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Beef Jerky, the New Energy Food for Endurance Athletes?

The other day I went to REI looking for a birthday gift. I was about to check out, but decided to peruse their energy food section before leaving the store. They usually have a pretty wide variety of new and interesting bars, gels and other such foods that I use for nutrition while training. I like seeing what new items are out there and this time the one new thing that caught my eye was a whole section of beef jerky bars. I have heard a lot of endurance athletes over the years complain about the lack of savory options when selecting an energy bar or gel. There are fake images of bacon flavored Gu that pop up every now and again, but could beef jerky be the savory option some people have been hoping for?


I decided I at least had to try one of these bars, and so I bought one. The packaging on this Tanka Bar seemed to indicate that it was all natural and free of nitrates so it sounded like it could be a pretty good nutrition option. On their website they claimed, “The Tanka Bar delivers a slow, powerful protein punch by mixing two primary ingredients: low-fat, high-energy American buffalo meat and tasty cranberries.” Generally, I am a big fan of honey stinger products which are pretty much the polar opposite of beef jerky, but why not try something new.


A couple of days later I tossed this bar into my pocket as I headed out the door for my Sunday ride. About three quarters of the way through the ride I pulled it out and had a bite or two. It was definitely savory, smoky and had a very distinctive flavor to it. However, after eating a bite or two I can definitively say that beef jerky bars will not be my energy food of choice going forward. It was a bit too harsh and salty for my taste. I feel like I need a more neutral tasting food when out on a hard ride or run. I will say that the added sodium and slow digesting protein could be good for nutrition on long hot rides during the summer. I however, will be sticking with my fruit flavored gummies and stinger waffles for now.