Featured Nutrition Reviews

Primal Pantry Bars

Primal Panty BarsPrimal Pantry produce a range of five bars designed to compliment a paleo diet, but before you go screaming from the room shouting ‘fad’, hang fire. Whilst we’re not about to get embroiled (at least here and now) about the benefits or otherwise of paleo what you should know is this: whether you love or loath the idea of paleo Primal Pantry Bars are still perfectly placed to fuel your ride. In fact they do so brilliantly.


So, Paleo 101: No grains, refined sugars, dairy, processed foods or oils of legumes such as soya. All of which means the Primal Pantry Bars are grain-free, don’t use sulphates in their dried fruits, contain only ‘real food’ and are suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. In fact – and this is really refreshing to know – the ingredients are pretty much spelled out in the flavour name of each bar, the Apple and Pecan Primal Pantry Bars, for example, contain dates, almonds, organic apple, pecans, cinnamon and almond oil. That’s it, no nasty surprises here.


Primal Panty BarsAside from the Apple and Pecan option the Primal Panty range of flavours are Brazil Nut and Cherry, Hazelnut and Cocoa, Almond and Cashew, and Coconut and Macadamia – the latter our favourite although we’re hard pushed to pick. The bars are handmade and cold-pressed with a rich texture and flavours that don’t overpower, yet are distinctive and readily identifiable (just like real food should be.)


Nutritional values vary slightly across the range but again taking Apple and Pecan as being fairly representative they will serve up 199kcal, 4.2g protein, 19.4g carbs (16.9g of which are sugars), 11g fat (0.9g saturates), and 3g fibre per 45g bar.


Let’s compare Primal Panty to a more ‘traditional’ bar: The much heavier (65g) Zipvit ZV8 Uncoated Orange bar offers 244kcal – so actually a much lower, adjusted for weight 169kcal – 4.7g protein (3.2g adjusted), 34.9g carbohydrates (24g adjusted), 7.2g fat (4.9g adjusted) and 10.3g fibre (7.1g adjusted). A little more bang-for-your-buck on carbs but if you don’t fancy emulsifiers, wheat gluten, wheat malt, glucose syrup, invert sugar syrup and maltodextrin then Primal Pantry Bars look like an obvious choice.


Actually to be clear – and fair – the composition of the ZV8 bars is fairly typical of energy bars across the board and they have their place and use (we’ve fuelled plenty of miles on them) but Primal Pantry clearly offers something both new and radically different.


Primal Pantry Bars retail at £27 for a box of 18 – £1.50 per-bar, not only spot on for a comparative price point but actually something of a bargain when you consider the quality of ingredients and homemade credentials. Boxes are available either in single flavour or as a mixed box with three of each flavour plus three extra, which Primal Pantry call their ‘random surprise.’


Further details and online purchase of Primal Panty Bars at

Featured Nutrition Reviews


BLOCKHEADThere are times on the longer training sessions or endurance races when a caffeine shot seems like just the thing. But with cans of energy drinks, let alone a nice tall latte or espresso shot, rarely convenient/possible BLOCKHEAD could be a solution.


BLOCKHEAD is a new compressed energy gum, the creation of British sport scientist, Danny Lowe, who applied his knowledge of absorption methods to create a product that reportedly works five-times faster than caffeinated energy drinks. Each pack contains ten pieces, with each delivering 32mg of caffeine which, because its absorbed orally via the buccal mucosa membranes in the mouth rather than in the digestive tract and stomach, gets to work within around five to ten minutes of chewing (compared to 25-45minutes with most caffeinated drinks.)


The BLOCKHEAD taste starts not unlike a ‘traditional’ chewing gum flavour (sort of generic fruit) but quickly deteriorates into bitterness, not entirely pleasant and, in fact, not worse than some energy shot drinks. On test rides there was a noticeable caffeine buzz within 15minutes and under slightly stricter test control raised the resting heart rate by 20% within 10minutes and a fairly sustained 25% within 15minutes.


Caffeine is certainly proven to increase alertness but technically only improves endurance performance in high doses – around 3-6mg per kg of body weight – and as the maximum recommended daily consumption of BLOCKHEAD is three pieces (96mg) there’s probably only marginal gains to be had here. That said, the recommended daily allowance may be erring on the side of caution when you consider that a 250ml can of Red Bull – to take the market leader as a fairly representative example – contains 80mg of caffeine, which the Food Standards Agency suggests is: ‘the same as three cans of cola or a mug of instant coffee.’


Arguably there are other benefits to caffeine – and by association BLOCKHEAD – some (relatively small-scale) studies suggest that caffeine at doses around those found in a single espresso (70-80mg) have a positive effect on both lactic acid build-up and VO2 levels – basically the rate at which the body can absorb oxygen.


BLOCKHEAD, which is sugar-free, also packs in vitamins B3 (as niacin), B6 and B12 (all at 15% RDA per piece), along with taurine, an amino acid that, amongst other things, helps regulate the level of water and mineral salts in the blood.


Some confusion creeps in with BLOCKHEAD with the mint flavour – which does a better initial job of disguising the bitter taste – as each piece contains an increased 50mg of caffeine and the recommended daily consumption is listed as four pieces. At 200mg total that’s double the recommendation of the standard flavour…


Whatever the evidence – or exact levels required – the fact is that many rely on the occasional caffeine shot to get through training or racing (or simply the day) and BLOCKHEAD, with its fast absorption rate, offers an incredibly convenient way of doing it.


Single packs of BLOCKHEAD retail at £1.95, with cartons of 18 packs available at £28.08


Further details and online purchase of BLOCKHEAD at


Featured Nutrition Reviews

Creative Nature 38g Bars

Creative Nature 38g BarsIf you about what you put in your body (and frankly you really should) you can’t help but have noticed the proliferation of natural-credential energy bars hitting the market recently. Now Creative Nature a young, ethical organisation established to ‘promote health, creativity and respect for the environment’ have launched Creative Nature 38g Bars. The bars come in four flavours – Blissful Berry, Heavenly Cacao, Sublime Seed and Tropical Treat – all cold pressed and using 100% natural and, with the exception of the seed bar, raw ingredients.


The Blissful Berry variety contains cranberry (an excellent source of polyphenol antioxidants) and goji berries along with apricots, pineapple and sultanas. There is a refreshing tartness to the bar that cuts through the sweetness and it delivers 122kcal with 27.9g carbs, just 0.1g of saturated and 6g of dietary fibre.


Heavenly Cacao is a mix of dried fruits including dates, cranberries and cacao (i.e. cocoa) in a blend of powder, nibs and butter – with a taste like luxury fruit truffles it’s easy to forget that this bar is actually healthy. 132kcal per bar with 26g carb (just 14 of which are sugars, lower than the Blissful Berry) and – to be expected – higher saturated fats at 1.1g, still nothing to be concerned about.


Tropical Treat – the juiciest of the bars by far – blends pineapple and coconut, but it’s the tang of raw ginger that comes through. 124kcal per bar with 24.5g of carbohydrates (13.8g from sugars), 2.7g of fibre and 2.8 of fat – 1.9g of which, the highest of the varieties, is saturated.


Sublime Seed, the only one of the four varieties we didn’t much like, uses roasted peanuts, sunflower seeds and hemp protein to serve up 170kcal, 16.7g carbs and 3g of fibre. Although not personally to our taste, the bar is commendable in delivering a seed bar that is moist and easily digestible rather than being like something to hang in a birdcage. With 6.5g of protein in the mix it’s also the most useful bar for post-ride recovery.


The range is an excellent addition to the natural energy bar market; good clean tastes, ample ‘goodness’ (two to three bars per hour for a hard ride – on par with most sports-specific gels) and with bountiful green and ethical credentials to back them up. Given their small, jersey-pocket-friendly size they definitely deliver; the Heavenly Cacao, for example, hits you with the same carbs as the much larger 55g, similarly marketed, Chimpanzee bars (see Cyclo review here).


Creative Nature 38g Bars RRP £0.99 and are available, from amongst other places, – for further information on the company see


Featured Nutrition Reviews

MuleBar Energy Bars

MuleBar Energy BarsAn energy bar with impeccable organic and Fairtrade credentials, an energy bar highly rated by top athletes (including many Tour de France riders), an energy bar that tastes great. Most manufacturers would rest on their laurels if they could tick just one of those, not so Mulebar who seem determined to go the extra distance on all counts. So how do the MuleBar Energy Bars stack up?


Variety is key when it comes to getting adequate nutrition on the ride and MuleBar offers a choice of seven unusual flavours: Liquorice Allsports, Pinacolada, Mango Tango, Summer Pudding, Apple Strudel, Hunza Nut and Jimmy’s Choc Orange – intriguing, no? We found all but the Liquorice Allsports both tasty and true to description (different strokes, etc. and you may well love the Allsports too), and crucially, so as to avoid hydration issues, the bars are moist and easily digested without recourse to the bidon.


Not only do these taste like real food, they’re made from it too and the company is committed to introducing further organic and Fairtrade ingredients as they become available – want more ‘green’ credentials? Some of the wrappers are decompostable (and more will be soon) and the company is signed up to the ‘1% For the Planet’ scheme where 1% of sales goes to a network of more than 3000 approved environmental organisations worldwide. Nice to know that something fuelling your ride is also helping protect the planet…


Nutritional values natural fluctuate between flavours but to take Summer Pudding (our flat-out favourite) as a fairly typical example a 56g bar serves up: 187Kcal, 38g of carbs (29g of which are sugars – most of which from the fruit ingredients), just 3g of fat – 0.4g saturates – and 3g of fibre for good measure.


There is, of course, a growing move towards all things natural – even organic – but MuleBar are far ahead of the game when it comes to variety and taste. Summer Pudding will fuel us through the next few months and when the weather changes we’ll gladly switch to Hunza Nut. Or Apple Strudel. Or Mango Tango. Or…


MuleBar Energy Bars are available at with boxes of 12 are £19.00 and boxes of 24 £38.00


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



Nutrition Reviews

ZipVit ZV8 Energy Bars

An energy bar packed full of goodness, but almost inedible, is useless. A tasty energy bar so dry it feels you’ve had all the moisture sucked from your body (you know the kind) is equally useless. Step forward the ZV8 Energy Bar from ZipVit – rammed to the rafters with goodness, a range of delectable flavours and almost as juicy as heading straight for a jaffa.


Taste, of course, is a matter of preference but with a range that incorporates banana, orange, chocolate, yoghurt coated peach and apricot and chocolate coated strawberry there is probably something here for everyone. The flavours are vibrant without being overpowering and despite being marketed more towards the ‘sciency’ end of the spectrum there is something of a home-spun taste that perfectly balances sharp tang with sweeter fruits – even the chocolate coated option manages to avoid being sickly sweet. The juiciness is the really big selling point for Cyclo. So often on the bike we are left scrabbling for the water bottle to help wash down a bar that it comes as an real treat to discover a product that almost feels as if it’s actively helping, rather than hindering, the hydration strategy.


In terms of ‘goodness’ the ZV8 is second to none. Delivering easily digested carbohydrate energy with the addition of 9 supplementary vitamins (Bs 1, 2 and 3, plus C and E amongst them). Exact levels vary slightly between varieties, but taking the uncoated orange as an example the ZV8 will deliver 244kcal, 4,7g of protein, 34.9g of carbs (21.3g sugar, 7.2g of fat of which 0.7g is saturated) per 65g bar.


Hard to fault and easy to eat, the ZV8 may well be the Cyclo taste of the summer (should the summer ever actually arrive…) Available individually, but bulk purchasing at around the £25 mark for 20 bars makes sense to us.