Exercise and the Brain

Exercise and the Brain

Most of us know that exercise is good for our bodies, but how and why physical activity is so great for our brains has long been a mystery. A recent study with mice shows that vigorous exercise constructively changes how some genes work inside (mice’s) brains. This might be positive news for us too because our brains may be affected the same way by strenuous exercise. For some time, scientists have known that the brains of physically active animals and humans are not the same as the brains of those who are inactive. Experiments with animals have demonstrated that exercise stimulates the creation of many new cells in the hippocampus, a part of the brain vital to memory and learning.

Researchers have also recently learned that exercise triggers both animals’ and people’s production of a protein called brain-deprived neurotropic factor, or B.D.N.F., which some scientists have christened “Miracle-Gro” for your brain. B.D.N.F. bolsters the growth and health of neurons and strengthens the synapses connecting those neurons, boosting your brain’s capabilities. Lower levels of B.D.N.F. are connected to cognitive decline in both humans

and animals. Intense exercise (for at least an hour) pushes your brain to make B.D.N.F., which enriches your thinking and reasoning powers, and advances your ability to learn and retain knowledge. Scientists have long known how incredibly beneficial exercise is for our bodies, but are just beginning to understand how profoundly exercise affects our brain health and cognitive abilities throughout our lifetimes.

Circle Bars is here for the hard-working Mom whose energy flags during her busy days, the student who sometimes needs to run from school to work without enough time (in-between) to prepare a healthy meal, and the active woman who needs to have energy in her pocket during her run, swim, or bike ride. Circle Bars provides a natural, low-fat, low-carb energy-on-the-run nutrition bar that gives you that boost when you need it most, and keeps you energized until you have the time for a healthy meal.

Circle Bars helps women keep on moving, while keeping hunger and time out of the equation – two issues that drive us to binge on fast food and high-calorie, nutritionally- bankrupt snacks. The one thing we want to encourage more than anything is that you eat nutritious meals and

beneficial snacks too, so you can remain energetic, active and healthy!

Energy Bars for Cycling

Energy Bars for Cycling

Circle Bars are great cycling energy bars for women – portable, nutritious energy boosters that fuel your bike ride with healthy all-natural ingredients. Women are now more active than ever before; between home, work and working out, women also have less time than ever before. At Circle bars we have made a commitment to our customers: Only the highest quality and most natural ingredients go into our energy bars!

During longer, more intense cycling trips you may need more carbohydrates to re-fuel and maintain your energy, and this is where energy bars come into the picture. The best energy bars supply the carbohydrates you need from natural sources, like fruits and berries, wild rice and honey. When you’re working so hard you need an energy bar that works just as hard for you!

The body breaks down the carbohydrates in our food and converts them into glucose, a source of energy for our cells. Glucose that is not needed to fuel our energy is stored in our liver and muscles as glycogen. Glycogen supplies our energy needs when our bodies aren’t getting enough carbohydrates (glucose) from food. During moderate to intense exercise we need between 30 – 60 grams of carbohydrates an hour, depending on the intensity of our workouts.

Circle Bars’ is a low sugar, gluten-free energy bar whose carbohydrates come from natural high-quality ingredients: wild rice, honey, wild blueberries, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and gooseberries. We believe that Canadian women deserve the best ingredients in their energy bars, so we have dedicated ourselves to crafting the most wholesome, nutritious energy bars in Canada. Because we know that Canadian women don’t want to settle for second best!

A Low Sugar Energy Bar

A Low Sugar Energy Bar

Circle Bars are naturally sweetened gluten-free energy bars. They are the ideal power snack for women on the go, boosting and maintaining energy levels. Circle Bars are naturally sweetened with honey and berries, so active women don’t have to worry about an energy bar that’s booby-trapped with processed or refined sugars. Processed (refined) sugar, (high fructose) corn syrup and sugar alcohols have no place in a healthy energy bar; in fact, they defeat the purpose of eating an energy bar.

Sugar is addictive: when you eat something sweet your taste buds send a signal to your brain, releasing dopamine. In the meantime, your stomach dilutes sugar with digestive juices and ferries it to the small intestine, where enzymes break it down into two kinds of molecules: glucose and fructose. These molecules have a devastating effect on your body:

• Glucose leaks through the walls of the small intestine, prompting your pancreas to produce insulin, a hormone that extracts glucose from your blood and sends it to your cells for energy. A high-sugar snack floods your body with glucose, leading you to a quick high, which your brain combats by releasing serotonin, sparking a sugar crash.

• Insulin prohibits the production of leptin, a hormone that signals your brain that you’re full; the higher your insulin levels, the hungrier you will feel. The brain directs the ‘starving’ body to store glucose as stomach fat.

• Insulin floods the brain as well, leading it to produce less dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate our movement and emotional responses; it also allows us to recognize and strive for rewards. Lower levels of dopamine may cause addictive behaviors; dopamine deficiency has also been linked to Parkinson’s disease.

• Finally, if you continue eating sugary snacks and foods your pancreas pumps out so much insulin that your cells develop insulin resistance, leaving you with excess glucose in your blood and pre-diabetes. Eventually, you may reach the point of no return: full-blown diabetes.

• As for fructose, it is also absorbed through your small intestine and then expelled into the blood stream, which transports fructose directly to your liver.

• Your liver tries to process fructose into energy, but a surplus of fructose triggers the growth of fat pods throughout the liver, leading to fatty liver disease.

• Excess fructose also lowers HDL, or “good” cholesterol, stimulating the production of triglycerides, a type of fat that travels from the liver to the arteries, raising your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

• At this point your liver sends a request for more insulin, taxing your pancreas and possibly triggering mass inflammation, which can lead to a myriad of diseases, including obesity and diabetes.

It’s vital that a healthy energy bar remains free of processed sugar, corn syrup and sugar alcohols, otherwise eating it does you more harm than good

What’s the Big Deal about Wild Rice?

What’s the Big Deal about Wild Rice?

Circle Bars Canada has created a gluten-free energy bar whose main source of protein is organic wild rice! Here at Circle Bars we’re pretty excited about launching our new (organic) wild rice based energy bars, and today we want to tell you why we feel this way. Wild rice is a marvel of nature, growing in the pure streams and rivers of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada. We want to introduce you to some of the incredible benefits of wild rice:


  • Wild rice is protein rich, with double the protein in brown rice.
  • Wild rice is antioxidant rich – it has up to 30 times more antioxidants than white rice, protecting you from many illnesses and aging too.
  • Wild rice has a high-fiber content, which helps lower cholesterol.
  • Wild rice is gluten free.
  • Wild rice is sodium free.
  • Wild rice is bursting with vitamins A, C, E, B6, Niacin, Riboflavin and Folate–just to name a few – increasing your immunity, protecting you from many diseases, and boosting your energy levels.
  • Wild rice is loaded with the minerals phosphorus and zinc – both essential for optimal heart, nerve, and muscle function. The magnesium in wild rice is a huge energy booster, with more health benefits than we can cover now!
  • Wild rice is far lower carbohydrate and calorie-wise than any other other kind of rice.
  • Wild rice can be safely eaten by diabetics because it is actually a kind of wild grass – organic and unrefined.
  • Wild rice’s high fiber and high protein content keeps you fuller longer, making weight management easier.


Wild rice has a unique, delicious and nutty flavour, and we would love to dig deeper into all of its incredible benefits – but we don’t want to over-whelm you! Wild rice is so nutrient dense that we can’t do it justice in one article, so we’ll explore all the awesome properties of Canadian wild rice in future articles. For now, we just want to introduce you to our revolutionary new energy bar – an organic, low-fat, low-carbohydrate, high-protein, naturally sweetened nutritional energy bar that has been created by Canadian women, for Canadian women!



Energy bars were originally invented as a portable and convenient source of energy for astronauts in space. Not long afterwards, energy bars arrived on the sports scene, where they were adopted by endurance athletes to fuel exhausting marathons and intense bike races. These days, energy or nutrition bars are ubiquitous, touted as substitutes for meals or portable sources of energy/nutrition for busy, active people and folks who work out. There are so many different types of energy bars in the market today – high-protein bars, high-carbohydrate bars, breakfast bars, wholegrain bars, diet bars – even energy bars tailored specifically to men or women.

How much protein do we really need?

Most Americans, male of female, are consuming far more protein than they actually need. A 125-pund woman needs about 42 grams of protein a day, while a 175-pound man needs 58 grams of protein a day. Body size is the main reason in the difference between men and women’s protein requirements. Only 15% of a healthy person’s daily caloric requirements should come from protein. In fact, men and women of all sizes will do very well with around 60 grams of protein, although athletes who work out daily for lengthy periods of time need about 20% more than that, which is the equivalent of 8 ounces of chicken and 6 ounces of canned tuna. In other words, most of us don’t really need a massive protein boost every day in the form of a protein or energy bar. Too much protein in our diet is stored as fat, the same as carbohydrates and fats; excess protein also causes calcium loss in urine, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and kidney stones.

How about carbohydrates?                            

Men and women need the same amount of carbohydrates, but men need more fiber than women. Between 45% and 65% of your daily caloric intake should come from carbohydrates – the majority of these should be complex carbohydrates, which are found in high-fiber and unrefined foods, like bran cereal, whole grain products, brown rice, beans, and many fruits and vegetables. Complex carbohydrates are digested slowly, raising blood sugar gradually and keeping you full longer. People who eat lots of complex carbohydrates have higher levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol and lower rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. High-fiber diets lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol, and reduce the risk of hemorrhoids, diverticulitis and colon cancers. Sugar consumption should never exceed 60 grams a day, or 10% of your daily diet.


The fats that are bad for men are also bad for women; fat consumption for both men and women should stay under 30% to 35% of their daily calories, and definitely lower than 25% if they are dealing with weight problems. To implement these dietary guidelines, reduce saturated fat, which comes from animal products: chicken skin, whole fat dairy products, palm oil, kernel oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter. More importantly, reduce consumption of trans fatty acids – partially hydrogenated vegetable oils found in margarine, fried foods and most commercially baked goods and snacks. Increase monounsaturated fats, like olive oil and the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. Alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), an omega-3 found in canola oil and flaxseed oil, is good for the heart, but in contrast to fish oil, which might reduce the risk of prostate cancer, ALA might be bad for the prostate. ALA also seems to confer protection against strokes for both men and women.


A low-fat, low-sugar energy bar with with a healthy nutritional composition is a terrific alternative for someone who misses meals and eats junk food and sweets instead, but beware of replacing those meals with high-fat, high-sugar energy bars. Energy bars are certainly convenient sources of energy, especially for extremely busy active people or athletes, but the nutritional composition of an energy bar should conform to your health needs. Look at the sugar and fat content in an energy bar, and how many calories it contains. After all, to burn 200 calories you have to: walk for 60 minutes at a medium pace, or box (bag punching) for 20 minutes, or hike for 35 minutes, or jog on a treadmill for 30 minutes. Even the healthiest energy bar cannot replace healthy food, but energy or nutrition bars are not intended as meal replacements; they are meant to temporarily boost your energy during strenuous workouts or long busy, active days. Healthy energy bars are also great when you don’t have other convenient healthy alternatives and your energy levels drop: they are designed to help you replace unhealthy snacks with healthy ones.