I used the final Allez Prestwich CC winter ride to test out a new cycling energy bar. The product is called a Stealth Juice Bar which is sold by Secret Training. Cycle 2 Health had access to a prototype batch of their orange and pineapple bars. This post gives my observations and thoughts after my first taste.
Sunday started with the obligatory porridge for breakfast, but I pushed too hard (182 bpm) on Rainsough Brow. Poor pacing left that porridge sitting heavy and me feeling queasy. That will teach me to set off earlier, so I don’t have to rush to the start of my club rides.
Hitting The Wall
It wasn’t a fair test for the Stealth Juice Bar due to exceptional circumstances on the day. Being drenched in rain for hours, feeling queasy and concentrating on handling my unfamiliar bike, meant I didn’t eat enough during the first half of the ride.
I ended up hitting the wall, despite having a wide choice on things to eat in my saddle bag. After the first 45km, two hills (Grains Road and Huddersfield Road past Dowry Reservoir) and several hours of heavy rain the only thing I’d eaten was one of a prototype energy bar from Secret Training. I ran out of blood sugar while fighting against a head wind, being pelting me with curtains of rain. While on an exposed hillside, I ground to a halt and needed to refuel fast.
TIP – Don’t just bring the bars and gels on the ride, eat them and always drink enough. Nutrition supplements can prevent you losing your edge, avoid cramps and keep you aware of potential hazards. They are not magic and do no good just sat in your saddle bag with the inner tubes.
Secret Training Tour de Manc Pack
Secret Training will be providing the nutrition for 2017 Tour de Manc riders. Although they sell various protein, energy and hydration powders and gels. The Stealth Juice Bar is something a little different.
It has sticky rice extract and is 24% fruit juice. I love sticky rice and anticipating my first taste had me thinking ‘Fruit Sushi’. The idea reminded me of a delicious tomato flavoured Sushi rice ball I’d had recently.
The first thing to say about this Stealth Juice Bar is that the flavour is good. Even while I was feeling queasy eating the bar didn’t make things worse. I find fruit flavoured gels are easier for me to stomach, but this is neither a gel nor a bar.
The texture was something of a surprise. It reminded me of a China Town dessert I had as a child on a day trip to Manchester with my mother in the 80’s. I don’t know the dessert’s name but remember it being made from a bean paste.
The Stealth Juice Bar’s texture is quite firm yet malleable like Playdough. I didn’t need a drink to wash it down like with flapjack, but it had the same ‘Peanut Butter’ adhesion to the palate. This quality meant I didn’t fear eating while breathing heavily.
The Stealth Juice Bar is carb rich with isomaltulose and rice starch, which are short and long chain carbohydrates. Digestion of Carbs starts in the mouth, as chewing a piece of bread for 30 seconds will demonstrate. The longer the bread is in your mouth the sweeter it will taste. The carbs are broken down into simple sugars by an enzyme produced under your tongue.
Therefore, having the Stealth Juice Bar present in the mouth for a while due to that ‘peanut butter’ effect is an aid to digestion from salivary amylase. Secret Training have clever people working for them, they chose acidic juices (Orange and Pineapple) to get the mouth’s salivary gland watering and to balance the sweetness.
Amylase is the enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars. Simple sugars are small enough for easy absorption. Enzymes are just a protein that speeds up a chemical reaction, like the cutting up of the sugar chains into bits small enough to be absorbed through our intestines and into our blood.
Each 50g Stealth Juice Bar provides 108 kcal, 27g of Carbs of which 16g are sugars. I assume the complex carbs are primarily from the rice starch. With 11g of complex carbs per bar which are helpful for the slower release of energy.
In comparison, a SIS 40g Chocolate Fudge ‘Go Energy Bar’ contains 138 kcal (26g Carbs / 11g Sugars). While a 40g High5 Summer Fruits EnergyGel provides ~ 90 kcal (23g Carbs).
The more solid the bar the more energy dense one would expect. However, the SIS bar is 12% protein and 8.4% fat. That means there is a fair proportion of it’s total calories not coming from easily digestible carbs.
Interestingly turmeric is a colouring agent in the Stealth Juice Bar, which may have helped settle my stomach. In both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, turmeric is considered good for digestion. It is also supposed to reduce flatulence which I suppose would be appreciated by the peloton! Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.
Glutinous Yet Gluten Free
When Tony a Tour de Manc organiser first emailed me to offer the prototype bars, he mentioned they had “real fruit and glutenous rice extract”. I’m mildly allergic to gluten, but the Stealth Juice Bars on sale now are labelled as ‘Gluten Free’.
My day job occasionally brings me in contact with people that have Celiac disease, who have to avoid the protein Gluten. One of my Celiac clients mentioned he mainly ate rice based dishes. Googling ‘Gluten Free Diet’ tells me all varieties of rice contain no Gluten.
I think a mis-spelling of ‘Glutenous Rice’ in an email and my questionable Latin skills (glutinosus), lead to my initial confusion. Latin for ‘glue’ is gluten and therefore anything sticky could be described ‘glutinous’. Some rice is sticky but never naturally contains the protein Gluten. Gluten is typically found in grains like wheat.
I have identified one issue which I didn’t find ideal with the bar. The first third of the bar was relatively easy to squeeze out of the packet with cold, wet and gloveless hands. The rest was difficult to consume from the laminated foil packet. This was definitely a two-handed off the bike snack for me, which happens to be how I prefer my refuelling.
This issue may have been addressed already by Secret Training in their production bars. If not already solved, I have had several ideas that I’d be happy to run past the production team.
Secret Training’s new Gluten free energy bar is mouth-wateringly tasty, thanks to the fruit juices. It sat easy on a delicate stomach possibly due to the turmeric colouring in the Orange and Pineapple bar. The Stealth Juice bar is energy dense with a good ratio of simple sugars for immediate energy and complex carbohydrates for slower energy release.
It does however need two hands to eat, so if you’re a pro cyclist and can don a gilet while riding hands free, then your golden. Cyclists like me however, who prefer at least one hand on the hoods should occasionally pull up at the side of the road and take a moment to properly refuel. This also allows you to take in and appreciate the beautiful countryside you’re hopefully riding through.
I suspect there is a lot of clever thinking behind this product and my background in Chemistry and in the food and nutrition industry has meant I’ve thoroughly enjoyed discussing this topic.
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