10 Best Powerbars for Sports & Running Reviewed
Powerbars will deliver energy and performance on the go. There are so many different options, you will have no problem finding the right one. Whether you want to focus on protein, electrolytes, or long lasting carbs, there is a Powerbar option for you. And the best part, is that you will always find a great snack as well, that you don’t have to choke down.
The Top Picks From Powebar
1. Protein Snack Bar
Taste/ Palatability: This snack bar tastes more like a candy bar than a typical protein bar. It has a chocolate coating, and a sweet candy like inside. There are different flavors like peanut butter caramel and cookies and cream that give all the satisfaction of a candy bar, but with a little more nutrition.
Price/ Availability: Depending on how many you order at once, these are about the same price as a candy bar. The price also depends on the flavor, and certain flavors will not always be available immediately. So there is actually some variance in the price and availability depending on which flavor you want.
Helps with hunger
12 grams of protein
- Lots of Sugar
2. Protein Plus 20g
Taste/ Palatability: Flavor is definitely right with the Protein Plus bars. They are very sweet so you might feel like you are eating a candy bar. They go down easy, you might want more than one.
Price/ Availability: Shop around with the different flavors to find the best deal if you aren’t picky. There is a significant difference in price, but all are very reasonable. Some flavors may only be available for purchase in certain quantities.
Packed with protein
Calorie dense for aggressive exercise
- High sugar content Relatively high in fat
3. Protein Plus 30g
Taste/ Palatability: The chocolate brownie and salted caramel flavors are popular options for this bar. They are quite satisfying flavors that taste like candy, but still fill you up. Great option for when you are hungry, but need something packed with protein that is compatible with exercise.
Price/ Availability: These get a touch more expensive than some of the less nutrient dense options. That makes sense, you are paying for a lot more nutrition. The main flavors should always be easy to get, although you might have to compromise on the count.
The most protein from
Powerbar Can replace a meal if needed
- Not for easily upset stomachs
4. Harvest Energy
Taste/ Palatability: This is one of the better tasting bars, since it is geared more towards snacking than performance. You could enjoy this in the afternoon with coffee, or just before a workout for that extra boost of energy. Some people even use this as a low calorie meal substitute.
Price/ Availability: The harvest energy bars come in a variety of flavors that are generally readily available. The price is lower than other bars, as it seems you pay per gram of protein.
Low calorie meal substitute
- Not as much protein
5. Performance Energy
Taste/ Palatability: Filling with a great taste, the performance energy bars pack a big punch. There are delicious flavors like peanut butter caramel and milk chocolate. The best part is that there are no artificial flavors or preservatives.
Price/ Availability: You can buy these ones in packages of 24 which helps reduce the cost, but don’t expect to get them for cheap. But for how much nutrition they give you, you are pretty much getting whole meals for under two dollars.
- Complex carbs for long lasting energy
- No energy spikes and crashes
- High calorie
6. Power Gel
Taste/ Palatability: Not everyone loves a gel form, and some will find it hard to get down. You definitely want to chase it with water. But if you think it might be an issue, buy the chocolate kind and pretend it is pudding. Overall, these taste pretty good, it’s just the texture of the gel that would sketch some people out.
Price/ Availability: These are slightly less per packet than a powerbar energy bar, but the price is still somewhat dependent on the flavor. Chocolate seems to be popular and more expensive. So the availability shouldn’t be an issue, it is just a matter of how much you want to spend.
Easy to take with you
Lots of energy in a small packet
- No protein
7. Energy Gel
Taste/ Palatability: They taste a little salty, and maybe not quite as yummy as the power gels, but they are designed for that long lasting energy. And with all the flavors to choose from, you should be able to find something you like.
Price/ Availability: This is pretty much the same deal as the other gels, they cost different based on the flavor, which reflects availability. They are a bit more expensive than the power gel in general, closer in price to a typical energy bar.
Replaces electrolytes with extra salt
Great for sustained workouts
- No protein
- Salty tasting
8. Performance Energy Blasts
Taste/ Palatability: They taste like gushers, remember those? Well maybe they taste a little better than gushers, but they have that same cool liquid center which bursts with flavor into your mouth. You will feel like a kid again. But these are easy to eat because they are full of fruity goodness.
Price/ Availability: These are on the upper end for price, like one of the more densely calorie packed energy bars. The availability depends largely on the number of gels you want to come in the package, so if you are flexible on size of package, you will always have plenty available.
Delicious fruity snack
Easy to bring with you
- High in Sugar
9. Reduced Sugar Protein Plus
Taste/ Palatability: This really depends on the person, but most people still think these are pretty tasty and palatable. If you don’t want the sugar, you will definitely be able to stomach the taste, since it is such a large reduction. Same goes with the gluten free aspect. For what you are getting, they are good.
Price/ Availability: These are actually one of the cheaper options. You will spend less on these most likely than anything else on the list. There is a drawback, and that is that flavors will be severely limited.
Only 2g of sugar
20g of protein
- Limited flavors
10. Clean Whey Gluten Free Protein
Taste/ Palatability: Only a few flavors, but they are all pretty exciting. The Clean Whey Protein Power Bars come in Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cookies & Cream, White Fudge Raspberry. These should give you some delicious options so that you enjoy getting your protein.
Price/ Availability: These are the most expensive of all the bars, but they are worth the price is you want the clean protein that will treat your body better. Plus the delicious flavors make the price palatable as well. Should always be readily available.
Low in sugar
The Criteria used in choosing the best protein bars for sports and running.
Protein bars can be very good snacks if chosen wisely. Though they are not supposed to replace the whole food s you take on regular basis. The market is flooded with so many protein bars that sports men and women can pick from. But then picking the right protein bar can be very challenging considering the many factors a person is supposed to take into consideration. For instance, we have high-carb, low-carb, low-sugar, high-protein, high-fibre, low-fat, fortified, whole grain and organic bars—and in every possible flavour. To make matters worse or more complicated when the bars are for specific sporting activities. They can be good for you if you use them properly to support your training and competition, and they can help control your weight or improve your nutrient intake. PowerBars work best as part of an overall balanced diet.
While picking out the best protein bars several factors were taken into consideration.
Consider the amount of Nutritional Ingredients.
The different protein bars have different ingredients that are used. It’s very important to consider the different amounts of ingredients used in making the total composition of the protein bar. Some bars are packed with so much sugar you might as well be eating a Snickers bar, not a good choice if you’re sedentary. Other energy bars are made with artificial sweeteners that can wreak havoc on your gastrointestinal tract. When consumed in excess, sugar alcohols (e.g. maltitol, xylitol, sorbitol) added to certain low-carb and low-calorie bars can cause bloating and gas. Energy bars coated in chocolate or yogurt can deliver a hefty dose of saturated fat due to the presence of palm kernel and palm oil
The ingredients are very important as they must be in line with your fitness goal at all times. Some of the components are:
Choosing a balanced bar that contains a little fat, carbohydrate, and protein works well for many circumstances. However, there are many bars that are quite low in carbohydrates. Since carbohydrates fuel demanding training, constantly curbing carbs may hinder performance, especially if this is a pre-race bar. If you’re looking for a bar that will support a race or hard workout, choose a bar that contains more like 40g (or more) of carbohydrates. Save the 15-20g carbohydrate bars for mid-day snacking. Choosing a carbohydrate-rich bar also applies to post-hard effort snacking.
Having a little fat in an energy bar can support feeling a greater sense of fullness and satisfaction with eating the energy bar. The important factor to note when a bar has a higher fat content is the fat source. A bar that reads 11g of fat on the label may seem like a high fat load. The next step would be to look at the ingredients. If list of ingredients reads, “organic oats, organic honey, organic peanut butter, raw pumpkin seeds” (in this order), it’s safe to say that a bulk of the fat is most likely a healthy, unsaturated source in coming from the peanut butter and pumpkin seeds. If the label were to read, “whey protein, milk chocolate-covered coating, chocolate chips, glucose syrup,” it’s likely the fat source goes toward the yummy chocolate layer. When the saturated fat content inches up much more than 1-2g, it’s time to look for another bar.
The Power of Protein
Energy bars are frequently marketed as providing energy in the form of protein. For a typical healthy diet, a 30g protein bar is not going to be necessary. On the flip side, looking for a bar that carries some protein can be beneficial to meeting daily protein requirements and offer a greater sense of satiety. When choosing to eat a bar before competition focus on carbohydrates, not protein. If a convenient bar is all that’s available after a race or demanding workout, look for a bar that has about 6-20 grams of protein to facilitate the recovery process. A mega-dose of protein for recovery is not necessary, but some protein should be present.
Choosing high fiber bars can work really well in providing a greater sense of fullness and support overall health. The downside is that this too can lead to gas and bloating for some. Such bars are worth testing outside of critical training and racing windows to ensure they are well tolerated.
All the varieties of PowerBar contain protein and other essential nutrients to help you meet your needs. PowerBar Performance has 70 percent of the daily value for vitamin C and 25 percent of the daily value for calcium and iron. PowerBar ProteinPlus has 100 percent of the daily value for vitamins B-6, C and E, and folate, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid, and 45 percent of the daily value for calcium and iron. The lower-sugar PowerBar ProteinPlus is high in calcium, iron and many vitamins.
The Type of Sporting Activity:
Different sporting activities will require different sporting protein bars. It’s very important to pick a protein bar that matches your sporting activities. Before beginning any training session or competition, athletes need to be fully energized and hydrated. When both those needs are met, muscles are ready to work. Not only sporting activity, other protein bars may act like meal replacements during sporting activities.
Mid-Long Run Energy
During medium- to long-mileage runs, you need easily digestible energy that won’t send your blood-sugar levels on a roller-coaster ride. Pick a honey-based bar. Honey contains carbohydrates (glucose and fructose) that deliver fast and long-lasting fuel. Fructose is absorbed relatively slowly, so its energy is released over time, while glucose is fast-acting. Plus, studies show that consuming those two types of carbs at once increases the amount of energy your muscles can use and improves performance. Unlike table sugar, honey contains trace amounts of B vitamins, calcium, and iron. PowerBar’s Fruit Smoothie Energy bar contains maltodextrin, packing 43 grams of carbs in 220 calories. Calcium and sodium help prevent cramps. And its low fibre content won’t tax your stomach.
If back-to-back meetings mean you’ll have to skip a sit-down meal, grab a high-calorie bar with extra fibre and protein. It should contain 350 to 500 calories, nine grams of protein or more, and high-fibre carbohydrates, such as seeds, whole oats, and dried fruit. You also want some healthy fat (from nuts, for example), as this helps you absorb vitamins more effectively and keeps you feeling satisfied. When you’re having a meal-replacement bar for lunch, supplement it with a serving of yogurt for an extra hit of protein and more nutrients. The bars are also an effective option on those days when training starts very early in the morning and eating a pre-workout meal just isn’t realistic.
Post-Run Immunity Boost
The high mileage needed to train for a marathon or ultra makes you susceptible to colds and the flu. Good time to try an antioxidant-packed bar. The more intense your exercise is, the more you need antioxidants to help you recover. Past good research suggests that selenium, vitamin E, and other antioxidants help protect the immune system. Nuts and dried fruits are rich in these antioxidants; cherries in particular contain phytochemicals, which help protect against cancer and heart disease and help reduce inflammation.
Long-Run Pain Relief
When mile 15 of your 22-miler has your body begging for ibuprofen, reach for a jolt of caffeine instead. Caffeine reduces exercise-related pain during workouts. Researchers believe that caffeine blocks the brain’s receptors for adenosine, a chemical released in response to inflammation. Look for a protein bar that has caffeine components.
Post workout Recovery
When you want a nutrient-rich recovery snack but don’t have time to seek out the perfect whole food, eat a carb-rich bar with moderate doses of protein and fibre (five to 10 grams of each for a bar with about 200 calories). Post run, these nutrients can help improve recovery and curb hunger. For the greatest recovery benefit, eat a bar within 20 minutes of your run. If your workout was particularly hard or long, follow that with a light meal of protein and whole-grain carbs one to two hours later.
PowerBars can help if you need to gain weight, because they are dense sources of calories. PowerBar Performance bars have about 230 calories each, and PowerBar ProteinPlus bars have 300 calories. Add them to your regular meals or as extra snacks to increase your overall calorie intake and gain weight. PowerBars can also help you lose weight if you use them as replacements for higher-calorie meals or snacks. You need to eat an add 3,500 calories to your diet to gain 1 lb. of weight, or cut out 3,500 calories to lose 1 lb.
Fortified energy bars can be useful to runners who struggle meeting certain vitamin or mineral needs. Take for example Iron Girl, Marathon and Luna bars, which all have a higher content of iron compared to many similar energy bars. A runner struggling with anemia may choose to include such bars often. The downside of eating fortified bars all the time is that they can contribute to an excessive intake of nutrients. Let’s consider a runner who eats fortified bars throughout the day in addition to a daily multi-vitamin, morning fortified power shake, a couple cups of afternoon vitamin-rich waters or juice and an evening bowl of fortified cereal. The combination of constant fortification can contribute to over-supplementation. Aiming to eat a diet that most often consists of a variety in whole foods reduces the risk of over-supplementation.
Other Factors To Consider
PowerBars are high-calorie sports supplements to eat before, during or after workouts. The Powerbars have different prices and therefore one should be very cautious when looking at the different prices of the PowerBars before purchasing one. The price of energy bars can range from 75 cents to as costly as $4 each. Does the price indicate the quality of the bar? How are we to make sense of what bar to choose when?
Flavour & Taste.
The power bar has a variety of flavors a person can pick from. Peanut Butter – It is really sweet, but still has a nice peanut butter flavor. It won’t taste like natural or homemade peanut butter, but I like bars and stuff that taste like the sweetened peanut butter. Other peanut butter flavor is the chocolate peanut butter. Though the power bars are not available in chocolate flavors. Milk Chocolate Brownie – Delicious! It’s a good chocolate brownie taste that is indeed like a brownie (quite a bit different from the plain chocolate flavor.) It’s very sweet, on the verge of being too sweet, but it toes the line carefully. The hard brownie bites are awesome. They add a nice crunch. Some people will probably prefer no extra bits, but having this is a nice option. The bar is still true to its Power bar roots, but with that extra texture to tell you that they’re still relevant and keeping up with the times. This is one chocolate flavor I’ll keep eating! Vanilla Crisp – This is a pretty good flavor that’s really sweet. You can taste some vanilla, though, which is nice. Oatmeal Raisin – This is my overall favorite. I love oatmeal cookies and this bar gives me a similar taste that doesn’t get old. It’s even better than an oatmeal raisin Clif Bar. Apple Cinnamon – This is a tasty bar that I like to have on occasion. It has a pleasant apple cinnamon flavor that isn’t overpowering. Other flavors that are not available are: cookies & cream, banana, wild berry, honey roasted nut and caramel cookie
Choosing the lower sugar energy bar is the better choice, right? Not so fast. The key here is to look at the label under the total carbohydrates and compare actual grams of sugar when choosing a lower sugar bar. If the label actually reads “low sugar,” it often contains sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols can wreak havoc on the digestive system. Reaction to sugar alcohols varies from person to person; but, sugar alcohols can ferment during the digestive process leading to very uncomfortable gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Some energy bars can have as many as 27 GI distress-causing grams of sugar alcohols.
The following guidelines will help you choose a healthier energy bar.
- Read the ingredient list to find an energy bar that’s made with minimally processed natural ingredients such as dried fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
- Stay clear of artificial sweeteners and artificial preservatives.
- Limit refined sugars and syrups. Check the ingredient list to find out the source of sugar.
- Choose a bar that provides at least four grams’ fibre and no more than three grams saturated fat.
- For a midday snack, look for a “balanced” bar that contains both protein (seven to 18 g) and carbohydrate (15 to 30 g). Fruit and nut bars tend to be lower in protein, but their healthy fat content from nuts will help to keep your appetite in check.
- If you’re watching your waistline, be mindful of calories. As a between-meal snack, look for bars with roughly 150 to 200 calories (women) and 200 to 250 calories (men).
Q. Do all Power Bars contain vitamins and minerals?
A. Yes, they sure do! All the varieties of PowerBar contain protein and other essential nutrients to help you meet your needs. PowerBar Performance has 70 percent of the daily value for vitamin C and 25 percent of the daily value for calcium and iron. PowerBar ProteinPlus has 100 percent of the daily value for vitamins B-6, C and E, and folate, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid, and 45 percent of the daily value for calcium and iron.
The lower-sugar PowerBar ProteinPlus is high in calcium, iron and many vitamins. It varies slightly by flavour so check the wrapper or the nutrition facts listed on each flavour’s product page.
Q. How can I use PowerBar bars?
A. PowerBar bars meet the demands of athletes competing at the highest levels of exercise intensity and duration. Here are some ways you can incorporate this bar into your game plan:
- Use these bars as part of a high-carbohydrate meal 2–4 hours before exercise.
- Consume a bar as a high-carb snack 30–60 minutes before exercise.
- Consume 1–2 bars per hour during exercise that lasts for over an hour. Athletes in team sports often eat bars during quarter and half-time breaks to recharge energy levels. Triathletes and cyclists pack these bars in their jersey pockets and take bites during downhill or flat stretches.
- Feel free to use these bars interchangeably with other PowerBar products for more variety.
Q. What is gluten?
A. Gluten is a kind of protein (a composite of the proteins gliadin and gluetenin – try saying those three times fast). It tends to exist in wheat, barley and rye, among other carbohydrates. Gluten is insoluble in water, gives kneaded bread dough its elasticity, allows leavening and creates chewiness in baked products. Some people, particularly those with Celiac disease, have difficulty digesting gluten and, therefore, should try to avoid it.
Q. Why are PowerBar bars recommended for before and during exercise?
A. PowerBar bars are high in easily-digestible carbs to top off your muscle glycogen stores before exercise. The bars contain 3.5–5g of fat and small amounts of fiber. High-fat and high-fiber foods before exercise can slow down the gastric emptying rate, leaving you more susceptible to stomach discomfort during exercise.
Choosing a sports nutrition product like PowerBar Performance Energy bars before and during exercise will give you the energy your muscles need for optimal performance and leave you less likely to experience stomach discomfort.
Q. Are all PowerBar bar flavors created equal?
A. All PowerBar bar flavors have comparable ingredients and nutritional content for the U.S. market. Internationally, products vary slightly to conform to country-specific regulations.
Q. Is the PowerBar bar approved for diabetics?
A. PowerBar bars are used successfully by many diabetics. PowerBar Performance Energy bars provide 3 carbohydrate exchanges and 1 lean-protein exchange as defined by the American Dietetic Association and the American Diabetes Association. As with any food item, it is important to review the carbohydrate content so you can factor this into how you manage your diabetes. Check with your health care professional for more information.
Q. Why do PowerBar bars freeze?
A. Because PowerBar bars contain 1.5–4g of fat and have a water base, you may find that the bars freeze in colder weather. To retain its soft texture, keep your PowerBar Performance Energy bar close to your body by keeping it in an inside pocket, or warm it prior to eating.
Q. How long will my PowerBar bars last?
A. Each PowerBar bar is stamped with a “best by” date. Although it is safe to eat PowerBar Performance Energy bars after this date, we recommend that you use them by the “best by” date to ensure you’re enjoying the freshest product and receiving the full nutritional benefits of the product.
Q. What kind of energy do PowerBar bars provide?
A. Endurance athletes and exercise enthusiasts need to eat a high-carbohydrate diet on a daily basis in order to load up on muscle fuel stores of glycogen before exercise. If you’re one of these people, you also need carbs during exercise in order to delay the onset of fatigue.
PowerBar®Performance Energy bars provide maximum energy delivery with PowerBar®C2MAX dual source energy blend. C2MAX is a research-tested 2:1 glucose to fructose blend that’s been shown to deliver 20–50% more energy to muscles than glucose alone and improve endurance performance by 8% by claim.
Q. Does PowerBar bar provide electrolytes?
A. Each PowerBar®Performance Energy bar contains 200 mg sodium — a key electrolyte lost in sweat. Loss of sodium from sweating is associated with muscle cramping in some athletes. Potassium (105 mg per bar) and calcium (250 mg per bar), are also found in PowerBar®Performance Energy bar. These electrolytes are also lost in sweat, but to a much lesser extent than sodium.
There are different options for different workouts, moods, and days. You don’t always want to eat the same thing, and your body won’t always need the same nutrients. So grab a variety, and go with whatever feels right for that particular workout.
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