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Nutrition Bars


Nutrition Bars

An Energy Source for the Busy Body

Nutrition bars are a relatively new phenomenon in the bodybuilding supplement world, and cover a wide range of varieties.

With the wide variety of nutrition bars available, some brand names contain more protein, than carbohydrate energy sources, and this difference should be recognized to ensure you get the desired bar. They take the form of ordinary chocolate or candy bars, and the ingredients within vary; most have the highest total percentage of carbohydrates, followed by protein, and normally a small amount of fat. They also contain some healthy and essential minerals. As with any supplement, energy bars are not a replacement for healthy nutrition, however, if your lifestyle is fast paced, and you generally skip one or more meals throughout the day, it would be encouraged to have energy bars on hand to keep your energy stores up, as it is far better to get some nutrition and energy to burn than none at all.

Most popular supplement companies have introduced a new brand of energy bars to the supplement industry in recent years since their explosion in the early 1990's. Ideally for bodybuilders, a bar with a high content in high energy carbs and protein, and a relatively small fat content, would be the best energy bar to choose. Stored glycogen supplies in the body are used up in around 60 minutes for most individuals, and at the onset of lowering levels of blood sugar, de-motivation, and lethargy can kick in and take away valuable intensity from training. In extreme cases, coupling low blood sugar levels with and intense workout can cause nausea or disorientation.

To see your daily calorie requirement (BMR), click this link. A 170 pound male may require more than 3000 calories a day. Some studies have shown as many as 70% of strength training athletes do not intake enough calories in a day. These studies have shown that for female strength athletes, the number of energy deficient strength athletes may be as much as 100 percent.

Due to the time constraints in our daily lives, it is not always possible to prepare food on a tight schedule. With this in mind, a hard training athlete would benefit from the use of energy bars during these energy deficit times.


The main ingredients of energy bars are carbohydrates, and protein, and are normally relatively low in fat. Carbohydrates are the main fuel source for the body, as they fuel both the muscles and the brain with most of its energy. Most energy bars contain glucose as the main carbohydrate source. Some energy bars contain 10, 20, or even 30 percent fat content. This number is high, but is still below the average fat content in most North Americans diet (37%). Fat is also an important source of energy, and there is evidence that it can be used before glycogen stores as an energy source.

Branched chain amino acids are also present in most energy bars. Generally speaking, there is evidence suggesting that these amino acids are used as an energy source, especially in endurance athletes (ie, marathon runners, cyclists, etc).

Other Ingredients

Energy bars also contain vitamins, minerals, chromium sources, and other herb - derived substances. An energy bar is a fairly complete (although relatively low calorie in compared to a large meal) nutritional source, which are offered in a convenient manner. Although energy bars contain vitamins and minerals, they are in far smaller quantity than the main energy fueling ingredients.

A Disadvantage of Energy Bars

One disadvantage of energy bars is adaptation. For hard training and experienced athletes, the body is better adapted for using fat as an energy source, where inactive individuals will normally store it in adipose tissue and use it as a secondary energy source. In other words, the likelihood of fat energy being stored as fat for individuals who do not lead an active lifestyle is more likely to occur than in individuals who incorporate some form of exercise (bodybuilding, aerobic activity, etc) in their lives. Untrained individuals may want to avoid the energy bars which contain a high fat content, but, as stated earlier, the fat content of energy bars is still far below the normal intake of fat in our daily lives for most North Americans.

Selecting an Energy Bar

A basic, and very simple method of selecting an energy bar is taste. Like candy bars, there is much variation in taste, and so you will have to make a decision as to which bar you prefer. The next issue is to determine the overall number of calories, and caloric breakdown of various bars to find out which one suits your energy needs.

It is always encouraged to read the nutritional information before purchasing one and comparing it to the dollar value to make sure you get the most for your money.

When to Consume Energy Bars


For bodybuilders, and other strength athletes, timing is not as crucial as with other types of athletes. The most popular times include 30 minutes before a workout, or immediately post workout to fill the anabolic window. Immediately post workout makes the most sense, as athletes need to replenish glycogen stores, but will likely not be hungry enough to eat a full meal

Endurance Athletes

It is recommended that an endurance athlete take an energy bar a couple of hours before exercise, a few minutes before exercise, or during exercise. You can even take them after exercise to boost recovery. The worst time to take energy bars would be 45 to 60 minutes before exercise. This is because the high level of carbs will cause a rapid release of insulin which will reduce blood sugar levels, leading to lethargy.

Remember, energy bars work best when taken with water (one to two glasses is the recommended amount). Also, don’t forget that energy bars are only a supplement and are not to be taken to replace meals.

Less Convenient Energy Sources

Other good energy sources for a bodybuilder include low fat granola bars, raisins, bagels, fruit, yogurt, and cereals.

Side Effects

Unless you suffer from diabetes (where the high - sugar content of energy bars may seriously interfere with blood sugar levels) side effects of energy bars are a rarity. If your diabetes is so severe that you require daily insulin injections, I strongly advise avoiding energy bars high in carbohydrates.

If you are allergic to certain ingredients which you suspect may be found in energy bars, read the ingredients before hand to make sure you do not purchase a bar which will not cause an allergic reaction. Side effects of taking energy bars are a rarity, and if any problems do arise, be sure to stop consuming them, and be sure to contact your physician.

As always, do not hesitate to Contact Me with any questions or concerns you may have.

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