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Tested: PowerBar Performance Bar

powerbar performance bar

After years of writing about the latest and greatest new offerings in the energy bar world, I’m taking the time to point out the energy bar that has stood by my side for well over a decade – the PowerBar Performance Bar.

This is the old standby with a proven track record. People either don’t like it or, like me, they take it for granted. If I need an energy bar, I know that the Powerbar is going to do the job, and I know I can find it just about anywhere. (Remember the days when the Powerbar was the only bar on the shelves?)

Continue reading to find out just what it is that makes the PowerBar Performance Bar shine…

Health & Nutrition

Let’s start out by examining the ingredients and nutrition facts for one of the common flavors, Vanilla Crisp.

Ingredients:

C2 MAX CARBOHYDRATE BLEND (ORGANIC EVAPORATED CANE JUICE SYRUP, MALTODEXTRIN, FRUCTOSE, DEXTROSE), OAT BRAN, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, RICE CRISPS (MILLED RICE, RICE BRAN, ROSEMARY EXTRACT), BROWN RICE FLOUR, CANOLA OIL, 2% OR LESS OF NATURAL FLAVOR, VEGETABLE GLYCERIN, SOY LECITHIN, SALT, ALMOND BUTTER, NONFAT MILK, PEANUT FLOUR. MINERALS: CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, POTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, FERROUS FUMARATE (IRON). VITAMINS: ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), VITAMIN B6 HYDROCHLORIDE, RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), THIAMINE MONONITRATE (VITAMIN B1). CONTAINS ALMOND, MILK, PEANUT AND SOY INGREDIENTS. MADE ON EQUIPMENT THAT ALSO PROCESSES WHEAT.

What really stands out to me is the vast array of carbohydrate sources in this bar. There are simple and complex carbs, then different types of sugars. If you do any research into how the human body can absorb different types of sugar through different pathways, you see the importance of taking in more than one type of carbohydrate. I’m going to assume that the team at Powerbar has a good grasp on the research and is doing its best to provide endurance athletes with as many carbs as possible.

Other than that, this is a pretty normal energy bar. Lots of carbs, a little protein and fat, and some added vitamins and minerals (i.e. electrolytes.) It won’t be winning any “healthiest food in the world” awards, but it is right for the task at hand.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories 240
Fat 3.5g
Sodium 200mg
Potassium 105mg
Total Carbs 45g
Fiber 1g
Sugars 25g
Protein 8g

Now this is what I call an energy bar! No matter how many people come out and talk about the Paleo diet being good and carbs being bad, carbs are still going to be the #1 source of energy for endurance athletes around the globe. And this Powerbar packs 45g of carbs into a 240 calorie package.

Just as important is how they keep the fat, protein, and fiber in check. Protein won’t energize you as fast as carbs will, and fat and fiber slow your digestion and can cause some stomach distress during hard racing.

As far as I’m concerned, the Powerbar Performance Bar does the best job at maximizing what you want and minimizing what you don’t. It’s not as extravagant as some of the newer bars, but when I’m in the middle of a race, I don’t care about extravagance! I just want something that works.

PowerBar Taste Test

Here are my thoughts on the flavors…

Peanut Butter – I really like this one. It is really sweet, but still has a nice peanut butter flavor. It reminds me of the peanut butter Rice Krispy squares my Grandma made me when I was a kid.

It won’t taste like natural or homemade peanut butter, but I like bars and stuff that taste like the sweetened peanut butter.

Chocolate Peanut Butter – I didn’t like this one at all. It tastes artificial and just plain crappy. While I love Reeses cups, other companies doing chocolate peanut butter flavors just don’t compare. Just skip this one.

Chocolate – N/A

Milk Chocolate Brownie – Delicious! It’s a good chocolate brownie taste that is indeed like a brownie (quite a bit different from the plain chocolate flavor.) It’s very sweet, on the verge of being too sweet, but it toes the line carefully. The hard brownie bites are awesome. They add a nice crunch. Some people will probably prefer no extra bits, but having this is a nice option.

The bar is still true to its Powerbar roots, but with that extra texture to tell you that they’re still relevant and keeping up with the times. This is one chocolate flavor I’ll keep eating!

Cookies N Cream – N/A

Vanilla Crisp – This is a pretty good flavor that’s really sweet. You can taste some vanilla, though, which is nice.

Oatmeal Raisin – This is my overall favorite. I love oatmeal cookies and this bar gives me a similar taste that doesn’t get old. It’s even better than an oatmeal raisin Clif Bar.

Apple Cinnamon – This is a tasty bar that I like to have on occasion. It has a pleasant apple cinnamon flavor that isn’t overpowering.

Banana – N/A

Wild Berry – N/A

Honey Roasted Nut – N/A

Caramel Cookie – N/A

(If you want some more flavors with a twist, check out the Powerbar Energize Fruit Smoothie Bar.)

To finish up, I’ll mention the texture. The bar is so processed that there is really only one texture, so every bite is the same. It’s plain and it’s chewy. Imagine all the ingredients ground up and mixed into a paste, them formed into a bar.

Sure, it doesn’t sound appetizing, but like I mentioned before, it works.

powerbar performance bar unwrapped

The PowerBar, In Use

Now this is where the Powerbar really shines! It’s not perfect, but I still rate it an A+. Here’s why:

An energy bar needs to be easy to eat. The Powerbar must be the easiest bar to eat. It is soft, chewy, and easy to bite into. The size is just right, the wrapper peel back easily, and the bar isn’t going to crumble or break into pieces (which could end up on the trail, rather than in your mouth.)

An energy bar should not be messy. Some bars have a chocolate coating, or they have some icing on top. Both of those are terrible ideas, because that coating melts while you are racing, leaving a sticky mess all over your face, hands, and jersey pockets.

An energy bar should give you an energy boost. The Powerbar does this for me. Thanks to the nice mix of carbs, I notice a quick ‘pick me up’ followed by a good energy supply (~240 calories worth) with no crash.

So, knowing all that, why isn’t the Powerbar perfect?

Unfortunately, the Powerbar does not do well in extreme weather conditions. In normal racing temperatures, perhaps 50-90 degrees F, there’s no problem.

But if it’s 100+ degrees, these get soft and sticky, so they are a bit harder to separate from their wrapper. When it’s close to 30 degrees or lower, the bar is going to freeze solid. If you try to eat a Powerbar in the cold, you could literally break your teeth!

So what do you do? Simply switch to energy gels, energy gel blocks, and/or low-density bars (like those based on rice crisps and oats) in the winter months. Powerbars in the summer, Powerbar Gel Blasts in the winter. Simple.

My final verdict is…

Powerbar Performance Bars are cheap, easy to carry, easy to eat, easy to digest, full of carbs, not messy, and fairly good tasting. You can’t beat it.

It is still my #1 go-to bar for racing and hard training. If you’re looking for an energy bar, this is a great one to start with in almost every situation.

Official website: www.PowerBar.com

Product Review Details
Company: PowerBar
Product: PowerBar Performance Bar
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Date last updated: 2013-04-02
Obtained Product: Purchased at retailer.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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coach levi
Hi, I'm Coach Levi. I'm a USA Cycling Certified Level 3 Coach as well as Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition. Want to feel better, ride faster, and look great? Let's work together!

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Coach Levi is my favorite child and favorite cycling coach. I'd choose him over Christoper McCarmikael even. Did I mention that Levi can coach you to a healthier lifestyle where you look and feel your best?
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