Energy bars can provide any runner with the quick hit of calories and nutrients that they need during or after workouts. Many of the best bars not only provide the runner with quickly absorbed forms of carbohydrates but also with the sodium and calcium that runners need to avoid cramping.
Of course, there are also a lot of energy bars that are nothing more than glorified candy bars, so the athlete has to be careful which ones they choose. To help all of our readers distinguish good energy bars from the not-so-good ones, we’ve decided to review some of them. The result is a list of the best energy bars available.
Quick Summary of Energy Bars
Clif Athlete-Series Energy Bloks Chews
Unlike ordinary energy bars, Clif Bloks come in cubes that each have 33-calories each. Each serving is 3-pieces and provides 100 calories. Each serving also provides 50mg of sodium, 12-grams of carbohydrates and 18mg of potassium. Because of their modular design, each packet can be enjoyed all at once, or the runner can consume only the serving size–depending on their needs. The only thing we didn’t like about this product was that the easy-to-open package wasn’t as easy to open as we would’ve liked, especially while running or biking.
One of the things that we did like about this product was that it gives the person consuming it not only a much-needed dose of carbs, calories, and other nutrients, but it also provided the user with a hit of caffeine. This product comes in a variety of exciting flavors, too. The consumer can choose between citrus, black cherry, ginger ale, mountain berry, strawberry, watermelon, tropical punch or orange. Each bar is made from a combination of tapioca syrup, cane sugar, maltodextrin, pectin, citrus acid, potassium citrate, sea salt, sunflower oil, natural flavors, and carnauba wax.
- It provides a good amount of sodium and potassium.
- They are easy-to-chew
- The packaging can be difficult to navigate.
Kind Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt Bars
Best Gluten-Free Energy Bar
Even though Kind bars aren’t specifically marketed as energy bars, they do have a lot of the nutrients that energy snacks have. For example, each bar is packed with 180 calories, 5 grams of sugar, and 140mg of sodium. What allows them to provide energy consistently over time is that they’re packed with 6-grams of protein. That makes this gluten-free, non-GMO and Kosher snack that some people are going to reach for when they want a hit of energy. Each bar provides the user with 4% of their daily calcium needs, 4% of the potassium needs, and 6% of their iron needs.
Although these aren’t specifically suitable for athletes, due mainly to it containing palm kernel oil, an ingredient that helps to raise the saturated level in these bars to 3-grams per serving, we do think that for most people it’s a healthier alternative to candy bars. These bars are made with almonds, peanuts, chicory root fiber, honey, sugar, glucose syrup, rice flour, unsweetened chocolate, alkalized cocoa, sea salt, natural flavors, soy lecithin, and cocoa butter. These are ingredients that the user can see and pronounce.
- They taste great.
- They are gluten-free.
- They are made with palm-kernel oil.
Pure Protein Energy Bars
Best High-Protein Energy Bar
Even though these protein bars don’t provide the sugar and carbohydrates that a person would expect from an energy bar, they do provide a good amount of protein. Each bar serves up approximately 200 calories, 20-grams of protein, 110mg of sodium, and 18-grams of carbohydrates. These bars provide the user with approximately 28% of their daily protein requirement, 8% of their daily iron requirement and 15% of their daily calcium requirement. Each serving provides the user with approximately 8% of their dietary fiber, too.
What are the ingredients in each of these bars? Each bar contains a special protein blend, soy crisps, glycerin, maltodextrin, canola oil, cocoa powder, peanut flow, soy lecithin, almond butter, and other ingredients. These bars are available in flavors that include chewy chocolate chip, chocolate deluxe, and chocolate peanut butter.
These protein bars will give the user the micronutrients and the protein they need for their physical workouts. They also make a good snack for people to eat after a busy day at work. No matter how they’re used, the consumer is sure to like their flavor and their convenient size.
- It provides sustainable energy through protein.
- Each bar provides 15% of the user’s calcium requirements.
- They contain sugar alcohol and palm kernel oil.
Larabar Fruit & Nut Bar
Best Vegan Energy Bar
A lot of athletes are fed up with energy bars that are filled with fillers, artificial flavors, and preservatives. Many of them want a wholesome product. And athletes who are trying to live a Vegan lifestyle also find it difficult to find an energy bar that suits their needs. Fortunately, this fruit and nut bar from Larabar solves both of these problems. That’s because these energy bars are only made from two ingredients and that is cashews and dates.
Yes, that’s correct. There are only two ingredients in these bars–one fruit and one nut. That means that this product is not only free of artificial flavors and preservatives but is also gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, dairy-free and made with non-GMO ingredients. It’s a tasty bar as well. All of this makes these the preferred snack of many athletes who are looking for a little bit of boost to get them over their workout hump but doesn’t load them up with sugar and artificial ingredients.
All of this makes these energy bars well worth trying out. The only real downside that we can think of about eating these bars is that they’re a little bit more expensive than ordinary energy bars. Not by a whole lot, but by enough that most people will notice. Other than that flaw, it’s a great tasting bar that’s wholesome and satisfying.
- This is a vegan energy bar.
- It has a great taste.
- They cost more than other types of energy bars.
Kellogg’s Special-K Meal Replacement Bars
Best Meal Replacement Energy Bar
Even though we found that these Special K meal replacement bars to be a little bit drier than what we would’ve liked, we did find them to be quite tasty and to be packed with many of the nutrients we look for in an energy bar. Each bar delivers 12-grams of protein, 6-grams of fat, and 4-grams of fiber. It also supplies the user with small amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals. And all of this is found in a 180-calorie bar.
These energy bars are made using high-quality ingredients that include soy protein, peanut butter, whole grain oats, cocoa, and wheat starch. Each bar supplies the user with 21-grams of carbohydrates as well, so it can be eaten for a quick burst of energy after workouts or as a meal replacement. These are bars that many people are going to want to keep in their cupboards for an after-work or after workout snack.
- They’re a good combination of fiber and protein.
- They have a nice taste to them.
- These bars are a little bit dry.
Choosing The Best Energy Bars
Since the term energy bar doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, we decided to give our readers a nice selection of some of the best ones available, so they can choose one for themselves. For everyone else who might be wondering what we consider a good energy bar and which ones should be avoided, we’ve decided to go ahead and give our readers some guidelines that will enable them to make the distinction themselves.
What Should Energy Bars Contain?
The first question that has to be answered when a person is looking for an energy bar is what that energy bar should contain. And the answer to that question differs from person to person. For example, a runner might need an energy bar with more carbohydrates than a powerlifter, who is more than likely looking for something that provides more of a protein punch. It all depends on what the consumer is looking to get out of their energy bar. Below are some of the things that consumers should consider when buying an energy bar as an after a workout or after-work snack.
The first thing that the consumer should look at is the number of carbohydrates and the source of those carbohydrates. As a general rule, most runners are going to want to choose an energy bar that has approximately 40-grams of carbohydrates per serving, if not more. Runners should look for energy bars that derive their carbs from dried fruits, brown rice, or other quality sources. They should avoid carbs that are sourced from refined sugar—although most forms of pure cane sugar and/or honey are suitable for runners.
If the person looking for an energy bar isn’t a runner, however, they don’t need that many carbohydrates and consuming that much may result in increased weight gain. If the consumer is looking to use the energy bar as a meal replacement, then they can choose a bar that has 20-25 grams of carbohydrates—otherwise, they should choose a bar that has 10-20 grams of carbs instead.
Fiber & Protein
The consumer is also going to want to make sure that their energy bar has a good combination of fiber and protein. Fiber is necessary to keep the digestive system running properly, and protein not only provides the raw materials for muscle regeneration but can also be a long-term source of energy. However, with that being said, runners should try to avoid energy bars that have more protein than carbs in them. That’s because when large amounts of protein are burned by the body, it can create byproducts that overly tax the kidneys.
Calcium, Potassium & Sodium
Calcium and potassium are minerals that are useful for everyone, particularly runners. Sodium is also necessary for runners as they lose a lot of it in their sweat. However, if the consumer isn’t doing heavy physical activities such as running, then they may want to skip energy bars that have a significant amount of sodium in them.
What Ingredients Should Be Avoided?
Now that we’ve concerned ourselves with the nutrients that should be found in an energy bar, it’s time to switch gears and talk about some of the ingredients that consumers might want to avoid when buying their next energy bar. The following ingredients are ones that most people are going to want to avoid when buying these products, so let’s take a quick look at them.
One of the ingredients that should be avoided in an energy bar is sugar-alcohol. That’s because this ingredient causes water to be absorbed in the intestinal tract. This can result in a very unpleasant condition known as loose bowels. Some of the names of the sugar alcohols commonly found in energy bars include glycerol, xylitol, and sorbitol.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
High fructose corn syrup has been linked to insulin resistance and weight gain, so it should be avoided by just about everyone. It’s also a cheap product that’s used in the place of other high-quality sugars, so if the consumer sees it on an ingredient label, then they might want to avoid the product.
Palm Kernel Oil
Palm Kernel Oil is another ingredient that consumers should try to avoid. Although this product is often used to stabilize chocolates so that they don’t melt, they can also add a great deal of saturated fat to the energy bar. Another thing that makes palm kernel oil an undesirable ingredient is that the places that grow the palms to make the oil often deforest the environment and displace animal populations to do so.