All triathletes have been put on the spot before or after a workout looking for the right fuel or recovery snack. We might even be pressed to find something in a pinch to gobble down for in-workout fueling for long days. We don’t always have the luxury of being at home to raid the pantry or time to cook something up for a proper workout snack, be it before, during or after the workout. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be a workout day and you might find yourself with an angry gut wanting sustenance but you don’t want to raid the candy machine for crap food.
What’s a health conscious endurance athlete to do for those healthy on the go snacks? There’s a LOT of choices out there. ClIF bars, Kind bars, Picky bars and so many others you can’t count them on all of your fingers and toes. Beware that while some bars contain natural and healthy ingredients, moderation is key. If you’re snack bar is 700 calories and you’re wanting to maintain “race weight”, it may not be the best option for your 10am snack, or you will have to raid calories in other meals to balance your daily intake.
And what about protein? Exactly, what about it? Paleo, South Beach, Shakeology and so many other plans out there thrown into the faces of health minded triathletes. What you will find with most bars labeled protein is a high carb count to go with that. You have to be very careful of what you’re eating as there are very few products that come with high protein and few carbs.
In my eternal quest for the perfect protein bar I found Power Crunch (www.powercrunch.com). Well, rather they found me and offered an assortment of Power Crunch energy bars to try out for a review. After eating our fair share (all of them they sent me), I have a few thoughts I’d like to share.
Power Crunch has come out in a big way. They are pretty much a staple at any gym snack bar and can be found in most food chain stores. Health stores, gas stations and more all carry Power Crunch.
The wrappers are clean and appealing. They catch your eye, but aren’t obnoticus. One wish list would be something more eco-friendly than the standard foil wrappers, but that’s splitting hairs. The other catch is you may not find the flavor you are looking for as shelf space might be limited.
Form / Construction
When you open your Power Crunch, it’s a wafer based bar. It was actually refreshing to find a self proclaimed energy bar that wasn’t the consistency of a fudge bar. So many energy bars are dense and gritty and Power Crunch is not. It’s reminiscent of the vanilla wafer days as a kid, but a little healthier.
Sorry those that are lactose intolerant or allergic to peanuts. Most bars have both of those ingredients but some are gluten free, if you’re looking for that. If you’re into the science, you can read up on the ingredients of each bar to find one that’s right for you and read up on Power Crunch’s unique form of protein called “hydrolyzed whey protein.” I won’t dive into that here, but what I will draw attention to is the ratio of protein to carbs per bar and what the calorie content is.
I am always looking for low calories, high protein options for our endurance lifestyle and I'm very excited to see that Power Crunch in general carries 14/8 protein to carb ratio around 200 calories. Competitors can get to 22/30 ratio with 270 calories with 80 calories from fat. Do notice though that around 115 calories are from fat for Power Crunch depending on the type of bar. They are using stevia leaf extract for sweetening, but still carry a decent amount of fat content which could be a good fuel source to train your body to work from on long distance training. It all depend on your take of training and fueling methodologies.
Power Crunch bars are appealing. You open up the wrapper and find a delicious looking wafer bar either with either a small coating or completely covered bar of “glaze”. They look like they were made by someone who knows what they are doing and not someone in a garage with a chemistry set. When you open one up, you actually want to eat it.
Fit / Function
So how does it do as a daily snack or workout fuel source? I tried it all. It was a daily snack in the morning or afternoons. It was a pre-workout snack. It was a during-workout fuel source. It was a post-workout on the go snack. Power Crunch bars were super handy when you have a busy day of the “day job”, kids, family and trying to jam in training somewhere.
It was extremely filling, but if you’re on the go working out, you may not want that. It was light, but provided enough to satisfy the snack cravings during the day (we subscribe to 3 meals and 2 snacks per day).
All of the flavors were pretty good. The best were Cookies and Cream and Peanut Butter crunch. I'm not a huge fans of the mint chocolate, but someone out there may dig it. There’s something for everyone with 13 energy bar options.
The biggest highlight was eating an energy bar and not having the fudgy texture without the fudge taste. Some competitor bars are akin to eating cardboard with grit. Have you ever eaten an energy bar that seemed like someone took some sand and added dough to it? Not Power Crunch. That wafer snack you loved as a kid is back, and it’s healthy! My kids even loved them (but keep your hands off daddy’s workout snacks!). Overall I found Power Crunch to be satisfying as far as taste, texture, filling and supplying functional energy.
For a box of 12 bars, you will pay $24.99 from Power Crunch directly, plus shipping. Now, you didn’t read this here, but savvy internet shoppers can find it perhaps $10 less on other locations. You can also find them in local stores and forego shipping as well.
Using the savvy internet shopping route, energy bars in the relative same market space go about equal for a count of 12 such as Power Crunch. So, really you won’t pay any extra for Power crunch over the competitors. What you pay for is an alternative to the dense energy bars with high protein to carb ratios.
Flat out I loved Power Crunch. Maybe not all flavors, but I found a good 10 flavors that I could stock my pantry with and enjoy for years on end. They offer a wide variety and the wafer model is so much more appealing than the fudge density bars that are out there. Cost wise you really are not paying a premium to use Power Crunch over competitors, so it really only comes down to how you want your energy delivered.
Writer’s Note – Power Crunch sent me samples for this review.
Ryan Falkenrath is devoted family man balancing faith, family, Triathlon Coaching and racing. He is a certified USAT Level 1 Triathlon coach (www.SetThePaceTriathlon.com) and has formally raced endurance events since 2001 from 5k’s to Ironman distance races.
Ryan is racing Ironman Chattanooga in 2014 to raise funds for Ride to Give and Mended Little Hearts. You can follow his adventure on Facebook at Tri for a Hand Up, give to his Fundrazr campaign (), read more of his writing at Endurance Sports Examiner follow him on @TriJayhawkRyan or email him at Ryan.Falkenrath@SetThePaceMedia.com.