Best Bars/Gels

16 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture


I'm training for my first century and I'm wondering what people like in terms of bars and gels.

Any tips on what to eat in the am before my rides would also be good. I've found that no matter what I have, I just don't feel any zip and ofter have to resort to some gu to get me going.

Also, any suggestions about the best way to train for this would be great. I'm currently a B-15 rider.


Anonymous's picture
Karol (not verified)

Clif bars are excellent, and Gu is a good gel. Also Accelerade makes a gel that you can find at Vitamin Shoppe. Most importantly, drink a sports drink not just water. And drink about 24 ounces per hour/15 miles. A good sports drink is Accelerade. You can bring a baggie along with your on the ride to mix more. All of this stuff is at Vitamin Shoppe.

Cytomax is another drink mix, but it lacks protein like Accelerade. And Gatorade is basically corn syrup with a little salt. If you are sweating a lot, drink a V8 at a rest stop. Nutrition is key in a long ride.

As for training, join B15 rides of 50-70-80 miles to get ready, ramping up 10 miles per week. The last 20-30 miles of a first century will probably feel hard, as in mental fuzziness and tired legs but just push through it. They get easier once the body knows what to expect.

Have fun!


Anonymous's picture
<a href="">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
Sports drinks

"Coca-Cola's Powerade sports drink contains corn syrup. Gatorade does not. That's worth noting next time you reach into the deli's cooler at a ride break. In addition, it is the most thoroughly researched sports drink of all time.

Protein in a sports drink is of little benefit while cycling. What the body needs is fuel in the form of carbohydrate. It gets converted to glycogen most efficiently and for some carbohydrates/simple sugars found in drinks like Gatorade which provide marginally better oxidation rates than in others, say Powerade or Coke-a-Cola. Your body will not metabolize protein efficiently while under physical stress.

Some protein will aid digestion if you consume allot of carbohydrates, which for some can make them feel bloated. If you are consuming that many calories, it's likely you are not getting it solely from liquids and the solid food you are consuming contains a sufficient amount of protein. Perhaps if you have a very sensitive stomach, the protein in the sports drink will be of benefit."

Anonymous's picture
Robert Shay (not verified)

"I do a century every weekend in the spring/summer/and fall ranging from 110 to 160 miles. Through experience I've learned a couple of things.

(1)Eat - about 250-300 calories every 60 to 90 minutes. That will help you maintain your ""power"" and feeling of energy. I've tried less and more. With less, I lose some power and feel less energized around mile 70. With more, I've found that the food just stays in my stomach. My guess is that my body can only digest about 300 calories/hour. Mix up the food. The following works well for me - powerbars, 1/2 a bagel-with anything on it, 1/4 pound of ham(at a deli stop around mile 80 for the protien).
(2) Drink - about every 20 minutes. I've learned that sports drinks work well balanced with the same amount of water. For example, one bottle with sports drink and one bottle with water. From experience, using a sports drink gives me more energy after the ride - say if I want to ride the next day. I've tried many sports drinks including cytomax, clif, powerbar, extran, and GU-20. I prefer GU-20 rasberry when it's over 70 degrees F cause it tastes best warm. When it's colder I prefer Powerbar lemonade.

Hope this helps."

Anonymous's picture
Fendergal (not verified)

You didn't say what you are eating for breakfast. I eat a big bowl of cold cereal (a whole-grain variety like Kashi Go Lean, with a little granola on top for sweetness) and banana, with lowfat milk. (Most commercial brands taste too refined to me nowadays, and I feel empty quickly, whereas the whole grain ones have more staying power.)

Whole grain toast with PB and jam or honey is also a good choice. Coffee is also a must-have.

Everyone has different preferences for on-bike food. I use Carboom orange/vanilla gels (with caffeine). I don't like chocolate flavors (too rich tasting, like eating pudding), which probably sets me apart from most folks. Avoid brands that are too liquidy, or you'll wind up with sticky stuff all over your hands and handlebars. Or you could just use a plastic flask.

I carry one bottle of Accelerade, and one bottle plain water with an electrolyte additive (Nuun). Gatorade (esp. the endurance formula) is fine if you're making a deli stop, and nothing else is available. I water it down a little, so it's not full strength.

In terms of training, it's hard to make a recommendation, as you don't say what your strengths and weaknesses are. Which is your biggest deficiency? Hills? Flats? Overall endurance?

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)

Whatever you choose to eat/drink, by about mile 75 you'll be sick of it. I'm thinking of the time I did the Montauk Century - 125 miles of the exact same food and drink at every stop - oranges, bananas, PBJs and lemon-lime Gatorade. I would have killed for a turkey sandwich, or some Newtons, or anything different.

Mix it up. Your taste buds (and your mental outlook) will thank you.

Anonymous's picture
e (not verified)

"I like a nice bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. It gives a nice slow energy release over a few hours.

For an energy drink, I really like accelerade. I usually bring one bottle mixed in concentrated form and fill my other bottle with just water. For an idea of how much you migth need, you can check out this Replacement Calorie Formula.

Anonymous's picture
Brillat-Savarin (not verified)

Toasted spelt bread (more proteins)with almond butter and honey... (If I remember correctly, I heard this recipe from Jeff Wilson).

Great before a long ride, great before a short race.

Anonymous's picture
[email protected] (not verified)

"I wholly second Fendergal on breakfast - even if you have to get up a bit earlier to do it.
On the bike, I have found that I have to do ""real food"". 2 fig newtons have the same calories as a gel, and are much less messy and give me the same energy boost. Not as immediate as a gel, perhaps, but it's important to learn to eat (and drink) before you are too hungry/thirsty anyway. If forced, I like Accelrade kiwi/strawberry flavored gels.
I also really like Colvervale PB&J graham cracker sandwiches. They come foil wrapped and make no mess. (purchase on-line at They are more like a mini-meal. Each has 320 calories, 11 gr protien, 30 gr carbs, 20 gr fat. I store them in the freezer and pop one/two in my jersey. Also great for post-ride when you absolutely have to eat something right away. FWIW, MUCH more economical then gels.
Evan is right - mix it up. Good luck!"

Anonymous's picture
Sizzler (not verified)
Hammer Gel!!! (nm)
Anonymous's picture
KMLEY (not verified)
great suggestion, thanks!

just picked up a case; these things absolutely rule at 50¢ per piece.

Anonymous's picture
Jessica (not verified)
thanks for all the help!

you guys have been terrific. i'll be on fire! :)

Anonymous's picture
Rich (not verified)
Accelerade is 2/3 (by weight) table sugar

Accelerade is 2/3 Sucrose (table sugar) and 1/6 Whey Protein. The rest is mostly flavoring.

You're basically drinking flavored soy milk with table sugar + marketing.

Just compare soy milk ingredients with Accelerade ingredients.

Anonymous's picture
Peter (not verified)

I vote for the organic Clif Bars, and Cytomax energy drink and gels. They are all easy on the stomach. A bowl of cereal or oatmeal, and an English muffin with Nutella works for me for breakfast.

Anonymous's picture
Mordecai Silver (not verified)
Bars & gels

"My favorite gel is Clif Shot, followed by Carb Boom. If you buy gel by bottle (e.g., Carb Boom Big Boom), you can fill a flask with it, which is much neater than packets that get your pockets all sticky when you're done with them.

I've been using Clif bars lately, but have begun to tire of them. I previously tired of Odwalla bars, so I stopped using those. My favorite now is the Larabar -- completely raw, with about four or five ingredients."

Anonymous's picture
rob (not verified)
TDF nutrition

Watching the TDF the other night, I saw a rider guzzle down a can of coke! The announcers then said an extensive study had been done of all the sports drinks out on the market, and it was determined that between soft drinks, sports drinks, and all the other beverages out there, the best thing to drink on a long hard ride is chocolate milk!
Personally, I prefer PB&J, using good quality bread, natural organic PB, and the jelly is pure sugar no matter which you use.

Anonymous's picture
Chris Kohler (not verified)

You are close. The study compared commercially available recovery drinks (post ride) and low-fat chocolate milk came out on top.

What no one mentioned is no matter what strategy/drinks/bars you decide try it out on your training rides. You need to try different things to find out what works for you. For example, I pretty much have an iron stomach, but drinking Accelerade on a ride gives me stomach cramps. What works for one person may not work for you.

In addition, if you eat a bar or a gel dont wash it down with a sports drink - carbo overload. Make sure you wash it down with water. And always drink water after consuming a bar or gel. They work in tandem.

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