Featured Nutrition Reviews

Chimpanzee Energy Bars

Chimpanzee BarsAt Cyclo we’re big on natural energy bars; we often find them easiest to stomach, especially during longer events and training rides, and avoiding ‘artificial’ nutrition is always high on our list of priorities. Having recently been introduced to new Czech brand Chimpanzee Energy Bars – with their distinctive and fun branding and which the manufacturers claim ‘gradually releases energy to get the best out of your sport or workout’ – we were eager to take a look (and taste…)


Available in three flavours – Raisin & Walnut, Date & Chocolate and Apricot, with a new Beetroot & Carrot flavor coming soon, the makers say that their Chimpanzee Energy Bars are made of the ‘highest quality organic ingredients’ and are completely natural, with no preservatives, artificial colours or flavourings. Taking the Apricot as a fairly representative example, each 55g bar delivers 215kcal, with 26g carbohydrates (of which half is derived from sugars), 8.2g protein and 5.2 of natural fibre, approximately 21% of your RDA. The carb/protein balance is clearly close to what is often considered the optimum 3:1 ratio, making them ideal for either pre-ride fueling or on-bike nutrition where two bars-per-hour should support a moderately tough workout.


Cyclo found the bars fitted neatly into the back pocket of our cycling jersey (in fact we managed to get three in one pocket) and were effortless to open; always a plus when we consider the wrestling matches we’ve undertaken with some bars. All three flavours were easy to chew and digest, were extremely tasty and certainly felt like they were delivering on the energy front too. We’ve found in the past that some energy bars can be hard to chew and swallow, and need to be washed down with a drink, not so with the Chimps – another definite plus-point.


Of the three bars our personal favourite was the Raisin & Walnut, the mix of organic walnuts, organic raisins and cinnamon proving a very pleasant combination. To give an insight as to what ingredients go into a Chimpanzee bar, this, by way of example, makes up the Raisin & Walnut variety: organic rice syrup 15%, roasted soybeans 13%, soy flour 12%, organic soy fat 10%, organic raisins 10%, organic walnuts 10%, organic whole oats 9%, barley malt 8%, rice crisps 5% (rice flour, glucose syrup, barley malt extract), organic evaporated cane juice 5% (FairTrade), organic cinnamon (FairTrade) and salt.


For the purposes of a second opinion Cyclo spoke to Luke Tyburski, an endurance athlete, adventurer, and journalist sponsored by Chimpanzee. ‘Being an Endurance Athlete, with nutrition playing a huge part in my training and racing,’ says Tyburski, ‘Chimpanzee works extremely well due to their bars containing majorly organic ingredients, and no preservatives, or articial flavours or colourings. An all natural, great tasting, easily digestible energy bar that causes no stomach upset, and a constant stream of energy, there is nothing else I want from my nutrition during training and racing… I recently returned from a month-long training camp in Nepal in preparation for the Everest 65km Ultra Marathon, I used Chimpanzee bars throughout all my training, at altitude, throughout the mountainous trails and racing. I found them not only tasty, but easy on my stomach…’


Chimpanzee’s compare well to the similarly styled, long-established Clif Bar (see the Cyclo review here); serving up more-or-less identical levels of carbs and protein, although with Chimpanzee Energy Bars retailing at £1.99 per 55g bar and boxes of 12 x 55g bars at £19.10, Clif (often available for as little as £1) certainly come out best on cost alone. A place, then, for Chimpanzee Energy Bars on our future rides? Absolutely. It’s always good to mix things up and keep variety levels high and with their natural credentials and excellent taste a space for Chimpanzee Energy Bars in our jersey pocket is guaranteed.


For more information on Chimpanzee Energy Bars, and details of both online and offline retailers see




Joel Enoch Sports Nutrition Part 2

Joel Enoch Sports Nutrition InterviewJoel Enoch is one of the UK’s leading sport scientists and motivational speakers, renowned for a straightforward approach that aims to demystify nutrition. Cyclo talked Joel at this year’s Triathlon Show and, in this second of our two-part interview (read part one here), we discussed carbohydrate loading, drip-feeding strategies, omega oils and sports supplements…


Cyclo: What are your thoughts on carb loading? There seem to be as many approaches as there are athletes…


Joel Enoch: Carbohydrate loading gives a certain impression… ‘loading!’ it’s a big word, a loaded word. It gives the impression that you have to eat as much pasta or potatoes or rice as you possibly can. But really carb loading is all about tweaking your diet, but equally about getting the timing of that loading right.


Cyclo: What strategy would you advise?


Joel Enoch: A classic carb loading protocol is that a week before a race you drop carbs out for three days, this increases your bodies ability to use fat quite effectively as a fuel; then you bring carbs back in three days before you race.


But the issue with that is that people often wake up on the day of the race having over eaten carbs for three days, feeling bloated, feeling lethargic and needing the toilet – which can be a massive issue… That can be avoided; there are studies that show that if you have an increased amount of carb for two to three days you can maintain those elevated glycogen stores in the body for up to five days. So maybe what we should be doing is having that loading period on the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (before a race on the Sunday) and then over the two days before the race just having quite plain foods, tapering the carbs. For me the night before a race my meal is often just a salad, which means I wake up on race day feeling ready for breakfast and feeling fresh and alert.


Cyclo: So, not all about big changes?


Joel Enoch: Not at all, it’s very small tweaks. Look at every meal though – make a diet or meal plan for the week before, that’s useful. Then look at each meal and just look at the carb element of each one and add a few grams of carb, perhaps just knock back a little fat and a little protein. Very small changes… It comes back to the British Cycling mantra – the aggregation of marginal gains. Small changes that add up to a big total shift.


Cyclo: What about the problems of taking carbohydrates on during an event or long training session?


Joel Enoch: The body is more likely to have difficulty digesting, absorbing and using particularly carbohydrates during exercise because of the way the blood shunts away from the major organs and into the working muscles if you take on board big dollops of carbs just in one big go; so the more you can spread it out the better.


Now, the kind of racing dictates how much you can spread it out. For example in an Olympic distance triathlon race it is likely, at elite level, that they don’t have time to be messing about with drip-feeding, so it’s a case of working hard in training to make sure their bodies can handle, lets say one gel and a moderate consistence sports drink – just taking that one gel in one go and that will be it. They practice that in training and try different products to make sure their bodies can handle that without stomach problems.


Cyclo: But if the luxury of drip-feeding is possible?


Joel Enoch: Well, if your talking about a longer event, then there is the luxury of drip-feeding, every ten to 15 minutes a little bit of carb a little bit of fluid, then that way the stomach can cope with absorbing that amount of carb and fluid. So drip-feeding is one of the key things I would say to anyone.


Cyclo: What are your thoughts on Omega supplements?


Joel Enoch: The reason people would supplement Omega3 in particularly is that we have an imbalance of two types of fat – Omega6 and Omega3 – in out diet. Omega6 are in vegetable oils so they are in all sorts of things, even processed foods.


Omega3s are only in a very few types of food: oily fish, walnuts, avocados, olives and a couple of other types of oil; that’s about it, so we end up with this imbalance in the ratio between the two types of fat. There’s nothing wrong with either of them, but the imbalance causes an increase in inflammation in the body and that can inhibit recovery. Because it’s so difficult to get enough Omega3 oils into our diet supplementing can be useful, particularly if you are someone that doesn’t eat fish. It can certainly help an athlete’s recovery.


Cyclo: What about the broader issue of supplements? Do multivitamins have their use??


Joel Enoch: They can have. In theory all of the vitamins and minerals that we need we can get from our diet, so my initial answer is no we don’t really need these supplements. However, the vitamin and mineral content of foods is changed, quite dramatically, by how that food was stored, how it was transported, how longs it’s been since harvesting and also the cooking process which denatures the vitamin and mineral content of fruit and vegetables quite dramatically. So, when you eat a fruit or veg that should be rich in these you cant be certain it actually is when you put it into your body.


As an athlete I choose to have a safety net underneath my usual healthy, nutritional intake which first of all looks to have some fortified foods added to my diet – if you look at some cereals or something like Clif Bars (read the Cyclo review here) – those would be fortified with vitamins and minerals and that’s another way of having a food source that’s rich in vits and mins. So real food is our first choice, then fortified foods our second and then, if we still feel like we might need more supplementation, then we might take a multivitamin.


Cyclo: That’s something you do?


Joel Enoch: Yes, It’s something I do on a daily basis, but I choose the multivitamin that has the smallest amount of all the vitamins and minerals. You often see vitamin C 2000-times your recommended daily amount! Why do I need 2000-times? That doesn’t make any sense at all. For me it’s no more that a safety net.


Cyclo: Nitrate supplementing is something you say you find quite exciting…


Joel Enoch: Nitrates that are found in beetroot juice are showing quite exciting results across all of the studies so far – what’s rather unique, despite quite small study groups, is that 100% of test subjects across all of the tests have shown improvements in performance; it’s almost entirely consistent – everyone using oxygen at 17-20% greater capacity than they would do normally and without that supplement. Yes, we still need more testing, we still need more results, but it’s a very exciting area of research and something that many of the top athletes are already using. Even if it doesn’t have an effect on oxygen capacity it will help your antioxidant count to aid recovery, so there’s certainly an application there and a number of products are coming out that exploit that.


Joel Enoch Sports Nutrition InterviewIn addition to Joel’s work as a sports scientist he is also an accomplished triathlete having raced in three European Age Group Championships (2008, 2009, 2010) two World Age Group Championships (2009, 2010), and domestic Elite races including London and Blenheim. His sponsors include Clif Bar (read our Clif Bar review here), 2Pure, Nine Point Nine, claireLOGIC Ltd, Kurt Kinetic, Orca UK, POC Sports and Zoggs. For more information on Joel’s work see


Read part one of this interview here.


Featured Features

Joel Enoch Sports Nutrition

Joel Enoch Sports Nutrition InterviewJoel Enoch is one of the UK’s leading sport scientists and motivational speakers, renowned for a straightforward approach that aims to demystify nutrition. His MSc in Nutrition from Bristol University and BSc Sport Science in coaching from Brunel University lead to his passion for ‘deconstructing sports nutrition’, goal-setting and endurance training. Cyclo caught up with Joel at this year’s Triathlon Show and, in the first of a two-part interview, we talk mix-messages, scientific studies and, of course carbohydrates (with just the right dash of protein…)


Cyclo: As far as nutrition goes, do things really have to be complicated?


Joel Enoch: No, I think it’s fairly simple; most of the complexities about nutrition come from implementing it in day-to-day life and getting the timing right, and, of course, getting the right amounts of protein and carbohydrates and fats.


In theory it should all be quite straight forward – if you are doing most of your training at the weekend and Monday to Friday, nine to five, you have a nice structure, then it’s quite easy to implement all those things.


Cyclo: Then why do you think so many people seem to get it wrong?


Joel Enoch: Well, where it falls down is that there are just so many mixed messages about food and nutrition and hydration; people don’t get a clear message about what they need to consume and when they need to consume it. It’s all to do with education and helping people understand the basics of nutrition – that’s what they need to get right.


Cyclo: And the nutrition industry has a tendency to over complicate things too…


Joel Enoch: In industry there is lots of marketing of course, and they push different aspects of nutrition – so it’s very easy to get caught up in ‘Do I go high carbohydrate?’ ‘Do I go high protein?’ ‘Is high-fat good?’ ‘Is low-fat good?’ Someone, somewhere is pushing any one of those things…


One of the biggest companies that currently operate in the UK market has an entire campaign that’s based on the findings of one person in one study. But because that is an actual result they can use that in terms of marketing; obviously it’s not indicative of the improvement of, say, performance that everyone might get – actually it’s not even indicative of the improvement in performance of the all the people in that study got, its just the best result for one person…


Cyclo: The sheer volume of studies – large and small – probably doesn’t help?


Joel Enoch: Sure, there are so many studies – and scientific studies can be extremely useful – but the problem is they (manufacturers or brands) only ever look at one particular aspect. So when someone reads up on the science they will see one study that says this particular aspect of nutrition is important and then they will read another study that says exactly the opposite… It’s very difficult if you haven’t had the experience or the knowledge base to mesh all of those things together and see where the truth lies in it.


Cyclo: As an example, the addition of protein to carbohydrate seems to be a common area of confusion…


Joel Enoch: We come back to how you read science on this. There are studies out there that show if you add protein to a carbohydrate sports drink during exercise you will have an improvement in performance; the issue with that is that in every study that has shown an improvement in performance there has also been an increase in calories in that sports drink…


So, they took two normal sports drinks, added protein to one and not to the other and the one that had protein added to it – and therefore also had calories added to it – gave an improvement in performance. That’s indicative of the similar improvement in performance you get if you added different types of carbohydrates to one of those drinks – just adding more calories and therefore getting a little bit more of an effect.


Cyclo: Does that mean there’s no real benefit?


Joel Enoch: There is no current evidence in the (scientific) literature that shows the addition of protein to a sports drink will aid performance. However, if I was speaking to someone who was doing some sort of multiday stage race – so competing day on day on day – or lets say on a training camp where they are going to be training two or three times day every day with greater intensity, then I might say add a little protein to your drink that way your recovery strategy is staring during your session.


Also perhaps just that little bit of protein is going to inhibit protein muscle breakdown in the body and aid performance later down the road. That little difference could be enough to see them through the week or multi-day event and stave off injury. So there is an application for it but I think it’s really only once you get to intensive multiday training or racing. So certainly not really the improvement that is sometimes suggested…


Cyclo: But not detrimental?


Joel Enoch: There’s nothing I’ve read to suggest it could be detrimental – if it’s something that people find is useful then it is; anecdotal evidence is just as powerful as scientific evidence with enough people finding enough of a change. Quite possibly some psychological advantages too… The same goes for carbohydrates, taking it switches on little sensors in the brain and you feel a bit more positive, but that’s an effect you don’t get from artificial sweeteners…


Joel Enoch Sports Nutrition InterviewIn addition to Joel’s work as a sports scientist he is also an accomplished triathlete having raced in three European Age Group Championships (2008, 2009, 2010) two World Age Group Championships (2009, 2010), and domestic Elite races including London and Blenheim. His sponsors include Clif Bar (read our Clif Bar review here), 2Pure, Nine Point Nine, claireLOGIC Ltd, Kurt Kinetic, Orca UK, POC Sports and Zoggs. For more information on Joel’s work see


Part Two of our interview with Joel online here.



Nutrition Reviews

Clif Bar

Having recently enjoyed reviewing – and obviously eating – Bounce Energy Balls (review here), Cyclo thought it about time we introduced you to one of our all-time favourite ride snacks: Clif Bar. Whilst Bounce are pretty much the new kids on the nutrition block, Clif are currently celebrating 20years of delivering wholesome, nutritious goodness having made their début, appropriately at a cycle show, in September 1991. A couple of years before CEO and Founder Gary Erickson had been enjoying a 175mile bike ride when he tried a friend’s sports bar, hated it and thought “I could make a better bar than this…” Two years of experimenting in his mum’s kitchen and having named it after his father, Clifford, Erickson realised his ambition.


Clif Bar are available in three flavours in the UK – Oatmeal Raisin Walnut, Choc Chip and, our favourite, Crunchy Peanut Butter, whilst in the US consumers are spoiled by a far wider choice including the intriguing sounding Iced Gingerbread, Spiced Pumpkin Pie and Black Cherry Almond. In common with Bounce, Clif sport impressive natural and (largely) organic credentials along with a thoroughly home-made look and texture. They weigh in at 50g and because they are both filling and slightly on the chewy side they lend themselves to nibbling rather than gulping down in one hit – something that can be advantageous when trying to drip-feed your body the suitable nourishment on a long ride. Taking the Crunchy Peanut bar as a fairly representative example of the whole range the delivery of goodness is impressive for weight: 193kcal per bar with 9g of protein and just shy of 30g of carbohydrates; as you should be looking at an ideal protein to carb ration of between 1:3 and 1:4 (as this is where the absorption of carbohydrates works most efficiently) Clif Bars are spot on. 13g of the 29.5g of carbohydrates are (natural) sugars and less than a quarter of the bar’s 4.5g of fat are saturates. Pretty much every other important vitamin and mineral is also present – from A, D, E and C through Magnesium and Zinc for body-salt balance.


Clif Bar may have been around for two decades, but are still hard to beat.


Available individually from numerous high street health food and sports shops or as boxes of 15 online with an RRP of £19.99