Best Energy Bars, AMT top picks
Energy bars may have been created to fuel athletes through grueling training sessions and endurance races, but over time these tasty nutrition bricks have evolved into a favorite snack, meal replacement, and/or emergency food for those on the go. And with a mind-boggling selection of bars to choose from, there is likely a bar for you--no matter your nutrition requirements and taste preferences.
Whenever anyone on the Athletic-Minded Traveler editorial staff hits the road, the second thing packed (after the gym shoes), is the energy bar collection-.yep that's right, "collection." Different cravings require different bars!
Here's our "Best in Show":
Best Candy Bar Impersonator: Premier Nutrition's Odyssey Bar (Caramel Nut)
With 30 grams of protein and only 7 grams of sugar, this bar's 300 calories deliver. Paula comments that "It tastes like a Milky Way Candy bar; Not like an engineered nutrition/vitamin bar."
Runner-Up: Powerbar Triple Threat (all flavors)
These tasty treats also receive kudos for their candy bar like taste. At about 230 calories and 10-12 grams of protein, these bars surpass the nutrition profile of a Nestle Crunch, but don't quite stack up to the Odyssey.
Best Traveler: The Greens+ Energy Bar in Natural
This uber healthy bar is a unique cold-pressed, alkaline-forming green food bar. There's nothing processed in this all natural 40-30-30 bar. Despite its rather unappetizing appearance (It's green.), the bar's soft texture and medium sweet flavor make it a winner. With no chocolate or yogurt coating or crumbly ingredients, this thing can take the rumble and tumble of travel. At 240 calories, 10 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber, it's not as protein rich as the competition, but for those looking for something different, give it a whirl. You can buy single bars at Whole Foods in the supplement area (for some reason you won't typically find these bars with the others). For those who are already fans of the Greens, they've engineered a little calorie bait and switch. The older models list the bar's calories at 162 and protein at 12 grams-hmmmm?
Best Cookie Impersonator: Odwalla Chocolate Chip Peanut
This carb heavy bar (38 grams) resembles an oatmeal, chocolate chip cookie with a peanutty taste. Its 250 calories yield a paltry 7 grams of protein so it likely won't pass muster for hard-core athletes. But for those who really need a treat, and want to avoid a total calorie explosion, this all natural comfort food bar with its chocolate chips and cookie like texture is just the thing. One of our staff recommends enjoying this bar with a cup of Peet's coffee.
Caveat: we enjoyed the previous formulation which was a little more firm. For some reason, Odwalla just recently reformulated the bar making it softer.
Best Breakfast: Balance Bar+ Yogurt Berry
With a yogurt coating and fruity flavor this 200 calorie bar offers 14 grams of protein and antioxidants. However sugar watchers may balk at the 17 grams and the big zero for fiber. Still, you can't overlook that protein.
Best Old-Timer: Tiger's Milk
This bar has been around since the 1960s and truly warrants the healthy "snack" label. With only 140 calories, 7 grams of protein and a pretty good chocolatey taste, it's the perfect pick-me-up.
Best Meal Replacement: Atkins Advantage Smore's Bar
The Atkins Bar misses the calorie punch of the Odyssey, but with 17 grams of protein, low sugar, high fiber and 9 grams of fat, the bar's 220 calories will satisfy. It won't win any taste awards, but it's pretty darn good. The South Beach Diet crowd swears by this bar. Also see Best in Size below.
Runner-Up: PureFit Nutrition Bar (230 calories, 18 grams protein)
Best Diet Bar: Genisoy's Low Carb Crunch, Chocolate Chip
This chocolate chip bar has cookie dough taste and lots of crispies for a crunchy texture. Our staff like this bar for its healthy snack profile (160 calories, 15 grams protein, low sugar), visible chocolate chips and ease of transport and consumption (no coating means no mess).
Best in Size: Various
One universal winning trait of any bar: a decent size. No matter how wonderful the nutrition profile and taste, if the bar is puny, it's a loser. We all want a bar that takes some time to enjoy. Some bars are just too small! Bigger bars mentioned: Kashi's Go Lean, MLO's Bio Protein, Premier Nutrition's' Odyssey, Promax Protein Bar, and weighing in at 400+ calories, the Big Whey Bar. Another favorite big boy, Met-Rx Big 100 in chocolate graham cracker chip. At 360 caloires, 27 grams protein and little fat, this bar earns raves for its taste and hunger alleviation.
The list of bar options seems infinite. Our best advice, maximize protein and fiber and minimize sugar and then sample away to find a few you like.
Buying Tip: Order in bulk online to save big. We've used Vitamin Shoppe and Vitaglo. Both offer free shipping over a certain amount spent. (I even order my tea online and save over 40% versus Whole Foods' pricing on Yogi Teas.)