You’ve seen them in nearly every snack aisle at the grocery store,
and sometimes in the health food section. There is no lack of options
when it comes to choosing an energy bar. Typically, these convenient snacks
are a dense source of energy-boosting carbohydrates and protein, making
them a natural choice for pre or post-workout snacking. But not all energy
bars are made equal and can contain hidden sugar and more calories than
you expect. So are they a healthy choice when you’re on the go?
Here are three questions to consider:
Is an energy bar a good choice?
Sometimes. If you're going to choose an energy bar, it's so important
to pick the right one at the right time. Often, energy bars are calorie
dense, packing upwards of 400 calories in a small package. It would take
an average person 45 minutes of high-impact aerobics to counter the intake.
If you’re looking for an easy snack but not exercising regularly,
an energy bar may be convenient but a healthier option like fruit or nuts
is a better choice. Consider an energy bar if you'll be exercising
within 30 minutes of eating it — this will help ensure that the
carbohydrates are used for fuel rather than getting stored as fat.
Do you need an energy bar as part of your workout routine?
If you’re looking to be ready quickly for an intense workout, or
have a packable, shelf stable option for a long hike, the convenience
of energy bars is undeniable. While an energy bar is never a suitable
replacement for a nutritious meal, if time and location are a factor,
toting one along can be a convenient way to ensure you are ready to recharge
But choosing the right one is equally as important for active individuals.
Not only are energy bars packed with the calories you need to sustain
your performance during high intensity workouts and training, they can
be high in sugar and fat. Reading the label before choosing an energy
bar is key to understanding whether or not it is a healthy option.
What ingredients are most important?
If you’re looking for weight loss, look for bars that have 200 calories
or less. The fewer calories you consume in your bar, the better it will
help you achieve your goals. Also, make sure the bar has at least 5 grams
of fiber—the more fiber in your energy bar, the better! Finally,
look at how many saturated fats are contained in each serving of this
product. Saturated fats can lead to high cholesterol levels which can
increase risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
If you’re looking to enhance your athletic performance or recharge
after a high intensity workout or long hike, be sure your energy bar isn’t
loaded with sugar. Sugary snacks will lead to spikes in your blood sugar
and be counter effective to keeping your energy levels high. Additionally,
if you're trying to build muscle mass or just want more protein in
general, look for bars with at least 10 grams of protein per serving.
This amount will help keep your muscles strong and aid in recovery after workouts.
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