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Pocket Energy for the Food-Sensitive Cyclist

By Sarah Bonner

food for cyclists with food sensitivitesTalk to a cyclist with a dairy intolerance and their fastest interval may be a mid-ride dash to the bushes after mistakenly eating a sports bar containing lactose. Food intolerances are quite common but it’s still hard to find pocket-friendly food that is gluten, dairy, or soy free that meets energy demands and tastes good.

Granola bars are often the first choice for cyclists because they contain a lot of energy in a small package. However, the majority of granola bars contain one or more of the big allergens. It can be discouraging after reading countless labels to even imagine finding a bar that you can eat much less enjoy. Many people opt for bananas, but even the food-sensitive deserve some variety. Perseverance, research, and many hours of eating in the saddle later I’ve picked three great bars to get you started whether you have an allergy or a sensitivity to soy, wheat, or dairy or just a preference to avoid them.  Please remember to always check the ingredients first before you buy. 

food for cyclists with food sensitivites

This Canadian company makes delicious soy-based granola bars that pack the most protein for the least calories. All of their bars are celiac and vegan friendly since they contain no gluten, casein, or dairy. Plus each bar is packed with 16g protein from non-GMO soy protein isolate. They have the look and feel of crunchy rice-cereal squares and they taste great too. They are my favourite for everyday training since they are low in sugar but filling. I especially love the Lemon Coconut flavour.

Taste of Nature: Another Canadian company that makes delicious bars that are wheat and dairy free with only trace amounts of soy (except the Go Ontario bar that contains oats). They are naturally sweetened with agave nectar and brown rice syrup, so they are packed with energy. While not rich in protein, they are fully organic with 12 different flavours, including Mediterranean Pistachio Passion. You won’t get bored.

food for cyclists with food sensitivitiesHammer: Hammer Ultimate Energy Bars are gluten, vegan, and soy free. Their chocolate chip varieties contain non-dairy organic dark chocolate that is Kosher-dairy-certified, so go ahead and try the Cashew Coconut Chocolate Chip. The bars contain small to moderate amounts of protein (4-10g) and they are sweetened with dates and agave nectar so they will keep you going strong.

Want a cheaper and easier option? Try making your own granola bars so you can control the ingredients or try snacking on potatoes. Not only are baked potatoes food-sensitive friendly, but they are cheap, simple, delicious, and perfect for longer training rides since they are lower in sugar. And they’re easy to make. Just microwave one potato (sweet or regular) or a few baby potatoes until they are cooked. Cut them into bite-sized chunks, sprinkle them with sea salt, and let them cool slightly. Wrap them individually in tin foil and they are pocket-ready.

food for cyclists with food sensitivites


Sarah Bonner


Sarah Bonner has lived and cycled in Canada, Africa, and Europe. Currently, she splits her time between the Netherlands and South Africa where she trains and competes at an amateur level. With a Masters in English and a Diploma in Sports Management, Sarah combines her love of writing and passion cycling to share honest advice and inspiring stories. Follow her at sarahkimbonner.wordpress.com

What’s your favourite snack on the bike? Scroll down to leave a comment.

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