View Full Version : bars (power, snack, etc)

07-13-2004, 11:56 AM
i have yet another question!

granted i'm not riding far enough yet to warrant taking along power/snack bars (at least i don't think i am) but to prepare for my longer rides.. i would like to know the best/healthiest ones to eat.

i looked at and picked up a couple of kashi brand bars cuz i liked the ingredients list (not a ton of sugar, preservatives, nor unhealthy stuff)...

what do you all eat/recommend? and normally how far/long before you need them...

or do you not eat the bars but take other stuff (i.e. banana, nuts, etc)

again.. THANX!

07-13-2004, 12:03 PM
I mountain bike, and I carry a bunch of luna bars, some clif shots, and a bag of nuts and raisins. I'd say I have something to eat for every hour I'm out there. That's just a rough estimate. I save gels for really extreme bonk situations; I don't use them when I just need regular food.

07-13-2004, 12:20 PM
For longer rides, I usually put some powerade/gatorade in one of my water bottles and then I throw something like a Clif bar or a payday candy bar in the pocket of my jersey. I don't know how healthy this is, but it's easy to carry and it gives me the energy I need. I find that eating something (but not necessarily an entire bar at once) every 1-1.5 hours works for me.

07-13-2004, 07:41 PM
Last year I could barely ride an hour without stopping for something to eat, but I think my metabolism has slowed down a bit (getting older!) Nevertheless, I *always* have food on me, even if I'm just going out for a 2 hour ride. You never know what's going to happen, and if you get stuck somewhere, you don't want to be hungry too. :)

I can't chew Power Bars & most others of their ilk, so I carry my own mixes of dried fruit and nuts. The current recipe is bananas, cherries (from my friend's tree), raw cashews, and white chocolate chips from the organic bin. I dry my own (organic) fruits so I know what's in them - nothing but fruit.

Usually I carry jerky as well - also homemade, from locally raised free-range beef. :) That extra blast of protien really helps.


07-13-2004, 09:31 PM
Originally posted by gabrielle
Last year I could barely ride an hour without stopping for something to eat, but I think my metabolism has slowed down a bit (getting older!)
Maybe it's not that you're getting older, but that you're getting fitter! I've read that as your fitness increases you metabolize your glycogen stores more efficiently. I also had noticed I needed to eat less as my endurance increased.

I swear by plain bagels nowadays, the kind you get in the grocery store (Lender's, Thomas') - they keep well in the freezer and thaw fairly quickly. I stick one in a ziplock and keep it in my handlebar bag for easy access, and just pull off a chuck to nibble as I need it. I also take a few fig newtons with me if I want something sweet, although I'm going to give payday bars a try too.

07-13-2004, 09:36 PM
When I'll be riding more than three hours, I like to take a break midway and stop for a bite. My favorite at this point are Clif bars, because they are tasty and moist. The others I've tried are too dry (granola bars) or too chewy (Power Bars). On long rides in the summer, I drink sips from a bottle of Gatorade, interspersed with drinks of water.

07-14-2004, 05:07 AM
As usual, I have an opinion ;)

Two things to keep in mind about all of the "power foods": they are very calorie-dense and they are very $$$.

In my opinion they are highly over-marketed. They have their place: they work well when an athlete is going so hard, so long and/or so fast that "real" food isn't practical. Generally they are used in events lasting more than 1 hour.

Personal favorites in this catagory include Clif Bars(peanut butter), Hammer Gel (raspberry or vanilla) and Cytomax (citrus).

For training or "just riding" I stick with Gatorade (I buy the powder at the grocery store), bananas, Fig Newtons, and basic cereal bars (those Kashi bars sound neat!).

If I am riding for 2 hours or less I'll take just take water and perhaps Gatorade in one bottle if it's very hot. I carry $5 in my jersey pocket "just in case". For longer (3+) rides I'll throw in a bar or two and a banana. Luckily most of my routes pass by rural groceries; if I need more calories I can stop and buy a packet of Fig Newtons and an extra Gatorade.

Tri'ing Hard
07-14-2004, 06:28 AM
I usually go with the Cliff Bars. I found a site that sells them at a quantity discount. I can't stomach the Power Bars, they are just too sweet. I drink mostly water on my rides, gatorade upsets my stomach while exercising. Bananas are great too, really easy on the stomach.

07-14-2004, 07:06 AM
Originally posted by pedalfaster
As usual, I have an opinion ;)

Two things to keep in mind about all of the "power foods": they are very calorie-dense and they are very $$$.

that's one of the reasons i chose the kashi bars.. not as many calories.. and i am still trying to lose those last 2 pounds that don't want to go away.. :mad: (which i've noticed no one has mentioned as a choice.. hmmmm)

but i do notice that now that i've taken up cycling.. i'm hungry more often.. and definitely after riding!

07-14-2004, 07:28 AM
fig newtons, dried fruit, peanut m&m's, mini snickers, grapes, pbj squares, ytrail mix... lots of alternatives to bars for short rides. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who needs to eat about once an hour!

The only time I bother with sports drinks is for long, hard rides. I get Cytomax recovery, I find it really helps with what's called exercise hangover the next day. It saved my rear after camp, I felt so much better after the weekend than I did last year.

I do mix it half strength, full strength sports drinks of any sort make me feel like puking.

07-14-2004, 07:51 AM
caligurl -- I also used to get *so* hungry after a ride. I would try not to eat until we got to a restaurant afterwards ... and by the time we got there, got seated, ordered, etc. I was so hungry I would order half the menu -- and eat it!

I got some advice to try eating 200-300 calories of carbs and protein right after the ride -- naturally enough, about what one of these energy bars gives you. Sure enough, it keeps my body from freaking out, and when I get to the restaurant, I can make a rational decision.

It's easy to get penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to food. In my case, eating a snack after the ride actually saves me calories and fat in the long run.

07-14-2004, 08:06 AM
IIRC eating carbs within an hour after completing strenuous exercise is critical for proper recovery... and beer does not count. A bagel is supposed to be excellent tho.


07-14-2004, 08:35 AM
Originally posted by Irulan
and beer does not count.

sadly.. i haven't had a beer since january when i started the south beach diet! of course... on a better note.. neither have i had a diet mountain dew! lol!

07-14-2004, 12:18 PM
Post ride carbs are important as is post ride protein. Your muscles will take in protein much more readily with a carb boost and you'll recover faster. If you can find a protein powder with l-glutamine (the most prevalent substance in muscles) that is the best.

07-14-2004, 12:28 PM
For recovery after a long ride I eat a banana and yogurt- and sometimes make it a shake with vanilla soy drink.

While riding, I'll take a mixture of trail mix and almonds,(the low salt variety), a banana to ward off cramping, a payday bar if it's hot and I'm sweating a lot- and my current fav energy bar Pria chocolate and peanut butter. It's supposed to be made by Power bar, and is supposedly made for women- high calcium yadda yadda- sort of like a Luna bar, which I've never seen up here in my corner of the Great White North!


07-14-2004, 01:23 PM
I'd only tried the mint-chocolate pria bars, and they had an artificial aftertaste to me. Thanks for the flavor heads-up. They *are* made by Powerbar, for whatever that's worth. Luna is a Clifbar invention.

07-14-2004, 02:10 PM
They all havew a weird aftertaste to me...

now I see Snickers is making an energy bar?
Are they any good? Has anyone of you folks tried one?

Sounds like Snickers is just trying to jump on the bandwagon- heck, I even see that Sunny D is making a kid's energy drink...

wondering how come we had so much energy as kids- I don't remember taking power bars and energy drinks when I was out on long rides on my bike with my friends....

07-14-2004, 02:12 PM
The Luna bars are a little less dense and less caloric than the Cliff Bars. Some of them are quite good, I'm into the Sesame Raisin ones now, no chocolate or yogurt layer to melt while in your pocket.
I've also found that a before ride snack of something like a little peanut butter spread on half a whole wheat wrap with a banana keeps me from getting hungry for a long time. I usually save the Luna bar for after, as I've also read that one needs food for recovery.

07-14-2004, 04:01 PM
snickers marathon = OK, nothing to write home about.

Cliffbars, black cherry almond, yum!!


Pedal Wench
07-14-2004, 07:10 PM
I gotta give a big thumbs-up for the Snicker's Marathon bar. I just got back from a two-week hike through the Grand Canyon, and these really helped me when I started to bonk. They don't melt like a real Snickers, and they taste a bit better than most PowerBars. The 'Multi-grain' flavor doesn't do much for me, but the 'Chewy Chocolate Peanut' was pretty good. Granted - after hiking for 10 or 12 miles in the desert with 40 pounds on your back, anything tastes good!

07-15-2004, 05:41 AM
mmmmm, Clif's Black Cherry Almond.... now you have me thinking about it! i have one waiting for me at home. i'm "addicted" to Clif/Lunas. I don't generally eat them unless i'm on a long (45+ mile) ride, but since i ran out of bananas (my normal mid-afternoon pick-me-up) i've been mange-ing on lunas at work :p not the best idea, given the calories in one of those, but it makes me feel "healthy" even though i'm eating chocolate. :D

back to the actual topic at hand, though:
after work and before riding i have a quick snack (either a banana, toast w/ pb, pb&j crackers, etc). during the week my rides are under 40, so i don't eat during the ride (and just drink water... i can't stand energy drinks!). after riding sometimes i snack on some pretzles before showering, then eat dinner right after my shower (last night it was scrambled eggs w/ spinach and asparagus and a piece of toast- protein and carbs! yay!). i try to drink a liter or two of H2O too.

on weekends the rides are longer, so i bring along a clif or two (i can't handle powerbars) and lots of water... sometimes a banana. my mom made this awesome trailmix last ride we did together... mom, what was in that?? (it was really good! i think there were sunflower seeds, cashews, dried bananas, M&Ms, almonds, walnuts, dried cherries/cranberries, dried blueberries....) mixed nuts are always a good bet too.

i used to eat a luna during or after every 20 mile ride, which i discovered i really didn't need! sometimes i still carry one on short rides, "just in case," especially if i've had a huge appetite recently.

food is far and away my favorite subject... i can be a bit long-winded, sorry! :D

07-15-2004, 06:14 AM
I usually ride right after work, no time to go home and snack so I keep stuff at work and if I'm riding I'll have 1/2 bagel w/pb an hour before I get off work as a pre-ride snack. Or a power bar depending on what kind of time I have. Weekends the same, but add a banana.

I'm partial to both powerbars and snickers marathon bars - they both work well for me.

After experimenting with several different types of sport drinks, I find that diluting Accelorade works best for me. My stomach can't take Gatorade or other sport drinks while riding and Accelorade is the only thing that I've found that doesn't give me cramps or that queezy feeling. It's a little pricey, but what isn't in this sport? ;)

Since I live on gravel in the country, I don't ride from home and I keep my bike in a friend's house (I have my own garage door opener) it's hard for me to eat something immediately after riding so I use Endurox as a recovery drink. If it's been a short ride 20 mi or so, I'll dilute it to 1/2 strength and eat a banana as soon as I get home.

If I'm riding 30+ miles, I'll bring a banana, sports bar and $$ in case of stopping at a convenience store for a snack.

sandra b
07-15-2004, 08:39 AM
I found that I had to experiment with different foods to see what works for longer rides (live 6-100 miles).

I like the cliff bars cause they have potasium too, and I like the texture and taste. Power bars are ok, but more chewy and harder to peel out of the wrapping if they have been hot. I also have been trying some dry fruit. I have found that a couple of bites every 30 minutes helps. I will eat more if I start to get tired. If I eat regularly on the ride, I am not STARVED when I get done, but really want a hamburger. and that beer.

I mix gatorade in my camelback, but usually mix it fairly weak-no where nearly as strong as the directions say. If I am out of powder I will get a bottle and pour it in, then fill with water. I found that if it is hot and I am working, plain water will make me sick after a bit.

07-15-2004, 01:30 PM
Saw this link today on the OLN site re: sports drinks:


Pedal Wench
07-15-2004, 06:26 PM
I just learned an important lesson. I usually don't bring anything to eat, and just a water bottle. I had a light lunch and headed out around 6:00 - and bonked about 6 miles and two big hills from home. No money, no power bars, nothing. So, an emergency Snickers Marathon or the oft-suggested Payday is going to have a permanent home in my bag.
Also, a quarter. Some kids in the neighborhood were selling lemonade, and I didn't have a single cent. :(

07-16-2004, 06:26 AM
Hey Caligurl,

BTW, you are awesome for getting out there and figuring things out for yourself early in your cycling career...way to go!

I tend to not eat much on the bike if I am just training 1-2 hours on the road. I bring just water usually with me. If I am going out on an epic ride lasting 4 or more hours, I will take a flask of Hammer Gel with me (and I have one or two swigs and that's it) and maybe a Clif Bar just in case (I rarely eat them though...oats are hard on me, but they're the only wheat-free bar that doesn't melt or freeze for me LOL).

I really don't get hungry as much any more. I try to eat a good breakfast with carbs, a tiny bit of good fat, and some protein and same with lunch if I ride at night.

Racing is another story. I try to come to the event well hydrated and nourished from the previous night and I eat a few of my homemade energy balls (almond butter, small amt. date syrup, coconut, puffed amaranth, sesame and flax seeds...my nutritionist designed them for me) before the race. I usually only race on water...if it's hot out, I might bring one of my bottles as a sport drink like Gatorade or diluted Hammer Gel. I have found that because I don't eat lots of sugars or sweets on a regular basis that they are VERY effective for me come race day.

After hard training or racing, I like to replace my fuel stores with something with carbs, protein, lots of water in it like fruit and veggies (my holistic doc said watermelon is one of Nature's best recovery foods), and salt (Celtic Seasalt by the Grain and Salt Society is the only salt out there in my opinion with the correct mineral balance and it helps me immensely to replace lost salt...you can add a pinch to your sports drinks too). But, after regular every day training, I just tend to cook dinner right away so I refuel naturally.

Lately, I have been experimenting with some electrolyte drink (Emergen-C) a couple of hours before I ride. It helps reduce cramping for me especially on hot days. I have a tendecy to need a lot of minerals (sometimes stress can burn them up LOL) I also have liked using some water and Rice Protein (it's only 60 calories, lowfat, and 12g of protein...made by Nutribiotic...it doesn't taste like a smoothie, but it's a supplement more). The Rice Protein seems to stabilize my blood sugar...some days I might eat a piece of fruit with it or in it as well.

I enjoyed reading everyone's posts here...very informative! Wow, we all are a bunch of cool ladies, huh?

Happy Eatin',


07-16-2004, 08:46 AM
One thing I want to add:

Everybody has slightly different needs. I personally have found that being hungry while riding is never a good thing. If I let myself get hungry, I will soon bonk hard.

If you need food every hour, EAT! Don't try to ignore your hunger just because you think you shouldn't need to eat yet. You'll end up out of energy and miserable.