Not long ago, I did a review of Winners Energy Bars in Choc-Berry flavour. They were a hit for me, and I'm happily working my way through a box I bought on a clearance special from the local supermarket.
Ducking in to grab some bits-&-pieces a few weeks ago, I came across another product on special - Swisse High Carb Energy Bars (Chocolate flavour). They were half-price (woohoo!), so I grabbed a handful and threw them into my trolley to try out later.
For those who care about the important figures - these bars have 230 calories, 4.7g of protein, 5g of fat, 38.3g of carbs (of which 8.5g is sugar) and 22mg of sodium.
As a rule, I don't eat prior to training rides less than 90min long (in the morning, pre-breakfast that is). And so I normally would only wolf down a muesli bar before setting off on longer bunch rides. Similar to the Winners Bars I tried, this is where I used these bars - usually before setting off on my 2-3hr Planet Cycles shop rides on a Saturday morning.
Do they work?
Yes, definitely. I didn't get any of the telltale signs of energy deficit during my rides with this bar, and (probably more importantly) no 'energy spike' that inevitably leads to an 'energy crash' later.
More importantly - the taste!
For me, taste is probably the most important criterion in these reviews. Most of the commercially available bars are pretty good for what they are designed for - so (assuming a similar price) taste is the governing factor when I make my choice. It's a lot harder to eat when you aren't looking forward to the experience!
The texture of these reminded me a lot of a chocolate crackle (a chocolate rice crispie treat, for those readers not in Australia!). I definitely picked up on the 'rice bubble' type texture straight away, a real contrast to the oat-style bars I've had before. I was surprised to read the ingredients list later to see rolled oats were the major ingredient!
These bars weren't as sweet as I expected them to be either - a huge plus for me. Nothing worse than that cloying sweetness you can't get rid of, and you still have half a bar to go...
Probably my only real criticism was they were a little dry to eat, and I definitely had to consume them with a bottle of water handy to wash it down. That's just a personal preference for me, I'd prefer a bar that's a little more moist in texture.
A second opinion
My 14yo daughter grabbed one of these bars as we dashed off to her weekend waterpolo game. She took a bite, and said, "Oh wow - these are great!"
She loved the mix of oats and chocolate rice crispies, and thought they were the best bar of that sort she'd eaten so far. The lack of sweetness was also a big plus for her, but she disagreed with me that the bar was 'dry' in texture and thought it was just right.
Would I buy these again?
Yes, I would - but they probably wouldn't be my first choice. Purely on the taste factor, there are a couple of others I prefer. But its not that the Swisse bars taste bad, I definitely enjoyed eating them - its just that there are others I enjoy more.
The bottom line is that if you prefer a 'rice crispie'-style texture in your bar, you should definitely give these a try. You will really love them. I know I'll be keeping some on hand for my daughter as a quick and easy pre-event 'meal' for her swimming and cross-country running seasons.
For that matter, if you see them on special at the supermarket (like I did), definitely grab a few to try for yourself. Even if you end up preferring others, they taste pretty good anyway and do their job of providing a lasting energy hit.