Sports-specific energy bars and gels can often get quite samey. At least that’s what I think… whether it’s down to taste fatigue or simply not looking forward to tucking into a fourth energy bar on a long ride, instead craving actual, proper, food.
It’s rare that something different rears its head in the sports nutrition industry these days, but Stealth might well have broken the trend with this, the Juice Bar.
So how is it different? Well, the Juice Bar isn’t a ‘bar’ in the traditional sense. There are no oats or anything like that, and the bar in fact lists fruit juice as its primary ingredient. The next question is: what’s holding it together?
In truth, it’s a combination of sticky rice, rice starch and two non-animal-sourced gelling agents that set the juice and added sugars (a blend of maltodextrin, sucrose and isomaltulose that delivers 27g of carbohydrates), to create a semi-solid bar that sits somewhere between a thick gel and a more ‘standard’ energy bar.
On the face of it, it doesn’t really sound that appetising. But, thankfully, in my opinion it tastes great, in both the orange & pineapple and apple & blackcurrant flavours. Nutrition products are always personal but I found both bars to offer a palatable and strong (some might argue slightly too strong) yet natural fruit flavour; a plus when you’ve grown tired of the usual bars, gels and energy drinks.
The texture is slightly strange – a bit like a solidified gel, which can come across as a bit rubbery. That said, it’s not chewy at all, with the bar breaking down almost immediately in the mouth. Similarly, it’s easy to swallow, and is also easy to digest. Still, it’s not really a texture I could personally get used to as a go-to energy bar; instead, I’d use it alongside other energy sources to keep things fresh and interesting on long days in the saddle. Other members of the RCUK team found the texture a little unnatural, even if it was easier to digest than a regular bar.
"The texture is slightly strange – a bit like a solidified gel, which can come across as a bit rubbery. That said, it’s not chewy at all"
I worried a little about digestion initially, given the strong fruit flavour, but I never experienced it repeating on me, and also found the energy delivery to be balanced and consistent. There’s no sudden hit of energy, instead a prolonged and gentle recharging of stores. According to Stealth, there are also some added vitamins thrown in, including vitamin C for immune system support, as well as vitamins B2 and B6 to fortify energy delivery.
One of the downsides to this type of bar is it can be prone to getting squashed in your pocket. One bar that had been out with me on a couple of rides before I ate it had begun to lose its shape, especially in the heat of my back pocket, which inevitably meant I had to extract half of it in the same way I would a gel.
However, other positives include the fact the bars are vegan-friendly, as well as gluten-free – something that definitely can’t always be said for your usual flapjacks and energy bars.
The Stealth Juice Bars aren’t particularly cheap (£25 for a box of 16), but their value is based on how well you get on with your current nutrition options. Will you make use of this unique bar, or won’t you? Certainly, they’re worth a try as a different option on a ride and make a change from conventional bars and gels, given the unique, easy-to-digest consistency, energy credentials and good taste.
- Balanced energy delivery
- Natural flavours
- Unique texture; easier to eat than a bar, less sticky than a gel
- Gluten-free and vegan-friendly
- Can break down in pocket
- Texture not to everyone's liking
- Some might find flavours too strong
- Fairly expensive