Protein Bar Or Power Bar?

Many of you have been asking me about the various ‘bars’ on the market, and which are better for training/recovery and just energy in general.

There are different bars for different needs – and not all bars are equal. It is important that you look at a few things:
1.) The Protein
2.) The Fat
3.) The Carbs/Sugar
4.) The ingredients

Of course, the more natural ingredients in a bar, the more likely your body will enjoy digesting it. When you eat products with a lot of synthetic ingredients (usually long words that are hard to pronounce), your body doesn’t recognize it and has to create additional enzymes to process it. This can cause overwork for your digestive system. So, in short, where you can find more natural ingredients and simpler products, I encourage it.

In addition, there is a big difference in ‘bars’. While I don’t want to recommend one brand over another, I can tell you the following:

1.) Power Bars – or High Energy Bars (brands: PowerBar, Cliff, etc) are typically higher in carbs and sometimes sugar. These are typically intended for someone who is working out for 1-3+ hours and is burning their readily available fuel source (high intensity) and need some quickly absorbable/easily digestible fuel. Your body can use carbs/sugars at a high level if you are burning them or recovering from burning them. An example: Use energy bars when on a long training run/ride – to consume every 45mins-and hour to supplement your energy system.

I notice some people using energy bars for every day living. While these can be a calorie-control way to get some good energy – I’d encourage you to make sure you are getting some protein in as well when you are snacking throughout the day.

Protein bars, on the other hand, typically have a higher protein content. Protein is an essential building block for muscle and so if you are looking to improve your strength and muscle definition, consuming Protein Bars prior a workout and within 45 minutes of a work can be a nice compliment to aid your muscles in breakdown and repair. They are good for training/every day use… you just need to study the label – if the product tastes like a candy bar- chances are, it may have the sugar equivalent to a candy bar. Sugar, when unused in its digestible timeframe, turns into fat – so you may want to look for products that have a good combination of protein, carbs and fats. While I do not support one brand over another, I have found the EAS Carb Control, Detour Brand and Zone Bars to have a good combination of these items for my preferences/goals.

Remember that if the bar is sweet, but the sugar is low, the replacement product may be a sugar substitute, which may not be the best solution either.

Spend some times looking at your labels, reading about the various products and deciding that based on your goals – what the right choices are for you.

You don’t have to consume bars at all – lean protein sources like beans or chicken, granola, almonds, eggs, and yogurt can be wonderful additions to a workout program – the bars add convenience and take the ‘think-work’ out of it, but just remember that not all bars are created equal.

Share with us what your favorite brands, and energy/protein sources are…


Posted on April 24, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Would you consume a protein bar PRIOR to running a marathon? How long does it take the system to metabolize? Is it more likely affect performance adversely or positively?

  2. Hello! While everyone is different and you have to find the right combination that works for you – I would moreso recommend some readily/easily digestible carb source than a protein bar – such as bananas, bagels, Gu, Power Bar, etc… the reason being is that your will be using all of your readily available glycogen throughout your event, and so you need something that will rapidly replace it. For overall training, protein bar before is good, but for a big event, I’d focus on carbs/fueling those muscles with glycogen before… try everything out ahead of time so you know what works best for you! Make sure to hydrate well the day before – and GOOD LUCK! Please let me know if you have any more questions!

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