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So many energy bars… so little time.

Energy bars these days come in a variety of flavors, ingredients, and qualities. Not one is the same as the next. Though I would always recommend whole foods over processed bars, and homemade bars over commercial ones, I understand that they are fast and convenient options for a meal on the go. So for those of you who like to grab an energy bar after a workout or as a meal replacement, just make sure to read the label and consider which would be best for you.

Here we help lay the groundwork so you can do a little less reading and a little more chewing when it comes time for those energy bars.

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The Protein Bar

Protein bars generally consist of about ⅓ protein, equivalent to roughly 15-25g. Good for those of us who want to gain some muscle after a workout or who want a filling snack when too busy to cook. Important to consider though is that sugar is often added to mask the potentially unpleasant taste of whey, casein or soy protein most often used in these bars. And unfortunately, this is often the undesirable type of refined sugar like high fructose corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, maltose or dextrose.

The Energy Bar

Energy bars usually consist of ⅔ carbohydrates. Because they include high amounts of refined carbohydrates with a high glycemic index like sugar, rice syrup, corn syrup, maltodextrin, dextrose, barley malt, or rice malt to give you a quick energy boost, energy bars are best for people who don’t have any kind of insulin resistance and need a short-term boost of energy for a marathon race. If you want a meal replacement bar to munch on while sitting at your desk, an energy bar won’t be it.

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How To Choose Wisely

Be Fat-Conscious. All bars, whether snack bars, health bars, sport bars, meal replacement bars or any other kind of energy-packed bar, are held together by fat. While fat in-and-of-itself isn’t something to avoid, many commercially manufactured bars contain cocoa butter, palm oil, partially hydrogenated oil, or other forms of saturated fat. Be aware of the saturated fat in these bars and if you do choose to eat one with high amounts, just be sure to avoid other sources of saturated fat throughout the rest of the day (or the next two or three days!).

Heed the Ingredients. Take a close look at the ingredients list and not just the big words on the front of the packaging. Pay careful attention to the types of ingredients you’re choosing to put in your body and make sure you’re choosing a bar that meets your needs based on your energy output. Even then, you may not have the most accurate information. The 2013 ConsumerLab review found that many bars contain more cholesterol, fat, calories or sugar than what the label claims.

Choose to make your own. Not only is making your own energy bars cheaper, but when you make your own, you’ll know exactly what the ingredients are. Since you will choose what you put into the bars, you can ensure that you are only eating the foods that are best for you. With ph360 and its new development ShaeTM, knowing what those foods are is simple and easy. And with a little bit of practice, making homemade bars can be simple and easy too.

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