How to Choose the Best Energy Bars

Choosing the best energy bar

There are all sorts of energy bars on the market, and choosing can be daunting. Luckily, we’ve got everything you need to know about finding the right energy bar for your sport, your goals and your dietary needs.

What types of energy bars are there?

Has the variety of different bars available got you asking, “what are energy bars anyway?”

Carbohydrate-based bars

The majority of energy bars fall in this category. When you exercise, your body burns carbohydrates (as well as its natural fat stores). Carbohydrates deplete quickly, so it’s important to not run out or you’ll be left feeling tired, hungry and unable to go on.

Carbohydrates in these bars can come from a number of sources, which we’ll explore below. 

Low carb or keto bars

Low calorie or low carb bars are not a useful alternative to carbohydrate-based bars. They are usually designed and marketed as ‘healthy’ snacks, but many are loaded with questionable artificial ingredients and offer no real nutritional or performance value.

Similarly, bars marketed as ‘keto’ or ‘paleo’ tend to be high in fat and low in carbohydrates — based on the idea that you can train your body to fuel itself solely with fat. While the keto diet has its devoted fans, there’s little evidence to support its effectiveness in maintaining endurance performance, its health claims or long-term benefits.

Protein bars

Not a true energy bar, but certainly has its place in sports nutrition, protein bars are designed to deliver a quick hit of protein which your body can absorb and use for muscle recovery after exercise. High protein, low carb bars are often ultra processed and host a long list of additives and fillers which can be hard on your digestion.

Veloforte’s protein bars combine all natural carbohydrates and protein with a trusted 4:1 ratio. Naturally delicious and perfect for post-workout recovery and endurance fuelling. 

Graphic of Veloforte
Graphic by Veloforte

Meal replacement bars

‘Meal replacement bars’ usually contain a decent balance of carbs, protein and fat, and are sold as a quick and easy option for people with no time for breakfast or lunch. The quality of ingredients can vary greatly.

If you’re able, have a meal. If not, then a natural bar with a good nutritional balance isn’t a bad second choice.

Choosing energy bars for different sports

Depending on your sport, you’ll have slightly different needs in your energy bar, affected by the length and intensity of your training sessions.

HIIT and fitness

For very short workouts (under an hour) you may not need any fuel at all, as your body’s natural glycogen stores will provide all you need.

Often you’ll need a quick boost of energy before a session. Here, an energy bar containing dual-sourced simple carbohydrates - glucose and fructose - can work wonders, being quicker to absorb and use than complex carbs. So look for bars that can provide those.

Cycling, running, swimming and other sports

Cyclists, runners, swimmers and other athletes often find themselves right in the fuelling ‘sweet spot’. Exercise of 90 minutes or more will require fuel of some kind.

Look for easily digestible carbohydrates. Bonus points if it offers dual-source carbs, like  Veloforte’s energy bars, that will give a quick energy boost and slower-release energy too.

If your bar contains around 40g of carbohydrates, split it into halves or thirds and take on some of it every 20 minutes.

Enduro, triathlon and ultrarunning

At the long end of the endurance scale, you’ll need to make sure you’re taking on an even greater amount and variety of foods and nutrients. Opt for bars with a diverse nutritional profile. You’ll need some protein, fat and salt (or other electrolytes) as well as carbohydrates, such as Veloforte’s  Forza  and  Mocha  protein bars. 

Finding a bar that you really enjoy to eat is key. Variety and flavour can give a real motivational boost on long workouts. And be sure to incorporate real foods into your fuelling too: bananas, nut butter sandwiches, maybe even a slice of cake!

Choosing a bar to fit your goals

Going faster

Okay, so a bar can’t make you faster. But you’re looking for something easily digestible that will sit easily on the stomach and won’t cause discomfort or bloating. A straight-up carbohydrate bar with some quick-release energy from glucose will serve you well.

Going longer

Looking to ride, run or swim further? Look for a bar with some longer-release carbohydrates. Mix in some bars with protein, fats and salts too.

Getting stronger

Looking for a recovery bar that will help replenish carbs and also give your muscles what they need to repair and recover stronger? Find a bar with a carbohydrate/protein combo.

Staying fit and healthy

Energy bars on their own won’t help you achieve a particular physique or fitness goal. But they’re a great partner to your active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for bars for snacking, be aware that the carbohydrate levels tend to be high. Don’t snack on energy bars too frequently, and opt for a no added sugar natural choice which will deliver some fibre, vitamins and minerals too.

Graphic of Oat Snack Bars
Graphic by Veloforte

Choosing a high quality bar

Real food that really works

Your body is your engine and the food you eat is your fuel. No engine can run on empty. Our bodies are excellent at turning all food into energy - either to use immediately or store in the tank as muscle & liver glycogen stores. Every great sporting achievement in history has been powered by food. The quality of the food (fuel) you choose is ultimately up to you. 

Often athletes feel they need to sacrifice the taste, texture and digestibility of real food for the promised performance of synthetic energy bars and products. Actually, an all-natural energy bar can out-perform an artificial bar without sacrificing excellent flavour or digestibility.

Natural or synthetic ingredients

Scan the energy bar shelf at the supermarket and you’ll find a bewildering array of unrecognisable synthetic ingredients. Artificial sugars and sweeteners, in particular, have been linked with gastric distress like bloating or the dreaded runner’s tummy.

Call us old fashioned, but we’d rather stick to bars with all natural ingredients, which we know will be easy to digest and won’t upset our bodies. 

With a short ingredient list, you’ll find it much easier to see whether a bar is vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, or fits your dietary needs. 

All Veloforte bars are naturally delicious, certified gluten free and we have options to suit vegan & vegetarian diets.

Taste and texture

There’s a saying in endurance sports: “the best fuel is the one you’re actually going to eat.” If you’re three hours into a ride in the pouring rain, or running across a mountain at 3am, you’re much more likely to eat something that tastes great and has a pleasing texture.

There’s a great psychological reward from knowing you have a great tasting bar to look forward to. In fact, some of our customers have reported going out for a long ride just so they can have a bar on the way! Now that’s motivational food.

A man holding a Veloforte Energy Bar
Image by Veloforte

There’s science behind this too. Digestion begins with the enzyme amylase, which is released in saliva when your body anticipates something good coming its way. So a great tasting bar can get to work quicker simply by being mouthwatering.

Dry or naturally hydrated

To prolong shelf-life and drive down costs, many mass market energy bars are very dry. Handy for the manufacturer, but much less enjoyable to eat, and more difficult for you to chew, swallow and digest.

Naturally produced energy bars can contain up to seven times more water, usually from fruit, making them easier to eat and absorb, and much more enjoyable. And by using time-tested trusted natural baking techniques, they can obtain a long shelf life without artificial preservatives (or the texture of cardboard!).

Fibre, protein and fats

Fat has become something of a divisive word. The body requires fat to function properly, but some fats are more beneficial than others.

During long periods of exercise, taking on some fat, especially unsaturated natural fats, can maintain healthy tissue and organ function. 

Unfortunately, synthetic bars are often bulked out with trans fats from artificially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Conversely, natural bars usually incorporate nuts and seeds, both excellent sources of heart-healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, and can positively impact metabolism and cholesterol levels.

Nuts and seeds also provide a ready source of fibre and protein. While too much fibre (eating a load of wholemeal bread during a race, for example) can have detrimental effects, a small amount of natural fibre is ideal, especially during endurance training.

It’s also important to restock protein during extensive exercise. Our bodies are trained to digest and quickly use protein from natural sources.

Vitamins, mineral, electrolytes and more

Electrolytes are soluble compounds that your body needs to regulate the nervous system and muscle function. Without them your muscles quickly fatigue and you can experience dehydration symptoms like nausea and confusion. For short bursts of exercise, or if you’re taking on electrolytes in a sports drink, you won’t need them in your energy bar.

For longer workouts and races, a bar with electrolytes can be a vital part of your fuelling. Again, you’ll find an array of electrolytes. Our Avanti energy bar,  for example, uses a sea salt, a naturally occurring sodium electrolyte to keep muscles feeling fresh.

One bonus of natural bars created from fruits and nuts is that they’re packed with vitamins and minerals. It isn’t likely that an extra dose of vitamin C is going to help you smash your PB, but eating natural bars will contribute to your body’s vitamin and mineral levels which can boost your immune system, improve recovery and give all sorts of health benefits. Win win.

Graphic by Veloforte

A guide to our top energy bars


The original, all-natural Veloforte bar. Succulent fruit, zingy citrus, crunchy almonds for texture. Delivers all the energy you need, with absolutely zero preservatives or synthetic ingredients.

Provides 40g of dual-source carbohydrates, with a taste and texture you’ll actually look forward to eating.

A two star Great Taste Award winner.


The Mocha is a real crowd-pleaser. It features a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein, making it an ideal bar for energy and healthy recovery.

It’s gluten free, vegan and combines the indulgent taste of toasted hazelnut butter, coffee and cocoa. Ideal within 30 minutes of your workout.


Dates, pecans and Himalayan sea salt make Avanti a soft, chewy, delicious and slightly salty wonder bar.

Avanti is excellent for endurance and longer workouts, combining an optimal balance of rich carbohydrate sources with natural fat from pecans and pure sea salt electrolytes.

A two star Great Taste Award winner.

Di Bosco

Luscious red berries combine with delicate pistachios in the Di Bosco bar, delivering 40g of carbohydrates from glucose and fructose to keep your energy up. 

It’s vegan, gluten free, totally free of preservatives and synthetic ingredients. Just the thing to keep your spirits up on a ride or run.

A two star Great Taste Award winner.


Squidgy apricots, toothsome almonds and… fennel? Forza is a delicious sweet and savoury combo in your mouth, guaranteed to keep your fuelling interesting.

It also provides an easily digestible 4:1 combo of natural carbs and complete plant protein.. Great for energy. Great for recovery.

A Great Taste Award gold winner.


Another totally vegan and gluten free bar, the Zenzero gets it easily accessible carbs from soft dried fruits, which are given a mood boosting kick from ginger and Sicilian lemons. This one’s like a sunny day, even if it’s cold out.

Expect 100% natural dual-source carbs and nothing artificial.

A Great Taste Award gold winner.


All the goodness of a Veloforte bar, with extra chocolatey-ness. Dates, almonds and cocoa combine for all natural energy to keep you going, with a flavour you can’t get enough of.

Ciocco will give you 40g of carbs. Or break it into thirds for a steady supply every 20 minutes.

A two star Great Taste Award winner.

Mixed Energy Bars Pack

Can’t decide? You don’t need to. We've curated these specific energy bar bundles, tailored to your needs.

They’re all gluten free and vegan. Get energised the right way.

Why Veloforte?

By harnessing nature’s finest ingredients, we craft real food that really works by delighting your senses and enhancing your daily physical performance, productivity & wellness, naturally.

No compromises, digestive issues, fake flavours, sickly gloop or ingredients you can't spell (or digest). Instead, beautifully balanced natural ingredients, incredible flavours and enjoy total confidence in your foundational health, well-being and performance.

For athletes and adventurers everywhere, our range is fit for purpose and fit for body... created to help you #fuelbetter.

Image of Head Chef & Co-Founder, Lara Giusti
Head Chef & Co-Founder, Lara Giusti. Image by Veloforte