Only you can decide what balance of carbs, protein and fat you need from your energy snacks and nutrition products, but here's a quick round-up of the latest options to hit our desks.
Established in 1977 in Germany, Multipower produce nutritional products dedicated to muscle building and endurance, and are the official partners of Team Milram in the pro peloton. So it was a pleasant surprise when, with a full weekend of road riding planned, five new products from Multipower’s endurance range turned up/
Let’s start with their Multicarbo Drink+ (£10.99). A pre- and mid-ride drink, the 660g tub gives you 12 servings. Each 55g serving packs in 209kcal, with 50g of carbohydrate to help boost sagging energy levels. Only available in Red Orange flavour, we found it both tasty and effective. Many energy drinks taste overly sweet and artificial, but this had a very subtle orange taste – with an unexplained and unexpected hint of pineapple – which slipped down nicely. Our energy levels felt pretty constant throughout a 100km ride and there was no hint of crashing towards the end. Drink a serving pre-ride for maximum benefit.
The Multicarbo Hi-Energy Bar (50g) costs £30.96 per box of 25. Each flavour contains a concoction of extracts or stimulants; Lemon has added rhodiola rosea extract and caffeine, Chocolate has guarana and cocoa bean, while Citrus Mix has green tea. What all this adds up to is 30g carbs, 6.8g protein and 1.9g fat in each 184kcal bar, to be eaten before or during your ride. Our Citrus Mix was pleasant enough, but because it’s made of rice-wheat crisps, we’d venture the chocolate version is a more satisfying snack. Either way, it’s a non-stodgy, easily digestible bar which did its job in topping up flagging energy levels.
A similar bar we didn’t try on the bike is the Multicarbo Energy+Fruit (50g), which contains marginally more carbs (34g) and fat (2.1g) for the same number of calories. Available in Strawberry-Vanilla (tasty), Banana-Twist (not so tasty) and Apple, a box of 25 costs £31.25.
The last of the in-ride supplements is the Multicarbo Energy Gel (40g), which will boost you to the tune of 104kcal and 26g carbs. We tried the Apple flavour, which is more apple sours than the apple strudel-like flavour of many supplements but is palatable nonetheless. Cola+Guarana, Cherry-Banana and Strawberry-Lime flavours are also available. The sachet is smaller than we'd normally prefer, but did give the necessary boost mid-ride. £26.40 will get you 24 servings.
And finally, the Recovery Bar (45g/174kcal). A more even balance of carbs, protein and fat (18/13/5.4g) reflects the bar’s post-race status and is said to “reduce training stress and improve cell protection”. Only available in Chocolate, it has a chocolate coating with a Mars bar-like inner texture. It was tasty as a snack at any time of day, not just in the ravenous post-ride phase, when anything will do. A box of 24 costs £30.96 direct from Multipower.
Alibi have returned with the latest version of their Pretox energy drink. We didn’t find the first incarnation to our liking, but the new model is a marked improvement. Each 330ml can (£1.49) includes 10 vitamins (nine at 100 percent of your recommended daily allowance) and a blend of herbs and minerals that compares well with its competitors. We’ve tried both flavours – pomegranate and citrus – and they taste and sit better than the original. Whether Alibi lives up to its claim of “offsetting all the bad things in life” remains to be seen, while the “best served chilled” advice has never been more appropriate.
Honey Stinger were founded in the US in 2002 and have a line of 20 honey-based bars, gels and chews. Endorsed by none other than Lance Armstrong, they're used by his old Radioshack team on the WorldTour. We tasted a sample of the Pink Lemonade variety of their new Organic Energy Chews, which claims to offer the “sweet and tangy flavour that everyone loves”. We didn’t detect tangy but we certainly picked up on the sweet. Each 50g bag gives you 160kcal and a surprising 1g protein, owing to the use of organic honey and tapioca syrup. Also available in Limeade flavour, a box of 12 costs $22.50 direct from their website.
Having recently struck up a partnership with British Cycling and Team Sky, CNP are in a good position to get feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of their products. With this in mind, they no longer use citric acid in their gels in the belief that it's bad for your guts. The gels come in two varieties: Pro Energy (£24 for 24 sachets) and Pro Energy Max (£35.76 for 24). It's the latter that'll give you the biggest kick, with added caffeine and guarana for energy and focus. Both varieties pack in 25g carbs and 101kcal per serving.