When you are active and on the go, there isn’t always the time in the day to make your a hearty lunch. Every if you do have time to make a hearty lunch, sometimes the activity you have plans requires you stream line and cut down on weight.
When I can swing it, I like to make my own energy bars. This is by far the most cost effective way to power your outdoor activities. But honestly, time isn’t always in abundance these days.
There are a lot of options for store bought energy bars. In my local organic grocery store, there is a whole wall devoted to these types of bars. I have to say, it’s a little disappointing. Most of the options are full of sugar and other weird ingredients that are not going to succeed in giving you energy or helping you accomplish your goal.
I went through some of the more common bars that I see people carrying and I added a couple of extras in that you may never have heard of. Here is the low down.
These bars are by far my favorite for hiking. I always have a couple of these hiding in my hiking and biking bag. The reason I like Lara bars so much is because they have few simple ingredients. There are no fillers, preservatives or weird ingredients.
They are date based and usually have some form of nut, like almond or cashew. Some of the flavors have coconut oil or dark chocolate in them. They don’t have added sugar.
The downside of these bars is that they are low in protein. Nuts, despite what most people think, are not a high protein source. They are about 50-80% fat.
They are gluten free, grain free, dairy free and I give them a moderately fat sized thumbs up.
These are my least favorite of all the bars out there. These are high in refined sugar (rice syrup) and very high in soy. I am not a huge proponent of soy. Soy is an estrogenic plant, which is not great for the majority of women who seem to have elevated estrogen. Soy is also a bad option for men, as one can imagine.
Estrogen dominance is a huge problem and something I see on hundreds of hormone panels. Environmental estrogen is a huge source of rising estrogen levels. It can come from plastics, personal care products, household cleaning products and soy can also be a huge contributor.
As a source of protein, it is generally poor. Soy is not very digestible so you don’t absorb much protein from it.These also contain added sugar. So really what you are getting here is a huge sugar bomb with no healthy fat or protein to slow the glucose absorption. The only added fat is sunflower oil which is a refined polyunsaturated oil and no good for anyone.
Clif bars also contain additives including colourings and natural flavor. The added vitamins and minerals are generally synthetic additives and are poorly absorbed. The one thing I like about Clif bars is the gnarly rock climber on the package. That dude looks badass. I’ll give them that.
I give Clif bars a huge thumbs down.
The good news about Vega Snack bars is they are gluten free. Yay! The bad news is they are incredibly high in refined sugar. Ooooh. They contain tapioca syrup and even worse, agave. Agave gets a reputation for being a healthy sugar alternative but it is actually incredibly high in fructose, even higher than high fructose corn syrup. The issue is fructose must be metabolized by the liver. The liver will convert the fructose to glycerol, the backbone of fat, and increase fat production.
Fructose, as a part of whole foods like blueberries, is fine in moderate amounts. The problem is the refined fructose, like agave or high fructose corn syrup, which stresses the liver and can disrupt normal metabolism.
There isn’t much going on here for protein. These bars do contain some healthy fats (cashews) but from there they are mostly just refined carbohydrates and sugars. I give these bars a thumbs down.
They still contain lots of soy, refined polyunsaturated fats and even though they are less sugar than regular Clif bars they still contain a substantial amount of refined carbohydrates and sugar, along with poorly absorbed vitamin and mineral additives.
I still give this bar a thumbs down. Try again, Luna bar.
Not much to say about this one, other than it sucks. Big thumbs down.
They come in a vast number of flavors including: beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, bacon and wild boar. They contain grass-fed meat, fruit and nuts. They contain no additives or preservatives or added sugar.
They do haveabout 6-9g of sugar depending on the bar. This is a little higher than I would like to see but is significantly lower than all the other bars listed above.
I think these bars are super tasty, although I have only eaten the bison and the lamb. They are incredibly high in protein and the fruit makes it a quick energy source. I honestly would like to see more meat bars out there. This is fantastic for big hiking days when you need a snack that’s gonna last. They are also Paleo friendly, which also makes me a happy camper.
Gigantic thumbs up!
Crickets are eaten regularly in many countries. You would know this if you have ever been to Asia. They provide a highly sustainable source of protein. For all you out there who worry about how to get enough sustainable protein to an increasing population, this might be the way. Crickets for all!
While they are awesome for protein, they are pretty brutal for sugar. Sugar comes in around 18g which is high.
Other than the sugar ordeal, they contain no additives or weird preservatives. I think these bars are a step in the right direction. They are gluten free, soy free, GMO free and dairy free. They do contain oats so they are not paleo friendly.
I give them a shakey thumbs up.
Eating healthy while doing big hiking, biking or ski days can be a challenge. Most of the quick to grab food that is available for these kinds of activities contains weird stuff; preservatives, refined sugar, additives, colorings and lots of soy, gluten and dairy.
Unfortunately many people believe because they are “burning it off” that this somehow cancels out the nasty ingredients they are putting in their body. This simply is untrue. Eating food high in sugar, gluten and additives will negatively affect your body no matter how much exercise you are doing.
Always be mindful of what you put into your body. Make your own energy bars when possible and when you need to grab a pre-made one, I recommend Lara bars, Epic bars or the Capul cricket bars. Have fun out there!