PowerBar Performance Energy Blends are a fruit-based alternative to more traditional and processed energy gels. The fruits are pureed into something resembling a compote, which can then easily be squeezed out of the packet.
Each of the three flavour combinations tested ('banana blueberry', 'apple mango strawberry' and 'pear apple peach') were genuinely tasty and their more 'natural' flavour meant that they were still appetizing at the end of a ride, compared to energy gels which can often get sickly if consumed one after another.
Indeed, my self-restraint was tested to the maximum simply stopping myself from using them as snacks, something I could never say of gels. The texture is quite thick as you'd expect, but the fact that fruit contains a lot of water means that the mixture has a lot of moisture and is very easy to consume. A sip of water might help things down but it's not a necessity as with many gels.
It's not all just fruit though, as Powerbar also include some dextrose in order to boost the carbohydrate content of each packet. The resulting 2:1 ratio of glucose to fructose has been shown to increase the rate at which carbohydrates can be processed in humans, from around a maximum of 70g/hour to around 90g/hour. For long distance athletes, this could help spare glycogen stores, leading to improved performance later in the event.
Though each flavour has slightly different nutritional values, on average, each 90g packet includes around 21g of carbohydrates, providing 80kcal of energy. Due to the inherent water content in the fruit, the calorie density is pretty low, so you'll need to consume these quite regularly if relying on them as your only source of energy.
The Performance Blends' low calorie density is exacerbated by the frankly stupid packaging. The plastic screw top (which can't be screwed back on when finished) is around 3cm in diameter and takes up loads of space in rear pockets. You'd struggle to get more than two into each pocket which doesn't leave you with all that much easily accessible energy. From an environmental point of view too, you have to wonder just why they needed to use so much plastic.
Anyone who's strolled down the baby aisle at a supermarket won't fail to see the resemblance to the 'Ella's Kitchen' range of baby food. Indeed, in addition to the identical packaging, the flavours are also very similar with the only difference being that Powerbar adds dextrose and hence has more calories. Oh, and the price.
At around £2 per packet (compared to £1 for each Ella's Kitchen sachet) when bought in a batch of 12, the Performance Energy Blends aren't really value for money by any stretch of the imagination. Considering that you'll need to consume around two of these an hour in addition to energy drink or the like, the costs soon add up. Both the cost and the bulkiness mean that, realistically, they are more a mid-ride treat than a product to consume throughout an entire ride.
Great, tasty alternative to gels, but the prohibitive cost and over-engineered packaging really let it down
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Make and model: PowerBar Performance Energy Blends (12 pack)
Size tested: n/a
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 target the Performance Energy Blends towards "high-endurance" athletes, looking for an alternative to traditional gels
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Dual Source Energy Blend (Various fruit purees, Dextrose), and less than 2% of: Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol Acetate).
Nutritional values (approx):
Packet size: 90g
The lid is unnecessarily large and takes up way too much pocket space, in addition to being environmentally unfriendly.
The taste and texture of each of the flavours is excellent, and doesn't really get old as a ride progresses.
The packaging and low calorie density of the contents mean that you're not getting an awful lot of energy from what is a fairly big packet.
Poor, especially considering almost identical products can be found in the supermarket for much cheaper.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A tasty and refreshing alternative to gels, but they take up a lot of pocket space and are probably insufficient to fuel an entire long ride.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The taste and texture: very easy to get down.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Not at the current price.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Same as above.
Age: 22 Height: 190cm Weight: 69kg
I usually ride: Canondale EVO Red My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, mtb,
For 5 years, racing was my life and I went all the way from a newbie bonking after 40 miles, to a full-timer plying my trade on the Belgian kermesse scene. Unfortunately, the pro dream wasn't meant to be and these days, you're more likely to find me bimbling about country lanes and sleeping in a bush on the side of the road.