Nowadays there is no shortage of energy bars, protein bars, meal replacement bars, and more. So, what is the difference; and how do you know what is healthy vs. what is a disguised candy bar? The guide below is just a short list of the most popular types of bars and a few common brands. Remember real food is always best, but when traveling or in a rush, these can be a convenient solution.
These bars are predominately carbohydrate based because the idea is to give your body rapid carbs to increase your blood sugar and give you energy fast. Downside: They tend to be higher in sugar and cause blood sugar fluctuations if not careful. Use these bars during intense activities where immediate energy is required such as an Ironman triathlon or Spartan Beast race. Favorite choices: Lara bar, KIND bar
Protein is all the rage amongst body builders and other weight lifting sports. These bars can be sneaky because companies can take a candy bar and add some whey protein then call it a “healthy snack”. Be wary of these bars such as Gatorade or other Muscle bars which can be VERY high in sugar and other chemicals. My favorite brands are Quest bars, Rise and Epic bars. These tend to have the least amount of ingredients and are lowest in sugar.
Meal Replacement bars:
Just like the name sounds, these bars are higher in calories and macronutrients because they are meant to be eaten instead of a meal. These are ideal for hiking/backpacking or traveling in unknown places. Look for bars that have balanced ratio of protein/carbs/fat just like a meal would have. Some of my favorites here are: PROBAR, Perfect bar, ALOHA bar.
Eating healthy while doing sports or traveling can be a challenge. Most of the fast food available contains unhealthy ingredients: preservatives, refined sugar, additives, colorings and lots of soy, gluten and dairy.
Unfortunately, many people believe because they are “burning it off” that this somehow cancels out the nasty ingredients they are putting in their body. This simply is untrue. Eating food high in sugar, gluten and additives will negatively affect your body no matter how much exercise you are doing.
Always be mindful of what you put into your body. The best choice is to make your own energy bars when possible. When you need to grab a pre-made one, always look over the nutrition label carefully first. Have fun out there!