Energy bars come in all different tastes, textures, and types. Although many base energy bars around taste, there are other aspects of the nutrition and purpose of each bar that should help you make the decision of what bar to use. Different ingredients produce different results depending upon the sport, lifestyle or activity. Understanding the correct energy bar with the right ingredients for your goals will help you succeed.
Types of Energy Bars
Similar to endurance bars, activity bars focus on prolonging energy. However, they tend to focus on all-day activities that require both energy and some meal-replacement nutritional features. These bars often focus on organic ingredients and have crunchier, more granola, textures. Clif Bar is an example of a well known Activity Bar.
Meal Replacement Bars
Meal replacement bars are designed more for dieting and weight loss rather than a quick burst of energy needed for endurance events. They are meant to provide the complete nutrition of a lunch or breakfast and to fill you up. Nutribars, ProBars, and Balance bars are examples of energy bars designed to replace, rather than supplement, a meal. Each of these bars provides calories from carbs, proteins and fats in proportions that sate hunger. Each bar is typically over 300 calories, has at least 25 grams of protein and at least 30 grams of carbs and typically has 50% RDI of vitamins and minerals.
Some energy bars, such as protein bars, are designed to help you gain muscle mass. These bars attempt to cram as much protein as possible for recovery from strenuous workouts or backpacking trips with high-mile days. Pure Protein bars and most Met-Rx bars fit into this category.
Endurance bars are primarily designed to be eaten before a long workout. They typically have a higher proportion of carbohydrates to provide complex, non-sugary energy that is digested over a long period of time. The most well-known endurance bars include PowerBar and Honey Stinger Bars.
Organic Bars focus largely on providing energy in as natural a method as possible. Organic bars reject artificial sweeteners and inserted protein, preferring to have a compact load of simple ingredients. Larabar is one such bar, with an ingredient list that typically includes only a few items and never adds protein, gluten or soy.
Steps to Compare Energy Bars
Carbohydrates are the main fuel source for the muscles and brain. Carbohydrates are pure energy and get used up by your activity. If you are participating in other strenuous activities, you will want an energy bar in the high carbohydrate range, around 40 grams.
This important nutrient provides the high amount of energy you need while exercising and keeps you feeling full longer. Energy bars that are high in protein are great snacks when hiking or partaking other activities that aren’t extremely intense. Nine grams of protein is high, but you can easily find ones well over 20.
Calories are units of energy that will result in sustained energy. All calories are not equal in how they are metabolized by your body. For in-depth knowledge about the types of calories and determining what is best for you, read this article.
Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a few different bars, the price may be a deciding factor in your final decision. Some are expensive, so if you are interested in saving money compare nutritional content to cost.
Fortunately the world of Energy Bars has greatly advanced in the last decade affording you with a very large selection to choose from. Once you have narrowed down your goals, try a cross section of bars to determine those that taste the best to you.