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Tested: SoLo GI Energy Bar

solo energy bars

The SoLo energy bar is yet another energy bar to stock the shelves in the growing sports nutrition aisle – but it has a few key improvements in its formulation that could see it come out on top.

The first big difference with the SoLo bar is that it ranks low on the Glycemic Index (GI). All the bars are clinically validated at 22 to 28. A GI below 35 is considered very low, so all SoLo bars are well into that range. To put that in perspective, table sugar (sucrose) ranks at a 64 on the Index.

If you’re not familiar with the Glycemic Index, it is basically a measure of how fast a sugar is broken down and enters the bloodstream. The higher the number, the faster the sugar enters the bloodstream. So theoretically* a food low on the GI will slowly release sugar into your bloodstream for continued energy and avoid “spikes” in blood sugar that later result in a crash.

* It also helps to look at the Glycemic Load (GL) and Insulin Index (II) along with GI, to get a better perspective, but that’s another story.

Anyway, ranking low on the GI is good, but do SoLo bars have the taste to make it worthwhile? Yes indeed.

The SoLo Bar Taste Test

SoLo bars come in five flavors, including old standbys such as chocolate and peanut butter, along with fruity flavors, and even a mint flavor. Here are my thoughts on each one:

solo peanut power bar

Peanut Power – Peanut Power (pictured, left) tastes a lot like a peanut butter flavored Kudos bar, which I ate on numerous occasions as a child. It is very soft, creamy, and flavorful, making for a great taste and texture for peanut butter lovers. I really enjoyed this, and I’d say it’s the best peanut butter flavored energy bar I know of.

Chocolate Charger – Chocolate Charger tastes an awful lot like, um, chocolate. It actually tastes more like real chocolate, unlike those chocolate flavored bars that have that “artificial chocolate flavoring” taste.

I’m not a big fan of chocolate energy bars, but this one still tasted good. It’s probably the only chocolate energy bar I’ve ever liked (as opposed to others I’ve “tolerated”).

solo berry bliss bar

Berry Bliss – Berry Bliss (pictured, right) has that well-known mixed berry flavor, complimented with a white yogurt coating. The flavor is comparable to a mixed berry smoothie. It’s very refreshing and makes a great choice if you’re getting sick of conventional chocolate and/or peanut butter energy bars.

Lemon Lift – Lemon Lift is another yogurt covered, fruity bar. It actually tastes like lemon. It’s not quite what I expected though, because it also contains dried cranberries, which really enhanced the flavor. So it turned out pretty good, and refreshing – definitely a unique flavor among energy bars.

That uniqueness could keep me coming back for more! (I like lemon though. If you don’t like lemon, this probably isn’t the flavor for you!)

solo mint mania bar

Mint Mania – Mint Mania (pictured, left) tastes like a bar of crushed up Thin Mints cookies! It actually looks like crushed up Thin Mints, too, which is pretty cool. The texture isn’t quite the same as real Thin Mints, but the taste is really close, so this is a good one to try.

I mean, who doesn’t love those minty cookies the Girl Scouts sell every year?

Overall, the taste and texture of the SoLo bars are both great! The texture is pretty chewy, making them fun to eat, and it also feels like you’re eating something, so that’s satisfying. And all the flavors are pretty good, so surely one would work for you.

I can easily see why SoLo bars were preferred in taste tests with Powerbars and Clif bars. (A study shown on the SoLo website shows 88% of testers preferred Solo over Powerbar.)

SoLo bars definitely have taste competition, though. I’m sure those results would be a bit closer to 50/50 if you compared SoLo to the Larabar, Cheetah Bar, or Detour bars, or even to the newer PowerBar Energize bar with fruit flavors.

So I can’t declare SoLo a clear winner, but they do taste great, and they’re possibly the best bar I’ve had. It’s just that Detour bars taste exactly like some candy bars, which is awesome, and some other bars are good in their own ways.

In the end, it’s us, the endurance athletes, who reap the rewards of this taste competition. Now we actually have the option to vary our energy bar selection, because so many of them are starting to taste better!

SoLo Bar Nutrition Facts and Ingredients

I scanned the ingredients list for each bar and didn’t find anything that scared me. Sure, each bar contains sugar and fractionated palm kernel oil, but that’s what you’ll find in most energy bars, and they weren’t main ingredients, anyway.

Some good finds were whey protein isolate, soy protein isolate, soynut butter, brown rice syrup, fruit puree blend, SoLo fiber blend, and a vitamin and mineral blend.

That gives each bar 200 calories, about 25g carbohydrates, 7g fat, and 11g protein. That is a well-rounded blend for most people. I’d look for more carbs and less fat in an energy bar to use while riding, but the SoLo bar would be just right for a pre-ride snack or for someone on the go.

SoLo Bars for Racing?

Would I use a SoLo Bar during a bike race? Probably not, for two reasons…

For one, the bar is somewhat high in fat and quite low in carbs. When I’m riding intensely, I want a lot of carbs, and I don’t want much fat or fiber which could slow digestion and give me a “weighed down” feeling. (SoLo bars only have about 25g carbs, while PowerBars offer 45g. Almost double!)

The second reason is more for riding in general – the SoLo bars’ chocolate coating will melt and get messy. The bars actually deform quite a bit when they get warm, and even the yogurt coating gets a little sticky.

I did eat a couple of these on moderate rides, though, and it worked out just fine. They gave me energy with no spike or crash (although I can’t recall a real energy crash that I can blame on a PowerBar). The only downside I noticed, aside from the messy chocolate, is that the bar was a little too chewy, making it harder to swallow when you are focusing on riding and using your energy just to keep breathing!

Don’t get me wrong, the texture is great for times when you can take small bites, relax, and enjoy the flavor, but not so good for high-pressure situations where you need quick fuel.

My final verdict is…

These bars taste great and they’re on the healthier side of the energy bar spectrum. At $1.37 each when purchased by the dozen, the price is not cheap, but it’s on par with other energy bars. I will surely consume SoLo bars again in the future. (Most likely Peanut Power and Lemon Lift.)

I highly doubt I’d use them during a race (I rarely eat bars during a race anyways,) but they’ll be a great option for use during my longer, easier paced training rides. They will be great for pre-ride or pre-race snacks, too.

Official website: www.solo-gi.com

Product Review Details
Company: Solo Bar
Product: SoLo GI Energy Bar
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Date last updated: 2008-08-19
Obtained Product: Free sample from company.
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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