he suggests jelly sandwiches with a little peanut butter and Fig Newtons before bars or gels.
https://www.bicycling.com/beginners/b...imers?page=0,3

Reading nutrition labels at the store, fig bars have one-ninth the protein of energy bars, and don't have other nutrients. Plus the fig bars have HFCS (not that I'm much worried about that). Powerbars have a bunch of nice, natural, real-food sounding ingredients.
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Old 09-03-11, 10:31 PM
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I'm not sure they're considered energy bars or not, but I'm particularly fond of Julie Bars.
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Old 09-04-11, 09:48 AM
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It's the naturalistic fallacy. Just because food is more "natural" doesn't make it "better". Although fig newtons is a strange example of "real food".
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Old 09-04-11, 10:37 AM
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As far as I know, you body just needs sugar / electrolytes while on the bike. Orange juice with salt added is most likely as good as the world's most expensive energy bar.
The only reason you'd need any of those vitamins / proteins while on the bike is if your nutrition is crap the rest of the day anyway.

Now if you plan on biking for like 10 hours without stops, then maybe you can bring some bars along for convenience to act as meal replacement.
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Old 09-04-11, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by gbiker
Reading nutrition labels at the store, fig bars have one-ninth the protein of energy bars, and don't have other nutrients. Plus the fig bars have HFCS (not that I'm much worried about that). Powerbars have a bunch of nice, natural, real-food sounding ingredients.
Protein is useful for recovery but it isn't necessary on the bike. Carbs are what you need. Get your other nutrients from fruits & veggies during the day.
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Old 09-04-11, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by gregf83
Protein is useful for recovery but it isn't necessary on the bike. Carbs are what you need. Get your other nutrients from fruits & veggies during the day.
There have been some recent suggestions that some protein intake during a long ride improves recovery. Personally I think the "real food" advice is good. Dried fruit, a few nuts, sandwiches, bananas, I don't think power bars are superior to these nutritionally and most of them are, to me, unpleasantly sweet. It's pretty easy to get your 60g of carbs per hour from proper food.
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Old 09-04-11, 12:28 PM
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I'll take a PBJ on wheat over a powerbar/cliffbar/etc any day.
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Old 09-04-11, 12:43 PM
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I like dried fruit and nut mixes and granola bars over the flavor of most energy bars I've tried, but then I'm not an expert, just know what flavors I like.
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Old 09-04-11, 01:06 PM
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Have been making my own power bars for ages... honey, peanut butter, oats, raisins, dried fruit, and nuts in what is a simple recipe.

Supplies the range of sugars you need for short energy bursts (honey) and more complex carbs for extended efforts (oats), peanut butter and nuts provide a moderate amount of protein and fat which are good for recovery and the dried fruits and raisins provide some additional sugars as well as other nutrients.

Figured he cost to make my own is about 50 cents a bar and find them for more satisfying taste wise and leave me feeling more sated than energy bars and gels.

For a day long ride I will pack these and fruits like bananas which I eat early on and apples which are good later in the ride and start my day with hot oatmeal so will usually be good for a few hours before I need to recharge with a bar.

Will agree that real food is best... the supplement industry is huge and they work hard to convince you that you need high tech foods to perform at a high level and these tend to be rather costly.

Fig Newtons are great and you can find organic ones that have no HFCS or added sugars... figs in themselves are a super food and are even better fresh.
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Old 09-04-11, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver
Have been making my own power bars for ages... honey, peanut butter, oats, raisins, dried fruit, and nuts in what is a simple recipe.
Today I took along a walnut and raisin mix in a plastic baggie. It was a little hard to eat while riding. How do you take the ingredients and make them into easy-to-eat bars?
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Old 09-04-11, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by nathan.johnson
Today I took along a walnut and raisin mix in a plastic baggie. It was a little hard to eat while riding. How do you take the ingredients and make them into easy-to-eat bars?
Mix one cup of honey and one cup of peanut butter in a saucepan and warm it enough so that they blend smoothly, blend in 3 cups of oats and half a cup of raisins/ dried fruit / nuts and press into an 8 inch square pan.

Chill and cut into 8 bars, wrap them in saran or foil and you are done.

Prep time is less than 20 minutes, they should chill until they are firm which takes about an hour or less if you pop them in the freezer.

They run about 300 calories per bar depending on the extra half a cup of whatever makes you happy... some people use chocolate but I can't handle the sweetness.

Almond butter works just as well for those who can't handle peanuts (make this version for my wife and kid's lunches) and I sometimes replace a little of the honey with maple syrup for a different flavour.

My kids think these are the best snack ever.
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Old 09-05-11, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by gbiker
I currently take Powerbars on bike trips, and guess they do the job. But I just read this:

https://www.bicycling.com/beginners/b...imers?page=0,3

Reading nutrition labels at the store, fig bars have one-ninth the protein of energy bars, and don't have other nutrients. Plus the fig bars have HFCS (not that I'm much worried about that). Powerbars have a bunch of nice, natural, real-food sounding ingredients.
Fig bars are just carbs, gels are just sugar.

Clif Builder Bars seem to be excellent for supplying everything, same with Clif Bars. They're tasty, too. They're real food (mostly soy, some other stuff--peanut butter, nuts, the like), plus a mixture of nutrients... basically a multivitamin in candy bar form.

Gels are excellent for putting metered energy into your system. Peanut butter, nutella, and some kind of jam does a bang-up job of supplying actual fuel (protein and multiple forms of energy) to keep your body running well, but Clif Bars also work well. It's your choice.
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Old 09-05-11, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by chasm54
There have been some recent suggestions that some protein intake during a long ride improves recovery. Personally I think the "real food" advice is good. Dried fruit, a few nuts, sandwiches, bananas, I don't think power bars are superior to these nutritionally and most of them are, to me, unpleasantly sweet. It's pretty easy to get your 60g of carbs per hour from proper food.
Your body does a lot more than just burn things when you do work. It needs to make a lot of weird chemical enzymes, and that takes amino acids supplied by proteins, which don't really store well. A protein intake helps. Maybe not 250g of protein, but something.

If you want to get at your fat stores, you will need to either cannibalize your muscles or intake a small amount of protein to generate the proteins associated with lipolysis.
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Old 09-05-11, 09:23 PM
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larabars
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Old 09-05-11, 11:50 PM
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I like larabars but can't eat them on long rides - too heavy or something. I prefer the dried fruit, PB&J - gels, blocks, stingers and bonk breakers b/c they are convenient. I don't understand how people are able to chow down big lunches at the half way point on centuries etc. Too much food.
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Old 09-06-11, 12:37 AM
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+1 sixtyfiver, I have been looking into making some of my own, and seeing you stick a recipe in front of my face my finally motivate me to do it.
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Old 09-06-11, 01:28 AM
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Fig Newtons. Pop Tarts. Potatoes. Freeze Fried Bananas.
EVERYTHING ELSE IS PEASANT FOOD.
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Old 09-06-11, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver
Mix one cup of honey and one cup of peanut butter in a saucepan and warm it enough so that they blend smoothly, blend in 3 cups of oats and half a cup of raisins/ dried fruit / nuts and press into an 8 inch square pan. [snip/]
Thanks! Sounds pretty easy. Do you make your own peanut butter or buy it at the grocery store? I'm not big on buying PB when I can make it myself and I'm wondering if I'd need to do anything different in making the bars. Have you ever tried making them with walnut butter?
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Old 09-06-11, 12:37 PM
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I like natural peanut butter and can buy it freshly ground at several locations... it needs no added oil / salt / sugar and think that any nut butter should work.

Have used almond butter in the same proportion with the same good results and would like to know how walnut butter works.
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Old 09-06-11, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by shawmutt
It's the naturalistic fallacy. Just because food is more "natural" doesn't make it "better". Although fig newtons is a strange example of "real food".
+1

There's plenty of stuff in "natural" food that, in isolation, is toxic and/or carcinogenic. Solanine (potatoes and others from the Solanum family), aflatoxin (peanuts), and caffeic acid (tomatoes) come to mind.

Of course, diet is too complex for us to fully know how any one substance interacts with others, but these examples have definite negative effects on human health.

Last edited by tadawdy; 09-06-11 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 09-08-11, 09:18 PM
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Snickers bar. Cheap, tasty, lots of carbs and even some protein. I think you'll find they compare favorably on the nutritional analysis.
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Old 09-09-11, 05:34 AM
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I'm a big fan of Brendan Brazier's "Thrive Diet" (not so much a diet in the conventional sense, but whatever). Anyhow, here are some of his recipes for energy bar and gels, I highly recommend checking out his books (especially the ones with recipes!):

https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recip...?recipe=638287
https://vegzombie.wordpress.com/2010/...e-thrive-diet/
https://www.nomeatathlete.com/thrive-energy-gel-recipe/
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Old 09-09-11, 09:12 AM
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I think making your own is a great idea and just as good if not better than buying a bar. However, even though I am not rich by any means, I have more money than free time so I just find it more convenient to buy pre-packaged bars.
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Old 09-09-11, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by lemmy
I think making your own is a great idea and just as good if not better than buying a bar. However, even though I am not rich by any means, I have more money than free time so I just find it more convenient to buy pre-packaged bars.
I can whip up a batch of home made bars in about the same time it takes me to go to the store... I try and avoid as many pre-packaged foods as possible and find that most packaged energy bars taste like crap.
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Old 09-09-11, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver
Mix one cup of honey and one cup of peanut butter in a saucepan and warm it enough so that they blend smoothly, blend in 3 cups of oats and half a cup of raisins/ dried fruit / nuts and press into an 8 inch square pan.

Chill and cut into 8 bars, wrap them in saran or foil and you are done.

Prep time is less than 20 minutes, they should chill until they are firm which takes about an hour or less if you pop them in the freezer.

They run about 300 calories per bar depending on the extra half a cup of whatever makes you happy... some people use chocolate but I can't handle the sweetness.

Almond butter works just as well for those who can't handle peanuts (make this version for my wife and kid's lunches) and I sometimes replace a little of the honey with maple syrup for a different flavour.

My kids think these are the best snack ever.

That sounds pretty good. I am going to have to try that. I'm getting sick of the Quaker Granola bars I've been using.
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