Fit Or Fat: Nutrition and Exercise
Fueling Up With Energy Bars
Posting Date: 06/18/2001
Clif Bars, PowerBars, PR Bars -- what?s the hype? We?ve been hearing a little shuffle over the various energy bars and whether or not they provide the energy and even the sugar levels that they claim. Studies are suggesting that most companies have not done sufficient research to make any claims at all.
But who really cares? The top athletes might. It is important to them that they are getting the right fuel for their activity. For example, a marathoner needs a convenient source of energy to help sustain blood sugar levels over several hours. The package needs to be small and light, and the contents need to be easily digested and steady. In other words, the runner doesn?t want a sudden spike in energy and then a drop that leaves him or her feeling wiped out.
Okay, so this is important for the competitive athlete. But what about for the average fitness and weight loss enthusiast? Is an energy source that important? I don?t think so. Typically the average fitness person is not going for a length of time where refueling during the activity is necessary. What?s more important is rehydrating -- and possibly having a bit of sugar water (sports drink) during or after the workout to be sure that sugar levels aren?t completely depleted.
But let?s say you decide that an energy bar will help you with your performance. Or that an energy bar might be a good snack during the day to keep you energized. In fact energy bars are a wonderfully convenient source of energy. I keep one in my car for emergency situations and always have a few with me on hiking or skiing trips.
So, just how do the various bars compare? And for fun, let?s look at a couple other snacks to see how they fall in with the others.
(Nutrition information obtained from individual food packages)
Well, clearly the energy bars make a better snack! Not only do you get fewer total calories and fat grams, but the energy bars throw in some nutrients as well ? vitamin C and A, calcium and iron. Interesting to note, though, is that the total calories are almost identical for all the bars and snacks. So, don?t fool yourself into thinking that because you are eating an energy bar you are eating low calorie. As a matter of fact, the Fig Newton comes out looking pretty good.
What should you take from all of this? Read the labels. Don?t get fooled into thinking that an energy bar is "good for you" just because it is associated with exercise and health. Consider YOUR situation ? and then eat accordingly.