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10 Best Energy Bars for Runners Tested

last updated Nov 07, 2019
Whether you’re a runner, athlete, or someone who’s always on the go, you’ll find that the best energy bars for runners are a game changer.

Nowadays we all lead active and busy lifestyles that can quickly burn us out and leave us feeling depleted. The best energy bars for runners will ensure you get the energy you need before you hit your run, keep you full while you’re on the go, and give you the energy you need so you don’t crash when you need your energy most. The best part about these energy bars, however, is that you don’t have to mix, shake or prepare anything—just unwrap them and enjoy!

With all the selections out there, we know how difficult it is to narrow down the best energy bars—so we did it for you!! Take a look at our list of the top 10 best energy bars!

In a Hurry? The test winner after 10 hrs of research

icon
KIND
94.8/100 our score
Product Purity
96
Potency
97
Effectiveness
95
Value
91
Side Effects
95
KIND
Why is it better?

Minimally processed

Great source of fiber

Does not inflate blood sugar

Gluten and dairy free

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
KIND
Test Winner: KIND
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
4
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
1.4K
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
10
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
17
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
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By Giselle Killebrew:

Although we have not added any new energy bars to our list of reviews, we have definitely added more information throughout the page. Most importantly, we have revamped each of our product reviews to make them easier to read and compare—so our readers can easily compare each of the products and quickly narrow down the one’s that may work best for them.

Sorting Options
Product Purity Potency Effectiveness Value Side Effects By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.8
Product Purity
96 %
Potency
97 %
Effectiveness
95 %
Value
91 %
Side Effects
95 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.11.19)
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.4
Product Purity
95 %
Potency
94 %
Effectiveness
93 %
Value
91 %
Side Effects
94 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.11.19)
Amazon Link
$15.49
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.8
Product Purity
95 %
Potency
95 %
Effectiveness
93 %
Value
85 %
Side Effects
91 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.11.19)
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.4
Product Purity
86 %
Potency
92 %
Effectiveness
92 %
Value
87 %
Side Effects
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.11.19)
Amazon Link
$28.63
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.6
Product Purity
90 %
Potency
86 %
Effectiveness
92 %
Value
85 %
Side Effects
80 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.11.19)
Amazon Link
$34.55
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87
Product Purity
88 %
Potency
85 %
Effectiveness
90 %
Value
85 %
Side Effects
87 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.11.19)
Amazon Link
$20.82
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85
Product Purity
84 %
Potency
90 %
Effectiveness
90 %
Value
80 %
Side Effects
81 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.11.19)
Amazon Link
$19.99
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.8
Product Purity
88 %
Potency
76 %
Effectiveness
85 %
Value
85 %
Side Effects
85 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.11.19)
Amazon Link
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.4
Product Purity
90 %
Potency
70 %
Effectiveness
92 %
Value
70 %
Side Effects
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.11.19)
Amazon Link
$30.94
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81.2
Product Purity
70 %
Potency
95 %
Effectiveness
95 %
Value
65 %
Side Effects
81 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.11.19)
Amazon Link
$18.49

10 Best Energy Bars for Runners

1. KIND

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.8
KIND
Amazon Link
Product Purity
96
Potency
97
Effectiveness
95
Value
91
Side Effects
95
best offer for today
more shops
Amazon Link
$14.22
Pros:

Minimally processed

Great source of fiber

Does not inflate blood sugar

Gluten and dairy free

Cons:

Portions are small

Kind bars taste kind of like you placed a bunch of goodies in a blender and then congealed the results together in perfect harmony. They aren’t going to feel like a full meal like many heavier protein bars, but they are light, nutritious and extremely tasty. Each bar has 13 grams of fat, which are mostly monounsaturated (this can be thought of as the “good” kind of fat), and the carbohydrate-to-protein ratio (20 grams and 4 grams) replenishes exhausted glycogen reserves giving your muscles a boost or a quicker path to recovery. Highly recommended.

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Product Purity

Kind energy bars are made of all-natural ingredients that many people have come to enjoy and trust. Not only are there products mostly allergen-free--they are gluten-free and dairy-free--but these bars are also low in sugar. They are minimally processed and don't use any hydrogenated oils. The company lists all of their ingredients, so they are really transparent with what they put in their products.

Potency

Kind bars won't really keep you to full but they will give you a boost of energy thanks to their carb content. While they aren't a good option to take with you on race day or for a marathon, they will definitely give you a boost before you hit your run.

Value

These bars are a little pricey--but you definitely get what you pay for. Kind bars use high-quality and all-natural ingredients that you can trust, so they are definitely worth every penny.

Effectiveness

As we mentioned above, Kind bars will definitely give you a good little energy boost but they won't have you flying off the walls either. These are perfect for those of you who need to get something in your stomach before training or hitting a quick run and will give you the energy boost you need to get moving.

Side Effects

These bars don't really have any side effects--however, they typically have nuts in their ingredients so if you have a nut allergy you will need to be careful with these bars!

2. Larabar

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.4
Larabar
Amazon Link
Product Purity
95
Potency
94
Effectiveness
93
Value
91
Side Effects
94
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$15.49
Pros:

Simple ingredients

Kosher

Gluten free

Dairy free

Cons:

Short shelf life; not recommended to buy in bulk

Visit any Whole Foods or organic supermarket and you are bound to run across Lara Bars. These treats have become more common with good reason. The thing we like most about Lara bars is that their ingredients are simple; they’re non-GMO, kosher, dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan. A great pre-workout snack these bars contain natural sugars and complex carbohydrates for quick energy that will keep you humming right along. There are tons of flavor options as well, so if the chocolate chip one isn’t a good fit for you, there is sure to be one that is.

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Product Purity

Lara Bars are known for their organic and all-natural ingredients--even their chocolate chips are fair trade certified! These are the perfect kosher bars that are also minimally processed and low in sugar content. They only use non-GMO ingredients and are gluten and dairy free--and they even have up to 10% of your necessary daily value of magnesium (which is an important part of your recovery process).

Potency

These are not the most potent bars and they certainly don't offer any caffeine or additional energy supplement. However, they do have plenty of carbs to offer you a great energy boost and ensure that you can get to moving.

Value

These are pretty pricey but totally worth every penny given their clean and high-quality ingredients.

Effectiveness

If you need a quick pick me up as well as something to cut the edge off of your hunger, you will love these bars. They are delicious and have enough carbs to ensure that you get the energy boost you need.

Side Effects

Some of these bars do have nut ingredients, so if you have any nut allergies you will have to pay close attention to their ingredient list.

3. RxBar

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.8
RxBar
Amazon Link
Product Purity
95
Potency
95
Effectiveness
93
Value
85
Side Effects
91
best offer for today
more shops
Amazon Link
$20.99
Pros:

12 grams of protein per bar

Great flavor options

Cons:

Expensive

These Real Food Protein Bars are unique in that they use eggs are their protein source and nothing but dried fruit for sweetening. There also aren’t tons of ingredients (with unpronounceable names) which is generally a good indicator. Add in handy pouch style packaging and the usual parade of attributes, gluten-free, non-GMO, no soy, and no dairy, and you’ve got a premium energy bar.

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Product Purity

RX bars have quickly gained popularity among runners and athletes everywhere. All of their ingredients are print in large print at the very front of the package--so you know absolutely everything you are consuming. These bars stay on track with the paleo diet and are always free of gluten, dairy, sugars, grains, and artificial additives.

Potency

This brand offers pre and post workout bars--and the energy boosting bars offer the right levels of potency to ensure you get the energy boost that you need.

Value

RX bars are typically on the pricier side as well, but they are worth the investment if you are looking for something effective that also uses clean ingredients you can trust.

Effectiveness

These bars are incredibly effective at providing you with the energy boost that you need to hit your runs and workouts. They are well-regarded in the athletic community and many users highly recommend them.

Side Effects

These bars don't really have any side effects outside of hiving

4. ZonePerfect

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.4
ZonePerfect
Amazon Link
Product Purity
86
Potency
92
Effectiveness
92
Value
87
Side Effects
90
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$28.63
Pros:

Contains 19 essential vitamins and minerals

15 grams of protein

Cons:

Taste used to be better according to customers

If you’re someone who is extra partial to taste, the ZonePerfect Bar may be for you. This bar simply tastes so good that it’s hard to imagine it has very many healthy properties. The taste seems fresh from the bakery and it’s got an antioxidant kick: high in vitamins A, C, and E (accounts for 100 percent of your daily value). Don’t forget a solid 15 grams of protein and a glazed finish that make you forget you are eating a “health food” product. ZonePerfect bars are a good way to replenish your body after a hard day of training.

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Product Purity

These bars feature great ingredients that taste great and will give you the energy boost you need. They will provide you with 19 essential vitamins and minerals, 15 grams of protein, and enough carbs to give you the energy boost you are looking for. They are sweeter than other bars, so if you want the lowest sugar content possible, these are not the right bars for you--but they definitely taste great.

Potency

If you want a bar that gives you an energy boost, these offer both protein and carbs to keep you full and help you keep pushing through the day.

Value

These bars come at a good price and you can find them in any grocery store.

Effectiveness

If you need a quick energy boost you will love these bars. They aren't loaded with sugar but still taste like a nice little treat.

Side Effects

These bars are less organic and all-natural than other bars on our list, but they are still great. Many of them have gluten, dairy, and nut ingredients so make sure to take any dietary constraints you may have into consideration before getting these bars.

5. Clif Bar

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.6
Clif Bar
Amazon Link
Product Purity
90
Potency
86
Effectiveness
92
Value
85
Side Effects
80
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$34.55
Pros:

Great brand

Non-GMO

Lots of energy

Available in over 12 different flavors

Cons:

Not for inactive people

Rare cases of people not liking this flavor

Clif Bar's are one of the original energy bars, and chocolate chip is the original cookie flavor, so this is a marriage made in heaven. Users enjoyed this classic flavor and the energy it gave them. Being non-GMO doesn't hurt either.

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Product Purity

The ingredients for this option are sourced from non-GMO ingredients, and this brand has been recognized and rewarded for its high-quality products for over 25 years.

Potency

Reviewers felt that they received a good boost of energy from this product, but not as much as some other options.

Value

These are about the average price for a product on this list. They might seem a little expensive, but they pack a lot of energy for the money.

Effectiveness

These pack a lot of energy in the form of calories, so they can be a great option for very active people, but be aware that this isn't meant to be just a snack, but an energy source, so they're not recommended if you're just sitting around a lot.

Side Effects

Some users complained of upset stomachs, but they also reported that they had eaten more than one serving and done so very

6. Power Crunch

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87
Power Crunch
Amazon Link
Product Purity
88
Potency
85
Effectiveness
90
Value
85
Side Effects
87
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$20.82
Pros:

Diabetic and kid-friendly

Provides natural energy

Sustained hungry satisfaction without heaviness

No aftertaste

Cons:

Chalky taste

Are you a diabetic that also loves to stay in shape and keep healthy? The Power Crunch Protein Bar is a product that you're going to want to keep with you. It features a very low glycemic response, making it diabetic-friendly, which is hard to find. These are high-protein, creme-filled wafer bars that are full of Proto Whey protein. You can snack on these before or after your routine without it feeling heavy in your stomach. It also is only produced with the highest quality whey hydrolysates.

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Product Purity

These energy bars are perfect for those of you who are diabetic and need something that is low in sugar content. They offer the perfect proportion of carbs, protein, and fat--and the use of whey hydrolysates provides 100% absorption of protein.

Potency

These are not the most potent bars on our list but they definitely offer an excellent energy boost for those of you who need something that is also low in sugar.

Value

These are comparable in price to other bars on our list, so they are not overly expensive.

Effectiveness

These bars will keep you full without letting you feel weighed down or uncomfortable and they will definitely give you the boost of energy you are looking for.

Side Effects

If you are worried about any stomach issues, you will be happy to heat that these bars are light and not too textured—so they won’t leave your stomach feeling heavy or uncomfortable.

7. BSN Syntha-6

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85
BSN Syntha-6
Amazon Link
Product Purity
84
Potency
90
Effectiveness
90
Value
80
Side Effects
81
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$19.99
Pros:

Light and airy texture

Great source of protein

Multiple flavors

20 grams of premium protein

Cons:

Some thought the flavors were a little bitter or fake

Protein bars are a huge hit for those who have a workout regime every day. However, it's tough to find one that's both effective and delicious, until now. The Syntha-6 Protein Crisp Bar is chocked full of proteins and a nice texture for a pleasurable eating experience. No more cutting the roof of your mouth on hard energy bars. This one has a very light and airy rice crispy texture in a salted toffee pretzel flavor.

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Product Purity

When it comes to product purity, these bars offer 20 grams of protein per bar and only 2-4 grams of sugar per bar. They come in lots of great flavors and they definitely won’t compromise your macros.

Potency

As far as potency, these offer 240 calories to keep you full and a good carb, protein, and at ratio.

Value

These bars are also available at a similar price to the other bars on our list--and while they may be a little pricey compared to cheap alternatives, these are perfect for athletes and taste great if you want something on the sweeter end.

Effectiveness

This bar is perfect for pre or post training. They offer a good bit of energy, but definitely won’t have you jumping off the walls.

Side Effects

If you want something all organic or have a sensitive stomach, then this bar may not work for you. Many users have reported some stomach upset and difficulty finding gluten free or dairy free options. If you have no stomach issues you probably won’t experience any of these issues.

8. Luna Bar

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.8
Luna Bar
Amazon Link
Product Purity
88
Potency
76
Effectiveness
85
Value
85
Side Effects
85
best offer for today
Amazon Link
Pros:

Tastes great

Lower in calories, good for smaller energy boost

Non-GMO

No artificial flavors or sweeteners

Cons:

Some people felt the marketing is sexist

This option is marketed as being an energy bar for women, but men can eat it to. The difference is in the amount of calories this one has versus a traditional energy bar, which is about two-thirds of other products because women have different caloric needs than men. Regardless of your sex however, this is a delicious option that packs a good amount of energy but not so much you'll go through the roof.

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Product Purity

This one has no high-fructose corn syrup, no GMO's, and no artificial flavors or sweeteners. It's also 70% organic so it's one of the better options out there when it comes to purity of ingredients.

Potency

With 200 calories per serving this product will give the user a good amount of energy before a run or workout, but not so much that you feel heavy or have an energy crash afterward.

Value

Because these are smaller in size than a lot of other products on our list they are quite a bit more affordable as well.

Effectiveness

These do a good job of accomplishing their purpose of giving the user an energy boost before a run. Keep in mind these are formulated for people with lower caloric needs than a lot of other options, so if you need an extreme energy boost you might want to try another option, while they're perfect for others.

Side Effects

We couldn't find any reports of negative side effects from users, and almost everyone loved the flavor, although some felt there wasn't enough coconut.

9. Vega Sport

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.4
Vega Sport
Amazon Link
Product Purity
90
Potency
70
Effectiveness
92
Value
70
Side Effects
90
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$30.94
Pros:

2 grams of glutamine to help muscle repair

Vegan

Free of gluten as well as artificial color and flavor

Non-GMO

Cons:

Some aren't crazy about the textures

Veganism is a growing trend and for good reason. Producing good tasting food without animal products can be a challenge, however, and some vegan food simply misses the mark (in our humble opinion). We agree with the ethics, but having a hard time eating things that taste like chalk or cardboard. The good news is there is also some amazing tasting vegan food, that will satisfy vegans and non-vegans alike. The Vega Sport Chocolate Protein bar is a shining example of vegan food done right. With ingredients like pea protein, sprouted brown rice, and pumpkin seed butter this is a very healthy bar. Add in cocoa butter and chocolate liquor for the irresistible taste. It also includes quinoa, dates, and sorghum, which pack in 15 grams of lean protein. Overall a tasty, ethical and healthy choice.

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Product Purity

As far as product purity, these bars use plant-sourced protein and ingredients—so if you are a vegan you will love these. They are also free of gluten, artificial flavors, and artificial colors. If you want a bar that solely uses non-GMO and organic ingredients, then you will love these bars!

Potency

These bars are pretty potent and will give you a great energy boost thanks to their macro proportion and calorie content.

Value

These are pretty pricey, but not any more than some of the other bars on our list.

Effectiveness

If you want an effective energy boost, these will definitely give you just that!

Side Effects

Users don’t really report any issues with this product—thanks to the fact that it uses organic, all-natural, and clean ingredients that are gentle on the stomach.

10. Power Bar

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81.2
Power Bar
Amazon Link
Product Purity
70
Potency
95
Effectiveness
95
Value
65
Side Effects
81
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$18.49
Pros:

Lots of energy

Good amount of protein

Most like the taste

Respected brand

Cons:

Expensive

Some don't like the texture

Power Bar has been making energy bars for a long time and is one of the most recognized and respected brands out there and for good reason. This product got great reviews for its good taste and the high amount of energy and protein it supplies, although some people didn't enjoy the chewy texture.

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Product Purity

While this option is non-GMO and contains no high-fructose corn syrup, it does have maltodextrin and dextrose, two types of sugars that don't always come from the purest sources.

Potency

With 230 calories and 44 grams of carbohydrates, this one packs a lot of energy.

Value

These are one of the most expensive options on our list, but for all the energy you get it's still a good value

Effectiveness

This product is very effective at giving the user energy because of the high amount of calories and carbs. It's actually one of the highest bars in energy on our list.

Side Effects

We couldn't find many mentions of adverse side effects with these, although there were scattered reports of a mildly upset stomach.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Product Purity

Whenever you put something into your body, especially when you are trying to make smart health choices, it is important to think about how pure it is. For consumables like energy bars you want to make sure the ingredient label is accurate and everything that it claims is in there really is and that there are no undisclosed ingredients either. We here at RunnerClick know how important this is which is why we carefully reviewed each product on our list and made sure that every one of them is pure and has an accurate ingredient list.

We know you want an energy bar that provides you with the energy you need. However, this doesn't mean you have to sacrifice taste or texture. Taste is tricky because it depends on your own personal preference, so we made sure to include something for everyone. We have options that taste like dessert and others that are blander nut still sweet. We also made sure to include the more natural options that are free of artificial ingredients as well as include options for those of you with allergies or diet sensitivities.

Potency

Similar to purity, potency is something else you will want to think about as you search for the best energy bars to use before, during, and after your runs. Potency refers to how much of each vitamin and mineral and nutrient you get per serving. When you are looking for energy boosts, you will want to ensure the bars you are using are delivering the right dose your body needs. Our review team made sure to keep this in mind as we searched for the best energy bars used by runners and we feel we have a good selection here for you to review!

According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a balanced diet should be 45-65 carbohydrates, 20 to 35 percent fat, and 10 to 35 percent protein. These recommendations are for the average adult, but runners and athletes typically need more carbohydrates to refuel after a workout--and more protein if you want to build muscle.

As a rule of thumb, it's important you choose a bar that provides you with the nutrition you need to power through after a workout. AYou should also consider the ingredients your bar is made of as well as whether or not it has a lot of added sugars. If you prefer organic food or have any food allergies makes sure to consider this as well. t

Rx Bars, the Bearded Brothers Paleo bars, Kashi bars, Kind bars, and Larabars are all made using minimal ingredients that are easy to recognize, such as whole nuts, fruits, egg whites, and natural peanut butter and chocolate sources. When you can, it is advised to opt for "real" food (as opposed to synthetically created foods) so look for bars with ingredients like oats, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and a recognizable and trusted protein component. Of course, if you have special dietary needs and/or restrictions, be mindful of those as well. Luckily, our list of bars can easily fit into gluten-free diets, Paleo diets, etc.

Value

When you are searching for nutritional supplements like energy bars, it is important to remember it usually is not a good idea to cut corners for the sake of saving a few bucks. You get what you pay for and when it is your health on the line, you don’t want to skimp on the quality. The RunnerClick review team made sure to look at the price along with all the benefits each energy bar offered We then selected the ten best ones to include on our list for you. We tried to include a variety of price points while keeping quality first and foremost!

We know you work hard for your money, and you definitely shouldn't have to break the bank to get a simple energy bar that fits your needs. Energy bars are more convenient sources of fast energy than some other sources, but there is still no need to overpay for convenience! Shopping and buying in bulk is a great cost-saving trick. The bars on our list can be bought either individually or packaged together in bulk. Buying them in boxes of twelve bars lowers the per serving cost substantially. And because the shelf life of energy bars is typically several months, it makes it easy to buy in bulk and store them away to be used as needed without worrying so much about expiration dates.

We have also taken into consideration the overall value of the bar - that is, that you are getting a quality product for your money. The bars on this list are made using quality ingredients and actually do what they are supposed to, which is provide carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that provide for your energy and recovery needs - all while keeping costs relatively low. Also included when considering value is considering portion sizes, and exactly how much (or, in some cases, how little) you are getting for your money. We want your dollars to go as far as they can, and to be spent on energy bars that are substantial in serving size.

Effectiveness

There is little point in buying new running gear or using different products if they are not effective and don’t deliver what they promise. The same is true for nutritional boosts and supplements. You want the energy bars you eat to give you that boost you are looking for without the nasty side effects. We made sure to consider the reviews from other users as well as our own experiences to find the most effective energy bars that will serve you well as you enjoy your runs or workout sessions. We know effectiveness is important for you whenever you are on the go.

Effectiveness looks at several factors, one of which is functionality. This means you need to consider where you want to consume your bar and whether or not it will provide you with the energy you need. Here we made sure to provide a list of options you can easily consume before a run or workout so you can get a quick boost of energy.

Generally speaking, the best bars to eat before and during have a lower protein and fat content and a higher carb count high. For example, while delicious, some athletes experience stomach cramps from foods like nuts and peanut butter if eaten just before a workout because they are filled will slow-digesting proteins. However, other athletes are not phased by nuts or nut byproducts at all, so it does come down to the individual case by case scenarios. Know yourself and your body!) Yet, these kinds of bars are perfect for post-workout recovery and muscle repair and will help you come back for your next workout or race faster and stronger.

Another component of practicality is convenience. One of the major appeals of purchasing energy bars is because they can conveniently be eaten in the car, during a workout, at work, in between classes, and the list goes on. They are easy to transport, they do not have to be refrigerated, no preparation is needed, and clean up is obviously a breeze. They also tend to have a great shelf life, so they are a cost-effective snack because you can buy them in bulk and they will stay good in your pantry (or emergency snack stash at the office or in the car!) for months.

They also should not be so big that they can't be easily taken with you during a run. Brands like the Honey Stinger Waffle bar on this list are perfect in this regard because they are smaller in size and can easily fit into compact compartments and pockets. And finally, for convenience sake, the bars need to be simple. That is, you do not want to have to worry about them being too crumbly, too hard to eat, easily melting during the summer months, or frozen solid when you are out on the trails in mid-winter.

Side Effects

The final key factor we considered in our search for the top ten energy products to feature on our list was any known or possible side effects. For the energy bars that made it to this guide, they are safe and healthy options for active individuals. There are few if any reported side effects and most are minor and short-lived including things like stomach upset or an aftertaste. Unless you are allergic to one of the ingredients in one of these bars you should not have any problems or concerns about side effects while enjoying them!

Although some products of this type do have side effects for certain people, thankfully the incidences of this are quite low, especially when compared to how many people experience side effects from other nutritional supplements such as protein powders and BCAAs. We looked over tons of reviews for each product and if we found that a lot of users were experiencing negative side effects it didn't make our list. Something we found is that when people do have problems using this type of product it's often due to them not drinking enough water when they eat the bar, which makes it hard to digest, so it's hard to judge a product when the problem actually lies with the user.

If you are allergic to certain foods (particularly tree nuts like peanuts, almonds, and cashews, seeds, any fruits, or suffer from Celiac's disease or are overly intolerant to gluten) than you should always be mindful of what you are consuming, especially when it comes to energy bars or snacks that you might be eating while out on the trails or roads by yourself. Always read the label and be on the lookout for ingredients that might trigger an allergic reaction. Luckily, the range of bars we have included in our list are so versatile and different that, no matter your allergy, you can find one that can safely fit into your diet.

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Watch the Fiber!

Fiber is an important part of any well-balanced diet, since it helps your body to digest food and keeps you regular. However, eating too many energy bars in one day that are high in fiber can lead to more digestive issues, including problems with regularity. Remember to eat fiber-rich products in moderation to avoid this issue!

Observe the Anabolic Window

Although energy bars are effective as a pre-workout snack, they can have significant benefits when consumed post-workout as well. In particular, protein-rich energy bars can serve as a great supplement during your anabolic window. Bodybuilders and athletes like to time their protein consumption around 45 minutes after exercise in order to maximize protein synthesis, which leads to increased muscle growth.

Talk to your doctor!

Before you start taking any type of supplements or start changing your diet and workout routine, you should talk about your plans with your doctor. This is especially important if you have serious medical concerns or existing conditions or are taking prescription medications. Your doctor can ensure you are not putting yourself at risk for health problems with your diet and workout routine and can also help guide you to find the nutritional supplements that are right for you and your unique situation! They are there to help you reach and maintain optimal health so be sure to work with them rather than against them.

Other Factors to Consider

Versatility

Not all workouts are created equal, and neither are all energy bars--in fact, they are often designed for different levels of physical activity. For instance, while all athletes need to be mindful of getting a well-balanced diet made up of carbohydrates, fats, and protein, an endurance athlete who is logging miles and miles each day is going to need a different ratio of macronutrients than, let's say, a weightlifter who does minimal cardiovascular activity and is mostly just focused on building muscle. Runners, swimmers, triathletes, and other endurance athletes typically have needed a higher amount of carbohydrate intake because they need sustained energy for longer periods of time.

Athletes who focus primarily on strength training and muscle building activities, however, need more protein. That's not to say that one doesn't need the other - after all, any runner can tell you that central muscle repair and recovery after a hard workout is getting in a decent amount of protein and weightlifters know how much better their workout is when their glucose levels are high. Knowing what you need and want out of your workout will help you to choose an energy bar that has the nutrition you need to help you meet your goals.

Whether you are trying out a new diet or are a seasoned veteran to all things Paleo, Whole 30, vegan, gluten-free or Ketogenic, your first step in choosing an energy bar (or any snack or meal) is to check out the ingredients. We know you don't want an energy bar to upset all your hard work, so our list is full of bars that can easily fit into a wide variety of dietary restrictions and regulations. Several of the bars contain only ingredients allowed in Paleo bars (think whole nuts and fruits and animal products) and organic or locally sourced ingredients. A few bars on this list are certified kosher products, and several are even terrific options for those suffering from diabetes or trying to pay special attention to their glycemic index.

Ease of Use

If you are looking for a quick, convenient pre-workout snack to give you a fast energy source that is easily digested, then you will need to opt for an energy bar that is not overly heavy and laden with too many slow-digesting fats, protein, and carbohydrates. You want something to satiate intense hunger but certainly not keep you feeling overly full and sluggish. For choosing an energy bar to eat during your run or workout, you will still want bars that are not too heavy and are quickly digested, but also that are relatively small or compact so that they can be easily transported in pockets and compartments, and that are easy to eat (i.e. not too crumbly, not too chewy, do not melt or freeze easily, etc).

Brands like Honey Stinger are great right before and during a run because they are easily digested and are a fast source of energy. Kashi and kind granola bars are another great options for before or during a workout because they are substantial enough that they curb slight hunger but light enough that they do not typically fill you up completely - it is still good to be mindful, though, of how your body responds to and digests dried fruits and nuts. Another important fact to consider when picking an energy bar to eat before or during your run is fiber - too much, and you will probably regret it!

After a workout, an energy bar needs to help replenish your depleted glycogen stores, so carbohydrate intake is still important! But it the real key to getting the most out of your workout is consuming adequate amounts of protein in the "golden window" of thirty to sixty minutes after your workout is finished, in order to best aid in muscle growth, repair, and recovery. Studies suggest that the best way to recover is to consume foods with a 4:1 ratio of protein to carbohydrates soon after finishing a workout. Protein-rich energy bars, then, are a great option for a stellar recovery snack.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: Is Pre and Post exercise the only time I can have an energy bar?

a:

In this article, we have mostly only discussed consuming energy bars as a pre, during, or post-exercise snack to aid in your workout and recovery. However, one added benefit of purchasing energy bars is how versatile they can be (which adds to their value!) so if you find yourself not being able to choose which one you want, buy them both and then use them in other recipes to ensure they do not go to waste.

Some ideas include crumbling them up and mixing them into smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal or as a delicious topping on pancakes, waffles, cereal, and even ice cream or frozen yogurt (after all, some of them just taste like a healthy candy bar)! They can also be used in baked goods and desserts (i.e. if you cut up a chocolate energy bar and mix it into a cupcake, cake, or brownie batter, it's just like adding in chocolate chips). Don't be afraid to get creative with them in the kitchen!

q: What is the difference between protein bars and energy bars?

a:

For the most part, you won't find a huge difference between bars that market themselves as "protein bars" and those that market themselves as "energy bars," and depending on your needs, it might not really make much of a difference to you which one you get (i.e. if you are just looking for a quick, convenient snack too much on between meals while running errands). You might suspect that those that advertise as "protein" bars will have more protein, but that's not always the case because some energy bars contain significant amounts of protein as well. The ingredients contained in the two often overlap, as you will find nuts and fruits, oats or rice products, and a protein component in both.

When it comes down to deciding what bar is best for you and your needs, it is probably fine to not choose one versus the other because one calls itself an "energy" bar or because one calls itself a "protein" bar. Rather, go with what fits your lifestyle best - i.e., what tastes best to you, what fits into your budget, what fits your dietary restrictions or goals, etc. Both are rich enough in macronutrients that adequate energy will be given to you to power you through a tough workout.

q: Are energy bars an essential addition to an athlete's diet?

a:

An athlete's diet often focuses on nutritional functionality. As an athlete, particularly an endurance athlete such as a runner or triathlete, what you put in your body is of critical importance. Sports nutrition is a deep and complicated topic, with tons of research and thousands of books that can be read and analyzed. In this article, you won’t find any deep scientific discussions, but what you will find is a thorough review of some great-tasting energy bars that properly serve the basic needs of runners and athletes in providing adequate energy coupled with proper nutrition and an affordable price tag.

q: What is the recommended dietary allowance of carbohydrates for adults?

a:

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for carbohydrates is 130 grams per day. This is the number of carbohydrates required for an adult, in order to fuel his or her central nervous system (including the brain) and red blood cells. It is important to have full glycogen stores because when we participate in the anaerobic exercise, our bodies switch from burning fat to our quick-burning sources of glucose in order to maintain our energy and our blood sugar level, and continue fueling our brains and our red blood cell production.

The number of carbohydrates you will need, however, will often depend on your body type and how much exercise you do. If you count macros you will have a better sense of how many carbs you actually need to consume in a day. If you don't count macros this number may be more difficult to pinpoint, but 130 is a good one to start off with.

q: Should I consider other health factors before choosing an energy bar to incorporate into my diet?

a:

Yes, you should! While working out and eating right are important for overall health and wellness if you have existing health concerns or problems currently being treated or that were recently diagnoses if it very important to discuss this with your health care provider. Talk to them about what kind of workouts you are doing, what your diet is like, and disclose any and all supplements you are taking. This is so they can help you stay on track and ensure you are doing something that can put you at risk for other health problems. For example, diabetics have to be careful of bars and supplements with a lot of carbohydrates and sugars. If you have chronic health concerns or are taking a lot of medications for things like cancer, MS, or depression then you will want to ensure your medications to do not interact with anything else you are putting in your body! Always discuss diet and exercise habits with your doctor!

Sources

  1. Elle Penner, My Fitness Pal, Dietary Blog Article
  2. Patricia Brannen, Livestrong, Dietary Blog Article
  3. Mark Barroso, Men's Fitness, Running and Strength Training Blog Article
  4. Lawrence Adams, Livestrong, Nutrition Blog Article