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Going on long bike rides can be very draining. There are many snacks that are specifically made for athletes, as well as cyclists. These athletic/cycling snacks are specifically made to give you all the nutrients, sugar, and/or caffeine you need to complete your bike ride. Having the right snacks with you can make all the difference when you’re bonking.
When I’m going on long rides I mainly use caffeinated energy gels and waffle cookies. These both work well for me but I also love the taste.
Energy gels come in a variety of flavors but the texture can be a little thick. Personally, texture in foods doesn’t bother me too much, so, I still love the energy gels. However, if you’re someone that is bothered by the texture of foods that you eat, I wouldn’t recommend energy gels. The thickness can be offputting.
I will cover my favorite cycling snacks and many of the most popular cycling snacks below. If you just want to jump to the list scroll down. One of my other favorites is the waffle. The waffles taste great and I usually do honey ones that have natural energy in them. There are not as many flavors but the ones they do have taste amazing.
Many of the other riders that I ride with use cliff bars, energy chews, and many other snacks on their rides. Cliff bars are great but they don’t give me the same boost as many of the other snacks on this list. When I use a gel, although it could just be a mental thing, I feel like I have more energy to finish my ride. On the other hand, when I eat a cliff bar, I feel like I ate something but I don’t really feel an energy boost. If you like cliff bars for your rides feel free to leave a comment! I read all of the comments.
Table of Contents
Top 10 Cycling Snacks for Long Bike Rides
- GU Energy Gels Caffeinated (Editor’s Choice)
- Clif Shot Energy Gels
- GU Energy Stroopwafel
- Honey Stinger Waffle
- GU Energy Gels (Fruity Flavors)
- Huma Chia Energy Gel
- PROBAR Organic Energy Chews
- GU Energy Chews
- Clif Bloks Energy Chews
- GU Energy Gels (No Caffeine)
1. GU Energy Gel Review (Caffeinated)
The GU Energy Gel 24 Pack with Caffeine comes with an assortment of 5 flavors. The 5 Energy Gel flavors include Caramel Macchiato, Chocolate Outrage, Espresso Love, Vanilla Bean, and Salted Caramel.
When first ordering any of the gel packs, I recommend getting the variety pack. This way you don’t buy a flavor that you dislike and get stuck with 24 gel packs of a flavor you don’t want. I have definitely made this mistake in the past. I started out with one of the Honey Stinger Gels and the taste wasn’t good, it also was very hard on my stomach. I never finished that pack and ended up throwing them away. I wish I had started with the variety pack!
All of the flavors in this variety back contain caffeine. Caffeine isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for gels without caffeine, there are other non-caffeinated options on this list. I know some people get super jittery from caffeine or they can’t sleep all night if they intake caffeine.
However, if you’re looking for a mildly caffeinated energy gel, these are great. I’ve seen energy gels that have upwards of 100 mg of caffeine per gel. I personally don’t need or want that much caffeine on my bike rides. Especially since you’re supposed to eat an energy gel every 45 minutes during a workout.
The GU energy gels, depending on which flavor you choose, have caffeine amounts ranging from 20mg to 40 mg. The GU Caramel Macchiato and GU Espresso Love Energy Gel Flavors come with 40 mg of caffeine. While, the GU Vanilla Bean, GU Chocolate Outrage, and GU Salted Caramel Energy Gel Flavors all have 20mg of caffeine in them.
These energy gels made by GU are also packed with sodium, carbohydrates, and amino acids.
Sodium is one of the most important electrolytes in your body. When you buy a standard electrolyte mix, one of the major ingredients is sodium. Sodium along with proper water intake helps maintain the hydration of the body. So, it’s no real surprise that GU decided to put high levels of sodium in their energy gels.
Amino Acids are also great before, during, and after workouts. Amino Acids play an important role in muscle development and protein synthesis within your body. Your body needs amino acids to create new protein and protein is what makes up your muscles. Providing your body with Amino acids allows for improved cardiac output during exercise, it decreases muscle damage and decreases mental fatigue. Overall, amino acids are great for athletes in a ton of different ways so having amino acids in your energy gels is essential.
Overall the GU Caffeinated Energy Gels are my number 1 pick for the best cycling snacks for long bike rides. Click the button below to learn more.
2. Clif Shot Energy Gels Review
The Clif Shot Energy Gel 24 Pack is a great way to try all the Clif Energy Gel Flavors. I always recommend starting with a variety pack so you don’t get a bunch of a flavor you don’t like. Clif’s variety pack is one of the best because it gives you 8 different flavors to try rather than the usual 4 to 5 flavors in a gel variety pack. The 8 flavors included in this energy gel variety pack are Citrus, Double Expresso, Strawberry, Vanilla, Chocolate Cherry, Chocolate, and Mocha.
However, with this many flavors there’s bound to be some you don’t like and there’s probably some flavors that you would choose to leave out if you could. Unfortunately, there is no way to pick and choose your flavors. You either have to buy the full variety pack or buy a full pack of one flavor. There’s also the option of buying individual packets at select stores (in person). However, a lot of the time when I go in person to shops I can’t find the flavors that I saw online, so I end up just buying them online anyway.
Clif is a very well-known brand from the famous Clif Bars. So, this energy gel definitely has the brand recognition of a brand that many people love and with their energy gels, they didn’t disappoint. They are tasty and provide that boost that you need on your long bike rides.
Unlike the GU variety pack listed above, Clif doesn’t separate caffeinated from decaffeinated energy gels in their variety packs. So, in this energy gel variety pack, some flavors have no caffeine and others have up to 100 mg of caffeine.
The Clif Shot Chocolate, Vanilla, and Raspberry Energy Gels are decaffeinated. While the others all have caffeine. The Citrus and Strawberry Gels have 25 mg of Caffeine and the Mocha has 50 mg of caffeine. Last but not least the Chocolate Cherry and Double Expresso have 100 mg of caffeine.
While not having the caffeinated and decaf gels separated can be annoying for some, it can also give you the opportunity to test out different amounts of caffeine for different types of rides. For example, if you’re planning to do a very difficult ride (long or difficult climb) take the ones with 100 mg and see if they help you perform at a greater intensity level. On the other hand, if you are going on a shorter or easier ride, utilize the no caffeine, just to give your body the proper nutrients it needs without the extra caffeine.
The Clif Shot Energy Gels are made with 90% organic ingredients and include electrolytes for greater hydration on your rides. Overall the Clif Shot Energy Gels are a great snack for your cycling needs.
To learn more about the Clif Shot Energy Gels, click the button below.
3. GU Energy Stroopwafel Review
The GU Energy Stroopwafel is a great energy wafel. I had a hard time deciding whether to put the GU StroopWafel before or after the Honey Stinger Waffle (next on list). Both of these waffles are an amazing snack on your rides. From my experience, the wafers are a little better on the GU Stroopwafel as opposed to the honey stinger waffle. However, I think I like the flavor of the honey stinger waffle more.
The GU Stroop Waffles comes in 4 flavors and each is provided in this variety pack. The 4 flavors are Caramel Coffee, Salted Chocolate, Wild Berry, and Salty’s Caramel. These are great flavors! You should definitely order the variety pack so you can try them all. If you know which ones you want, you can also buy each individual flavor.
The GU Stroopwafel comes packed with Amino Acids, Carbs, and some electrolytes too. It’s an all-around energy source snack so you can ride longer and harder.
The main advantage of the GU Waffle in comparison to the Honey Stinger Waffle is the GU Waffle doesn’t crumble as easily. Personally, the crumbling isn’t that big of a deal to me, but this can make the GU energy waffle more appealing for cycling because in most cases you’re eating while still on your bike. So, having a waffle falling apart can make eating a little more difficult. This is the main reason I chose to put the GU Stroopwafel ahead of the Honey Stinger Energy Waffle.
Overall though they are both great waffle options for cycling. They both taste amazing. Personally, I like the honey flavor of the Honey Stinger Waffles a little more tho.
If you want to learn more about the GU Stroopwafel, click the button below.
4. Honey Stinger Waffle Review
The Honey Stinger Waffle Variety Pack is realistically one of my favorite snacks for cycling in terms of taste. The waffles are delicious! I have to moderate how much I buy them because I usually end up eating them as a snack around the house and then run out before I even go on a bike ride. They’re just that good. The waffles are wafer waffles and the snack is essentially 2 wafer waffles stuck together with honey. The waffles are flavored as well so if you get a chocolate one the wafer is chocolate too.
As with the other items on this list, I recommend the variety pack to start, then buy the flavor that you like most. I mainly stick to the honey flavor, because I love honey and honey is a great source of natural energy. If you know which flavor you like already, then you can order a 12 pack of that specific flavor.
The Variety Pack comes with Honey, Vanilla, and Salted Caramel Waffles. The salted Caramel waffle by honey stinger is their gluten-free option. There are also 2 other flavors that you can also buy, that aren’t in the variety pack. The 2 flavors are Short Stack which is packed with natural maple flavors and chocolate. So if you’re a big fan of chocolate, you may just have to take the risk and buy a 16 pack of chocolate.
There’s an additional option that you can also choose when picking the Honey Stinger Honey and Vanilla Waffles. You can get mini waffles. The mini waffles come in a bag and have a bunch of mini waffles instead of 1 big waffle. This can solve the problem of them crumbling when you eat them because it’s a bunch of small waffles that you can eat in one bite but they’re only offered in their 2 most popular flavors.
Overall, the Honey Stinger Waffles are my favorite snack on this list in terms of taste, but the energy gels listed above are my favorite in terms of performance. If you want to learn more about the Honey Stinger Waffles, click the button below.
5. GU Energy Gels Review (Fruity Flavors)
This GU Energy Gel 24 Pack is great if you don’t like chocolate or coffee. The GU energy gel pack listed above is mainly chocolate and coffee flavor which is why I wanted to make sure I put the fruity flavor variety pack on this list too.
The GU Gel Fruity Flavor Variety Pack comes with 5 flavors: Salted Watermelon, Mandarin Orange, Lemon Sublime, Strawberry Banana, and Jet Blackberry. I’m a huge fan of all these flavors except strawberry banana but that’s mainly because I don’t like banana mixed in foods, the banana can be too overpowering.
If I had to choose one as my favorite, I’d have to choose the mandarin orange but honestly, all of the other flavors are good.
Each energy Gel consists of 100 calories, essential electrolytes, and amino acids. Some of the flavors also come with caffeine ranging from 0 mg to 40 mg. The Jet Blackberry Energy Gel has 40 mg of caffeine. The Mandarin Orange and Salted Caramel Energy Gel have 20 mg of caffeine and the GU Lemon Lime Sublime and Strawberry Banana Energy Gel have no caffeine.
These energy gels supply you with energy from 2 sources: maltodextrin and fructose. Having these 2 energy sources which work on different energy pathways allows for efficient absorption and long-lasting energy.
These energy gel packs by GU are a great cycling snack for your long bike rides. If you want to learn more click the button below.
6. Huma Chia Energy Gel Plus Review
The Huma Chia Energy Gel Plus variety pack is a great source of electrolytes and energy on your long bike rides. The Huma packs are sourced from natural ingredients and contain real food that your stomach can easily process. So, the Huma Chia Gels are great if you typically get stomach problems from other energy gels. These energy gels are vegan friendly, gluten-free, and dairy-free.
Due to the all-natural ingredients in these energy gels, they are on the more expensive side. If they weren’t so expensive, I probably would have put them higher on this list.
The Huma Energy Gels Plus comes in 4 different flavors. These flavors include Strawberry lemonade, lemons & limes, blackberry banana, and Berries Pomegranate. The plus version of the Huma energy gels is a high electrolyte energy gel. The plus comes with 2x the natural electrolytes. The electrolytes are from all-natural ingredients such as coconut water, sea salt, and chia seeds. You also have the option of purchasing a variety pack that comes with a mix of the original and plus Huma Gels. This pack comes with 16 original (non-plus), and 8 plus gels (high electrolyte).
The main ingredients of the Huma Energy Gels are Fruit Purees, Powdered Chia Seeds, and Brown Rice Syrup. Unlike many other products out there, the ingredient list is all common words that everyone knows. No crazy chemical names! So, you truly know what you’re putting in your body.
Due to the all-natural ingredients and mainly fruit puree-based ingredient list, this gel isn’t as this as the other gels on this list such as the GU gels, so if the texture is a big thing for you, I’d recommend this over the GU gels. Many people compare the consistency of the Huma chia energy gel to that of apple sauce.
Some of the Huma energy gels come with caffeine, others don’t. The Blackberry Banana and berry pomegranate plus flavors are caffeine-free while the Strawberry lemonade and chocolate raspberry flavors both have 25 mg of caffeine.
The Huma Chia Energy Gel Plus is a great energy gel for athletes looking for a cleaner and more natural energy source to take on their bike rides. If you would like to learn more, please click on the button below.
7. PROBAR Bolt Organic Energy Chews Review
The Probar Bolt Organic Energy Chews are a great-tasting organic cycling snack. They are made with a superfruit blend. Pomegranate, acai, and blueberry provide essential vitamins and nutrients to give you the energy you need for your rides.
Probar is a lesser-known family-owned company but they have been around since 2002. The company was founded in Park City, Utah and they are now headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. They have amazing reviews and provide a great product. Probar’s mission is to become the leading provider of real food choices while maintaining its commitment to quality, sustainability, and delicious taste.
Each packet of the Probar Energy Chews comes with 24g of carbs and some have 20mg of caffeine. The caffeine is natural caffeine from the Yerba Mate plant. Yerba Mate is a plant from South Africa that is commonly known as a health food. It is believed to have many different health benefits and is a great source of natural caffeine.
The Probar variety pack comes with 6 different flavors including Orange, Strawberry, Berry Blast, Raspberry, Pink Lemonade, and Cran Pomegranate. The Berry Blast and Raspberry flavors contain Yerba Mate and therefore are the ones that contain caffeine. The other 4 flavors are caffeine-free. All of the Probar flavors are sourced from organic ingredients making them organic themselves. You can see all the ingredients, flavors, and prices by clicking on the button below.
The Probar Energy Chews are packed with vitamins and electrolytes. It has Vitamins B6, B12, C, electrolytes, Potassium, and more. The Probar Energy Chews are a great choice for a healthy cycling snack. If you are interested in the Probar Energy Chews or would like to learn more click the button below.
8. GU Energy Chews Review
The GU Energy Chews Strawberry are a great-tasting energy chew that you can take with you on any bike ride. Each bag contains 2 servings of chews to give you the fuel you need to make it through any bike ride.
The strawberry flavored GU Energy Chews are the most popular flavor, but they are also offered in Watermelon, Blueberry Pomegranate, and Orange Flavor. The Energy Chews are a great snack to take on your bike rides. However, with them being a bunch of small chews I feel that they are less convenient than using an energy gel. This is why I put the chews below the gels on this list. In terms of taste, appeal, and texture, many people will like the energy chews more than gels.
With the energy chews, it takes 2 hands to eat your chews and it will in most cases take considerably longer to eat all the chews than squeezing out one gel into your mouth. So, with the chews, you’ll have to ride with no hands or one hand for a long time while switching back and forth to no hands to eat the energy chews. This is why I feel that for cycling an energy gel is the better cycling snack.
This has nothing to do with the recovery rate of using chews. The chews are a great snack, but with the chews, I feel it’s something you may want to stop and eat rather than eat on the go mid-ride.
The Strawberry GU Energy Chews have 90 calories per serving and have carbs, sodium (electrolytes), amino acids, and caffeine depending on the flavor. To be more specific, they consist of 22g of carbs, 40mg of sodium, and 400mg of amino acids. These numbers are almost identical to the GU energy gels. So, in terms of performance and recovery, these should have the same effect on your body as the GU energy gels.
If you think that the GU Energy Chews are a better option for you, click the button below to learn more and get current pricing.
9. Clif Bloks Energy Chews Review
The Clif Bloks Energy Chews are another great energy chews option that I felt needed to be on this list. As with the GU Energy Chews, my main point still stands that I feel energy chews are a little more difficult to eat while riding than energy gels. Although many people may like the taste of the chews more.
While they may be harder to eat, Clif does a good job of making them easy to open so that you can minimize your time spent fiddling with the packaging and trying to eat your snack.
If you don’t mind the taste and/or consistency of energy gels, they may be easier for you to eat while riding.
The Clif Bloks Energy Chews are offered in 4 different flavors. These flavors consist of Citrus, Cranrazz, Mountain Berry, Black Cherry, Tropical Punch, and Strawberry. With the Clif Bloks Chews, you’re supposed to intake half of the packet 15 minutes prior to your workout and then 1-2 packets every hour throughout your workout. This is very similar to intake recommendations for gels as well. Most energy gels recommend you take 1 5 minutes before workout and then every 45 mins to an hour during your workout.
These recommendations are to be preemptive rather than reactive. Typically by the time you feel drained, hungry, or dehydrated, it’s too late to recover. So, you’re supposed to eat and drink water periodically throughout your workout even if you aren’t hungry or thirsty.
The Clif Bloks Energy Chews are made from plant-based ingredients including organic tapioca syrup. The tapioca syrup is mainly for consistency. It gives the chews a semi solid consistency that is easy to chew and easy to eat even during high intensity workouts.
Some of the Clif Boks Energy Chew Flavors contain caffeine, so if you want to avoid caffeine, make sure you choose the correct flavors. The Black Cherry flavor contains 50 mg of caffeine. The Orange and Tropical Punch both contain 25mg of caffeine per serving. Caffeine is good for some athletes but not others. Personally, I like having caffeine in my cycling snacks because it gives me the boost I need, but I don’t like highly caffeinated snacks that have 100+mg of caffeine.
10. GU Energy Gels Review (No Caffeine)
Each gel in this last pack of GU energy gels is caffeine-free. So, if you’re looking for a caffeine-free energy gel, this is the variety pack that I would choose. If you can’t tell by the list so far, in terms of energy gels, I really like the GU gels. They give me the energy I need and they don’t upset my stomach like the honey stinger energy gels.
In this variety pack of GU Energy Gels, my favorite is the birthday cake flavor, this one can be too sweet for some people tho. Personally, I like foods on the sweeter side so the birthday cake flavor is great for me. However, the other flavors aren’t overly sweet, so if you don’t like overly sweet flavors you’ll still be happy with the rest of the flavors in this pack. If you want though, you can order the individual flavors in a 24 pack.
Overall, there’s not much difference between this GU variety pack and the previously mentioned GU variety pack with the fruity flavors, other than the flavors and caffeine content. So if you want more information on these GU energy gels you can look at the previous section or click on the button below to see the full details of the product.
Buyers’ Guide: How To Pick A Good Cycling Snack
Picking the correct cycling snack can be a difficult process, there are so many options out there. It can be hard to know what are the most important aspects of a good cycling snack. If you’re having trouble choosing the best cycling snacks, this buyers’ guide is for you. We’ll cover the main points that most companies focus on when creating their cycling snacks and what makes one better than another.
First, let’s talk about taste. Taste is one of the most important aspects of your cycling snacks unless you are training for or competing in the Tour De France or some other crazy event. While I know that’s an exaggeration, for the most part, the minimal differences between the mg of electrolytes, carbs, etc. in one cycling snack compared to another is going to be negligible for the casual cyclist.
Yes, there are some snacks that will work better than others but there are enough options out there that unless you need the best of the best cycling snacks for competing you should be able to find one that gives you a great balance between performance and taste. If you are training for a big competition, I’d honestly recommend speaking with your personal nutritionist so they can choose the best snacks for your exact body chemistry.
Everyone knows that one person who is half asleep until they have their first cup of coffee. So, it should be no surprise that caffeine is next on my list of things you should pay attention to when choosing a cycling snack, there are many cycling snacks that have caffeine and many others that don’t. Caffeine is a great source of energy especially if it’s from natural plant-based caffeine sources such as Yerba Mate or Green Tea.
Having a little caffeine in your cycling snack will give you a noticeable energy boost when you’re pushing through a hard workout. While many other aspects of a good cycling snack are preemptive because the goal is to keep providing everything your body needs to keep working at maximum output. Caffeine is a little different. Caffeine I wouldn’t really consider preemptive. Caffeine is going to give you a boost of energy rather than helping maintain your current energy levels.
While caffeine is a great source of energy, caffeine isn’t for everyone. Caffeine, especially too much caffeine, can be hard on your heart and can make you jittery. Some people can’t sleep at night even if they have coffee early in the day. Caffeine affects everyone differently. So, if you’re someone that doesn’t like intaking caffeine, make sure you choose caffeine-free cycling snacks because many of them have caffeine.
Cycling snacks have caffeine levels varying from no caffeine all the way up to 100+ mg of caffeine per serving. For comparison, a cup of tea has about 35-70 mg of caffeine while a cup of coffee has about 100-150 mg of caffeine. So, always read the description before purchasing your snack.
Carbs are a macronutrient. I could sit here and explain the whole process of how carbs are broken down and/or stored in the body but the simple answer is carbs become glucose (sugar) and give your body energy. Since carbs are turned into energy, they are a great fuel source for you while you work out.
However, if you are planning on doing a very long ride, say 100+ miles, a competition, or an intensive climb. You should also carb load. Carb loading is when you eat a bunch of carbs the days before your workout so that your body has extra carbs stored up to get through the intense workout.
Going back to cycling snacks, cycling snacks will have carbs in them so that you can get energy on the go. For each gram of carbs you ingest, you’ll get approximately 4 calories of energy. A calorie is just a unit of measurement used for measuring food energy. So when you say you burned 1,000 calories you burned off 1,000 units of food energy.
If you’ve ever measured your calories burned on a cycling ride you’ll realize you’re going to burn way more calories than you can intake from your cycling snacks. This is why carb loading is recommended for long rides, competitions, etc. The goal of a snack is to give you enough to get you through the workout, not to completely replace the calories burned. Higher carb snacks will help but only up to a point.
Most people have heard the term electrolytes but many don’t realize what they are. An electrolyte is a mineral in your blood and other bodily fluids that carry an electric charge. Electrolytes affect how your body functions in ways including the amount of water your body holds, the acidity of your blood, muscle functions, and many other important functions in the body.
One of the most important electrolytes in your body is sodium (salt). When you’re dehydrated electrolytes help you regain hydration levels faster alongside proper water intake. Having a good amount of electrolytes in your cycling snacks and/or water will keep you from getting dehydrated as fast and can help you maintain hydration levels through your ride.
Amino Acids play an important role in muscle development and protein synthesis within your body. Your body needs amino acids to create new protein and protein is what makes up your muscles. Providing your body with Amino acids allows for improved cardiac output during exercise, it decreases muscle damage and decreases mental fatigue. Overall, amino acids are great for athletes in a ton of different ways so having amino acids in your energy gels is essential.
There are 20 different amino acids but there are 9 essential amino acids. Of the 9 essential amino acids, there are 3 amino acids that account for a large portion of the amino acids found in muscle proteins. So having a wide variety of amino acids in your cycling snacks isn’t necessarily the most important part. However, having amino acids in your cycling snack is very important.
Last but not least is the convenience of eating the snacks. Similar to how I said taste is one of the most important aspects of a snack for most people. The convenience of being able to eat and carry the snack is pretty high on the list as well.
Even on a casual ride, you probably don’t want to have to pull over just to eat your snack. Some snacks that aren’t made for athletes would completely interrupt your workout while other snacks that are made for athletes could be eaten with one hand, after opening the packaging.
So when choosing a snack you want to take into consideration if you can eat the snack while riding your bike either with 1 hand or whether you’d have to ride with no hands. If the snack requires 2 hands to eat, how long will it take you to eat it? Can you comfortably ride with no hands for that long on the route you’re riding? If not, you’ll have to stop riding to eat your snack or choose a different snack.
To give an example, I know that if the route I’m riding has a lot of climbing, I want something I can eat very quickly with one hand but if I’m riding on flat ground I could ride with no hands for a while and eat whatever my snack is without interrupting my ride or slowing down my pace. So, it really all depends.