Fast Snacks – Gels, Bars, Foods

Most of you should be able to have a workout that isn’t longer than 60 – 90 minutes and need extra nutrition.

For those of you who will be working out for a longer period of time than 90 minutes should plan on consuming 100 – 300 calories per hour and should be in the form of carbohydrates.

There are many triathletes who will take all the calories at one time every hour while others do better with putting something in their mouth every 15 minutes.  Some of the calories can be from your sports drink, but you will need to also reach for a snack.  Natural foods will travel well if you have a fuel that is your favorite, like a banana or good old-fashioned raisins and peanuts.

There are a variety of different blocks, bars, gels and even gooey substances that say they provide power.  You will want to try different brand and flavors to see what really works for you.

There are triathletes who can’t stomach things that are syrupy while others just don’t want to chew an energy bar.  You will find that energy bars and gels contain a variety of different amounts of carbohydrates, potassium, sodium, protein, minerals, vitamins and fat.
You will need to check the ingredients and then calculate your choice along with how many you will be eating during your workout to find out what will fit the overall nutrition plan you have put together.

Make sure you have read the ingredients before you decide which bars, blocks or gels.  There are some that may have caffeine or other ingredients that you may choose to limit.

It is also important to remember that energy bars and gels should not be a substitute for a good nutritional diet.  If you see that you want a bar during a one-hour exercise or even before beginning your workout you may want to look at what you are currently doing with your nutritional plan and make the necessary changes.

It doesn’t matter which of the energy sources you decide to use, be sure to make sure you drink plenty of water with each.  It is a good idea to remember to drink 8 ounces of water for each of the energy bars or gel packets you use.

Gels and gummy blocks

The gels and gummy blocks are meant to digest faster than a solid, so they are good when you are in need of fast energy, especially during a race.  The gels usually come in a small “shot” package which is portioned for easy consumption.

But for some are hard to tolerate and may be like trying to swallow a spoonful of peanut butter without having anything to wash it down with.  But they are able to provide a concentrated and quick energy boost.

Gummy blocks are easier for many to get down, with a little chewing.  The texture and flavors tend to be more appetizing to people, but one block doesn’t really offer the same energy punch as one packet of gel.  You will need to put a few in your mouth in order to get the same benefit.

You can usually find gels at the local cycling or running stores or even online.  Gel packs and gummy blocks will cost you about $1 – $2 per package.  Once you find a flavor you like you could always purchase them in bulk which would cost your less than $1 per package.


During one trip at the grocery store you could end up being overwhelmed by all the sports bars that are available saying they can do the same thing.

It is a good idea to try as many as you would like to see which brands and flavors taste best and work well with your stomach during training.

It is amazing how one of these bars can taste delicious after you have gone on a 50 mile bike ride and how disgusting they may taste if you use them for a non-workout snack.

When one is really needed the energy bars will be more appetizing than one of the gel shots.  The bars can come with nuts, peanut butter, dried fruits and chocolate.

You do need to be careful with the chocolate ones though because they could melt if you are training on a hat day.  Make sure you have read the ingredients for the bar to choose one that will be best for your workout.

For the shorter workouts a high-carbohydrate bars are probably the best.  But for longer training sessions you might consider using bars high in protein.  You should be able to buy the bars in running and cycling stores, even in the local grocery store or discount store as well.

If possible, look for the bars when they are on sale and then stock up on them.  They can cost you anywhere $1 – $2.50 a piece.  You might check out  If you sign up for the Amazon’s subscribe & Save feature you could buy the Clif Bars, PowerBars, Balance bars and more and get an additional 15% off the price of the price, which is usually already pretty low.

Natural foods

Bars and gels can be convenient and easy for carrying, but they can get expensive.  You could use granola bars, fruit or cereal bars and get the same nutritional value.  Some other alternative to the sports bar would be raisins, pretzels, fig cookies, bananas and breakfast bars.

Since you will be eating on the go, whether it is running or cycling, you need foods that are not only easy to transport in a small pack, but also in the pocket of your cycling jersey.

You want to look for foods that are high in carbohydrates without being too high in fat.  You will want to experiment with many different energy sources during training to see what will work for not only your taste buds, but also your digestive system while also being easily portable.

Good luck!


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