Understanding Energy Bars

Understand energy bars and compare the top energy bar brands

Energy bars come in all different tastes, textures, and types. Although many base energy bars around taste, there are other aspects of the nutrition and purpose of each bar that should help you make the decision of what bar to use. Different ingredients produce different results for activities like backpacking and hiking. Choosing the correct bar for your activity is vital to keep you going and your energy up.

Read the full article at wildbackpacker.com.

Types of Energy Bars

Activity Bars
Similar to endurance bars, activity bars focus on prolonging energy. However, they tend to focus on all-day outdoor activities that require both energy and some meal-replacement nutritional features. Clif Bar is perhaps the most prevalent bar in this category. Outdoor bars, Clif Bar included, often focus on organic ingredients and have crunchier, more granola, textures. Activity bars are the best energy sources while backpacking and hiking.

Meal Replacement Bars
Also known as weight-loss bars, meal replacement bars are designed more for dieting and weight loss rather than a quick burst of energy during hiking or backpacking. They are meant to provide the complete nutrition of a lunch or breakfast and to fill you up. Nutribars, ProBars, and Balance bars are examples of energy bars designed to replace, rather than supplement, a meal. Each of these bars provides calories from carbs, proteins and fats in proportions that sate hunger. Each bar is typically over 300 calories, has at least 25 grams of protein and at least 30 grams of carbs and typically has 50% RDI of vitamins and minerals.

Protein Bars
Some energy bars, such as protein bars, are designed to help you gain muscle mass. These bars attempt to cram as much protein as possible for recovery from strenuous workouts. Pure Protein bars and most Met-Rx bars fit into this category.

Endurance Bars
Endurance bars are primarily designed to be eaten before a long workout. They typically have a higher proportion of carbohydrates to provide complex, non-sugary energy that is digested over a long period of time. The most well-known endurance bars include PowerBar and Honey Stinger Bars.

Organic Bars
There are a new wave of energy bars that focus largely on providing energy in as natural a method as possible. Organic bars reject artificial sweeteners and inserted protein, preferring to have a compact load of simple ingredients. Larabar is particularly popular, with an ingredient list that typically includes only a few items and never adds protein, gluten or soy.

Steps to Compare Energy Bars

  1. Look at the carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the main fuel source for the muscles and brain. If you are performing highly strenuous activities, you will want an energy bar high in carbohydrates–around the 40 gram range. Carbohydrates are pure energy and will most likely be used up by your activity.
  2. Find the protein count. Protein will keep you feeling full longer while providing the energy you need. High-protein bars will be the perfect snacks when hiking or partaking in activities that aren’t as strenuous as mountain biking or whitewater rafting. For high protein, you will want at least 9 grams, but you can find ones well over 20.
  3. Check the calorie count on the bar. Calories will also result in sustained energy. However, calorie counts over 300-400 tend to be a little excessive and end up turning the “energy” bar into more of a “candy” bar.
  4. Consider the price. Once you have found several energy bars that fit the kind of energy you need, the price may be the deciding factor. You will likely go with the bar of the same nutritional value that costs $2, verses the bar that costs $6.
  5. Purchase several kinds of energy bars to test. Even if one is slightly more expensive than the other, you may find it tastes much better (some energy bars are notorious for having a bad, chalky taste). It will probably be better to spend a little more on an energy bar you like than one you can’t stand.

Leading Energy Bars

Clif Bar
The Chocolate Chip flavor of Clif Bar is crispy and liked for its 10 grams of protein, thick coat of chocolate frosting, and crunchy cocoa crisps. Made with soy protein and organic and natural ingredients, the bar also packs 23 vitamins and minerals into a filling snack or breakfast that gave us several steady hours of energy on the trail. Although, a downside is that it’ll melt in hot weather. Many other flavors are offered as well.

Size: 68 g
Calories: 240; from fat: 45
Fat: 5 g
Carbs: 44 g
Price: $1.45

This all-around favorite comes in 11 other flavors, and they are all winners. The new Old School PB&J flavor, however, is filled with an all-natural mix of peanuts, raspberries, oats, and almonds. Made with 15 natural ingredients, this performance bar packs a nutritional punch great for backpackers.

Size: 85 g
Calories: 370; from fat: 150
Fat: 17 g
Carbs: 48 g
Price: $3.30

PowerBar is one of the original and most loved energy bar brands out there. PowerBar Triple Threat Energy bar tastes like a candy bar, but is a great choice for use before or during moderate-intensity exercise and sports, like backpacking. Fusing the tastes of chocolate, peanuts and caramel into a nutritious and tasty snack for all occasions, these bars are not your average candy bar! Carmel Peanut Fusion is one flavor you have to try!

Calories: 230; from fat: 70
Fat: 9 g
Carbs: 30 g
Price: $1.60

To read reviews about more of the leading energy bars,
visit our full article at Wild Backpacker.

Information Gathered from:

How to Compare Energy Bars by Greyson Ferguson
Types of Energy Bars by Louie Doverspike


7 responses to this post.

  1. […] Understanding Energy Bars Share and […]


  2. This nutiritonal guide to protein bars really helped me. I now know which brands to trust more, thank you, i will pass this on to others.


  3. very informative, thank you.


  4. The Clif bar remains my favorite because it is so widely available and low-cost. Thanks for the detailed information.


  5. Thank you for the information. When I go backpacking, I always bring tons of energy bars since they’re so easy to eat and are packed with nutrition. I’m never sure which ones to bring, but usually end up going with Clif, so I’m glad that made the cut for a good bar. I’ve found that the best flavors are chocolate (either chocolate chip or chocolate brownie) and peanut butter crunch. The other flavors I’ve tried have always been a tad too sweet or taste a little strange. Do you have any favorite flavors?

    Also, you mentioned Clif bars melting in the heat. That’s true, but it’s not so bad. I find it worse when it’s really cold outside and they get a bit hard. But they’re still edible and tasty, so it’s all right!


  6. Good pieces of advice! I agree, that there are energy bars that have too much calorie. if you eat them you become very tired and the whole thing just becomes ineffective. It is also good to try out multiple bars as you have wrote.


  7. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who has been doing a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me dinner because I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to discuss this subject here on your blog.


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