Battle Of The Bars

Have you been wondering which nutrition bar or energy bar is best? Well, it depends on when and why you're eating one, says Molly Kimball, RD, sports and lifestyle nutritionist at the Ochsner Clinic's Elmwood Fitness Center in New Orleans. For example, if the bar is replacing a meal, you need some carbs and plenty of protein to help you feel full. But if you're grabbing one before exercise, you want less protein so you can quickly digest the bar. Use the chart below to help you make better bar choices.

What You're Doing

Nutrients You Need

When To Eat It

Helpful Hints

Best Bar Bets

Snacking.

At least 10 grams of protein and 15 to 20 grams of carbohydrates and less than 30 percent of total calories from fat.

Anytime you have to go four or more hours between meals. Eat a bar in the midmorning or midafternoon to help stabilize blood sugar and energy levels.

If the bar is large, break it in half. Eat one portion in the morning, the rest in the afternoon.

Balance, Genisoy, IronMan PR, Source One, Zone.

Eating on the run.

At least 15 grams of protein and 20 to 25 grams of carbs.

When you miss a meal.

Real food is the best source of nutrients, but if there's no time, at least throw in a few whole-grain crackers or fresh fruit for some fiber.

Balance, Genisoy, IronMan PR, Source One, Zone, Met-Rx Keto Pro, Met-Rx Protein Plus.

Fueling your body before exercising.

At least 15 to 20 grams of carbohydrates (to provide energy); no more than 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fat (so you can quickly digest the bar).

30 minutes before working out.

Drink plenty of fluids along with the bar.

PowerBar, Clif, Personal Edge Energy, Gatorade, Luna.

Recovering after a workout.

At least 20 grams of protein to help build muscle and 20 grams of carbs to help replenish glycogen stores used up during training.

Within 30 minutes after working out.

If you're eating six meals and snacks a day, make this one of your snacks.

Meso-Tech, Myoplex Deluxe, Steel, Personal Edge Recovery.

Trying to lose weight.

At least 20 grams of protein; less than 5 grams of sugar and less than 8 grams of fat.

In the midmorning or midafternoon to stave off hunger pangs.

Include the calories in the bar when you tally your daily intake.

Myoplex Low Carb, Met-Rx Protein Plus, Labrada Lean Body Carb Watchers, Carb Solutions, Designer Whey.

—Maryann Hammers

Source: Molly Kimball, RD