Getting all your daily nutrients takes effort. There are temptations literally on every corner and sometimes you don’t have the time to look for something healthy to eat. Maybe you just need a quick boost before a workout or you’re looking for an easy snack to have on hand for when you’re on the go. Energy and protein bars could be the perfect solution, but there are so many to choose from. Just like the rest of the things you eat, you should be reading the nutrition label and making sure you know what you’re putting in your body. So what should you be looking for in the ideal energy bar?
Low sugar content
Finding an energy bar with zero grams of sugar is pretty much impossible—but that’s not even necessary. A few grams isn’t going to kill you, and it will actually give you the boost of energy you need right before a workout. Bars that contain fruit are going to have a bit of naturally occurring sugars so look for ones that are under 10g and avoid protein bars that are packed with over 20g per bar (CLIF bars are particularly bad—the Chocolate Brownie ones have 22g of sugar). Bars that are high in carbohydrates, especially sugar, are meant for high endurance athletes, not someone who sits at a desk all day and squeezes in a 45 minute work out three times a week.
High in fibre
If you’re looking for a bar that will keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer, the fibre content is what you should be looking at. Fibre is beneficial for digestive health and a high-fibre diet is linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Whole grains, seeds and fruit are great sources of fibre that are found in many energy bars. Fiber One makes bars that put fibre first and avoid carbohydrates that will just give you a burst of energy and cause you to crash hard not long after. The more fibre, the longer you’ll feel full—and your digestive system will thank you.
Lots of protein
If a meal replacement is what you’re look for, protein is what you need. Whey and soy protein is found in a lot of bars, but you can also find ones with pea and plant or seed-based proteins. GoRaw makes a bar out of sprouted watermelon seeds that manages to pack 12g of protein. Eating a protein bar after a work out will help your muscles recover and give you the energy you need to go on with your day.
Read the ingredients on the side of your energy bar. Does the list start with things like brown rice syrup, high fructose corn syrup and sugar alcohols like erythritol, mannitol and sorbitol? That means the majority of your bar is not made with natural ingredients. Look for bars with a short, no-nonsense ingredient list. The entire brand strategy of RXbars revolves around their ingredient list which generally includes nothing more than egg whites, nuts, figs and dates. KIND bars use mostly seeds, nuts and dried fruit. The general rule of thumb is if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, it’s probably not good for you and you should avoid it.