You guys know I am constantly on the search for the latest and greatest products. While I will try anything, I mostly don’t do product reviews on items that I don’t buy myself. I figure that if I won’t pay money for it, then why would I ever advocate to any of you that you give it a try. To this point, everything that appears in the “Product Review” category of my blog has met this criteria. That goes for all of my running, cycling, swimming, and triathlon reviews. That is, until now.
I got an email from Emily Norausky at PureFit, Inc. asking me if I would review their PureFit Nutrition Bars line. I am a huge advocate of liquid nutrition on the bike and while running, and the only time I like solid food is on bike rides of 75+ miles. I put in a ton of time on the bike in the summer, so I eat some solid food while training. I am a big fan of ProBars because of the whole foods that they use as part of their product. I am not a RD, but I do pay attention to nutrition and diet.
I looked more into the PureFit Nutrition Bars and I have to admit, I liked what I saw. Their product is all gluten-free, dairy-free, kosher, vegan, and low on the glycemic scale. The bars all have protein in them, and they use soy protein as their source. I have a neighbor who is going gluten free because of health reasons, so I have been educating myself on the benefits of avoiding gluten, especially as part of endurance nutrition. I agreed and asked Emily to send me a sample.
She sent me a envelope with all five flavors they currently produce — Almond Crunch, Berry Almond Crunch, Chocolate Brownie, Granola Crunch, and Peanut Butter Crunch. When it comes to nutrition on the bike or when running, I have some very specific criteria that determines what I like and what I do not. I am not a fan of strong flavors when I am riding or running, hence the reason I have my liquid Infinit Nutrition flavor dialed all the way down. So strong flavors are a negative for me. I cannot stand to eat something with the texture of a PowerBar or that will melt and make a mess. Getting sticky fingers while running or cycling is one of my pet peeves and I do not put up with products that will result in me thinking about how my hands are dirty for the next hour of my workout. That’s the reason I don’t use gels anymore.
Am I picky? You might say that.
I decided I would try each of the bars on the bike. My testing protocol wasn’t very scientific, it just reflects what my workout schedule is right now. I decided to break each bar into two pieces and have half about 20 minutes before my ride and the other half about 10 miles into my ride. I thought this would best simulate how my stomach would like the bars. I hate that feeling you get when your stomach is not processing your nutrition. I would best describe it as feeling like your calories are “hung up” in your stomach. You feel bloated and like you swallowed a small bird.
I am pretty sure the bars all start with the same base. The texture of each was alright, certainly not as hard as a PowerBar, but it did have a bit of a manufactured feel to it. It wasn’t anything that would stop me from using them on my longer rides or runs. The bars were very chewable, and I was riding in temperatures of less that 25° each time. So I would suggest that the bars were harder than they normally would be during summer training with higher temperatures. I would say on texture, PureFit Nutrition Bars get a pass.
The flavors, on the other hand, were exceptional. I loved all flavors except for the Chocolate Brownie, but that is because I don’t love sweet flavors. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but I prefer dark chocolate to light because it has just a touch of bitter taste to it. I do love peanut butter and the peanut butter crunch was by far my favorite. The almond crunch was the “second favorite” as my son would say. I thought the company nailed the taste on each. None were too sweet and really kind to the pallet. I wouldn’t see flavor as something that would bother me over a long ride or run. Did I mention how picky I am when it comes to strong flavors?
I target about 275 – 300 calories per hour when I am riding or running. I have found that intaking that amount of calories allows my stomach to process the food and keeps me steady on my energy levels. Some athletes can take in more and some less, but through years of trial and error, that is the level that sits well and does not feel like it is getting hung up in my stomach.
These bars almost all have 220 calories per bar. This is about where it should be, but for me I would need to use the bars as a secondary source of calories instead of my only source. If my workout was three hours long, I would only be getting 660 calories instead of the 825 that I would normally target. That difference would mean that I would miss about 165 calories, which would indicate to me that in the fourth hour of my workout, I would start to struggle because my energy levels would fall.
So the way I would use the PureFit Nutrition Bars would be to supplement my caloric intake. I would use them the same way I use a ProBar currently — when I start to get hungry or I can feel my blood sugar falling, I would bust one out and eat it on the go. This strategy would help me get over some of the more difficult parts of my workouts. The PureFit Bars never got hung up on my belly as I drank about 24 ounces of water per hour as I ate them during workouts. The protein will of course help sustain you through longer workouts as your body starts to target protein as an energy source as you go deeper into your workout. The quality of their ingredients seems to be second to none.
Overall, I think these bars are a buy. Like anything else, pick some up on their website — which you can access here — and try them out. They worked for me and I am going to put them into the rotation. I like variety and using these bars will help me keep my energy levels where they should be.
What do you think? Have you ever tried these bars? What have you found works during workouts of 2+ hours?