ENERGY BARS! It is best to eat a variety of whole foods at each meal to provide a well-balanced diet. On days you need to grab something to prevent skipping a meal or snack, an “energy bar” may be a good alternative. Energy bars can also provide energy before and/or after a work out or participation in a sporting event. Remember to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or non-caffeinated beverages There are five different kinds of “energy bars”:  

Performance Bars: Frequently referred to as energy bars, they can be high in carbohydrates to maximize an aerobic workout. High carbohydrate bars (60-70% carbohydrate) are best eaten 45 minutes to one hour before aerobic exercise. The protein in the bar should contain a high quality source, such as casein, whey, soy, or egg.

Meal Replacement Bars: Designed to replace a meal within the caloric range of around 300 to 400 calories and 15 or more grams of protein from a quality source. Choose a bar that is 5 gm total fat and 3 gm saturated fat. Be sure to note that a single bar will not provide all the nutrients you need, so do not replace all of your meals with a meal replacement bar.

Snack Bars: Intended to be eaten between meals to satisfy your appetite until your next meal, but are not intended to be a meal replacement. These bars typically range from 100 calories for women up to 300 calories for men. Select a bar 5 gm total fat and 3 gm saturated fat. These bars can be combined with low-fat yogurt and a piece of fruit for a meal replacement.

Women’s Bars: Specially formulated to provide extra nutrients needed by most women such as calcium, folic acid, iron, and soy protein. Although designed for women, males may benefit from them as well.

Carbohydrate Controlled Bars: Designed for people with diabetes; ask your Diabetic Specialist which bar is best for you (Glucerna, Choice DM, or Extend).

Tips for choosing the healthiest energy bar:

  • Try to avoid bars with palm kernel oil or partially-hydrogenated fat in the first five ingredients on the label. Limit saturated fat to 3 grams or less per bar and no trans fat.
  • For weight control, choose a bar with at least 3 grams of fiber.
  • Women may want to choose a bar that contains at least 300 mg of calcium per serving to help meet their daily calcium needs.
  • Sugar should not be more than half the grams of carbohydrates in the bar. Try NOT to select a bar with high fructose corn syrup, glucose, or fructose as the first ingredient.