These Skratch Lab Anytime Energy Bars are really satisfying to eat and easy on the stomach thanks to the focus on natural whole foods. The only thing less easy to stomach is the price. They come in a selection of quite different flavours from what else is on the market, too.
Like all Skratch Labs products, there's a real focus on natural ingredients and compatibility with many diets in these products. Skratch explains on its website the importance it gives to incorporating minimal ingredients, and all whole foods. There are no synthetic ingredients in the bars, with oats, nut butter, and quinoa flakes (yes, quinoa flakes – Skratch is based in the very hip Boulder after all) being the main ingredients. The bars are suitable for vegans, and gluten, dairy and GM-free, so they work for everyone.
Highly synthetic sports food can cause stomach issues for some on long rides, and so the Skratch bars offer a good solution. Having tested them on a few hot and long (4-5hr) rides, they sit in the stomach really well, with no complaints or feel of bloating. They tread the balance between some more naturally focused bars, such as Clif, which can feel slightly 'heavy' in the mouth and stomach, and the lighter-feeling, more artificial alternatives of some brands, making you feel satiated but not weighed down.
I approached the highly unusual Miso and Ginger flavour bar with a mixture of fascination and trepidation. I'm a big fan of salty food on rides, particularly longer or hotter outings. The bar's main ingredients are candied ginger, red pepper flakes and soy sauce, with added berries, sesame seeds and almond butter. As a fan of Japanese type-flavours, I think it really works.
Initially, I found it really hard to adapt my palette to, as I'm so used to something sweet going into my mouth when riding. However, by the second bite, I was sold. It's very hard to describe it, but a soy taste comes through strongly, with a nice zing from the ginger. It's salty, but not too much. One minor issue is that the saltiness lingers in the mouth and leaves you craving more, like nuts at the bar or chips at the restaurant – making it hard to moderate intake.
The chocolate and almond and cherry and pistachio varieties are a little more traditional in that they are sweet, although it's quite a subtle sweetness, with the nuts in each bar tempering the sweet ingredients nicely. I was a particular fan of the cherry; a flavour often overlooked by nutrition brands.
The texture and mouthfeel is excellent, with a crispness in the initial bite, but juiciness once in the mouth. The crispness makes it satisfying to bite, not feeling like the plasticine of some bars, but it doesn't feel harsh or at all sharp, instead feeling full of moisture, which is really easy to eat.
Nutritionally, the bars offer around 200 calories, 30g carbohydrate, and a small dose of fat and protein (8g and 4g respectively). The fat and protein is a welcome addition, particularly for long rides as these are slower burning fuels that will keep you riding over long periods. The 200 calories and 30g carb content is pretty much on-par with the competition, so the bars stack up well on that front.
Some bars on the market lack protein and fat, and personally I think these additions are a benefit. This protein and fat is a product of the nut content of the bars, not anything artificial.
On the long rides that I tested the bars on I felt well fuelled throughout, and although it's impossible to isolate this to being due to Skratch Lab's product alone, there must be some link there.
The only sting in the tail with these bars is the price. At £2.50 a go, they're a touch more than the competition, with other brands tending to keep to around £2 per bar. However, for me, the great taste, texture and focus on whole food makes them worth it.
Excellent range of bars, well worth paying more for if you prefer a less sweet, less artificial option
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Skratch Labs Energy Bars
Size tested: 12 x 50g
Tell us what the product is for
Skratch Labs describes the bars as being 'powerful enough for endurance workouts but tasty enough for a snack any time of day'.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Skratch Labs:
- Plant-based ingredients for easier digestion, fast absorption and sustained energy
- Non-GMO, vegan, dairy free, kosher (Pareve) and gluten free
- 50% less sugar compared to national leading bar brands
- Cholesterol Free, Zero Trans Fats, Low Sodium (Chocolate Chips & Almonds, Cherries & Pistachios)
The bars felt good in the mouth and stomach, and seemed to fuel me well over a few long (4 to 5-hour) rides.
£29.95 for 12 – making each bar £2.50 – is a lot, but it's not hugely different to much of the competition. As a big fan of these bars, I'd say the extra is worth it.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The bars worked well. They fuelled me over a few long rides, tasted great, and sat easily in the stomach.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The flavours are really good. The Ginger and Miso is quite unusual, but I liked its savouriness. And the sweet bars weren't overly sweet, with a slight twang of saltiness from nut butters in the mix. The feel in the mouth, offering a nice mix of chew and crunch, makes them really satisfying.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much so.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely
Use this box to explain your overall score
I really enjoyed these bars. The flavours are excellent, the nutrient blend is good, and the bars are easy in the stomach. I could happily eat them all day, and had to stop myself from doing so! The only drawback is that they're quite expensive.
About the tester
I usually ride: Giant TCR / Cannondale Supersix My best bike is: Giant TCR
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding