So Many Bars, So Little Time – Which One Do I Want?
They’re portable, packed with nutrition, inexpensive and taste great. So it’s no wonder nutritional bars remain extremely popular with athletes, dieters and people on the go. With so many different kinds of bars to choose from, we’ve put together this article to help you zero in on the best bar for you.
Choose a bar by protein grams
Tired of mixing protein shakes? High protein bars and especially whey protein bars are great for those trying to build lean body mass while reducing body fat. Their high protein content will leave you feeling satisfied but not stuffed, as a high-protein meal might do. We’ve organized bars by their protein content into low protein (0-15g) , moderate protein (16g-25g) , and high protein (25+ g) categories. Experts recommend a daily protein intake ranging from .5-1.5g of protein per pound of ideal body weight.*
Choose a bar by total carb grams
Carbohydrate grams are important whether you're following a low carb diet, such as Atkins, or whether you’re a hard-training athlete burning up hundreds of calories an hour. Carbs serve as both an immediate energy source and a source of sustained energy by contributing to glycogen production. Low carb bars are ideal for dieters. Moderate-to-high carbohydrate bars are ideal for active people and athletes who need high-octane fuel for biking, running, hiking and other endurance-type activities. We’ve organized our bars by their carbohydrate grams, placing them in four categories, each with a progressively higher carb density: 0–20 grams , 21-30 grams , 31-40 grams , and 40+ grams .
Choose a bar by net impact carb grams
Some carbs raise blood sugar and insulin levels significantly, other types of carbs don’t. 'Net impact carbs' are those that affect your blood sugar levels. For example, sugar, honey, and glucose all raise blood sugar and therefore would add net impact carbs to a bar. Carbs from sugar alcohols like maltitol or glycerine are ‘low net impact carbs’ or ‘low glycemic carbs’ because they do not impact blood sugar levels. These don't contribute any net impact carbs but must be included in the total carb count because technically they are carbohydrates.
If you’d like a great-tasting bar but need to keep blood sugar and insulin levels low and stable, you want a bar with low net impact carbs. Choose from bars with 1-5 grams of net carbs , 6-9 grams or 10+ grams .
Meal Replacement Bars
Meal replacement bars are perfect when there's no time for a regular meal. They typically contain more than 300 calories, at least 25 grams of protein, at least 30 grams of carbs plus vitamins and minerals. The popular 40:30:30 bars with their precise ratio of protein, carbs and fat could be considered smaller versions of the larger meal replacement bars.
Energy and Snack Bars
Energy and Snack bars are nutritious great-tasting alternatives to snack and convenience foods. These tend to be smaller, great-tasting bars with a higher carb content. They're loosely based upon the theory that for every 90 minutes of exercise you'll need about 40 gram of carbs and 10 grams of protein.
How Much Protein Do You Need
Muscle Protein Synthesis Peaks 1-2 Hours After Exercise Depending on the Protein Source
by Jeff S. Volek, Ph.D., R.D.
How Often Do You Need Protein - Once a Day or Spread Out?
by Jeff S. Volek, Ph.D., R.D.