If you understand what's behind the packaging, energy bars may have a role in fueling you and on and off the court.
Energy bars seem like the perfect solution to fuel your active lifestyle, but are they worth it? That depends on your expectations. If you understand what’s behind the fancy packaging and make an informed decision, energy bars may have a role in fueling you on and off the court.
It is true—energy bars do give you energy, but don’t be fooled. Despite what their packaging might imply, there is nothing magical inside these compact bars. Energy for your body comes from food. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are the fuel your body uses to get through the day and to boost your performance on the court. These macronutrients supply energy to your body whether they come as a bar, a sandwich, or a piece of fruit— your body doesn’t care how they are packaged.
Not always nutritious
Because they are marketed as "energy", many people automatically believe that these bars are also nutritious. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Many bars are essentially candy packaged with a healthy-looking label. For example, one bar—described on its package as a "nutrition bar for lasting energy"—listed sugar (in one form or another) four separate times in the ingredient list and contained the same amount of sugar (in grams) as a Twix bar. Another "nutrition" bar contained partially hydrogenated oil, which is an alternative name for the very unhealthy trans fat.
While there are some good choices, it is easy to be fooled. Don’t assume energy bars are exempt from label reading just because the package makes healthy claims. Always check the ingredient list to be sure you know what’s inside.
There is no denying it—energy bars are a convenient source of calories. They can be stored in a desk drawer or thrown in a backpack and can be an effortless mid-day or pre/post workout snack option. Having convenient calories like these on hand is an easy way to stave off hunger and keep you on track toward your nutrition goals. Bars are also a good option if you are looking for something easy to eat during a workout.
Keep in mind that bars are not a great option to replace a meal on a regular basis; real food is a better choice. Also, bars can be expensive compared to other snack choices.
Buy with a purpose
If you know what you’re buying and why you’re choosing it, these portable snacks can be a helpful way to fuel your active lifestyle. But don’t buy blindly. Always read the nutrition label. And if you don’t find an option you like at the store, consider making your own at home. Here is one recipe
recommended by Sports Nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD.