Testing Your Knowledge on Energy Bars!
SoccerToday’s nutrition columnist Nancy Clark discusses the tips from John Ivy Ph.D. on fueling your body and maintaining your eating schedule.
Soccer players have many questions about energy bars. Everyone wants to know which energy bars are best.
Of course, this depends on your taste buds but from a nutritional standpoint, it is also an interesting question. The best energy bars are the ones you enjoy eating, settle well for a pre-exercise energy booster, and fulfill your dietary needs. Highly nutritious energy bars that kids take one bite out of and toss and not very useful.
Are energy bars really better than Fig Newtons or other traditional foods?
Like Fig Newtons, they are a source of carbohydrate to fuel your body and nutrients to invest in your health. They are pre-wrapped and convenient to toss into a gym bag or backpack without crumbling.
Are they just glorified cookies?
For the most part, yes.
For soccer players, there is very little is wrong with a few energy bars in an otherwise highly balanced and an overall healthy eating pattern.
Sugar (carbohydrate) in a sports diet fuels muscles.
As a fit athlete, your muscles take up the sugar and use it to power your workouts. Please focus more on what comes with the sugar: whole grains? protein? fiber?
The key is to remember that energy bars are not a meal replacements, but rather emergency food that comes pre-wrapped.
Be sure there are some banana peels and apple cores in your wastebasket, and not just wrappers.
Nancy’s Sweet and Crispy Nut Bars
Recipe for Homemade Energy Bar from Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook
These bars can be made with almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, or other chopped nut or seed of your choice. Whether eating them for breakfast on the run, a pre-exercise snack, or an afternoon treat, you’ll enjoy these crispy bars.
When measuring the honey, add a little more than the 1/2 cup, so the mixture sticks together better. You’ll need to pack the ingredients firmly into the pan; otherwise, the bars will fall apart (but the crumbs are tasty—especially in yogurt or sprinkled on top of your morning bowl of cereal).
2 cups uncooked oats
2 cups Rice Crispies or puffed brown rice cereal
1 cup peanuts ((preferably chopped briefly in a food processor)) or slivered almonds
1/2 cup (heaping) honey
1/2 cup peanut or almond butter
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon salt
Here are the Recipe Steps:
- Lightly coat a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, combine the oats, Rice Crispies, and peanuts or slivered almonds.
- In a medium microwavable bowl, combine the honey and nut butter. Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Slowly pour the nut butter mixture over the cereal, stirring until all the ingredients are well coated.
- Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly while still warm. (Butter your fingers so the mixture does not stick to them.) Cool to room temperature.
- Cut into 20 bars and store them in an airtight container. (If you keep the bars in the refrigerator, they will be sturdier because the nut butter hardens.)
Yield: 20 servings
Nutrition information: 3,400 total calories; 170 calories per serving; 24 g carbohydrate; 5 g protein; 6 g fat
Energy Bar Options
Today’s overwhelming assortment of energy bars offers an option for every dietary niche, be it vegan, kosher, low FODMAP, nut-free and below is a list that categorizes the bars and might help you find ones that suit your dietary preferences.
Here is a list of Energy Bars for youth soccer players:
Additive-free (that is, no added vitamins or minerals): Clif Mojo & Nectar, Epic, Good Greens, Gnu, Honey Stinger Waffle, Kashi, KIND, Larabar, Optimum, Peak Energy, Perfect 10, PowerBar Nut Naturals, ProBar, Pure, Raw Revolution, Red Square Power-flax, RX, thinkThin, Trail Mix Honey-bar, Zing
Budget friendly: Nutri-Grain, Nature Valley Granola, Kashi Chewy, Quaker Chewy
Caffeine-containing: Better than Coffee, Clif CoolMint Chocolate, Clif Peanut Toffee Razz, Honey Stinger Caffeinated, Peak Energy Plus, Picky Bar Game-Set-Matcha, Verb
Dairy-free (see also Vegan): Bonk Breaker, Bumble Bar, Clif Builder’s & Nectar, Enjoy Life, GoMacro, KIND, Larabar, Perfect 10, Picky, RX, thinkThin Crunch, Vega Endurance
Enriched/Fortified with added vitamins: Balance, ZonePerfect
Fiber, high (grams fiber): Fiber One Chewy (5-6g), Gnu Flavor & Fiber (12g), NuGo Fiber d’Lish (12 g), Oat-mega (7g), Quest (13-14g), thinkThin Protein and Fiber Bar (5g)
GUT-Friendly, Low FODMAP: Fody, GoMacro Peanut Butter Protein Replenishment, EnjoyLife Dark Chocolate (and some other flavors), GoodBelly, Happy
Gluten-free: Bonk Breaker, BumbleBar, Elev8Me, Enjoy Life, Enjoy Life, EnviroKidz Rice Cereal, Fody, Good Belly, GoMacro, Hammer, KIND, Lara, Picky, PowerBar Protein Plus, Pure Protein, ProBar, RX, Quest, Raw Revolution, That’s It Fruit, thinkThin, Truwomen, Zing, 88 Acres Seed and Oat.
Low-carb: OhYeah! One, Pure Protein, Quest, Keto
Kosher: GoMacro, Extend, Larabar, Pure Fit, ReNew Life Organic Energy, ThinkThin, Truwomen
Nut-free: Don’t Go Nuts, Enjoy Life, Freeyumm, Go Raw, Honey Stinger Waffle, Jumpstarter Bodyfuel, Luna Bar Lemon Zest, That’s It, 88 Acres Seed & Oat
Organic: Cascadian Farm, Clif, Pure, GoMacro, Red Square Powerflax
Protein Bar (Your choice of soy, whey, egg, or blended protein source) (grams protein): Clif Builder (20g), Gatorade Whey Protein Bar (20g), GoMacro Protein Replenishment (10-12g) Honey Stinger Protein (10g), Lenny & Larry’s Muscle Brownie (20g), NuGo (10-12g), Oatmega (14g), PowerBar ProteinPlus (30g), PowerCrunch (13g), Pure Protein (20g), Quest (21g), RX (12g), thinkThin Protein (20g)
Raw: Good Greens, Pure, Raw Revolution, Vega Whole Food Raw Energy Bar
Recovery bar (3-4 g carb to 1 g protein ratio): Clif, KIND Breakfast Protein, PowerBar Performance, Picky, RX
Soy free: BumbleBar, Clif Nectar, Enjoy Life Chewy, GoRaw, KIND, Larabar, NuGo Fiber d’Lish, Oat-mega, Picky, ProBar, Pure, Quest, Raw Revolution, Vega Endurance, Zing
Vegan: (grams protein) Clif (most flavors; 11g), Clif Builder’s (20g), Go Macro (11g), Good Greens (10g), Hammer Vegan (15g), Larabar (5g) Picky (7g), Pure Organic (4g), ProBar (8-11g), thinkThin High Protein (some flavors are vegan; 13g), Truwomen (12g), Vega (10g), 88 Acres Seed & Oat (6g)
Women’s bars (fewer calories; added calcium, iron, and folic acid): Healthwarrior Chia, Iron Girl Energy, Larabar, Luna, PowerBar Pria. Truwomen
40-30-30 Bars: Balance, ZonePerfect
My suggestion for the best bars: Google homemade energy bars and you will see many yummy, healthy, cook-free and simple-to-make options. These are likely the best bars, in terms of taste, positive ingredients, and lack of litter. Enjoy!
SIDEBAR: Nutritional and medical advice changes with new discoveries and interpretations. Always check with your medical provider and/or nutritionist for what is best for you and your family. And research and read information on nutrition!
Sports nutritionist Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD has a private practice in the Boston-area, where she helps both fitness exercisers and competitive athletes create winning food plans. Her best-selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook, and Food Guide for Soccer, as well as teaching materials, are available at www.nancyclarkrd.com.
For online and live workshops, visit www.NutritionSportsExerciseCEUs.com.