Most commonly used by athletes during physical activity, nutrition bars can act as a dietary supplement for all sportspeople wishing to maintain Energy levels. Sometimes known as energy bars, protein bars, power bars, diet bars or meal replacement bars, ingredients will vary depending on each bar’s specific purpose. A standard 60 gram nutrition bar contains around 200 calories. Depending on the type of bar, approximately 50% of this will be made up of Carbohydrates, 30% Protein and around 20% lipid or fat, but proportions will vary. For example, diet bars will contain a lower percentage of carbohydrates and therefore lower calories than other nutrition bars. Fibre is also often added to energy bars to add bulk (fibre doesn’t contain energy but does slow the absorption of glucose).
Generally, energy bars will contain a higher proportion of carbohydrates than other nutrition bars. They will often have Vitamins and minerals and also a source of protein. Energy bars come in a range of flavours and strengths and there are different types of bars, including high protein, moderate carbohydrates, low glycemic index and Soy. If you're not used to energy bars, it's best to begin usage whilst training so that your body has time to get used to them and to gauge any potential negative reaction; it’s certainly not advised to begin using them for the first time before a race or important sporting event. One other good tip is to avoid taking sports drinks and sports bars together, which can slow down carbohydrate absorption and result in dehydration. Meal replacement bars generally have the highest energy content. They are often used by those undertaking a fairly rigorous training regime, trying to gain bulk or even people wanting to lose weight. Meal Replacement bars can be consumed following exercise to refuel tired muscles and they generally work faster than carbohydrates alone. They can also be used to replace main meals as a way of decreasing total daily energy intake. Meal replacement bars will generally provide a high level of protein but usually with fewer calories than protein specific bars. As the name suggests, protein bars significantly have particularly high protein content. Diet and Fat Loss bars will also generally have a high amount of protein and low carbohydrate content.
So how do Sports Drinks and sports bars differ? Bars contain more carbohydrates, fats and protein than energy drinks. Sports drinks induce metabolic stimulation, which increases the body’s ability to burn fuel and speeds up the process. Sports bars, on the other hand, provide a high amount of fuel but don’t cause the body to speed up the burning process. Simple carbohydrates are relatively easy to break down, but complex carbohydrates are much more difficult, and since nutrition bars are usually made of complex carbohydrates the bars can provide greatly sustained energy levels, whereas sports drinks offer a shorter burst of energy. However, as with sucrose, all carbohydrates produce at least some manner of spike in blood sugar.
Nutrition bars sometimes contain additional minerals and vitamins and some contain dietary supplements. If bars do contain dietary supplements, this information must be clearly displayed on the label. Generally a bar containing dietary supplements should not be labelled as food and must be clearly labelled as “dietary supplement”. Nutrition bars are a great way to get important nutrients, especially when you need an extra boost for exercise or exercise recovery. When compared with other types of supplements such as protein powders or drinks which require mixing prior to use, bars are also very convenient & easy to use. Want more information? Then check out choosing the best protein bars.
Protein & Energy Bars are commonly presented & sold as Formulated Supplementary Sports Foods in Australia. Nutritional bars are not a sole source of nutrition and should be used in conjunction with an appropriate physical training or exercise programme. Not suitable for children or pregnant women. Should only be used under medical or dietetic supervision. Always read label prior to use.