Energy bars provide your body with vital carbohydrates to fuel exercise. Eat an energy bar 30 mins before workouts, especially if you’re training before breakfast. During exercise aim to take on 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour, especially if you’re training for 90 minutes or more.
Read on for a full breakdown of when you should, and shouldn’t, eat energy bars — plus some common fuelling mistakes which could be affecting your training
Energy bars before exercise
Lots of us train early in the morning. It’s a brilliant way to start the day, but exercising on an empty stomach could be holding you back.
Your body stores fuel as glycogen in your muscles, which you will burn during exercise. Taking on carbohydrates before exercise acts like a starter motor, helping your body start the process of burning glycogen.
How soon before exercise should I eat?
We’d recommend taking on fuel around an hour before exercise, as this will give your body the chance to absorb the carbohydrates so it can use them. Half an hour before would work. If you don’t have that long to wait, then a faster acting form of energy like energy gels or chews might be a better option.
How much fuel should I eat?
This depends on how long and strenuous your exercise is going to be. 30-60 grams of carbs should be ample for an hour of moderate intensity. For lighter workouts you may find taking on less is alright.
Do I always need an energy bar before a workout?
Energy bars aren’t the only pre-workout fuel you could choose. If you can eat 2-3 hours before you head out then other great sources of energy and nutrition could include a bowl of porridge with fresh or dried fruit, greek yoghurt with honey and granola, a slice of toast with nut butter, or a trusty banana.
Energy bars during exercise
Your body’s glycogen stores will generally last around 90 minutes. So for any workouts longer than this (or particularly hardcore workouts) you might find yourself flagging and losing energy.
Fortunately you can stave off the dreaded ‘bonk’ before you get there by keeping your body’s energy stores topped up with carbohydrates during exercise.
How much energy do I need to take on?
As a good rule of thumb, if you’ll be working out for 90 minutes or more, you should aim to take on 30-60g of carbs per hour. This is roughly equivalent to one or one-and-a-half energy bars.
Every body is different, so you may find you can perform well with less, or that you need to take on more. Some endurance athletes find they need up to 90g of carbohydrates per hour.
When should I start taking on carbohydrates?
It may sound counterintuitive because you have enough natural stores for 90 minutes, but to keep your stores topped up you should aim to start taking on more energy from 20 minutes into your session, and then keep a steady stream of carbohydrates every 20 minutes. Eat before you are hungry & drink before you are thirsty to keep your performance on track.
Find out more about how energy bars work during exercise.
Energy bars after exercise
Why would I need energy after I’ve exercised? There are a few good reasons. Taking on carbohydrates post-workout tops up your depleted energy stores which promotes and accelerates muscle recovery. Actively fuelling your recovery also means you’re less likely to feel tired and grumpy later on, and less likely to crave fatty and sugary snacks throughout the day.
Stocking up on quality carbs also gives your body the best chance of restoring and maintaining itself.
What else does my body need after exercise?
It’s also important to take on protein after exercise, which aids with muscle repair. The grams of protein you’ll need will depend on your size and the intensity of your exercise, but we recommend recovering with a combination of natural protein and carbohydrates shortly after exercise, generally within 30 minutes.
Common fuelling mistakes
There are a few simple mistakes to avoid when fuelling.
Not eating enough before exercise
This is a simple one. If you don’t take on enough fuel before exercise, you’re not going to be able to give your best. This is especially true if you’ve just woken up, as your body will be totally fasted and lacking energy.
Eating too much before exercise
Conversely, taking on too much before exercise can leave you feeling queasy or lethargic. Aim for a good balance of nutritious, natural food, and leave plenty of time for your body to digest.
Also avoid foods that are high in fat or especially high in fibre just before exercise, as these can lead to tummy issues.
Most people just don’t hydrate enough. Proper hydration will keep your body firing on all cylinders — and help you avoid fatigue, headaches and tummy issues — so don’t neglect water and fluids. This is especially vital before, during and after exercise, where you’re likely to lose fluids through sweat.
Make fuelling enjoyable
One reason for under fuelling during exercise is that many energy bars just aren’t that fun to eat. The best way to avoid that is to find energy bars that you’ll actually enjoy eating, with good quality ingredients and a delicious flavour and texture — think crunchy nuts like almonds, vitamin- and fibre-packed juicy dried fruits and flavours you love.
Especially on very long rides or runs, introducing a variety of foods, textures and tastes can help you keep on top of your nutrition, and provide a welcome mental boost.
There are seven Veloforte energy bars to choose from, with a host of dried fruits, nuts and spices to keep your taste buds entertained and keep you motivated to fuel throughout your exercise.
Can I eat energy bars if I’m not exercising?
You can certainly enjoy an energy bar as a snack if it’s part of a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. Because they are high in carbohydrates and sugars (even those which use only natural fruit sugars) they can be consumed as a treat from time to time but may not be the best snack option for those with a sedentary lifestyle.