powerbar performance bar

We expect a lot from our energy bars. They need to provide energy and sustenance in a convenient and quick-to-eat bar form. Performance is important, but so is taste. You want to enjoy it, but you also want it to go down relatively quickly.

Narrowing down the best energy bars was not easy. But I have tested hundreds of different energy bars from various companies, in various flavors, during all types of rides and races, and these are the best energy bars for cyclists.

Best Overall Energy Bar

Is it possible to find one energy bar that uses relatively healthy ingredients, packs a big energy boost, is easy to digest, tastes good, and offers a variety of flavor options? And then on top of that, is easy to carry and not messy to eat on-the-go?

Yes, but barely! It’s really hard to pick just one energy bar. But I bestow that honor upon the TORQ Organic Energy Bar.

This is an ultra-low fat – yet somehow moist and chewy – energy bar. It delivers a unique blend of multiple-transportable carbohydrates with ingredients wide-ranging in glycemic index for immediate and sustained glucose release.

Flavors include Zesty Orange, Zingy Apple, Juicy Mango, and Sundried Banana.

The only downside is that they aren’t readily available in the USA. (The Torque Fitness head office is in the UK.) You won’t find them on The Feed or Amazon Prime.

Learn more about the TORQ Bar at the TORQ USA website.

Ready to buy? It’s available on Amazon.

Best Tasting Energy Bar

Choosing just one “best tasting” energy bar is also extremely difficult. These companies just keep creating delicious energy bars that are a joy to eat.

But it’s hard to compete with the Bonk Breaker Energy Bar. This bar comes in so many delicious flavors, there is guaranteed to be something for everyone. The bar is also a joy to eat, because it has a “fresh from the oven” taste, like something you would purchase at a boutique bakery.

Flavors include Apple Pie, Coconut Cashew, Salted Caramel, Blueberry Muffin, and Peanut Butter & Jelly.

Learn more about Bonk Breaker Energy Bars at the Bonk Breaker website, or read my full review here.

Best for Long-Distance Events

For long days, where you are covering long distances at a lower intensity, you might want something different. Something a little more substantial. You might want more fat and protein – not just carbs – to sustain your performance and keep you satiated.

The bar has to be a good size with lots of calories, but not so many that eating one is like putting a brick in your stomach!

Consider the Hammer Nutrition Energy Bar. It contains the right blend of macronutrients for endurance, and they are really, really easy to eat. Even after many hours in the saddle.

Learn more about the Hammer Bar at the Hammer Nutrition website, or read my full review here.

Best Nutritional Value (Most Natural Ingredients)

Because there are two companies that really stand out among their peers, this one is a tie!

The winners here are the LARABAR and the RXBAR. Both bars contain super simple, all natural ingredients. Both bars come in multiple flavors and taste great.

The LARABAR is often high in carbs and low in protein, so it’s really good for during your rides. I really enjoy the fruity flavors during my hard rides.

The RXBAR provides a great balance of carbs, fat, and protein. (The big difference is the egg whites give the RXBAR more protein.)

The RXBAR bars are good before, during, or after your rides. They are a bit chewier and take longer to eat, so they’re better for casual rides.

Learn more about LARABAR at the LARABAR website, or read my full review here. Ready to buy? It’s available on Amazon.

Learn more about RXBAR at the RXBAR website. Ready to buy? It’s available on Amazon.

Best Value

Looking for a great bar at a great price? Clif Bar is the one for you.

These bars are easy to find, they’re pretty tasty, there are SO MANY flavors, and new varieties are launched all the time.

Purchased individually, Clif Bars are roughly $1.19, but sometimes are on sale for under $1 each. (Twice the calories of an energy gel for less money!)

Save even more by purchasing by the box. Clif Bars come in boxes of 6, 12, 16, and 24.

Learn more about Clif Bar at the Clif Bar website, or read my full review here.

Ready to buy? It’s available on Amazon.

Best Snack Bar

What if you need a snack bar for low-intensity activities, or when you’re not riding at all?

In this case, you want to go easy on the carbs, and make sure there is a good helping of protein and fat.

Try an Epic Bar! These are meat-based bars – you can get chicken, turkey, pork, beef, bison, venison, or lamb!

The bars are well balanced nutritionally and very enjoyable to the taste buds. Savor the flavor! (Flavors include Chicken Sriracha, Beef Jalapeno, Bison Bacon Cranberry, Lamb Currant Mint, and many more!)

Learn more about the Epic Bar at the Epic Provisions website.

Ready to buy? It’s available on Amazon.

Best Caffeinated Energy Bar

Do you really like coffee flavors? Or you want to get your caffeine fix, but you don’t want to use energy gel?

Say good morning to the Clif Bar Coffee Collection. Clif Bars infused with actual coffee!

These bars are made with organic coffee beans, sourced from Colombia in partnership with Sustainable Harvest. Each bar contains one shot of espresso (65 mg caffeine).

The three flavors are Vanilla Almond Latte, Caramel Macchiato, and Dark Chocolate Mocha.

Learn more about the Coffee Collection flavors at the Clif Bar website.

Ready to buy? It’s available on Amazon.

Best Waffle

There are a lot of energy waffles these days, but the best one is still the original, the Honey Stinger waffle.

Honey Stinger waffles are available in both regular and gluten-free versions, and they are both delicious. These things are so good, they are borderline addictive.

[I had to separate the waffles into their own category because otherwise they would easily dominate in the “best taste” rankings.]

I’ve tried the rest, Honey Stinger is still the best.

Learn more about Honey Stinger Waffles at the Honey Stinger website, or read my full review here.

Ready to buy? It’s available on Amazon.

Best-Named Energy Bar

Because creativity should never go unrecognized, I’m naming Picky Bars the best-named collection of energy bars.

They come in 10 flavors and every single name is amazing. Here are my favorites:

  • Blueberry Boomdizzle
  • Chai And Catch Me
  • Need for Seed

Ah, Fudge Nuts! I forgot to mention the bars are nutritionally-balanced and use real food ingredients. There is more to love than just the clever naming.

Learn more about Picky Bars at the Picky Bars website.

Ready to buy? It’s available on Amazon.

Honorable Mentions

Here are some other good energy bars that just didn’t make the cut.

Bobo’s Oat Bar
It’s like having baked oatmeal without having to do any baking. If you like oatmeal, you’ll probably enjoy these.
eatbobos.com

Kate’s Real Food
These “real food” bars are based on nut butters, fruits, oats, and brown rice crisps, with other natural ingredients depending on the flavor. Probably best for hiking or other low-intensity cross-training activities.
katesrealfood.com

Powerbar Energize Original
For the nostalgia of the early days of energy bars! I actually liked the original Powerbars, but they changed the formula and drastically reduced the flavor options.
powerbar.com

Pro Bar
Packing nearly 400 calories into one bar, these are a good meal replacement. (I like to keep a stash of these at work in case I miss lunch and know I’ll need the energy for my evening workout.)
theprobar.com

SIS GO Energy Bar
Easily digestible and high carbohydrate based energy bar.
www.scienceinsport.com

Skratch Labs Anytime Energy Bar
This bar is made with whole food ingredients, has as balanced macronutrient profile, and tastes great. The flavors are fantastic and unique (e.g. “Raspberries & Lemons” is great, and there is a savory flavor called “Parmesan, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Black Pepper”).
www.skratchlabs.com

Veloforte Energy Bar
Hand-baked in small batches, they’re packed with real fruits and provide the optimal balance of essential proteins, carbohydrates and fiber, blended into award-winning flavors.
veloforte.com

How to Choose a Good Energy Bar That’s Right for You

Here’s what to look for when choosing an energy bar. Consider what is most important to you and then make your own decision.

Ability to Digest It

For an energy bar to do its job, a couple things have to happen:

1. You have to eat it.
2. You have to digest it.

The flavor has to be palatable, and you should be able to chew the bar easily. If it tastes like garbage, you won’t want to eat it. And if it’s too dry or too chewy, it will be too distracting to eat when you have other things on your mind (like winning a race!)

And you have to be able to digest it, with no upset stomach. If it causes you any gastric distress or upset stomach, it’s going to ruin your ride or race.

Dietary Restrictions

Always read the ingredients list to be sure it is free of allergens! Many bars contain nuts, nut butters, wheat, or barley.

Fortunately, there are also quite a few bars that contain no nuts and/or are certified gluten-free.

There are also vegan energy bars, kosher energy bars, and more. Check the label!

Calories

Your body needs calories to sustain itself and perform. You’ll want to look at the calorie count of the bar as well as the main source of calories.

The calorie content is very important, because you need the bar to fuel whatever type of rides or races you are doing. Most energy bars will contain somewhere around 200 calories. But some are lower – maybe 150 calories – and some are much higher – maybe 350 calories.

Also consider the main source of calories (i.e. carbs vs fat). Carbohydrates will digest quickly. Fats will digest more slowly, which is good for sustained energy, but too much fat can lead to gastric distress during high intensity efforts.

When it comes to carbs, you may want simple carbohydrates for instant energy, and complex carbohydrates for more sustained, even energy. Many bars contain both (e.g. fruit and oats).

Quality of Ingredients

All else being equal, I prefer natural, real food ingredients. Rolled oats, dates, almonds, things like that.

You might want a bar that’s certified organic.

Taste, Texture, and Flavor

There’s no way around it. Flavor is important. The experience is important. Whatever bar you choose, you should enjoy it!

You want to find an energy bar that you like. And you want to make sure that you like it during exercise.

Also important is the number of flavors available. This way you have options and you’re less likely to get sick of it because you had to eat the exact same flavor every single day. It can also be nice and switch things up if you’re doing really long endurance events that last longer than eight hours.

Easy to Carry and Eat While Biking

Don’t underestimate the importance of an energy bar being easy to carry and eat while you are riding your bike. It will make the experience much better if you can grab the bar from your pocket, unwrap it, put it in your mouth and chew it up, and put the wrapper back in your pocket without the bar falling apart, sticking to the wrapper, or smearing melted chocolate everywhere.

Breaking it down…

The bar should be easy to carry, since it has to go in a jersey pocket, hip pack, etc.

It should be easy to unwrap, since you might be moving while you unwrap it.

It should stay in one piece. It should not crumble easily. You don’t want a bag full of crumbs, nor to have the bar crack apart and half falls on the ground.

And ideally there is no mess (nothing sticky, no chocolate coatings that are going to melt, etc.) Because if the bar is messy, your hands will get messy, and then your grips will get messy, your GPS and/or smartphone will get messy, it’s a ripple effect.

Price

Energy bars are trending upward in price. I remember when $2.50 per bar used to be really expensive. Now, $2.50 is average. Many bars are $3 each now – or more!

You might be looking at a $2.65 bar and a $1.39 bar and wondering if it’s worth it. Especially if you eat a lot of energy bars.

Usually you get what you pay for, but is it important to you to have organic ingredients? Do you care if the bars are made in small batches?

The point is that some things drive up the price but are unrelated to cycling performance.

It’s up to you to decide what’s important and what fits in your budget.

Why trust Coach Levi?

I’ve been using energy bars since the 90’s, when the only choice was a PowerBar. (Not gonna lie, I kinda liked them.) But I’m still eating as many of the newer energy bars as I can find. So I’ve consumed countless bars, in many flavors, from many companies, in a wide variety of conditions.

Unlike some “reviewers” that create these lists, I’m actually out there breaking a sweat and burning calories to where I really need to eat energy bars. And I’m taste testing each and every flavor.

I’m also a certified nutrition coach (Precision Nutrition Level 1) so I like to combine my practical experience with scientific evidence.

Crafting Your Own Sports Nutrition Plan

A proper fueling strategy is more than choosing the best energy bar. You need to eat properly before your rides and during your rides. And stay hydrated.

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