Best Energy Bars for Runners: Here’s How to Choose

Runner with a Veloforte energy bar

There’s more than one way to fuel a runner. While energy gels, energy chews and energy drinks all have their place in our running fuel kit,  energy bars  can also be great for pre-fuelling, topping up carbs on longer, slower runs and as a convenient way to boost rapid recovery. 

But not all energy bars are created equal and choosing the right bar – at the right time – can be a bit of a minefield. Don’t worry, though, when it comes to nutrition, here at Veloforte we’ve got you covered.

Here’s our complete guide to the best energy bars for runners.

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Types of energy bars for runners

Carbohydrate bars

Packed full of your body’s go-to fuel, carbohydrate bars are a great source of portable energy for runners. They’re ideal as a pre-run top up on the way to the start line. Or on longer endurance runs where you might want a solid-food alternative to energy gels, drinks and chews.

Each bar in  Veloforte’s Endurance Bar pack gives you a big bang-for-buck: 40g of dual-source carbs and 5g of easy to digest protein per 62g bar. A great choice for endurance sessions.

A Veloforte Ciocco Energy Bar
Image by Veloforte

Low-calorie bars

Primarily a tool for weight management, low-calorie bars tend to have less than 200 calories per bar, lower levels of carbohydrate and often very little nutritional value. They can also be high in artificial nasties. They’re mainly targeted as a healthy snack and not much use for runners who need to adequately fuel exercise or recovery.

Veloforte's Oat Snack Bars are lighter in size and in carbs than our endurance bar range and are a handy way to top up energy throughout the day. Packed full of juicy fruit, chewy oats and crunchy seeds, with 25% of your daily fibre fix from all natural prebiotics and at 136 calories per 35g bar, they are a smarter snack choice.

Protein bars

Protein bars  are typically designed as a convenient way to support muscle repair after exercise. They come with various different ratios of protein, fat and carbs and wildly differing levels of sugar and additives.

The best recovery protein bars for runners have a 3:1 ratio of carbs to complete proteins. With the carbs there to restock fuel tanks and support the uptake of that muscle repairing protein. 

Veloforte’s Forza and Mocha protein bars tick all the right recovery-boosting, nutritional boxes. They also get all of their goodness from real food ingredients, they are soft and chewy and taste great…so you actually want to eat them once you step outside the pain cave. Not all protein bars can claim that.

Meal-replacement bars

Meal replacement bars aim to be a quick, convenient and balanced source of carbs, protein, fat and vital vitamins and minerals. While they can plug a gap if you're tight on time, or travelling – for example to a race start – they’re best used sparingly. Nothing beats real food in a well-balanced diet.

How to choose the best running energy bar for you

Optimising your running nutrition is a personal pursuit. What works for your super-fast, ultra-running friend might not work for you. But there are some basic principles you can follow that’ll make it much easier to spot the good from the not-so-good stuff when you’re choosing the best bar for your running workout. 

Natural vs. ultra processed energy bars for runners

At Veloforte we believe real food is always a better option than heavily processed and synthetic foods. Energy from natural sources are more appealing, tastier and more enjoyable to eat. Eating bars made with real food ingredients is better for your gut health and can help ward off painful bloating, wind and the stomach upsets that are common with bars packed with synthetic ingredients.

Veloforte energy bars are made with all natural ingredients and are free from artificial additives, preservatives, colours, flavours or sweeteners. Naturally delicious!

Natural sugars vs. artificial sugars

Sugar substitutes can play havoc with your digestive system and artificial sweeteners found in many energy bars  may upset your body’s natural insulin response to sugar.

The big hit of carbohydrates in Veloforte’s natural energy bars comes from real-food ingredients like dried fruits, natural syrups and whole foods. Fruit fructose sugar works with the natural glucose to create a steady, sustained, dual fuel that helps you absorb the maximum amount of energy and wards off blood glucose spikes and crashes.

Natural taste vs. synthetic taste

How many times have you reached that point in a run where it’s time to eat but you find yourself delaying because you’re dreading another onslaught of artificial flavour? Us too.

It sounds obvious, but we know that you’ll fuel better with foods that taste delicious. In fact eating tasty foods makes you salivate, kickstarting your digestion and pre-programming your stomach to take on fuel. If a bar is tasty, not only are you much less likely to under-fuel, but you can turn moments of struggle into motivational treats. And who doesn’t need that six hours into a mountain ultra!

Best energy bars for runners: The Veloforte buyer’s guide

Now you know what to look out for when choosing the best healthy energy bars for runners, let’s take a look at the Veloforte range of all natural, gluten free energy and protein bars, their different flavours and benefits:

Classico Energy Bar

Rich in dual-source of carbohydrates, the Classico energy bar is packed with zesty citrus fruits, almonds, and honey. It’s free from nasties like sulphites, additives and preservatives. It’s also a gluten-free source of zingy natural energy with a tasty, chewy, yet slightly crunchy texture.

Avanti Energy Bar

Avanti combines dates, pecans, and sea salt for a fruity and nutty kick. Think salty caramel meets pecan pie. Natural sea salt adds a savoury top spin and helps balance your electrolytes. Soft and chewy, it’s great for restocking carbohydrates on longer runs and it's vegan too!

Zenzero Energy Bar

If you want an option to calm your digestion, the nutty and zesty Zenzero is it. It combines Sicilian lemons, pistachios and stomach-settling ginger in a bar that wakes your senses. 100% plant based, it’s great for a fresh motivational boost before your run.

Ciocco Energy Bar

Packed full of dates, honey, almonds and cocoa, if you love chocolate, this bar belongs in your running belt. Definitely one of the more indulgent tasting treats for long hauls on the tarmac and the trails, it’s a great source of dual-fuel carbs. Save this one for when you really need a pick-me-up.

Di Bosco Energy Bar

The award-winning Di Bosco is crammed full of red berries, almonds, pistachios, and rosemary in a soft, chewy plant-based bar. It’s vegan-friendly and delivers our perfectly balanced package of delicious, powerful and nutritious dual source energy.

Energy bars for post-run recovery

Mocha Protein Bar

One for the coffee lovers, the Mocha Protein Bar blends crunchy hazelnuts with smooth flavours of coffee, dates, and cocoa to produce the ultimate refuelling bar. Each bar provides 10g complete plant protein and 37g carbs in a 4:1 ratio, so it’s the perfect snack to restock empty fuel tanks and kick-start your muscle recovery.

Forza Protein Bar

Another excellent combination for refuelling and recovery, the apricot, almond, and fennel flavours in the Forza bar set you up with a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein in a gluten-free, deliciously aromatic plant based package.

Graphic of the Forza and Mocha Protein Bars
Graphic by Veloforte

Energy bar usage guide for runners 

When should you eat energy bars? 

In theory, energy bars can be used to fuel any run. However, the shorter, faster or harder you’re running, the less likely you are to be able to eat – let alone digest – this solid fuel source. That’s why we have our  power-packed energy gels  and  energy chews

But there are moments when it pays to incorporate an energy bar into your fuelling. Here are three of the best:


Energy bars can be a great go-to for those times when you need to top up your stores but you don’t have the time before a run. 

For example, when time is tight or logistics make breakfast tricky. Or if you’re running home after work and you need a little more than the lunch you ate. Just give yourself enough time to digest.

Mid run on longer, lower intensity runs

Think 3-hour marathon training runs where you’re moving at a low heart rate. Or ultra runs where you’re really out to enjoy a moving picnic. 

These are times when it’s practical to open a bar and be able to chew and your intensity is low enough that your stomach can do its thing.

Post-run after longer, harder runs

Running long or hard heightens your recovery needs. That’s when you reach for a protein bar with that golden 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein, to replenish glycogen stores and give your muscles the building blocks for repair.

Need more help with your post-run routine? Check our running recovery tips for more ways to bounce back faster.

How often should you eat energy bars on a run?

Generally speaking, the body will absorb  energy gels or energy chews  more rapidly than energy bars because there’s less digesting to be done. Bars are not only more food in the stomach, they tend to pack more carbohydrates too. So you’re unlikely to be smashing bars at the same rate as you might gels. 

For any run lasting more than 90 minutes, you should look to start taking on fuel within the first 30 mins of the start and eat little and often to keep on top of your energy needs. As a rule, your body can comfortably absorb 60g-90g of carbohydrate per hour. That’s 1.5 to 2 of  Veloforte’s energy bars  per hour. That’s quite a lot of solid fuel to eat, so in reality, you’ll want to use a mix of fuels (bars, gels, chews, energising hydration) to hit your refuel target. 

The great thing about energy bars is that you can eat them in smaller bites and stick them back in your pocket. On runs where the intensity allows, we’d recommend nibbling on a third of a bar every 20 minutes or combining them with gels, chews, electrolyte drinks and other sources of fuel. Trial and error are crucial to find out what balance works for you.

Top tip: On longer runs, focus on solid fuelling initially and move to more liquid options in the latter stages when your circulation is prioritised towards your leg muscles and away from your digestion. Chop up an energy bar into bite size chunks before you head out and stash them in a zip lock bag in your running belt for easy pickings on the go. Mix and match your favourite flavours to keep your fuelling motivation high and your taste buds engaged.

Get started with running energy bars

Hopefully you’re now armed with all the info you need to know when, how and which energy bars to add to your running fuel mix. Now it’s time to stock up on our range of  energy  and  protein recovery  bars and do some testing. 

At Veloforte, we always recommend testing fuelling options in training, so you can find out what works best for you. 

If you’re looking for a delicious vegan way to fuel your runs and recover we’ve got a vegan energy bar selection and if you’re looking for the best energy bars for ultra runners, try our family box.

Got a race coming up?

Our carefully curated race bundle provides all the pre, during and after fuel to power you to the finish line.

  • 8x energy gels 
  • 3x energy chews 
  • 3x electrolyte sachets 
  • 1x energy bar
  • 1x recovery protein bar 
  • 1x recovery shake 

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 .

An image of Lara Giusti, Head Chef and Co-Founder
Head Chef & Co-Founder Lara Giusti