Following my review of the excellent Max’s Protein Bars (here), it’s time for my second go at doing two of my favourite things: Eating stuff and pretending to know what I’m talking about.
Artemis Energy Bars
Having recently moved to the Henley on Thames, I was coming across the name of Team Artemis, four young lady triathletes who are aiming to show that sporting excellence can be achieved whilst holding down a 9-5 grind.
The bars I’m about to review came about from a collaboration between Artemis Triathalon and the small North London based nutrition brand JackOat, a company seeking to make nutritionally balanced energy bars from natural products, with the almighty oat as the basis (Why are oats so amazing? Because this).
The results of this collaboration are the below:
Having been created with the needs of triathletes and other endurance athletes in mind, the bar’s focus is on fuelling, hydration, and stimulation. And this is I think what makes the bar interesting. Rather than just being a typical energy product focussing on fuelling the muscles, the bars also contain electrolytes and caffeine. I’ll come back to that, but first, the basics;
In the gob: Flavour and consistency
I was kindly given two bars to try, the Artemis Arabica Espresso and the Dark Mocha (although there’s loads of flavours). The first impression of both, as a result of their predominant makeup being oats, butter, syrup, and sugar, is that they taste like a good old flapjack. The kind your mum made you, or that you get down your local café. So, nothing too controversial.
The Artemis Arabica bar does have a slightly bitter and salty coffee twang however, which I really enjoy. This coffee flavour is much more emphasised in the Mocha bar, which nicely balances the sweetness of the syrup and chocolate, making it less a flapjack and more, ummm, something else. In both cases, being a coffee lover and not of a particularly sweet tooth when off the bike, it goes down well when not pedalling, and being a fan of slightly more savoury options when on the bike, it also goes down well when smashing out the watts (ahem…).
The texture and consistency is exactly as you’d expect from a flapjack; rich and buttery, nice and moist. However, it is a bit prone to crumbling. On the bike I tend to be a nibbler rather than wolfer, going for a mouthful or so every now and then, rather than mashing a whole bar down in one glorious hit. As such, the crumbliness is a bit of an issue, meaning that you may have something resembling a bowl of cereal in your pocket if you leave a half eaten bar in there for a bit.
In the packet: Ingredients and whatnot.
Every picture pains a thousand words they say, so here you go:
In the muscles (and brain): Nutritional claims and effects
This is where I am perhaps a little dubious, or perhaps to be kinder, think there’s room for improvement.
Each of the two bars I was given are very similar nutritionally, so let’s analyse the Arabica Espresso for sake of argument.
- Carbs: 24.2g / bar
- Protein: 3.0g / bar
- Fats: 11.8g / bar
- Electrolytes: 0.5g / bar
- Caffeine: 25mg /bar
For me, the most important measure in that lot is the first one. Carbs are king for long distance riding, and at 24g/bar, the Artemis is relatively lightweight. The carb content of most bars is at least 30g, with the majority being closer to 40g. If you’re looking to hit that golden fuelling rate of 60g/hour (the amount deemed optimal for maintaining energy levels over long endurance training and racing), you’re going to need a fair few of these in the back pocket. They’re pretty small, as you can see from the snap where I’m holding the bar, so that means you can carry a lot on a ride, but it does involve the faff of multiple openings of packets (which can be of difficulty for those with less souplesse)
The caffeine content of 25mg is pretty small. Caffeine contents of a cup of coffee or espresso massively varies depending on brew method, bean type etc so let’s forget that for now. However, a more reliable comparison is a caffeinated gel, which tends to contain over 50mg caffeine, with some boasting a mind-bending 150mg, so I’m unsure as to what effect the caffeine will have here.
Lastly the electrolytes. As you can see from the ingredients list, the electrolyte seems to come purely from the addition of salt. True, salt is key to keeping everything in balance, but does this contain the doses of the potassium and magnesium that tends to be a key focus of most electrolyte tablets on the market? I can’t help but feel that salt has been added to the bar for flavour’s sake and then bigged up for its nutritional and performance qualities.
TLDR: Summary and final thoughts
Rating: Categorie 2 / Neo Pro
- Tastes good – more or less a jazzed up coffee-ish flapjack – nothing too revolutionary
- A bit crumbly, and, given the relatively low carb content, you’re probably best taking it in one hit. But these negatives are tempered by the positive of it being nice and small.
- I may be a bit sceptical here, but I can’t help but feel that the marketing push of being an electrolyte and caffeine energy bar are a little incidental to the ingredients used to make the product.
So: They’re good. Nothing outstanding yet, but like a budding young neo pro, the prospects are good, and with a little nurture and focus on certain things, they could be a GC contender. But there’s work to do first.
N.B. Coz I’m sad, ratings are from Unclassified (i.e., totally rubbish) then through Categorie 4, to Hors Categorie (super awesome). Like mountains. Geddit?
Wanna get some? Go here: http://www.jackoatbar.com