Guide to Energy Bars, Gels, Blocks & Drinks

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If you’re sick of your usual fruit and nut mix, and you’re wanting to take your adventure fuel next-level, then you should consider trying energy bars, gels, blocks or drinks.

These products are designed especially to be used for a number of activities whether it be finishing a section of your favourite trail, topping up your carb levels during a training session, or fuelling up mid-morning to get you through a long day at work.

Without getting too technical, here’s a rundown of what sort of activities you can use these to fuel up for, as well as the pros and cons of each one.

Group shot of energy bars and drinks

With so many choices, you can really target your needs. Photo: Erin Wescombe

1. Energy bars

What are your options?

  • Clif Bars – These are made from 70% organic ingredients and come in a range of flavours. Check out our taste test reviews of each one here.

Runner with Choc Almond Clif Energy bar

Whether you’re hiking, at work or hitting the pavement – an energy bar makes for a great snack. Photo: Erin Wescombe

What are energy bars best for?

Energy bars are probably the most versatile choice, as they’re great for snacking on before a hike, a couple of hours before a training session, or even for keeping you going at work all morning.

To get the most out of an energy bar, eat one 2-3 hours before exercise. You can also nibble on them while you’re mid-activity to keep hunger at bay.

The Snowys YouTube channel has a heap of Clif Bar taste test reviews to check out.

Pros and cons

Energy bars are usually very dense, so they really fill you up compared to a block or gel. They’ve also got a more solid texture that’s similar to a muesli bar, which can be a little more palatable. For more on how energy bars taste, check out our Clif Bars review video above.

The cons of bars are that they’re not ideal for eating when you’ve got your hands tied up, and they aren’t as fast absorbing compared to a gel or block.

Woman hiking with pack

Long distance hiking requires sustained energy. Photo: Coleman

2. Energy Gels

What are your options?

  • Koda Energy Gels – with a super quick to absorb consistency, these gels also go down smoothly with no aftertaste.
  • Clif SHOT Energy Gels – Made with ingredients such as organic maltodextrin and organic dried cane syrup, the Clif Energy gels are made especially for high-performance athletes.

Gels stored in Deuter backpack

Keep a couple of gels in your racing pack for top-ups. Photo: Erin Wescombe

What are energy gels best for?

Energy gels are great for riding, trail running, or any activity where you don’t have time to chew or slow down. It’s ideal to consume them once or twice an hour with water during exercise, but they can also be eaten 15 minutes before you head out.

Pros and cons

The pros of these are that there’s no chewing involved, so you won’t have to break your concentration. Gels are also made to absorb quickly, so you’ll get those much-needed carbohydrates into your bloodstream faster.

Bike rider with stored energy gels

Gels are easy to eat, and fast absorbing. Photo: Clif Bar & Company

3. Energy Blocks

What are your options?

  • Clif Bar Blocks – Made from organic tapioca syrup and dried cane syrup, these blocks also contain caffeine for extra energy.

Energy blocks packed into waist pack

Energy blocks are an easy and compact choice for sports like running and cycling. Photo: Erin Wescombe

What are energy blocks best for?

Energy blocks are great for those who need a compact and concentrated fuel option – so they’re good for running, paddling and cycling. The ideal time to eat them is during activity, and to hydrate as you go.

Pros and cons

The pros are that they’re compact and easy to carry. You can slip them into the small pockets on your racing pack or belt really easily.

You can also eat them one block at a time. This makes it easier to eat controlled portions depending on your body’s needs. As they’re not very filling, you won’t feel too full or sleepy which could be a problem if you’re out on the water or a bike. Unlike a gel, they’re also a little less messy.

The cons are that you do have to be careful that you consume the right amount of fluids when eating blocks, as otherwise, you might upset your stomach.

Canoeing with a mate

You don’t want to be overly full on the water, which is why blocks are great. Photo: Sea to Summit.

4. Energy Drinks

  • Nuun tablets – Packed with natural flavours and electrolytes, these portable tablets make it easy to rehydrate as you go.
  • Pure Sports Nutrition Electrolyte Powder – With electrolytes and clean ingredients such as freeze-dried fruit, plus no artificial colours and flavours, these are a healthy option.

Putting Nuun tablet into drink bottle

Hydration tablets replace lost electrolytes during exercise and give you extra energy. Photo: Erin Wescombe

What are hydration drinks best for?

Hydration drinks can be used for any activity such as walking, hiking, cycling, trail running, or general training.

These drinks come in compact tablet form so they’re easy to drop into your drink bottle on the go, which makes carrying them on a hike or run really convenient. They also come in powder form which you can mix up with water before you head off. These are best for consuming during activity to keep on top of your hydration.

Pros and cons

These drinks contain electrolytes and vitamins and minerals that primarily work to keep you hydrated. However, they also come in formulations that provide carbohydrates and caffeine for an extra boost which is a pro.

The cons are that when used alone, you won’t be able to get enough energy for extended exercise. For this reason, they’re better used to supplement your energy levels.

Woman drinking out of blue Grayl bottle

During prolonged activity, you need to stay hydrated and keep refuelling. Photo: Grayl 

Fuelling up for your next training sesh or adventure

The next time you’re gearing up for a trip, you might want to ditch your supermarket snacks and consider boosting up with an energy bar, gel, block or drink. With a few of these snacks under your belt, you’ll be zipping along the track or trail at full speed in no time!

What’s your go-to snack for fuelling up for a long day of adventure?

About the writer...

Joined back in December, 2016

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