Energy Bars

Could anyone please give me some advice on energy bars (carbo and protein)
I've just started running (about 8 weeks) and would like to know if they are of use or just another cost/gimmick

Many thanks in advance



  • GradgeGradge ✭✭✭
    I must say I find energy bars to be very usefull.In particular after a days work I find i can eat a bar and then go for a run 30 mins later whereby if i had eaten a full meal i would need to wait 2 hours before training.there is very often more carbs in the energy bars than some micro -meals.I quite like the chocolate coated ones like Maxim and the High Five Sports bars.
  • These products MIGHT have a genuine niche role in pre-marathon and intra-marathon fuelling as an alternative to gels and carb-containing drinks and Jaffa Cakes and Joosters. For any other situation, they're just an ingenious way of parting a runner from his money.

  • Funnily enough I was going to post a question on this very subject today meself.

    All three marathons I've run, I've trained and ran taking on water only and managed to get some pretty good performances (last one was sub 3!), but would taking on gels/sports drinks during the race actually improve my performance to any great extent or not?

    Any thoughts/advice people?
  • Parky, if you can manage 26.2 without hitting The Wall on water only, big respect to you and I hope to be able to emulate your talent if not your speed. Sounds like a case of "don't try to fix what ain't broke". If you do experience a noticeable slowing-up or increased discomfort in your legs in the last few miles of a marathon, it might be worth taking in a bit of gel or sports drink early in the race, but try them out in training first because not everyone can keep them down.
  • Just in addition to the above. Most runners will not need to take any energy gels/drinks during races/training runs of less than half marathon distance providing you eat a sensible diet so that you are fueled up before you set off.
  • I was amazed at how many energy gel packets were littering the road in the last 3-4 miles of the GNR. Somebody should have told the poor blighters (who were nonetheless faster than me so I am NOT mocking them) that once your legs start to buckle it's too late - and that you need a decent breakfast before a half-marathon.

    I normally only have water, but my sister had treated us to some flavoured water with about 100 calories of sugar in 500ml and I drank it while hanging about at the start and kept it down without a twinge, so I might have found a viable form of intra-marathon fuel.
  • V-Rap,

    I definitly noticed myself slowing over the last 10k of Berlin and my splits at the end showed that I about 3 mins slower. I had been carbo loading for about a week beforehand and had a hearty breakfast in the morning.

    When other people have taken gels/sports drinks do you find that you can stave off tiredness, or finish more freshly?
  • I am inclined to the view that no amount of gels, jelly beans or sports drinks will help once one starts running. I suspect that transfer of glucose from gut to blood to muscle cells is not terribly efficient while one is exercising and it may be that the quantity of some other metabolite present before exercise is a limiting factor. In the New Forest marathon I gobbled my way through dozens of jelly beans and my legs still seized up at 21 miles. I think Parky's observation demonstrates that IF one has done enough training, and, as V-rap says, had a decent breakfast then the only sustenance required is for rehydration. Long runs in training are the unpalatable key and I fully intend, one day, to do enough to see me through the whole 26 and a bit without any undignified 'rests'.
  • I thought I'd had a decent breakfast before starting the GNR, but obviously not - I really felt starving hungry between 10.5 and 12.5 miles.

    I ate so much afterwards it was shocking. That museli bar thing, my wagon wheel (and Ian's wagon wheel), then when Denise (my wife) turned up I had 2 trackers, and a bottle of lucozade sport! :)

    I really will eats about 1 third more food at breakfast on the day of the Cheddar Half - hopefully that'll help me in the latter stage of the race.
  • I've always used an energy bar before races - as peeps have said, once the running has begun - it's too late. I find them v handy as a lot easier to eat on the way than a full breakfast.

    I have used caffeiney drinks for long bike time trials, and that seemed to give me a kick for the finish. Anyone else tried them ?
  • I lost 2 minutes fannying around trying to get into a gel bar at GNR. Almost pulled my teeth out in the process as well!! Think i'll stick with cherry menthol flavoured Tunes in future. Seriously, I think anything you take that you think will work is ok (within reason of course) since I'm certain most of these drinks/bars work on a psychological basis mainly. I usually work on the basis that the crapper it tastes, the more good it must be doing me.
  • I had less breakfast than usual before the GNR, my sister had more than usual (we each had a pot of thick and creamy yogurt and a croissant and jam with coffee), but she was the one who ran out of steam at ten miles and was lying in the aisle of the bus with hypoglycaemia afterwards. Must admit, I felt starving while we were hanging around waiting for the race to begin, but that had settled by about 6 miles.

    I think it has a lot to do with training and, in particular, developing the ability to use fat as fuel before running out of glycogen. It probably helped that I don't think I ever got out of my aerobic heart rate range.

    People ran races, and ran them well, long before gels and bars and Lucozade Sport were invented. I'd much rather forget the sweet gunk and be like John Bingham and stop for a cup of coffee mid-marathon if the opportunity presents itself.
  • Thanks for the replies

    Think i'll try a few and see what happens
    Have tried Luc sport on a 12m run and seemed ok.

    I'm running the Barns Green 1/2M at the end of Oct so maybe try them out for that run
  • Glad to see someone else ate a lot on Sunday; I'd devoured both the cereal bar and the Wagon wheel before I'd even got my GNR T-shirt on, that's after a muesli breakfast and a banana + 2 cereal bars an hour before the run started.

    On long slow runs eg fell runs I find bananas and honey sandwiches (white bread, no butter) keep me going. Timing is all though, and if you run out of steam towards the end of a shorter race it's far more likely you set off too quickly.

    Check the label on so called sports bars and decide whether they're value for money, or whether any old high carb/low fat food would do jsut as well. As for gels - if ever I develop the urge to pay £1.50 for a packet of strawberry flavoured snot I hope someone sensible like Vrap will stop me.
  • I was told after 2 hrs or so of running the body would tend to run out of fuel, that's at about 15-20 miles of a marathon depending on your speed. I take on energy gels at 5, 10 and 15 miles, flushed down with water. Anything taken on after 15-16 miles won't take effect until after you've finished I've been told. But don't forget the positive physchological effect all these drinks/gels/energy bars have on your average runner !

  • Can I ask a dumb question? How do you carry all these things with you, like jelly beans and gels and things? As someone lacking in experience (OK, I ran FLM 2001, but I hardly covered myself in glory, though I did at least finish), do I need to invest in (God help me) a bum-bag???

    "There are no dumb questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots"

  • Hey theres nothing wrong with a well-fitting bum bag. On GNR, I had my phone, a bottle of water, an energy gel, an energy bar and some cash. I hardly knew I was carrying it. The trick is to have the bag bit behind you, not in front like a german tourist.
  • I used 2 pouches of Lucozade sport in the GNR, after a banana for breakfast. I had plenty of energy throughout.

    Incidentally, I experimented with a new way to carry the Lucozade. I normally do long training runs with just one pouch which I carry in my hand. I decided that two would be better for the GNR but I really didn't want to carry them both in my hands because I find it tires my shoulders. So I taped the second one to my upper arm with surgical tape (nipple tape as I call it since starting running :-o). This was very successful until a few miles into the race when I'd finished the first pouch and wanted the second. I ripped it from my arm without thinking. Ouch! Lost most of the hair from my upper arm.

    A bumbag is probably less painful.

  • GavoGavo ✭✭✭
    For races, I can carry the small non-isotonic energy gels (the ones that you need water with) in the pockets in the shorts. Also find that wearing lycra shorts are hand coz you can get a gel in the waistband bit if you need the other pocket for keys etc. No wonder I take about 1/2 hour getting ready for long runs. I did also learn that taking them too late has no effect - anything after about, say 15 - 16m in a marathon is too late for a proper carb boost.
  • Tried gels yesterday for the first time in a long run (22 miles) - normally I use a Carbo drink. I took the first at around 11 miles, and found it started to help around 2 - 3 miles later. The second at 17 miles did'nt do a lot though ... too late - but was a confidence booster ! Getting a bit cold and dark by that stage.
  • I've read elsewhere that gels can upset your stomach so was unsure about using them.

    Also i'm just starting to run over 12 miles so Is this the time to start trying gels,bars etc.

    What about when i'm running under 10m would it be a waste of time using gels,bars etc.

    Finally am i correct in thinking energy bars pre run & protein bars post run.

    Sorry for so many questions but i'm pretty new to this running game as i'm traing for next years FLM also plan to run Barns Green 1/2m in a couple of weeks
  • I can't eat much before a race and certainly not a breakfast so an energy bar helps out there. Plus one just before the start staves off the hunger. I used an energy gel on a half marathon - safety pinned it to the inside of my waistband and just ripped it out when needed - and it seemed to help but the psycological comfort it gave was probably as important as it's fuelling effects.
  • Johnboy, I am doing the dublin marathon at end of the month and as such have been building up to 20 mile runs on a sunday morning. To date I have not used any gels/bars but only Luc sport. If I compare my 15 mile+ runs over the last 2/3months the best runs have always happened after eating either large pasta dish, chinese or Mrs W's home-made fish pie the night before followed up by cornflakes and banana next morning. Combine this with plenty of sleep and you'll be fine. Its very easy to get over concerned about bars/gels etc (as I have done in the past) but night before carbo and a decent brekky should normally see you through!!
  • For those worried about the effects on the stomach through taking energy drinks/gels, I suggest taking two Immodium (or similar diarrhoea capsules) when you wake up on race morning, it has helped me on my previous 2 marathons, even though I'm bunged up for 3 days afterwards ! It's also a confidence thing, you just KNOW you won't need to worry during the race.
  • Dirt Tracker

    I must be really sad because I just have visions of all u runners eating big breakfasts, taking gels, and bars and then taking IMODIUM. It seems like sticking in a cork!
  • Hi Colin,
    Well my breakfast on race day is very light, only toast and a banana. Running sometimes makes me a bit fragile in the stomach area so it just ensures I can get through a marathon without worrying. I don't bother on any race shorter though.
  • i've never tried an energy gel...just make a good job of carbo loading the 2 days before a marathon....i'm not very good at sugary things, but quite like some bread or chocolate at 17 miles or so....
    i'm doing a marathon on sunday, and am planning on drinking diluted powerade, and i've got a couple of cereal bars for desperation...
  • I'm new to running and the runners world forum and would like to thank everyone for their response.
    It certainly gives a good x section of views and info.

    Once again many thanks
    John B
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