Life Behind Bars: Chewable Sports Nutrition

, January 9, 2015

Any Google search for healthy food or sports nutrition for athletes is sure to serve up a considerable portion of chaos. Expect to find a results page loaded with super-discounted products and potions that offer life-changing remedies. When it comes to energy for strength, endurance and active lifestyles, there is a smaller, refined group of brands that present commendable products. Here are some of our favourites.

1. CLIF Bar

Even after over 20 years of running CLIF Bar, founder Gary Erickson continues to maintain a small company culture out of their base in Emeryville, California. CLIF products hover around the organic and natural side of the market and muster a tremendous amount of loyalty from the West Coast’s outdoors community.

As well as offering sport nutrition and performance benefits through protein mixes, electrolyte powder, gels and chewies. Their sweet and salty options (the traditional ‘Bar’ and their savoury ‘MOJO’) fuel a batch of radical opinions from fans, vented whenever the brand releases a new flavour.

The perennial release of seasonal varieties mirrors the company’s responsive capacities, and with a winery, Velo Vino, in the heart of St. Helena, Napa, the Clif Family have every reason to be up riding in famous wine country.

2. Honey Stinger

Based out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Honey Stinger apply their principle of natural (honey) energy to match options from their competitors. Unique among this collection are their celebrated Organic Waffles which make for a delightful snack at any point in the day. Honey also won’t melt when you’re out so you can bank on the bees from Steamboat in the most heated moments.

If you ever find yourself in Steamboat, Colorado drop by the Red House at 735 Oak Street where you’ll find products from Honey Stinger and sister brand Big Agnes. Also see if you can time an August visit with the annual Steamboat Stinger, a pair of mountain biking and trail running races.

3. MuleBar

Britain’s MuleBar could well be one of the country’s least known national treasures. Unlike other bars in performance nutrition which are often heavy, energy-loaded beasts, MuleBars are comparatively chewable and tasty. Beyond their bars, MuleBar gels are well worth trying, and inherit the brand’s diligent approach to flavours (cue the notorious A.S.K – Apple Strudel Kick).

4. PROBAR

The Meal by PROBAR is clearly here to stay. Endurance athletes are often fed like toddlers and though this treatment might be warranted to some degree, they still get tired of the kind of mashed-up goop that hardly requires teeth to consume. The PROBAR Meal is just the alternative.

Open a Meal and you will find big chunks of real fruit, whole walnuts and chia seeds. There is nothing written on the label that you wouldn’t want to put into your body, and the satisfying texture of real foods is tangible. Most notably, the Meal contains over 350 calories, which is easily consumed in just a few delicious bites. Justifiably marketed as a meal replacement bar, it also makes for handy company on a long ride.

5. BEET IT

Wedged between the funky world of juicing and sports nutrition, BEET IT is founded upon the delightful root vegetable beetroot (no surprises there). The core products are juices, with a concentrated shot offering for athletes, and now a new beetroot and oat flapjack offering, the BEET IT Sport Pro-Elite Bar.

The bar offers a more palatable, nitrate-rich option, while adding a carbohydrate quota to your Beet It fest. If you’re in any doubt about the credibility of these bizarre offerings, read around the benefits of beetroot and learn to love this plump root vegetable.

6. TORQ

Britain’s TORQ are heavily research-focused and promote the consulting element of their business. They do more than most in providing advice on how and when to take nutrition, adding weight to their recovery, gel, bar and energy products.

7. Exo

Out of Brooklyn, New York, Exo was one of the most exciting health startups of 2014. Bars use dried crickets as their core ingredient, a highly efficient source of protein that has gained the approval of experts.

Initially the thought of eating crickets as a genuine performance solution sounded repulsive to me, but I can report that you can’t taste the powder and that crickets come from wholesome homes where they are farmed and fed on an organic, grain-based diet. A bugs life.

8. Bonk Breaker

Despite their ridiculous name, Bonk Breaker has been welcomed into elite performance fitness with open arms. Their products include a Cookies & Cream protein bar, and other snacks to have on-the-go, well before you hit the wall.

9. Picky Bars

Picky Bars was founded by power couple Jesse (pro triathlon) and Lauren (pro runner) and bases itself out of the venerable outdoors hub of Bend, Oregon. True to their home and sport nutrition background, Picky have an earthy feel about them and is one of the youngest nutrition brands out there.

They’ve come in with products that are free of gluten, soy and dairy and for their hard core fans. Picky even have a monthly subscription service (‘The Picky Club’) to deliver your monthly fix to the door.

Email us with any of your favorites – will@zafiri.com.