Our busy lives take energy! We need energy to work, we need energy to perform activities, heck we even need energy for socializing. As you can seem a lot of our energy becomes depleted by outside sources.
Sometimes, we don’t have the time to sit down and have a nutritious meal and so we reach for an energy bar to give us that added kick to make it through the day.
Energy bars are easy to carry around and are often packed with vitamins and nutrients our bodies require. They come in all different shapes and sizes, and provide different nutrients depending on the individual need. For example, if you were about to exercise or just finished a workout, you would need an energy bar higher in calories to provide energy or restore the energy lost. There are women-only bars catering to the needs that women have. These may have more iron and fewer calories. There’s a bar out there for anyone and everyone, so finding the right one for your needs is ideal.
Choosing an energy bar
Before you head out to the grocery store and start picking out energy bars based on packaging and flavors, consider some of these tips which can help you find the perfect energy bar for your needs:
If you have any food intolerances, read the labels to see if they contain common food allergens like gluten or lactose.
- Choose a bar that’s low in fat (less than 5 grams).
- Check the fiber content (ideal is between 3 to 5 grams).
- If you’re looking to lose weight, choose a low calorie energy bar (less than 180 calories).
- If you’re looking for a meal-replacement bar, stick to a bar that contains 15 grams or more of protein, fiber and at least 35 percent of your daily fortified minerals and nutrients. These bars will also have more fat and carbohydrates so be mindful of that as well.
- Energy bars should always be supplemented with real food like small fruit.
Now that you have some considerations to keep in mind, let’s examine some facts and myths about energy bars.
Energy bars: Fact versus myth
We’re sure you’ve heard many things about energy bars, protein bars, breakfast bars and meal-replacement bars, but sometimes with too much buzz, the truth becomes hidden. Here are some facts you need to know about energy bars:
Energy bars often come with processed and synthetic ingredients. Many food items on the shelves are made with processed or synthetic ingredients, so unfortunately energy bars are not immune to this. The good news is the food market is moving toward more organic, natural ingredients. This means finding natural energy bars made without processed and synthetic ingredients is easier than ever so you don’t have to worry about putting unnecessary chemicals into your body.
Low to zero sugar is best. Nowadays, everyone is trying to eliminate sugar from their diet as best they can. This is not a bad trend, but when it comes to energy bars, opting for zero or low sugar isn’t always the best. To get the energy bar to the lowest amount of sugar, companies will use sugar alcohols and sucralose. These are not only genetically modified, but sucralose originally was intended as a pesticide so do you really want to ingest that?
Your body requires sugar to function, so as long as the sugar is natural – coming from the fruits in the energy bar – that sugar can be used to produce energy. By reading the ingredients it can help you determine any added sugars.
Chocolate energy bars are no better than candy. What’s wrong with enjoying some chocolate while getting some energy? The idea that chocolate as an ingredient makes something junk food is false.
While milk chocolate doesn’t offer any health benefits, if an energy bar uses organic or dark chocolate, you can receive added benefits while enjoying a sweeter taste. Once again, read the ingredients to determine the source of the chocolate to make an informed decision.
Soy protein bars are best. False. When looking at protein bars, soy is commonly used but better than soy protein is whey isolate. Whey isolate protein can help with muscle recovery so this is a good choice for people who work out. However, soy is becoming a more common allergen and is mostly genetically modified, so another alternative is pea protein. Both whey isolate and pea protein contain essential amino acids to promote muscle repair and they are better tolerated in comparison to soy.
If you eat a bar you don’t need a meal. There are meal-replacement bars but an energy bar or protein bar cannot be used as a substitute to meals on a regular basis. If you’re consuming the same bar every day, you could be missing out on other nutrients. So although having a meal-replacement bar is useful every now and then, you shouldn’t replace wholesome food with an energy bar.
Homemade energy bar recipes
If you want to avoid added sugars, processed and synthetic ingredients – and truly want a bar that suits your needs – homemade energy bars are a great route to take. Here are some homemade energy bar recipes you can try!
High-protein Chickpea Butterscotch Snack Bar
19 ounce can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups of cooked garbanzo beans)
1 cup salt-free natural peanut butter (or use any nut butter of choice, or sesame seed butter for nut allergies)
2 cups figs (pre-soak them for an hour in water, then drain)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of mesquite powder (optional: this is what gives these bars their “butterscotch” flavor; however, if you don’t have this on-hand or find it too difficult to locate, the bars are still delicious without it)
¼ teaspoon of sea salt
1 ½ cups uncontaminated rolled oats (optional: replace with ground flax seeds)
1 cup of natural, flavor-less vegan protein powder (optional: use any protein powder of choice, or none at all)
1 cup cocoa nibs or chocolate chips (optional)
1. In a food processor, combine the garbanzo beans, peanut butter, figs, vanilla extract, mesquite powder, salt and protein powder, until smooth.
2. Add in the oats and the cocoa nibs or chocolate chips; pulse in gradually just to distribute evenly throughout the mixture, until it becomes a thick dough. Add in more oats if the batter is too runny.
3. Oil a 13×9 pan and press mixture into it.
4. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-18 minutes.
5. Allow them to cool, and then cut into bars. Wrap each individual bar in a layer of wax paper and then saran wrap. Then place all of the wrapped bars into a large ziplock bag, for convenient storage in the fridge/freezer.
6. Refridgerate for up to five days, or freeze them for up to two months. Or make them last even longer by dehydrating them.
Greatest Granola Bar Recipe
makes 8-10 bars
2 ripe bananas
½ cup nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew), preferably all natural
½ cup roughly chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachio, cashew, pecan, macadamia)
¼ cup seeds (sunflower, sesame, poppy, chia)
1 cup rolled oats
¼ cup dried, unsweetened fruit (cranberry, cherry, apricots, papaya, mango, raisin, strawberry, blueberry)
¼ cup chocolate chips or cacao nibs (optional)
½ teaspoon cinnamon, optional
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8×8 in. baking pan with parchment.
2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas with the back of a fork. Stir in the nut butter until well combined.
3. Add the oats, chopped nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate, cinnamon, and coconut.
4. Stir until everything is well combined. The batter will be very, very wet, but it will still bake
5. Spread the batter evenly into your prepared baking pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The top should be slightly browned and give a little when pressed.
6. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars; this is important. Store wrapped tightly in a container or in the refrigerator.
These homemade energy bar recipes are easy and can be modified to meet your specific needs. Now that you know what to look out for when choosing an energy bar, as well as common myths about energy bars, you can become a more conscious shopper and reign supreme when it comes to fuelling your body properly.
By now you may have noticed you simply don’t have the same get-up-and-go like you once had in your youth. In fact, you’re probably yawning just reading this (it’s OK, I won’t take offense!)…Lack of energy is something that seems to plague us all as we become busier with our lives.
If you want all-day energy, try this…
The colder, shorter days of winter can leave you feeling like you have less get-up-and-go than usual – even if you’re doing all the right things. You’re clocking eight hours of sleep, eating right, and drinking lots of water to keep you well-hydrated.