We like: Unique textures and flavors, all-natural ingredients without the artificial sweeteners.
We don’t like: Some of the products taste too sweet.
The bottom line: An up-and-coming company with a unique take on race nutrition and a knack for good flavors.
The current trend in cycling nutrition is away from dry energy bars and toward better textures, tastes, and ingredients. Thank goodness. Glukos one of the companies quietly answering that call with its line of energy bars, gels, drink mixes, and more. Of the many bundles of nutrition that has crossed our desks in recent months, Glukos stands out for a few key reasons.
First, Glukos is, according to its marketing materials, all-natural. There are few multi-syllabic chemical names in the ingredients lists, which is certainly a good start. Another peek at the ingredients reveals perhaps more sugar than we would like (as compared to similar products from other companies), though there’s plenty to be said for having the right kinds of sugar in an energy product. Glukos aims to deliver that right kind of sugar.
Second, on the subject of sugar, all of its products are Glucose-based, hence the moniker. According to its website, Glukos offers more immediate energy because it can be partially absorbed into the bloodstream immediately through your mouth rather than having to work its way through the digestive system, like sucrose and fructose, before it offers energy benefits (Here’s a good explanation of the difference between sucrose, fructose, and glucose).
Third, its flavors and textures are quite different from others on the market, and they’re above par for sure. Not exceptional — exceptional is reserved for stuff you cook in your kitchen — but in the world of race nutrition, we’ll call it much better than average. The energy bars in particular are notable for their soft, unique texture and flavors we actually enjoyed. Of course, this is all subject to personal preference.
Glukos has a wide range of food offerings from chews to powders and bars, and not all of them are winners (we weren’t crazy about their energy gel, which has the taste and consistency of Kool-Aid). But there are enough notable products in the line that we were won over. Here are a few of our favorites.
In terms of texture and flavor, the gummies aren’t much different from other chews on the market. There’s no caffeine or artificial sweeteners, though, and if we’re comparing these to another companys’ chews that have a long list of un-pronounceable ingredients, we’d choose the all-natural option every time. Most importantly, they were easy on the stomach.
Could we quantify how quickly the energy hit us after eating the gels? We’re perhaps not that in-tune with our bodies, unfortunately, but what we did notice was a consistency in energy: Rather than spiking and crashing, we just felt good — that consistent, even feeling that doesn’t disappear suddenly. We weren’t reaching for another gel 20 minutes later.
Glukos initially got our attention with its energy bars. The texture in particular is quite different from other bars on the market: It’s soft and chewy, almost like biting into a fudge brownie. At first we didn’t like it, especially when sampling it around the office. But on a ride, it’s easy to stomach and swallow, which has often been a problem with dry, tough bars. There was none of that brick in the stomach feeling, either.
The chocolate bar resembles a brownie in flavor as well as texture. It was our favorite flavor, aside from the discontinued coconut cashew variety. Lemon was probably our least-favorite flavor, and the texture was slightly grainier than the other bars, but it was nice to bite in and recognize actual food in there — bits of lemon are scattered throughout the bar, breaking up the soft texture and adding a punch of flavor.
These are gold just before the start of a race. You can put them in your water bottle and let them dissolve, but we prefer to chew them. If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, you’ll recognize the powdery texture and flavor as that of Smarties candy. It’s sweet, but it goes down quick and easy. It certainly felt like the pick-me-up hit us quicker by chewing the tablet rather than drinking it diluted in water, though it’s hard to quantify whether this is true or not without a real scientific study (Glukos has done some research of their own, which you can read about here). The tablets offer an alternative to bars, chews, and gels and gives the boost we want without having to put something in our stomachs immediately before punching the gas.