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Energy Bars

Tuesday, 4 November 2008 | Tags:

Energy bars are the latest convenience to help you power up for workouts, replace skipped meals and use as a snack. But just how healthy are they? We gathered up some bars to test their nutrition and taste.

The Basics

  • Energy bars, meant for athletes, are packed with carbs to provide necessary fuel for competitive types like marathoners and cyclists who burn lots of calories regularly.

  • Diet bars, also known as meal replacement bars, are a low calorie healthy snack.

  • Protein bars target the body builder, designed to build up muscle and lose fat while you’re training.

  • Some bars are also targeted specifically at women, enriched with iron, folic acid and calcium.

  • Try to choose bars with the most natural ingredients.

  • Energy bar in fitness are many. Here are some tips:

  • To build extra muscle, look for at least 15 grams of protein per bar.

  • To refuel after an hour or more of endurance sports, look for at least 35 grams of carbohydrates per bar.

  • For a snack, avoid carb-loaded bars, which will just raise your blood sugar. Go for protein-heavy bars instead.

  • Regardless of fitness goals, look for at least 3 grams of fibre per bar.

  • Energy bars can be hard on your digestive system because they are so calorie dense, so drink at least 500 ml of water with your bar.

Be Aware

  • Energy bars should not be used as a meal replacement.

  • Kids don’t need the same amount of nutrients as adults – give them cereal or granola bars instead of energy bars.

  • Check the number of calories in each bar. Some can exceed 400, which is more than some chocolate bars.

  • Some bars have up to 10 grams of fat!

  • Keep an eye out for excessive amounts of sodium.

TEST CRITERIA

We set up a taste test table with unlabeled samples of these energy bars:

  • Rebar
  • Power Bar
  • Clif Bar
  • Balance Bar
  • Luna Bar

Our tests and results include:

Taste Test

  • Our athlete testers liked the carb-heavy Power Bars, designed to fuel their competitive natures.

  • We liked the Luna Bar, with added nutrients and vitamins important for women’s health.

  • Over 80% of our testers preferred the Rebar, which is all fruit and veggie, so doesn’t have the protein-carb-fat balance of the other energy bars.

OUR TOP PICK

We had to go with the majority on this one: Rebar was the preferred taste test choice by a landslide. However, we feel it’s best used as a snack. If you’re doing serious training, look for something more balanced to help you refuel and replace essential nutrients.

   Thanks to Our Experts

  • Nutritionist Patricia Chuey
  • Olympic medallist Allison Sydor
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