Energize Muffin Powder Mix is a tasty alternative method for pre-ride carbohydrate loading from PowerBar, but the texture leaves a little to be desired.
PowerBar has bolstered its energy source options for cyclists with this muffin mix, which is designed to give users a cake-like carbohydrate source for before and, it says, during exercise.
So, how does it work? Incredibly simply, actually: all you need is a shaker, and you're good to go. Included in the box are the muffin cups you need and three powder sachets that need mixing with 80ml of water. Pour that thick mix into the cups, and bake for 17 minutes (or microwave for 40 seconds). Really, very easy indeed.
Bake Off enthusiasts will probably mock at this point, and they might be justified. While it's called a 'muffin mix', and creates muffin-like structures, the texture is slightly damp and sticky, rather than light and fluffy. The ingredients list includes flour and raising agent (read: baking powder) as well as a mix of maltodextrin and fructose for your carbohydrate source, so does have a structure that at least partly resembles a traditional muffin mix, but they're not doppelgangers for real muffins in terms of texture – so aren't too appealing as a regular snack source.
You can try to whip them up in a bowl at the mixing stage to inject some extra air into them, but the mixture isn't particularly good at retaining that air, thanks to its simple water-based nature. What you can do, though, is add your own ingredients – nuts, seeds and dried fruit are all suitable – so you can boost the textural interest this way, as well as add to the nutritional profile.
Where they differ from normal muffins is in their nutritional focus, perhaps unsurprisingly. Unlike your usual café muffins, you'll find only 0.7g of fat per muffin, with 22g of carbohydrate (or which 11g are sugars) for energy stocking. That's far less fat than any usual muffin generally available. As a result, the nutrition is more specific for cyclists' needs, and to be honest that's what really matters in a world dominated by carb-based processed energy bars, gel products and drinks.
In reality, they do seem to give a good energy boost, and are extremely tasty in the chocolate flavour on test (they're also available in caramel-vanilla). The mixture is super sweet, and after baking retains that sweetness. I found it a little counter-intuitive to eat a chocolate muffin before a ride to load up, but I can't deny its effectiveness, parallel with consuming an energy bar before a ride, or indeed a jam sandwich.
One area they can't beat wrapped bars and gels is in portability. While PowerBar claims the muffins are also suitable for use during rides, I can't see how you'll be able to make them last. You certainly couldn't carry a normal muffin in your back pocket, and the same applies here, especially with the slightly gooey texture – you're just going to end up with a brown mess in your back pocket.
They also won't last as long in general in your cake tin/bread bin, the giveaway being the 'finished muffins are stable for approx. 2 days and can be frozen' sentence on the side of the box. Freezing them seems slightly pointless – just make what you need, when you need. And, in any case, when you defrost them they naturally don't come back as structurally strong as they were when fresh.
Out of a box, I can get 12 decent sized muffins (four per sachet; around 30g of carbs), and given the cost of £9.99 for a box, including the cups, works out at around 83p per serving – which to be honest is pretty good value when you consider that energy bars of a similar content can be anything up to £2 per bar.
As a result, as a pre-ride alternative snack, PowerBar's muffins are a good carbohydrate source and not crazily expensive. They taste great, but won't last particularly long once made, and the slightly sticky texture won't appeal to baking aficionados. And, because you can't easily transport them for use during a ride, their window of usefulness is slightly limited compared to claims.
Still, we're talking about an alternative energy source here, and for that they certainly deliver.
Carbohydrate-filled, tasty and novel, but not really suitable for on the road
road.cc test report
Make and model: PowerBar Energize Muffin Powder Mix
Size tested: 400g, makes 6 muffins
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
PowerBar says: "For successful intense training or competition you should top up your energy levels in the days before and right before you start. During exercise you should refuel with up to 90g carbohydrates per hour depending on the intensity and duration.
"PowerBar Energize Muffin is a tasty carbohydrate muffin powder mix that is especially designed for athletes and is a great alternative to regular energy products. It is easy to make fresh within 40 seconds in the microwave or 15-20 minutes in the oven. You can customise it infinitely and it tastes fluffily delicious. Most importantly it gives you easy to tolerate carbohydrates in the days before or directly before and during sport."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Scientifically developed C2MAX Dual Source Carb Mix contains a 2:1 ratio of glucose and fructose sources
- Low in fat, easy to tolerate and with the same great nutritional values as the original PowerBar Energize bar
- Easy to prepare: Stir powder mix with water, bake 15 - 20 minutes in the oven or 40 seconds in the microwave
- Customisable: Add other ingredients like fruits, spices or grounded nuts
- Handy: Free muffin cups are included! Baked muffins are best for 2 days and can be frozen too
- Natural flavours - free from colours or preservatives
Comes in a box, cake cups are strong enough. Texture is a little delicate/damp once fully baked.
A decent carbohydrate energy source, no doubt about it, providing PowerBar's C2Max carbohydrate mix.
You really can't carry them with you, and they'll only last 48 hours before losing their structure.
Compare these to an energy bar, and they're a winner in terms of value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Taste, novelty, easy digestion with good energy release.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not good for carrying despite claims of being useful for during a ride, and the sense that they're artificial.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I'd consider it, but would probably stick to peanut butter and jam bagels to be honest!
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes – although not to fans of Bake-Off...
Use this box to explain your score
They provide a good pre-ride energy source, even if there are one or two drawbacks.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding