Clif are a big name in nutrition, but that doesn't mean they don't do things differently.
Here at AMB we are a big fan of the Clif range of nutrition. From their tasty Clif bars, to the very snackable Clif Nut Butter range of bars, and of course their gels and Clif Shots. Whether you're racing, or packing efficiently for a big day out on the bike or an important training session, Clif have the option for you. To be honest, their Nut Butter bars have been consumed as a snack more times than I'd like to admit to.
I have tested the Clif range a couple of years ago, and even used their range almost exclusively for the Crocodile Trophy in 2017. Being able to mix it up between gels, bars and chews (the Clif Shots) in a multi-day event goes a long way towards keeping the right type of fuel for what you can stomach. What is palatable and what isn't is very different between day one and day six!
A key part of sports nutrition, and training, is recovery. And a lot has been written about recovery foods and drinks. We've had our resident dietician look at the merits of beer as a recovery drink, the role of carbohydrates and even supermarket sports foods. We even had Colin Levitch dig into how to optimise recovery - from stretching through to supplements. As whether you're training or not, if you recover better you can hit the trails fresher and sooner.
Clif's Builder Bar is designed to offering a large serving of protein and carbohydrates, in an easy to eat, transport and store package. The general concept for recovery after a harder ride or training session, is to eat and drink in the first 20-30 minute window. Optimising protein and carbohydrate is important - although rehydration is probably the number one concern.
The Clif Builder bars have 20g of protein and 29g of carbohydrate in each 68g bar. There is about 10g of fat, about 2g of fibre and some minerals and vitamins as well. Unlike other supplements, there aren't any extras thrown in to suit the supllement fans. No branch chain amino acids (BCAAs), L-glutamine or creatine.
What also stands out is that the Clif Builder bars are made with soy proteins, not animal products. They come in three flavours, Chocolate Mint, Chocolate and Chocolate Peanut Butter.
With one of each to sample, I opted to hold onto them for use after racing The 99 Bikes Epic in Grandchester, which is about 99km (I forgot it wasn't 87km) around Hidden Vale Adventure Park in Grandchester, Queensland. Jared Graves won in a time about an hour faster than I did. While I did have a couple of short sit downs to contemplate where my day went so wrong - I did not sit down for an hour!
So, was a Builder Bar my saviour for feeling better at the end of the day? For me, having something to eat right after a big event or big ride goes a long way to not feeling like rubbish later that day, or the following day. And to that end I polished one off while getting changed, and another while driving home a couple of hours later. Having two probably isn't ideal. But I was product testing.
Whether you feel real nutrition is better than convenience is up to you. I prefer real food in general, but the convenience of having one of these bars on hand at work after a pre-work ride, or in the car for when you finish, is real. Given there are almost 30g of carbohydrate in there, the bar isn't bad for before a ride either. If you're finishing work early and heading to the trails, having one of these on hand to make sure you can get a 2 hour ride in after work would be a smart plan.
I like that they are vegan, and I like the fact they don't have anything else in there like creatine, or other body building supplements. In my mind, it keeps the Clif Builder bars very much in line with the Clif range, and they are a product I'd happily use again. If I have the time and ability to store (or source) real food after a ride - I'll do that. But the Clif Builder bars are something I'll likely keep on hand for those times I'm in a rush.
Oh, and I still felt rubbish the day after the Epic - but that was probably on the cards anyway. At least I didn't wake up hungry!
From: Health food stores and selected supermarkets
RRP: About $5.50