Unlike most other types of energy food which are solely carbohydrate-based, the 4:1 Advance Training Bar is, as the name implies, 4 parts carbo to 1 part protein.
Why the protein? Basically, in cycling events of around two hours or less, you need only carbohydrate to keep going. Once you get nearer three hours, and definitely over four hours, you need a bit of protein. That's because the protein helps the carbo work better. Sports scientists generally agree that the protein won’t necessarily make you go any faster, but it will help you go for longer - which is exactly what you need in a 100-mile sportive, or any other long-distance endurance event. If this feels like something you’ll benefit from, then the Advance Training Bar might be the ideal way to take on protein when you’re on the bike.
I've been using the High5 Energy Source 4:1 drink mix for some time with positive results, so I was interested to see how this new product performed. It’s similar to the drink in that it employs the same 4:1 formula, but different in that it’s, er, a bar.
The main ingredients are glucose syrup, raisins and oat flakes. The protein comes mainly from whey, wheat gluten and soya. The bar also contains sugar, palm fat, rice flour and cranberries. Each bar is 40g giving 155 calories of energy (653 kJ), consisting of 6g of protein, 22g of carbo and 4g fat.
But, hang on, once you start taking on proteins and fats, is this product any different from a ‘and one of those too, please’ bar that you might buy when filling up the car at a petrol station? In short, yes, it is different. It’s all to do with the amounts.
A quick bit of science:
1g of protein = 4 calories.
1g of carbohydrate = 4 calories.
1g of fat = 9 calories.
So an Advance Training Bar has:
6g of protein x 4 = 24 calories from protein.
22g of carbo x 4 = 88 calories from carbo.
4g fat x 9 = 36 calories from fat - ie, about 23% of the total calories in the bar.
In contrast, your favorite petrol station candy bar (giving a similar calorific value) might be something more like this:
4g of protein x 4 = 16 calories from protein.
11g of carbohydrate x 4 = 44 calories from carbo.
11g of fat x 9 = 99 calories from fat - ie, more than 60% of the total calories.
And that’s what the nutritionists mean when they talk about ‘good calories’ and ‘bad calories’. You don’t want to be taking on too many calories in the form of fats. Anything over 30% of the total should be avoided (and of that, less than 10% should come from saturated fats).
That’s enough numbers. Let’s get back to basics.
What does it taste like? Thanks to the syrup, raisins and oats, the taste is great and pretty similar to a ‘normal’ cereal bar, although the texture is noticeably drier, meaning it’s a bit crumbly, so you need to be careful you don’t drop half of it if you’re eating on the move.
However, more crumbly means less clingy in the mouth, so it’s very easy to chew and swallow (though you’ll need a good swig on your bottle to get the crumbs down), and it also means it doesn’t get too sticky in your back pocket too – a major plus in my book. I carried these bars for quite a few miles on some hot rides –including this years Verenti Dragon Ride in Wales – and they were still fine to eat at about 80 miles.
Does the bars work? They work for me. As with the 4:1 drink, I definitely find a bit of protein helps. There’s no doubt I feel stronger towards the end of a long sportive if I’m taking on protein as well as carbo during the final few hours.
And it’s not just me. A lot of top-level riders use carbo-protein combinations towards the end of a day’s racing, especially in the major tours. That’s not just to keep them going. It’s also because the scientists and nutritionists know that protein is essential after a race or long ride to help muscle repair and recovery – and on the tours, to prepare the legs for doing it all again next day.
I’m way out of the pro league, but if a carbo-protein mix works for the big boys, your humble correspondent will definitely give it a go.
The 4:1 Advance Training Bars cost about £1.15 to £1.40 in the shops. A box of 30 costs £37.49 on the High5 website, but you can find cheaper deals elsewhere.
Like all energy products, you should try out the 4:1 bars on training rides first to make sure they agree with you, before launching into a major sportive with a couple in your pocket for the first time.
A handy, tasty way to take on carbohydrate and protein – ideal for use in longer races, sportives, and other endurance events, as well as for post-ride recovery.
road.cc test report
Make and model: High 5 4:1 Energy bar
Size tested: 30 x 40g bar
Did you enjoy using the product? yes
Would you consider buying the product? yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? yes
About the tester
Age: 49 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,