I admit to enjoying alliterations.
This is post is for runners and non-runners alike. Personally, I remember a time when snack bars were always on my grocery list, they were a staple right up there with eggs, and fruit.
When I started running I “justified” this habit even more: “I need them for fuel”.
But eventually the annoying “HalfRD” side of me started weighing in a lot more frequently – and chiding “do you really?” “what about that fruit, and those eggs?” “Why aren’t you reading the ingredient’s list?” “20 g of sugar….seriously?”
My HalfRD side can be SO annoying. But, she’s almost always right (see what I did there?!) I knew I wasn’t making the BEST decision I could be making, but the CONVENIENCE, the EASE, the FIBER, the PROTEIN. Each argument above could be matched with: but the COST, the amount of SUGAR, the amount of SWEETENER, and so on.
This was also around the time I got much more into prepping my meals and foods throughout the week, and I found some easy recipes to make energy bars/balls at home. You can find my Peanut Butter Energy Balls and my DIY Larabars on my blog 😉
Here are some tips on choosing a better snack/energy bar.
Look at the nutrition facts panel:
- Aim for 10 g of sugar or less per 150 calories
- Aim for about 5 g of protein for every 100 calories
Read the ingredients list:
- Sugar and its many names have starring roles in many snack/energy bars
- Remember: brown rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, and agave are all sweeteners
- Opt for bars that are sweetened because fruit has been added – a great example is Larabars- not because sugar was added
- This is a personal criteria of mine – I don’t like the bars with a crap ton of ingredients- the Mojo bars are about as lengthy as I get.
Up your fiber game:
- Look for bars that have at least 3 g of fiber
- Looks for bars that have fruits, nuts, and seeds in them as ingredients to get fiber.
**Note, if you’re a running and looking to incorporate bars into long runs – make sure you can tolerate fiber well before embarking on a long run with a new bar. For those that want a bar on a long run – I do suggest Larabars as being a decent place to start.
For energy bars ingredients like eggs, nuts & nut butters are really fantastic and natural ways of adding in some protein. Technically whey protein is a natural byproduct of dairy, but for some it can cause cramping, bloating, and GI upset.
H3RD’s Quick Guide to Snack Bars
I for one am picky about snack/energy bars. I like them to taste good, and I prefer ones with minimal ingredients. (All opinions below are my own):
- Clif Mojo Bars
- Epic Bars
These three bars are the ones I go to most for varying reasons, the Epic bars are essentially a beef jerky bar – but I think they are super tasty, and they are really high in protein.
The Mojo bars tend to feel like a treat – I typically try to reserve them for afternoons when I am leaving work and know I’ll be running or at the gym within an hour or two.
The Larabars (store bought or homemade) are really great to kind of pick at – at least for me. Even though they are small – they take me a bit to eat, so.
Remember > bars can be a really helpful way to get a snack in – but they are not the end all be all. It is much easier to find a crappy snack bar, than a quality one. On top of that – the ones that are better quality tend to cost more (which is why I made my own larabars). Personally snack bars are something I keep on hand for the days, that I know will be insanely busy – they are merely a tool in my arsenal – they are not my arsenal.