Energy bars or fitness bars — this category of nutrition is one with a lot of variety and options! You can choose bars with natural sugars, bars with protein, or bars loaded with nuts and other goodies. They can be sweet, savory, or nearly everything in between. I think the common factor among all of the bars is that they’re typically calorie dense and have long shelf lives. This means you can throw a bar in your gym bag, purse, or car and have a quick snack on hand for the times you are unable to eat a full meal.
I like RXBars for their protein content, simple ingredients, and great flavor. When I’m hungry, protein helps me feel satisfied and fuels my body between meals. The protein comes from egg whites, which can make the bar stick to your teeth as you eat it — it’s a minor inconvenience that’s worth it for a great bar that will give your body the nutrients it needs now. An RXBar typically has 210 calories, 12 g of protein, 22 g carbohydrate, 10 g fat, and the ingredients are very simple — egg whites, a nut of some sort (cashews, almonds, and/or peanuts), and dates. The flavors are bright and appetizing. I love the berry and blueberry flavors! Picky Bars are similarly made of simple ingredients, but are a little lighter at 180 calories.
Clif Bars have been a go-to for many years in our workout snack drawer. They come in some great flavors like chocolate chip peanut crunch and some yummy seasonal flavors. With 260 calories, 10 g of protein, 43 g carbohydrates, and 5 g fat, it is a substantial snack primarily comprised of rolled oats and brown rice syrup.
Snickers bars are a fantastic method of refueling. Don’t discount them because they’re not branded as a fitness/health product! They taste amazing and are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. They contain 215 calories, 3 g of protein, 28 g carbohydrates and 11 g fat, and simple sugars that hit your bloodstream quickly for a shot of energy.
Epic bars are an interesting option and really great if you get sick of sugary snacks. Epic bars are a softer version of beef jerky and are mainly dried meat, fruit, and nuts. They vary considerably in nutritional content depending upon the type of meat you select, but are generally closer to 130 calories, with 6-13 g of protein, 6-13 g fat, and a much lower carbohydrate content than the other options.
Finally, it is important not to overlook real food as a fueling option. A simple banana generally contains 110 calories, 1 g of protein, 30 g carbohydrates and no fat. It may be harder to transport and it’ll spoil faster, but real, whole food is an excellent option to keep in mind. Oranges and apples are other durable foods easy to eat on the go with a similar nutritional profile, but with lower calories and carbohydrates than a banana. Fruit contains the added benefit of additional fiber, nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that energy bars may lack.
For especially lengthy events like ultramarathons or an all day hike, it is great to mix it up with all of these energy bars and fueling options. Each one provides different benefits and the variety in flavors and textures is nice to have. None of the bars we’ve talked about here will crumble as you eat, which can make eating on the go easier.
And, for those of you in a cold climate, nearly all of these energy bars (except the Snickers – no one wants melty chocolate!!) can become so hard as to be nearly inedible if they get cold — keep ‘em warm in an inner pocket if you can!