The Mountain Bike Life

When you work at a bike shop and part of your daily routine is re-stocking numerous fitness foods, it’s tough to resist eating the stuff inside all the bright packaging.  I’ve never been one to use anything more elaborate than trail mix, granola bars, or peanut butter and jelly, but through trying some of the more interesting sports fuels I have found some things really worth using.  From better sports bars, to gels, drinks, and even fruit snacks, the world of bike-oriented snacks is living up to the hype.  Read on for reviews of snacks you’ll want to try.

Skratch Labs Hydration

The first fuel to catch my attention was a newly released drink mix from Skratch Labs.  A coworker explained it to me as a “Better Gatorade,” and that’s really all you need to know.  Gatorade–at least in my mind–is losing popularity because it’s overly sweet and comes with that stomach ache.  Skratch boasts “All natural ingredients you can actually pronounce,” with “Less calories and more electrolytes.”  Its packaging explains how it became initially known as ‘Secret drink mix’ (SDM) in the pro cycling world; riders would dump their sponsors’ drinks out, and replace it with Skratch.  It just worked better for them.  So, I tried it out and found the flavor delicious and light.  Honestly, I haven’t used it enough to truly find how much it affects my performance, but I prefer it to Gatorade any day.  The “Lemons and Limes” flavor tastes like a light lemon water, but has enough of the good stuff to replenish what you sweat out.  They have a drink mix to use during activity, and a scaled down version for every-day use.

Check out their site for hydration products, recipes, and other nifty stuff.


Clif Shot Bloks

I always saw energy fruit snacks as a cute gimmick, but I found myself eating those words (See what I did there?) after trying the Shot Bloks. I didn’t use them during a workout or anything, but I had some during a busy day at work when I was feeling tired.  I tried Black Cherry flavor, which has added caffeine, and was pleasantly surprised to feel a difference.  They’re pretty thick fruit snacks, and a serving size is half a package.  I had 3 before lunch and 3 after lunch, and though I find I usually need a lot of caffeine to feel any extra energy, I felt a bit better with these chews.  They’re not overly sweet, but let’s face it, it’s still a fruit snack.  If you don’t want your snack to be sweet, you wouldn’t be buying these in the first place.  Clif is an extremely well run company, everyone seems to love them, so it’s no surprise their energy chews are a winner.  They also come in a non-caffeinated version and a high sodium flavor (Margarita) to help you rehydrate after you’ve sweat a ton.

For further info on the Clif Shot Bloks, here you go.


Bonk Breaker Bars

BONK BREAKER BAR

THESE are absolutely fantastic. THIS is the bar the world needs. Baked fresh weekly, gluten free, dairy free, with tons of make-you-feel-good ingredients.  Anything gluten free gets bonus points with me, as I have a girlfriend with Celiac Disease.  I was honestly hesitant because the bar looked a little small for the price tag, but do NOT let this dissuade you.  Not only is Bonk Breaker Bar the greatest name for a snack ever, but Triple-B, or 3B, as I like to call them as of two seconds ago, tastes incredible.  I tried the PB&J (So many companies do the peanut butter bar, but forget jelly!) and Blueberry Oat.  Both are incredible.  The jelly is not at all gross or weirdly preserved.  The bar is like a condensed PB&J sandwich.  It has a good amount of sustenance to get you through a fit of hunger in-between lunch and dinner, and is a great snack to eat on the way to your local trails.  It’s good on the whole fiber and protein thing too, as well as low in calories from fat, which differ from bar to bar.

On their website, they have a ton of other flavors I’m dying to try, like PEANUT BUTTER BANANA, or fig.







GU Energy Gel

People love their GU.  All the time I hear people say “Aw man, I love that GU! Gotta re-stock.”  However, GU (Pronounced ‘goo’ and not ‘jew,’ as I’ve had the repeated difficulty of grasping) didn’t quite do it for me.  I’m willing to give it some more chances, as I feel it deserves, however I tried it on a ride and didn’t feel any difference at all, despite getting a version with 35mg of caffeine.  I rode for about an hour, stopped for some GU, and then kept riding feeling no different.  In fact, I got pretty dehydrated towards the end of my ride as I sucked the last of my CamelBak.  Because it’s a gel, you get this notion that you’re putting gas in the tank and it should be all the more effective.  It tasted over-sweet to me, and I would much sooner have some trail mix or a Bonk Breaker.  However, it gets points for being very compact, and easy to refuel within seconds.  For those looking for a quick and easy fix without worrying too much about taste, go for the GU!

Check out their products, here.

In addition to all these products, I’ve tried Honey Stinger Energy Chews, which are all organic, delicious, and they give you quite a few in a package.  They’re healthy, and great for vitamin C.  To me, they seem as more of a very healthy snack, rather than a performance-oriented fuel. But, they do focus on a lot of performance based products, so it’s still worth a shot.

I never thought I’d see myself branching out of the timeless trail mix and PB&J sandwich, but here I am.  Whatever your preference or dietary restriction, there’s a sport fuel for everyone, so get out and try some.

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