It's after work and you want to go to the gym, but you're feeling rather hungry. You realize if you go home and make something quick, you may take a seat on the couch and not have the motivation to get up and go. So you decide to head to the corner gas station or convenience store and pick up an energy bar.
While this may seem like the smart decision at the time, it may not be your best option when it comes to nutrition and feeling your best before, during and after your workout. You just need to know what to look for.
What to Avoid In an Energy Bar
if you're trying to get real, lasting energy to fuel your workout, there are certain ingredients that may seem like they're getting you the results you want, but could actually impact you in a negative way:
High Calories – Many of the bars on the market today can contain more than 500 calories. Also, be sure to check the nutrition facts as some bars actually contain two servings. The suggested calorie amount to give you the proper energy is around 250 calories.
Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – Many energy bars actually contain more sugar then a typical candy bar (averaging 30 g per bar). All that sugar will certainly wake you up, sending your blood sugar spiking, but it'll also trigger a crash later on. Try to find a bar contains under 14 g of sugar or less.
Trans Fats – Trans fats stay in your body and aren't as easily processed into energy which can lead to weight gain.
High Fat Content – An energy bar high in saturated fat (more than 3 g) is equivalent to junk food.
Artificial Ingredient -- Simple rule of thumb: If you read a label and aren't too sure what an ingredient is, it's probably not good for you.
Sucralose – Some companies use this artificial sweetener to keep the sugar content low. In reality, sucralose isn't broken down by the body and therefore may leave you worse off.
Being on the lookout for these ingredients can help you choose a bar that suits your needs and your fitness goals.
Healthful Ingredients to Check For
Now that you know what to avoid when shopping around for an energy bar, here are some ingredients you should make sure are in your bar:
Natural Ingredients – The three most common ingredients in a quality energy bar are whole grains, nuts/seeds and dried fruit. Whole grains are a healthy source of carbs and fiber which help to keep you full. Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of protein and fiber. Full of vitamins and minerals, dried fruit sweetens the bar so additional sugar isn't needed.
Carbohydrates -- The high-grade carbs in bars provide an endurance boost during a workout. Afterwards, they help replenish muscle energy.
Protein -- Much more then 15 g per bar and the amount won't be properly utilized and will go to waste. It's true most bodies require 50 or more grams of protein per day for optimal health, however your body can only digest so much at a certain time and discards the rest. Whether it's whey, soy, casein or egg white protein, it's needed to enable your body to repair muscle fiber.
Fiber – Fiber is crucial in helping maintain a healthy weight and digestive regularity and lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease. At least 3 g of fiber per bar is recommended.
Picking a protein bar with these ingredients provides you with the energy you need to get through your workout and the nutrients your body needs to repair itself and build lean muscle mass.
Make Your Own
Want more control over what goes into your energy bar? Try creating one yourself! Here's a very simple recipe so you can make your own energy bar at home. This bar will be around 200 calories, 13 g of sugar, 6 g of protein and 3 g of fiber. The protein amount will very depending on what variety of protein powder you use.
1 cup peanut butter (raw and organic when possible)
3 tbsp protein powder (any flavor your like)
5/8 cup honey
3 cups dry, uncooked oatmeal
Combine the peanut butter and honey in a large nonstick pot and warm over low heat until runny and mixed.
Mix in the oatmeal and protein powder and stir until nicely combined.
Remove the mixture from the heat and press into a 9 x 9 inch pan and let cool
Slice into 16 bars and package in sandwich bags for convenience.
If you're crashing after work and need that extra boost, explore the variety of energy bars eVitamins has to offer!
Garden of Life fucoPROTEIN Chocolate Macadamia Nut Crunch Why you may like this product? Not only are these bars
nutritious, but they can help
you achieve your ideal weight
thanks to the addition of
fucoxanthin, a brown seaweed
extract that supports a
healthy metabolism. Each bar
is 210 calories with 14 g of
protein and made from all
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