Whereas protein bars are meant for building muscle and bulking up, healthy energy bars are intended for people who need to maintain a higher level of energy over time and distance, such as athletes who undergo endurance training, power walkers, runners, bikers and swimmers. The best energy bars include both carbohydrates and protein because carbohydrates supply energy to muscles, while protein repairs those muscles. Healthy energy bars’ low-fat/low-fiber combination also makes them easier to digest and control hunger on longer runs and bike rides.
The best energy bars are low in sugar and fat, and higher in protein and carbohydrates, serving as energy-boosters before your workout, and muscle-builders after your workout. Healthy energy bars have the perfect amounts of both protein and carbohydrates for the very busy active person. Low-fat energy bars are better substitutes for a meal than random mindless snacking, preventing the hunger and subsequent binging so many of us face after skipping a meal. The best energy bars are those whose protein is sourced from eggs, brown rice, whey or casein.
Avoid energy bars made with the following ingredients:
Fractioned palm oil: A cheap oil used for its high heat stability — it’s bleached, filtered, melted, degummed and refined before being added to any product.
Maltodextrine: (corn): A cheap genetically modified sweetener.
MSG: a so-called flavor enhancer with potential side effects like facial pressure, headaches, nausea and chest pains.
Artificial sweeteners: (malitol, sucralose): their sweetness tricks the body into thinking it is getting some form of energy – which artificial sweeteners do not provide – but severe sugar cravings strike when the body’s needs for energy are left un-satisfied.
High-fructose corn syrup: corn syrup is a glucose-rich syrup made from corn starch. It does not naturally contain any fructose, which is a very sweet simple sugar made by many plants. HFCS is created through a process involving several stages and three distinct enzymes, producing a syrup with about 90% fructose, which is then blended with glucose into a fructose/glucose syrup. It is an inexpensive processed sweetener, thought to be worse for the body than normal white sugar.
Soy protein isolate: Essentially, processing of the soy bean at high temperatures strips its’ nutrients and manipulates the protein into a new chemical structure, making it a synthetically derived protein.
What should you be looking for in a healthy energy bar?
A natural protein source, such as nuts, seeds, quinoa, brown rice protein, and hemp, whey or casein protein
Natural sweeteners – brown rice syrup, honey, maple syrup and very little sugar
Fruits, berries, seeds, and nuts are all-natural antioxidants and great sources of protein, fiber, magnesium, and energy-boosting carbohydrates.
The best energy bars contain the fewest processed ingredients possible, a higher protein content, and lower amounts of sugar, fat and carbohydrates. Don’t buy a candy bar masquerading as an energy bar!
Healthy high-protein low-sugar energy bars serve a dual purpose: they energize you for your workout and help rebuild your muscles after your workout. It is also easy to keep track of the calories in healthy energy bars, making them the perfect before or after workout snack!