Hi Kelli, I eat a lot of protein bars for energy and nutrition. Is there a certain bar that you recommend over the others?
To answer your question, I’m going to explain why I believe “whole-food bars,” such as “LARA” and “KIND” bars (mock-KIND bar recipe found right here), are good for daily nutrition or long-endurance events, and why others are better for more regular training. As an athlete, it’s crucial to understand when to eat what in terms in Daily Nutrition and Training Nutrition (as discussed in my FREE article “Daily vs. Training Nutrition @ www.apexnutritionllc.com), this matters most if you are really striving to improve in training. Otherwise, you may mistakenly eat foods that your body quickly turns into sugar and then stores as fat instead of healthy, whole foods in Daily Nutrition (Clif Bar for breakfast). Or, you may eat foods for Training Nutrition that will still be setting in your stomach, providing no energy to your cells, long after you’ve parked your bike or running shoes and hit the shower.
Take a look at my mock-KIND bar recipe, and you’ll see that this bar is made up of whole foods that have not been refined in any way. Sure, it still has somewhat quick carbs from honey and dried fruit, but even the digestion of these will be inhibited due to the fats, proteins, and fiber in the bars (contrary to the marketing of trail mix, nuts are not a good source of quick energy). These bars are perfect for daily nutrition, as a snacks hours before riding or during a long ride, or even Recovery if you’re not planning another activity with 12-18 hours. LARA bars will likely have slightly faster digestion since they are mechanically broken down in a food processor and if used on a long ride, would be much easier to eat on the bike than the KIND bars. And, of course, all of this is also subject to individual digestion, finickiness (is that a word?) or your gut, and taste preference.
On the other hand, there are sports nutrition bars. Take a look at a Powerbar. You will not see “whole” foods in it. No visible nuts. No chunks of fruit. The ingredients have been refined, disassembled, and otherwise broken down for fast digestion. Exactly what you need when you’re riding, running, etc; exactly what you don’t need when you’re sitting at your desk. Same with Clif Bars. They use decent ingredients, but again, broken down for fast digestion. To fuel your adventure, and nourish your body, choose quick foods for Training, and slow ones for Living. You’ll get the energy you need without the stomach cramps you don’t. Perfect.
Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.