A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across this Twitter party sponsored by a company called Energy Bits. I joined because the topic was about running. Before I knew it, I was being offered the chance to test out their product. I quickly checked out their website to find out what the heck Energy Bits were. Although I am always skeptical of any product touting magical health claims, I was intrigued and decided to give them a try.
By the next week I had this package in the mail.
I received 2 packages of sample Energy Bits and a bunch of material on the benefits of the bits. Full disclosure, I did receive the samples for free and agreed to do a review. However, 100% of these opinions are my own. So let’s get into my review.
But First, What Are Energy Bits?
Energy bits are tablets of 100% Spirulina Algae. Yes algae… as in grows in lakes algae. (Though in the case of Energy Bits the algae is grown under strict conditions) They are a very high source of B vitamins, protein, iron and omega-3’s. Each tablet is only 1 calorie and a full serving (30 tablets) provides 5 g protein. Energy Bits state that the tabs are bits of food not a supplement.
What are the Claims?
When it comes to Energy Bits the health claims found on their website and promotional material are abundant including:
- Improved Energy
- Improved Mind Clarity
- Increased Stamina & Endurance
- Reduced Fatigue
- Reduced Hunger
- Helps Speed Athletic Recovery
- Reduce Inflammation
- Weight Loss
- Helps Build Muscle
What is the Evidence?
When I read a list of claims such as that my RD senses immediately begin tingling. While the Energy Bits Company did provide me with a lot of supporting material on why their product is so great I noticed one major thing was missing…evidence. I immediately went onto Twitter and asked the company what evidence they had to support the health claims. I got an almost immediate response and within 10 minutes I had reference material emailed to me. I have to say, their customer service is outstanding!
From what I can find, the claims made by Energy Bits are based on associations rather than hard evidence. What do I mean by that? Here is an example: They make a claim on improved energy based on the fact that the algae has high concentration of B vitamins which are known to be used in energy production in the body. However, there has only been one randomized placebo controlled study on spirulina algae and fatigue and the results were not statistically significant.
A second example: the claim on reduced hunger and weight loss is based on the high protein content of the tabs; as protein is known to increase satiety (fullness) and reduce cravings. However, once again the only published double blind placebo controlled trial showed no statistically significant evidence to support spirulina algae for weight loss.
Now, while I understand the logic and associations behind the claims and feel they very well may be true. The evidence to support it does not exist. Or at the very least, I did not find it.
What really impressed me about the algae though is there is a lot of preliminary evidence to suggest some therapeutic benefits including reduction in cholesterol, diabetes control, cancer prevention and enhanced immunity. Now again, there is not enough evidence yet to fully support these claims but there is definitely some promising research. In this regard I have to give major credit to the Energy Bits company for not using any of these health claims in their marketing as so many other companies would.
My Experience With Energy Bits:
This is what one serving of energy bits looks like:
The smell of these bits is not appetizing. They smell like a fish bowl that hasn’t been cleaned in a year. The company suggests that it is best to swallow the tabs rather than chew. You can chew them if you wish. However, they warn that they are an “acquired” taste and that your teeth may temporarily turn green.
When I tried them I decided to go the swallowing route. I was really concerned that they would taste really bad even when swallowing whole but I was pleasantly surprised to find no taste. I was really afraid of the after effects thinking these would be similar to Omega-3 supplements’ “fish burps” but I did not find any such side effects. I did get brave enough to try a nibble out of one tablet and I have to say, I’m not so sure one could ever “acquire” a taste for that.
To get the taste out of my mouth, I reached for my favourite type of bits of energy…
The first time I took a package of bits I was at work. It was about 11:00 in the morning, I had already had my 10:00 snack and was starving! It was one of those times where you just want to eat whatever you can find because your stomach feels like it’s eating itself. I figured this was the perfect time to try out the Energy Bits and see how they work in regards to reducing hunger. I took the package with about 500mL water. And honestly, it satisfied my craving completely. I no longer felt hungry. In fact, I didn’t eat my lunch until about 12:30.
The second time that I took energy bits was last weekend. I was feeling just completely drained of energy. It was a day where my mind felt foggy and I felt like my eyes wouldn’t stay open despite multiple cups of coffee. Once again I took the package of Energy Bits with 500mL of water. Was I jumping up and down with energy afterwards? No, but I do think my energy levels improved and I certainly noticed a difference in my mental clarity. That foggy feeling disappeared.
So while I stated earlier that the evidence to support some of the claims is not rock solid, my personal experience with the Energy Bits was very positive. Of course the scientific part of me wonders if truly the Energy Bits were responsible or if it was a placebo effect. But regardless, I achieved the desired result.
- I love that Energy Bits are 100% Algae. They do not contain any fillers or additives. They are not some magic pill claiming to fit 100 fruits and vegetables into a tablet, it is algae – plain and simple.
- They contain a complete protein that is readily absorbable by the body.
- They are a good source of highly bio-available iron (body absorbs easily; similar as with iron found in meat), which I love for women and especially women runners who need more iron.
- The company Energy Bits has been absolutely fantastic. Their customer service is truly unparalleled.
The not so good:
- Price – these tablets do not come cheap. A 1000 tablet package (33 servings) costs $115, so about $3.50 per serving.
- The vitamin B12 in spirulina algae is not bio-active which is particularly important for vegetarians/vegans who are considering this product as a source of Vitamin B 12
- I dislike that the company states the bits can be used as a meal replacement, 30 calories does not qualify as a meal replacement.
I think overall Energy Bits are a good product. They have some really great aspects and have a great nutritional profile. I know there are many athletes that swear by the use of Energy Bits for their performance. There is no noted adverse side effects; though as always, if you are considering taking them you should check with your doctor first. There are a couple of medications that the algae has interactions with.
Are they for me? Sadly no. If you’ve followed my blog you know that I am TERRIBLE at taking vitamins. The biggest reason for this is that I hate taking pills. I have a huge mental block when it comes to swallowing pills. So while I managed to get the tablets down for my two test runs and had positive results, I just couldn’t see myself taking them on a regular basis.
Have you ever tried Energy Bits or other sources of Spirulina Algae?