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Honey Stinger Energy Chews and Protein Bars

At the moment I have over 40 boxes of carbohydrate gels, chews, blocks and bars in the kitchen cabinet (out of the goodness of her heart my wife gave me one cabinet to call my own). You can save a lot of money by buying in bulk and I usually order six or more boxes at a time—and since I use 30 to 40 packs a week they don’t have time to expire. While I use several different brands of carbohydrate gels, the majority of the boxes in my cabinet are from Honey Stinger—I take some of their products with me on every single ride I take! A few weeks ago the folks at Honey Stinger were kind enough to send me a few samples of two of their new flavors and I thought this would be a perfect time to tell you about some of their products.

Honey Stinger Energy Chews and Protein Bars

Honey Stinger Energy Chews and Protein Bars

One of the new flavors they’ve introduced is the Cherry Cola Honey Stinger Energy Chews. At first, I was a bit hesitant to try this flavor because the Cherry Cola flavor is hard to achieve—several companies have tried cola flavors but most of them have been rather disappointing. However, Honey Stinger hit the mark with this one. Even if you were blindfolded, just one bite and you would know what the flavor was supposed to be. The individual  “chews” are fairly small (about the size of a stack of three nickles) and are 95% to 100% organic. There are ten pieces per package and one package has 160 calorie and has 39 grams of carbohydrates, 100% of the RDA of vitamin C, and a small dose of electrolytes. These chews are gluten-free, dairy free and contain no trans-fats or partially hydrogenated oils. Honey Stinger sells these energy chews in several other flavors, including Cherry Blossom (my favorite), Orange Blossom, Fruit Smoothie, and Pomegranate Passion Fruit, and Lime-Ade. The Cherry Cola and the Lime-Ade flavors have 30mg of caffeine per serving.

While I keep several brands of carbohydrate products on my shelves, you will only find one brand of protein bars there for after a ride—Honey Stinger Protein Bars! Cyclists often eat protein bars immediately after a ride to aid in muscle recovery. The problem is that most protein bars are simply dreadful! However, the Honey Stinger Protein Bars are so delicious you will find yourself craving them—and they contain 10g of whey protein per bar. When I am running late in the morning I eat these bars for breakfast, and they are my favorite snack at the movies. One warning: the chocolate layer on the outside of these bars has a low melting point, so don’t leave them in a hot car or the chocolate will melt (it will still taste good though).

The Honey Stinger Protein Bars are available in five flavors: Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond, Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond, Dark Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Coated Peanut Butta, and their newest flavor, a caffeinated Dark Chocolate Mocha Cherry. I am not a coffee drinker so the Dark Chocolate Mocha Cherry didn’t really appeal to me—I tried it and it has a mild coffee flavor that would not be my first choice. I gave a bar to two coffee drinkers and they both loved it. So, if you are not a coffee drinker, try the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond bar—it is simply awesome (and the only flavor I buy anymore).

The ingredients for each of these protein bars varies slightly, so I will just give the ingredients list for the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond: Semisweet Dark Chocolate [Evaporated Cane Juice, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat, Soya Lecithin, and Vanilla]; Organic Honey; Whey Protein Isolate; Almond Butter; Dried Sour Cherries (Cherries, Apple Juice, Sunflower Oil); Almonds; Vitamins & Minerals [Dicalcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Ascorbic Acid (Vit C), Alpha-tocopherol Acetate (Vit E), Biotin, Zinc Oxide, Niacin, Ferrous Fumarate (Iron), Molybdenum Glycinate, Calcium Pantothenate, Copper, Manganese, Beta Carotene (Vit A), Selenium, Pyridoxine (B6), Riboflavin (B2), Thiamin (B1), Chromium, Cyanocobolamin (B12), Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide]; and Natural Flavor.

Honey Stinger also makes two of my other favorite cycling products, the Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gels (I love the Acai & Pomegranate flavor) and the Honey Stinger Organic Waffles (chocolate is my favorite here). I am not a tofu-eating vegetarian. However, when given a choice, I will choose organic food every time. This is especially true when it comes to the food I eat while cycling. I’ve found that natural ingredients are easily digested and quickly absorbed into the body. Energy gels that contain a lot of chemicals make me feel uncomfortable while cycling.

Honey Stinger products are available in many sporting good stores, such as R.E.I., Dick’s Sporting Goods and The Sports Authority and from the Honey Stinger website. I’ve also purchased them at several grocery stores, but they often do not carry all the flavors. Bon appetit.

 

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2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel

Hopefully you’ve gotten the word by now that on long bike rides you need to consume protein in addition to carbohydrates if you want to avoid muscle and brain fatigue (better known to cyclists as bonking or hitting the wall). To paraphrase a familiar verse of the Bible, “Cyclists do not live by carbohydrates alone.” One of the easiest ways to get the needed protein is to buy a carbohydrate gel with protein already in it. Unfortunately, most energy gels that include protein taste rather dreadful. A couple of years ago PacificHealth Laboratories (the creators of Accelerade) introduced 2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel and it not only tastes great, but has carbohydrates, electrolytes, proteins, caffeine and antioxidants.

2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel

2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel

I always carry a few packages of 2nd Surge with me on longer rides. The truth is that I was hooked with the first package I tried! The chocolate gel is very smooth and has a rich chocolate flavor. Most (but not all) of the other chocolate gels I’ve tried over the years tasted like artificial chocolate, but 2nd Surge is the real deal. Each package of 2nd Surge has 90 calories and includes 18g of carbohydrate, 3g of protein and 100mg of caffeine.

2nd Surge is an all-natural energy gel. I hate giving a long list of ingredients in a product review, but the ingredient list in 2nd Surge is rather impressive. The ingredients include: Agave Syrup, Brown Rice Syrup, Evaporated Cane Sugar, Water, Whey Protein Isolate, Glycerin, Pea Protein Isolate, Cocoa, Natural Flavors, Green Tea Extract, d-alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Salt, Grape, Pomegranate, Mangosteen, Goji Berry, Blueberry, Chokeberry, Cranberry, Apple and Bilberry Extracts.

At the moment this product is only available in two flavors: Chocolate and Double Expresso. I love the chocolate gel and the local bike shop always keeps it in stock for me. For the record, I did not try the Double Expresso, mainly because I have never been a fan of any food product that has the word expresso (or espresso) in the title. I hope PacificHealth Laboratories adds a few new flavors before long.

A box of eight packages of 2nd Surge retails for $16 and is available on the PacificHealth Laboratories Website. On the other hand, you could just have your local bike shop order it for you—you will pay the same price but will save the cost of shipping. In addition, your local bike shop might be willing to keep this product in stock for you as well!

 

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What Is In Your Vitamin Supplements?

It is with great fear and trembling that I approach today’s subject, i.e., vitamin supplements. It seems like every time I mention vitamin supplements I make someone upset—so here is the deal: If you think vitamin and nutritional supplements are a waste of time and money then please stop reading this article and come back in a few days when I have another product review. However, if you do take supplements then this article will probably be of interest to you. In an ideal world we would be able to get all of our needed vitamins and minerals through a normal, healthy diet. Sadly, I’ve never met anyone who has been to that ideal world, so, like many of you, I take a handful of supplements every day.

What Is In Your Vitamin Supplements?

What Is In Your Vitamin Supplements?

The problem many of us have with taking supplements is finding a place where we can read current, accurate information about the quality, dosage, and side effects of the vitamins we take. For the past several years I have subscribed to ConsumerLab.com, an “impartial and independent third-party evaluator of health and nutrition products.” To put it simply, ConsumerLab.com tests many different brands of supplements and then makes a report about how each brand stacks up. It is amazing to me how many times a company will sell of bottle of vitamins that claims, for example, to have 100 mg of vitamin C in each tablet, but after testing it is revealed that each that it only has 60 mg. of vitamin C per tablet. ConsumerLab.com recently reviewed nearly fifty different brands of Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10) and they found one brand that only had 3.8% of the amount of CoQ-10 that was listed on the label! However, under-reporting the active ingredients is only half of the story—many supplements also contain contaminates! Do you really want to take a vitamin supplement that has lead in it?

In addition to rating the contents of the supplements, ConsumerLab.com also does a price comparison for all the brands they review. One of the biggest things I’ve learned from reading their reviews is that the price of a supplement has almost no correlation to the quality. Sometimes the most expensive brand of a certain vitamin will fail their tests, but one of the cheapest brands will pass with flying colors. Before they give you the test results for any vitamin or supplement they reviewed, ConsumerLab.com will also tell you what the vitamin is supposed to do and how they evaluated to product.

The membership fee to join ConsumerLab.com is $33 a year and this gives you access to all of their reviews (and there are a lot of them). I realize that many people will think $33 for an online subscription is pretty expensive, but that price is nothing compared to what some people spend on vitamins that are mislabeled, missing key ingredients or contain hazardous additives. As regular readers know, there are very few products that I have ever placed in the “highly recommended” category, but a subscription to ConsumerLab.com is definitely one of them.

 

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The RealAge Makeover by Michael F. Roizen, M.D.

The RealAge Makeover by Michael F. Roizen, M.D.

The RealAge Makeover

I am a 53-year-old distance cyclist and, according to the doctor at my last complete physical, my overall health is listed as “excellent” (i.e., I have perfect blood pressure, a low heart rate, a decent cholesterol level and all that other good stuff they look for in your blood test). Unfortunately, this has not always been the case. Twelve years ago I was morbidly obese and was being treated for problems with my lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys and a host of other conditions. In fact, twelve years ago my regular doctor told me that the way I was going I probably wouldn’t be alive in another five years! Surprisingly, he didn’t even make a single suggestion about how I could turn things around. Therefore, I decided to change my diet, start an exercise program and get in shape. I took up cycling, weight lifting and kayaking. My efforts paid off and I dropped 50 pounds rather quickly. I also read a lot of books on healthy living and somewhere along the way I found The RealAge Makeover by Dr. Michael Roizen and it changed my life! If you are looking for some guidance in changing your overall health then I would suggest, in the strongest words possible, that you pick up a copy of this book and carefully read every word.

The full title of the book, The RealAge Makeover: Take Years off Your Looks and Add Them to Your Life, is rather long, but it sums things up quite well. This book not only tells you how to look younger, but how to feel younger as well. You will learn how to reverse arterial aging, boost your immune system, reduce stress, and increase your energy levels. The major premise of this book (as well as a few others that Roizen has authored) is that “70 percent of how long and how well you live is in your hands.”

According to his biography, Roizen is a professor of medicine and anesthesiology at SUNY Upstate and chair of the Division of Anesthesiology, Critical Care Medicine, and Comprehensive Pain Management at the Cleveland Clinic. If you were a fan of The Oprah Winfrey Show (I was not) you might have seen Roizen on one of her programs—usually along with Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Dr. Michael F. Roizen is also the co-founder of RealAge and chair of the RealAge Scientific Advisory Board. If you go to the RealAge.com Website you can take the RealAge Test, which is a scientific calculation of how young (or old) your body thinks you really are based upon your height, weight, daily exercise, education, stress, friendships, emotional health, the supplements you take, family history and a few other items. I took this around 2003, when I was 43 years old—the test claimed that my “real age” was 65! OUCH! I have taken the test several times since then, and as I have modified my lifestyle I keep getting younger! According to the calendar I am 53 years old, but according to the RealAge Test my “real age” is 43!

One of the things that Roizen keeps going back to is your diet and how it not only impacts your lifespan, but your quality of life as well. I thought a lot about this book a few months ago when my wife and I went back to our hometown and took our parents out for lunch. My mother-in-law is 90 years old and still shovels snow, cuts her own grass and keeps up an amazing garden—and if no one catches her she will get up on the roof to repair her own shingles. In addition, my mother-in-law is not on any medication and the only time in her life she has been in a hospital was over 50 years ago (when my wife was born). On the other hand, my parents are both around 80 and in very poor health—they now spend half of their time sitting in a doctor’s office or in line at the pharmacy waiting for a refill on one of their many prescriptions. While we were eating lunch I saw what I believe to be the major reason for the difference between our parents. My wife and her mother both ordered a simple vegetable platter—as is their custom. My parents both ordered a deep-fried appetizer, a deep-fried main course, and then they ordered desert (yeah, that’s the way I used to eat).

When I bought The RealAge Makeover back in 2002 I paid $25 for the hardback version, but now it is available in paperback for under $7 from Amazon.com. A hardback version is still available for $20, and a Kindle version for $10. By the way, some of the Amazon.com retailers have used copies of the hardback book available for only $4 including postage (they claim the books are in “very good condition”). The first edition of this book was published by HarperCollins in 1999.

Can The RealAge Makeover change your life? Absolutely! Will it? Probably not. I loved this book so much that I have bought at least 20 hardback copies to give as presents to friends and relatives who told me that wanted to “get in shape.” I am sure these people read at least part, or maybe even all, of the book. Unfortunately, I don’t think a single one of the people I gave the book to even attempted to make the needed changes in their life. Knowing what you need to do and actually doing it are two separate issues.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2013 in Book Reviews

 

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Jelly Belly Sport Beans

I am a distance cyclist and usually consume 250 to 300 calories per hour while cycling (and burn around 1,100 calories an hour). The food products I take with me on rides have to be compact and taste good. I also like to have a bit of variety in my food and therefore I use products from several different companies. A few years ago Jelly Belly, the world-famous manufacturer of jelly beans, came out with Jelly Belly Sport Beans, a nutritional product for athletes. When the product was introduced it contained high fructose corn syrup so I didn’t even try it. However, once Jelly Belly switched to all natural ingredients I tried them out and am glad I did! While Jelly Belly Sport Beans will never be the only carbohydrate product I consume, I now take a package with me on just about every ride.

Jelly Belly Sport Beans

Jelly Belly Sport Beans

If you have never tried Jelly Belly Sport Beans then you are missing a real treat! I rotate through a dozen or so carbohydrate products while cycling (not all at the same time), and I can tell you that Jelly Belly Sport Beans have the most robust flavor of any of the products I use.

Jelly Belly Sport Beans come in six flavors (Orange, Berry, Lemon Lime, Fruit Punch, Watermelon, Cherry). Two of the flavors (Watermelon and Cherry) contain caffeine. Anytime I review nutritional products I like to list the ingredients, and since the Cherry flavor is my favorite I’ll give you the ingredients list for it: Evaporated cane juice, tapioca syrup, and cherry juice from concentrate. It also contains 2% or less of the following ingredients: natural flavor, thiamine hydrochloride (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacinamide (vitamin B3), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), citric acid, citrus pectin, potassium citrate, sodium citrate, sodium lactate, black carrot (color), black currant (color), grape skin extract (color), apple (color), purple carrot (color), hibiscus (color), beeswax, carnauba wax, confectioner’s glaze, salt, and caffeine.

Each one-ounce package of Jelly Belly Sport Beans has 100 calories. Every serving also provides 25 grams of carbohydrates, 80mg of sodium, 40mg of potassium, along with a small dose of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C. This product is also Certified Kosher (Orthodox Union).

At one time Jelly Belly Sport Beans were made with corn syrup, but that has been replaced with evaporated cane juice. For me this is a big deal—I refuse to buy any product that contains high fructose corn syrup. Jelly Belly has also switched to all natural ingredients for the coloring used in these beans. These beans are coated with beeswax and carnauba wax. You might think these waxes are just for making with beans shine (which they do), but the advantage is that your fingers will not get sticky while eating these beans even on a hot day (due to the high melting point of carnauba wax).

The only thing I do not like about Jelly Belly Sport Beans is the packaging—they are very difficult to open while on the bike. These packages come with a resealable top and to me this is totally unnecessary since they only contain 100 calories per package.

Jelly Belly Sport Beans retail for around $1.25 per package, but you can usually save a lot of money by buying them in bulk (24 packages). If your local bike shop does not give you a discount for buying in quantity then you should shop for them on Amazon.com.

 
 

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Bonk Breaker Gluten Free Energy Bars

One day back in the spring I walked into the local bike shop and one of the owners tossed me a small package and told me to try it out. When I looked at the package it had the name Bonk Breaker on the front—it was a product I had never heard of before, but have since become very well acquainted with. In fact, if you ride very much at all you need to get acquainted with them as well.

Bonk Breaker Gluten Free Energy Bars

Bonk Breaker Gluten Free Energy Bars

Bonk Breaker is an all-natural energy and protein bar that is made without dairy, gluten or soy products. These bars are designed for endurance athletes (cyclists, runners, etc.). I have only tried four of the ten flavors of Bonk Breaker that are available, but they have all be simply delicious so far. The ten flavors available are: Peanut Butter & Jelly, Peanut Butter & Jelly (High Protein), Almond Cherry Chunk (High Protein), Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip, Apple Pie, Blueberry Oat, Espresso Chip, Almond Butter & Honey, Peanut Butter & Banana, and Fig.

This would be a very long review if I gave you the ingredients list for each of the bars, so let me just list the ingredients for the Apple Pie Bonk Breaker (my favorite) so you can get a general idea of what they contain. Ingredients: Rice Nectar, Organic Gluten Free Oats, Honey, Coconut Oil, Brown Rice Flour, Non-GMO Brown Rice Protein, Apples, (Freeze Dried Apples), Brown Rice Crisps (Brown Rice, Rice Nectar, Sea Salt), Ground Chia Seed, Ground Cinnamon, Natural Apple Flavor, and Sea Salt. One 2.2 ounce bar has 250 calories (72 from fat), and has 34g of carbohydrates, 7g of protein, and 4g of dietary fiber.

Do you need Bonk Breaker energy bars? Well, it depends on how far you ride your bike. On short rides (anything under two hours) you would probably be just fine with carbohydrate gels and/or energy drinks. However, it is very rare for me to go on a bike ride that lasts less than two hours so I nearly always take a Bonk Breaker or two with me. After two hours of exercise your body needs some protein, and one regular Bonk Breaker bar has around 7 grams (the High Protein bars have even more). By the time I’ve been on my bike for three hours I want something that tastes and feels like real food—and Bonk Breaker fits the bill perfectly. These bars are soft, full of flavor, and taste great.

Because I am a distance cyclist I sometimes have to take over 2,000 calories worth of food products with me on a ride, and because I like variety I never confine myself to using just one brand of energy product. However, Bonk Breaker is one of the few “must have” foods I take with me on nearly every ride.

Bonk Breaker Energy Bars retail for around $25 for a box of 12 and if your local bike shop does not have them in stock I am sure they can order them for you. You can also order these bars from the Bonk Breaker Online Store and other online retailers, such as Amazon.com, REI, and Colorado Cyclist.

 
33 Comments

Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Product Reviews, Sports Nutrition

 

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Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gels

Cyclists burn a lot of carbohydrates during a long ride and if you want to finish under your own power you need to replace some of those carbs during the ride. Honey is my favorite source of carbohydrates since it offers a perfect blend of both simple and complex carbs which prevents the energy “spike, crash and burn” that you get from most “energy gels.”

Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gels

Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gels

The folks at Honey Stinger recently sent me a few packages of their new Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gels. I am not a tofu-eating vegetarian. However, when given a choice, I will choose organic food every time. This is especially true when it comes to the food I eat while cycling. I’ve found that natural ingredients are easily digested and quickly absorbed into the body. Energy gels that contain a lot of chemicals make me feel uncomfortable while cycling.

The new Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gels are available in three flavors (Vanilla, Fruit Smoothie, and Acai & Pomegranate). The Fruit Smoothie has a mild strawberry flavor. The Vanilla gel has a strong, but not overpowering, vanilla flavor, and the Acai & Pomegranate tastes like fresh Acai berries, but I couldn’t really taste the Pomegranate. However, the Acai & Pomegranate is my favorite flavor and after eating just one package of it I ordered an entire box of these gels.

The ingredients list for the Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gels is about as simple as you can get: Organic tapioca syrup, organic honey, water, potassium citrate, natural flavor, citric acid, and sodium chloride. Each one-ounce (32g) package provides 100 calories with 23g of carbohydrates. Each serving also has 50mg of sodium and 50mg of potassium—the essential electrolytes that cyclists need during a ride. This product is made with 95% USDA-certified organic ingredients and they are also gluten-free.

Honey Stinger has offered Energy Gels for several years and the original flavors of those gels are still available and are now referred to as their Classic Energy Gels. The classic flavors (Gold, Ginsting, Banana, Chocolate and Strawberry) are made with pure honey, along with sodium, potassium, B complex vitamins and all-natural flavors. The Strawberry and Ginsting flavors contain natural caffeine. I like all the original flavors and usually order them in a box of 24 assorted flavor gels.

Can you really tell the difference between the Classic Energy Gels and the new Organic Energy Gels? Yes, but the difference in taste has nothing to do with the organic ingredients—the tapioca syrup in the new gels make for a much smoother product. As much as I like the Honey Stinger gels, they are never going to be my only source of food while on a long ride. However, I do take them with me on every ride. These gels are absorbed quickly into the body and just a few minutes after ingestion it feels like someone kicked on the afterburners.

Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gels retail for $1.35 per package, or $32.40 for a box of 24. If your local bike does not carry these gels yet they would be glad to order them for you. I’ve found that most local bike shops are willing to give you a decent discount if you buy three boxes of nutritional products at the same time—and you won’t have to pay for shipping! These gels are also available from R.E.I. and from the Honey Stinger Website.

 

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Honey Stinger Protein Bar

My kind and gracious wife allowed me to take over one of her kitchen cabinets so I can store my nutritional products. The cabinet is 42″ wide and has three shelves. The top shelf is used to store two CamelBak hydration packs and over a dozen water bottles (some are insulated and others have special lids for different types of cycling). The bottom two shelves are used to store 20 to 30 boxes of the different carbohydrate products I eat while cycling (I buy my favorite products in bulk). While I use several different brands of carbohydrate products during a ride, I only keep one brand of protein bar in the cabinet for after a ride—the Honey Stinger Protein Bar.

Honey Stinger Protein Bar 10g

Honey Stinger Protein Bar

Let’s make this easy—the Honey Stinger Protein Bar is absolutely the best tasting protein bar I’ve ever tried! These bars come in two sizes (10g or 20g of protein). These bars are made with over 30% USDA certified organic honey, either 10g or 20g of high quality whey protein isolate, 22 vitamins and minerals, calcium and antioxidants.

Cyclists usually eat protein bars immediately after a ride to aid in muscle recovery. The problem is that most protein bars are simply dreadful! However, the 10g Honey Stinger Protein Bars are so delicious you will find yourself craving them. When I am running late in the morning I eat these bars for breakfast, and they are my favorite snack at the movies (I can’t watch a movie without one). One warning: the chocolate layer on the outside of these bars has a low melting point, so don’t leave them in a hot car or the chocolate will melt (it will still taste good though).

In the past year I’ve bought over a dozen boxes of these bars—all in the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond flavor. I knew Honey Stinger made other flavors, but this one is so good I never even thought about buying any other flavor. A few weeks ago the good folks at Honey Stinger sent me samples of the other flavors for review purposes, and while I liked all of them, the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond is in a class all by itself—it is simply awesome! You can actually see (and taste) bits of dried sour cherries in the bar.

The 10g Honey Stinger Protein Bars are available in four flavors: Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond, Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond, Dark Chocolate Mint, and Chocolate Coated Peanut Butta. The 20g bars are only available in Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond and Chocolate Coated Peanut Butta.

The ingredients for each of these bars varies slightly, so I will just give the ingredients list for the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond: Semisweet Dark Chocolate [Evaporated Cane Juice, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat, Soya Lecithin, and Vanilla]; Organic Honey; Whey Protein Isolate; Almond Butter; Dried Sour Cherries (Cherries, Apple Juice, Sunflower Oil); Almonds; Vitamins & Minerals [Dicalcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Ascorbic Acid (Vit C), Alpha-tocopherol Acetate (Vit E), Biotin, Zinc Oxide, Niacin, Ferrous Fumarate (Iron), Molybdenum Glycinate, Calcium Pantothenate, Copper, Manganese, Beta Carotene (Vit A), Selenium, Pyridoxine (B6), Riboflavin (B2), Thiamin (B1), Chromium, Cyanocobolamin (B12), Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide]; and Natural Flavor.

Honey Stinger Protein Bars are made with 25% organic ingredients. The are also made with gluten-free ingredients and contain no soy products. These bars are available at many local bike shops, REI stores, Amazon.com and from the Honey Stinger Website. The 10g Honey Stinger Protein Bars retail for $2.20 each, or in a box of 15 for under $33.

 

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Elevate Me! Protein And Fruit Energy Bar

A few weeks ago one of the readers of this blog suggested that I try the Elevate Me! protein and fruit energy bars, so I ordered a variety pack of the bars from the manufacturer, PROsnack Natural Foods, Inc. These bars were invented by a mother who was a “nutritional health food caterer for athletes and sports teams” when she wanted to “create the world’s simplest protein snack.” Well, she succeeded! Elevate Me! bars are easy on the stomach, taste great, and deserve a place in the cupboard of every cyclist.

Elevate Me! Protein And Fruit Energy Bar

Elevate Me! Protein And Fruit Energy Bar

Elevate Me! bars are about the size of a candy bar, but that is about the only thing the two bars have in common. These bars weigh 66 grams each and are made with 24% protein and whole fruits. They are also gluten-free, wheat-free, low-fat, and contain no added sweeteners, preservatives, or artificial ingredients. In addition to 16 grams of protein, each bar has about 33 grams of carbohydrates.

The variety pack I bought contained twelve bars—a mix of the following flavors: Strawberry Apple Pie, Chocolate Acai Berry Brownie, Blueberry Cranberry Gojiberry Boost!, Matcha Green Tea with Cranberries, Espresso Cocoa Crunch, Banana Nut Bread, Cocoa Coconut Cluster, and All-Fruit Original. While I liked all the bars, the Chocolate Acai Berry Brownie was my favorite. The Espresso Cocoa Crunch was OK, but I am not a coffee drinker and don’t usually like anything made with coffee beans.

I won’t take the time to give the ingredients list for each flavor of Elevate Me! bar, but will list the ingredients for the Blueberry Cranberry Gojiberry Boost bar as an example: Whey protein isolate, dates, organic raisins, almonds, apples, cranberries (cranberries, apple juice, sunflower oil), blueberries, and goji berries. These bars may contain traces of peanuts and/or soy. All bars are certified organic.

As a distance cyclist I usually consume carbohydrate products during the first two hours of a ride, and then start adding a bit of protein every hour during the rest of the ride. While I will never be willing to confine myself to just one brand of energy bar, I am really glad to have these bars with me on my longer rides. These bars taste like real food—unlike some bars that taste more like a high school chemistry experiment that went horribly wrong.

Elevate Me! protein and fruit energy bars are a product of Canada and I bought the variety pack from the PROsnack Natural Foods Website for $25, plus postage. At the moment these bars are not available on Amazon.com, but it looks like they will be before long.

 

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Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix

Late last year I started using Gatorade’s G2 low-calorie sports drink for most of my rides—they sold a container of eight individual packages of drink mix and it suited my needs perfectly. However, I’ve noticed that in the last few weeks the pre-packaged power mix has been on “clearance” at several stores and no longer available at other stores. I don’t know if the folks at Gatorade are ready to drop this product or just come up with a better marketing plan for their products (it would be hard for them to devise a worse marketing plan than the one they are using). As a result, I have looked for a new drink mix powder for my rides and decided to try Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix.

Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix

Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix

Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix was developed by Allen Lim, PhD, a sport scientist and coach for a professional cycling team (Garmin). He created this product “from scratch” because he thought he could improve on the usual pre-packaged hydration products that were already on the market.

A 16-ounce serving of this mix has 80 calories and provides 20 grams of carbohydrates, along with 60mg of calcium, 45mg of magnesium, 310mg of sodium and 40mg of potassium. The ingredients list is fairly simple: Sucrose, glucose, sodium citrate, potassium citrate, calcium citrate, magnesium, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). As you can see, the mix from Skratch Labs provides less sugar and more electrolytes than other sports drinks.

Back when I was in high school (when the earth was still cooling and dinosaurs roamed the earth) the coaches would pass out both salt and potassium tablets to the athletes on hot days. Any coach that does this today needs to be fired on the spot! Sodium and potassium need to be taken in the right proportions or you can cause a great deal of harm.

The Exercise Hydration Mix comes in several flavors, including: Lemon & Limes, Raspberries, Oranges, and Pineapple. I bought a variety pack that included all the flavors except Pineapple. While I liked all of them, the Raspberry was my favorite—the flavor is not overpowering, but it is a very crisp and refreshing drink.

You can buy the Exercise Hydration Mix in either one or two-pound packages, or as single-serving individual packages. A package of 20 single serving sticks retails for $19.50, which is considerably more expensive than single-serving packages of Gatorade.

While I really like the flavor the Exercise Hydration Mix I am not sure I can recommend it for cyclists. The problem is not the ingredients or the price, but rather the packaging! The single-serving individual packages are designed for 16-ounce bottles, and nearly every water bottle in the world that fits in a bicycle water bottle cage is 20-ounces. In addition, if you buy bottled water at a convenience store it is probably going to come in a 20-ounce bottle. For the life of me I can’t figure out why Skratch Labs is marketing such a fine product in such a horrible size!

I am a distance cyclist and often have trouble making two 20-ounce bottles last between opportunities to refill them, and there is no way on earth I want to go out for a ride with 16-ounce bottles. It is normally recommended that cyclists drink 16 to 20 ounces of fluid per hour while riding. On hot and humid days when the heat index is over 110 degrees I’ve been known to drink twice that amount. I could just dilute the powder with more water, but that ruins the taste.

Here is the bottom line: If you can survive with 16-ounce bottles then the Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix is worth trying. Buying this product by the pound will allow you to leave home with two full bottles in whatever size you want, but if you want to refill 20-ounce bottles while on the road you should to look for another product.

 

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