Best energy bars for runners 2024 | Tested and reviewed

Our top picks for dialling in your long-run nutrition

The best energy bars collage

by Milo Wilson |
Updated on

Energy bars are a staple in any serious runner's diet. You'll certainly come across them when you first start training for long-distances because – and believe us when we say this – you can't get much further than a marathon length with energy gels alone.

Your body only has a finite amount of glycogen stores, which is where you house glucose before converting it into energy. And while gels are great for topping up quick carbs, there's only so much work your stomach can do before it needs some solid food – or else!

Energy bars are also a great choice for chowing down before an early morning run, as your fuel tank is undoubtedly nearing the big 'E'. A good bar is remarkably efficient, providing a quick way to consume lots of carbs that are simple, which means they're easier to burn. However, not every energy bar is created equal, so we've put together a selection of our favourites.

The best energy bars at a glance:

Testing the best energy bars for trail running
©LFTO

Best in test: Mountain Fuel Feel Good Bar – view on mountainfuel.co.uk

Best Value: OTE Anytime Bar – view on amazon.co.uk

Best low fat choice: TORQ Organic – view on amazon.co.uk

Best nutritional composition: Veloforte – view on amazon.co.uk

Dialling in your running nutrition is a specific and highly personal journey. There's a lot to learn about your preferences, both flavour-wise, and what the rest of your body responds well to. Hopefully, our detailed reviews will give you a good idea of which energy bar will be right for you.

The best energy bars in detail:

Best in test

Mountain fuel feel good energy bars in the dolomitesLFTO

You cannot take a bite out of a Feel Good bar without thinking of the word 'wholesome'. Using simple, natural ingredients, Mountain Fuel have created something really special here. They are, first and foremost, delicious.

It's easy enough to take the 'well it's just fuel at the end of the day' and ignore an energy bar's iffy flavour or texture. However, these bars are outstanding for their light and airy texture, which feels almost impossible to achieve if your goal is packing in loads of energy-dense carbs.

At 70g per bar, these are also on the larger side, and our testers enjoyed taking them on Sunday long runs and eating half a bar every hour or so. At a whopping 1337kJ, Feel Good bars deliver plenty of energy, and the use of flax seed as a base ingredient gives them a nice balance of carbs, fat, and protein.

Our favourite ingredient, though, is the soft brown sugar, which is brightly perceptible from the first bite. We noticed it right away, and the earthy sweetness combined excellently with orange and turmeric, which is our favourite flavour. Double ginger flavour is explosively spicy - you'll love it if you like ginger, but avoid if you don't!

*Nutritional info and ingredients listed are per 70g bar, taken from the orange and turmeric flavour. Some ingredients and amounts may vary.

Pros

  • Light and airy texture
  • Wholesome ingredients
  • Great taste
  • High carbohydrates

Cons

  • Not as many flavours as other brands

best value

OTE Anytime energy bars for runningLFTO

A close competitor in terms of flavour, with wider choice than Mountain Fuel as well. OTE Anytime bars have a classic chewy flapjack texture, making them perfect for any fussy eaters or if you prefer your energy bars to be more of a treat.

Being nut and gluten free, we admire OTE for also containing 100% natural ingredients. The bars are fruity and slightly syrupy, but luckily they aren't too rich (for us, anyway). We tried the mixed pack which offers 16 bars at £1.53 per count, which is good value considering their size and nutrient profile.

With just over 35 grams of carbs per bar, these offer a great energy boost when you need it. The flavours range from caramel and cocoa nibs to blueberry, and even lemon zest. They make a great sweet treat; the standout flavour for us was apple and cinnamon, which had a warm, autumnal profile, perfect for keeping us going on a cold or rainy run.

*Nutritional info and ingredients listed are per 62g bar, taken from the apple and cinnamon flavour. Some ingredients and amounts may vary.

Pros

  • Large range of flavours
  • Great value in bulk packs
  • Solid nutritional profile

Best for precise carb intake

TORQ Energy bars for runnersLFTO

If you're looking to dial in every aspect of your nutrition, from bars and gels to hydration, then you'll want to get familiar with TORQ. Their products are all designed to work together as a comprehensive fuelling system. "This bar", it says right here on the packaging, "represents 1 TORQ unit".

We'll spare you the full explanation of the TORQ fuelling system, but in sum, a TORQ unit is 30g of carbs, and you should aim to hit 2-3 units an hour while running. The idea being that you'll pick up the extra units from gels, chews, or even their hydration tabs which contain carbs as well.

Intricate systems aside, TORQ energy bars are pretty tasty, although their syrupy texture may be a little dense for some. Still, at only 45g per bar, they go down very easy. The standout flavour for us was sundried banana. It's subtle, light, and tastes more like actual bananas than most banana flavoured things – looking at you, McDonald's milkshakes.

Unique to these bars is their incredibly low fat content. At just 0.8g, TORQ's bars are almost pure carb, which is delivered fast thanks to their 2:1 glucose / fructose composition.

*Nutritional info and ingredients listed are per 45g bar, taken from the sundried banana flavour. Some ingredients and amounts may vary.

Pros

  • Fast-delivery carbs
  • Part of a larger nutrition system
  • Ultra low fat

Cons

  • Syrupy texture means you'll need water

Best nutritional composition

Veloforte classic energy barsLFTO

Of all the products in this roundup, it's the texture of Veloforte's energy bars that stands out the most. It's like a fudge brownie. Soft, smooth, we almost want to use the word velvety, but this isn't an advert with Audrey Hepburn.

These bars vary a lot in flavour and ingredients. Rather than the more standard approach of adjusting flavourings but maintaining the same base flapjack, each bar is almost its own dish. A thoughtful combination of nut, berry or fruit, and sometimes even vegetable (the Forza bar contains fennel – It's our favourite).

Veloforte's energy bars are the only nutrition products to have ever been awarded multiple Gold's at the Great Taste Awards. And it isn't hard to see why, their unique texture and balanced, hearty taste is a really welcome treat when you're looking for more fuel to burn.

Their ingredients are also impressively wholesome. Veloforte manage to achieve their signature texture without using maltodextrin, instead opting for some tapioca flour, which is especially easy to digest. Natural, tasty, and easy on the stomach, these bars our a top choice for us.

*Nutritional info and ingredients listed are per 62g bar, taken from the Classico flavour. Some ingredients and amounts may vary.

Pros

  • Wholesome, natural ingredients
  • Soft brownie-like texture
  • Varied range of flavours

Cons

  • Almost every bar contains nuts

Best for shorter runs

High 5 raspberry and white chocolate energy bars for runs and hikesLFTO

There's no better combination than white chocolate and raspberry – unless you're allergic to chocolate, in which case, we're sorry for bringing it up.

HIGH5's nutrition is normally very fruit-forward, and their energy bars are no exception. In fact, dried fruits account for 44% of the bar's composition, qualifying them as one of your 5-a-day. The use of real fruits also means these bars come with a bonus boost of vitamin B6.

While our favourite flavour ended up being white choc and raspberry, we also loved the scrumptious banana flavour, as well as the new caramel flavour for those with an extra sweet tooth. Mostly, these bars aren't too sweet, and the oats provide a soft, pleasant texture.

Light to carry and small enough to slip into pockets often reserved for gels, HIGH5 is a great choice for shorter runs where you don't want to stop and fish around in a hydration pack.

*Nutritional info and ingredients listed are per 55g bar, taken from the raspberry and white chocolate flavour. Some ingredients and amounts may vary.

Pros

  • Easy to chew on the move
  • Light on the stomach
  • One of your 5-a-day

Cons

  • Less fat and protein as other choices

Best if you're fussy on flavour

Enervit power crunchy energy barsLFTO

We have to admit, Evervit have made the list because we've got a real soft spot for the taste and texture of their cookie and oat bar. It's the closest we've ever gotten to a nutritious rice crispy square, and the light crunch is very satisfying too.

At 40g total, these little bars are the lightest of our picks, and they contain just 24g of carbohydrates – which isn't even a whole TORQ unit! Nonetheless, they're very airy and easy to eat, ideal if you want to top up the tank before it's run completely empty.

The Power Crunchy bars do have the most protein in this list, which is better for long-term energy rather than the quick energy that carbs can produce. We'd certainly recommend mixing these into your nutrition for a fun marshmallowy treat every now and then that will diversify your overall nutrient intake.

*Nutritional info and ingredients listed are per 40g bar, taken from the cookie and oat flakes flavour. Some ingredients and amounts may vary.

Pros

  • Delicious flavour
  • Unique crunchy texture
  • Light to carry

Cons

  • Low carb count

Deliciously Ella may just be one of the first British food writers to become a worldwide brand, bringing the concept of 'clean eating' and plant-based foods to the fore over a decade ago. These Fruit, Nut and Seed bars are an extension of this healthy, organic ethos. The cranberry and cashew bar tested is 100% plant-based (no animal products) and also contains pumpkin seeds and dried apricots.

Sounds good, right? We're always skeptical of the sugar content of shop-bought bars, so seeing that this bar contains 6.5g of sugar came as no surprise. Key to note though is the role of fruit sugars in energy bars such as these, this is where the calories and energy for running fuel comes from. Sure enough, a look at the ingredients list (see below) proves that all these sugars come from various fruit syrups and dried fruits.

In this modest 161kcal bar, there's also 13.9g carbohydrate (including the sugars), 7g fibre and 4.5g of protein to aid digestion and recovery. As energy bars go, it's not the most carb-packed option. Rather, it's a good pick for a balanced cereal bar that tastes good and has a healthy nutritional profile.

Of course, texture is subjective, but we really like the light, airy crunch that this bar delivers. It's a welcome departure from the dense, syrupy, oaty texture that most energy bars have. The taste is not overpoweringly sugary, or cranberry-filled, rather the seeds and nuts give a balanced flavour to the bar. It's currently sold in a pack of 12 from Amazon, which calculates as £1.50 per bar.

Pros

  • Good quality ingredients
  • 100% plant-based
  • Affordable
  • Nice crunchy texture (not oat based)

Cons

  • Not as many carbs as others
  • Fairly low-calorie

How we tested these energy bars

The best energy bars for our trail running trip in italy
©LFTO

We could've tested these bars on our usual rainy UK running routes, but that wouldn't have yielded many nice photos. So instead, our tester, Milo, sacrificed a decent chunk of his suitcase space and took an absolute arsenal of energy bars on a week-long trail running trip in the Dolomites.

Milo spent six days charging around the Italian mountains armed only with his trail running shoes, these energy bars, and a gallon of factor fifty suncream. That's a new brand of bar every day.

Having tested plenty of nutrition already, we're able to accurately gauge how much of an energy boost these bars provide, as well as looking at taste and texture of course. We've considered the nutritional composition and performance of each of these bars; these are reflected in our rating system.

Milo Wilson is a digital content writer for Live For The Outdoors. Put him outside and he's happy, much like a golden doodle. As a full-time gear tester, he's always getting stuck in and making sure we only recommend the best kit.

What to consider when choosing the best energy bar

Mountain fuel feel good energy bar
©LFTO

Taste and Flavour: It's especially important that you like the flavour of your energy bar, so refueling during runs is enjoyable. You don't want good nutrition to feel like a chore.

Texture and Chewiness: Some runners prefer soft and chewy bars, while others like ones with a crunch. Texture can impact the ease of consumption while on the trail.

Nutritional Composition: Examine the macronutrient profile, including carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. For quick energy, look for bars with higher carbs. For longer-lasting energy and recovery, bars with a balance of macros may be ideal.

Caloric Content: Consider the calorie content of the bar. Trail running, especially alpine trail running, often requires more calories. If you're an all-day adventurer, be sure you don't run down to empty.

Ingredient List: Check the ingredient list for any potential allergens or ingredients you prefer to avoid. Look for bars with natural, whole food ingredients when possible.

Fibre and Protein: Bars with a moderate amount of fibre and protein can help keep you feeling full and provide sustained energy during long runs. However, too much fibre may lead to digestive issues on the trail. You've got no choice but trial and error here – so good luck!

Added Sugars: Keep an eye on added sugars. High sugar content can lead to energy spikes and crashes. Opt for bars with minimal added sugars or those sweetened with natural sources.

Are energy bars healthy?

Yes, energy bars are a healthy and important part of your diet. That is, if you're exercising at a relatively high intensity, for a relatively long time. Your body runs like an engine, and it needs fuel to burn. Fully depleting your glycogen stores is not recommended, and burning out from exercises can incur a long recovery period. Keeping fuelled with energy bars is a great way to ensure that your running practice doesn't harm your health, and it speeds up your body's recovery immensely.

Is it OK to eat energy bars every day?

While energy bars can be consumed regularly, we'd certainly recommend that they aren't used to replace regular meals. Eating a balanced and staying hydrated is the most important part of running nutrition – it's the foundation. Once that's firm, you can absolutely work energy bars and gels into your exercise routine, and see better performances as a result.

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