Energy Food Review - Bars


 

Balance Outdoor $2, four flavors
Overall grade: C-
Summary: Balance Bar has long been know for its 40-30-30 (40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, 30 percent dietary fat) nutrition plan that advocates a diet with a moderate carbohydrate intake and equal levels of protein and fat. This ratio keeps Balance Outdoor’s GI level low and prevents the user from experiencing a sugar crash after ingestion. This simple bar is sweetened without refined sugar, uses non-genetically engineered soy as its protein source, and stands up well to life in a climbing pack. Unfortunately, almost all testers commented on the bar’s bland, unappetizing taste and the need for vast quantities of water to cope with the bar’s dry consistency.
Pros: Durable, even in the heat
Cons: Bland, dry, needs excessive water for consumption
Balance Bar: (800) 454-8624, www.balancebar.com

Clif Bar $1.39-$1.59, 13 flavors
Overall grade: A
Summary: “Delicious,” “Yum!” and “Tastes great,” were just a few of the remarks made by testers describing Clif Bars, the only bar to receive unanimous praise for taste and texture. Even picky eaters found flavors they liked among the 13 currently available. Two flavors, Peanut Toffee Buzz and Cool Mint Chocolate, contain 50mg of caffeine. Clif Bar also received high marks for its filling, but never heavy, portion size, which doles out long lasting energy thanks to a quality mix of carbs, protein, fat, and fiber.
The bars’ minimally processed organic brown rice syrup provides the majority of the carbohydrates, the protein is mostly soy, and all flavors include 100 percent of the RDA of the antioxidants C and E. Clif Bars are the only bar to gain an organic rating by the USDA for using 70 percent organic ingredients. They’re also very durable in your pack and stay edible in most temperatures.
Pros: Best taste, filling, easy to eat, durable
Cons: None
Clif: (800) 254-3227, www.clifbar.com

Honey Stinger $1.69, four flavors
Overall grade: C+
Summary: Honey Stinger bars receive most of their carbohydrate calories from Honey Stinger gel, so it’s no surprise the bars provide an even source of energy and won’t send you crashing an hour or two after digestion. Oats, fruit, and maltodextrin round out the bars’ carb package, while 10 grams of protein (mostly soy) provides additional energy.
Honey Stinger bars are also packed with 100 percent of the RDA of vitamins C, E, B6, B12, and pantothenic acid in addition to high levels of calcium and other minerals. Unfortunately, the bars’ powerfully sweet taste turned back a few testers, and almost everyone found the bars to be dry, and, at times, granular.
Pros: Loaded with high level of vitamins and minerals
Cons: Overly sweet, dry, and somewhat granular
Honey Stinger: (970) 871-9108, www.honeystinger.com

Lärabar $1.89, five flavors
Overall grade: A-
Summary: Lärabars are unique to the energy-food market because they are the only bar to exclusively use raw, unprocessed ingredients. The manufacturer’s philosophy is to keep the bars as whole and natural as possible, thus making it easy for the body to recognize the food and easily assimilate the nutrition it offers.
Lärabar’s five flavors use just two to six ingredients and the bars were one of the highest ranked for taste, texture, and ease of digestion. They sit lightly in the stomach, provide clean energy, and do well in the heat and cold. A few testers felt that Lärabars did not completely fill them up, despite 200 calories per bar. Those on restricted diets should note that Lärabars are free of gluten, dairy, soy, and corn, and are vegan and kosher.
Pros: Great tasting, easy on the GI tract
Cons: Left a few testers wanting additional calories
Lärabar: (877) 527-2227, www.larabar.com

PowerBar ProteinPlus $1.99-$2.49, four flavors
Overall grade: C
Summary: Packed with 24 grams of whey and soy protein along with three amino acids, PowerBar ProteinPlus bars live up to their name. Thirty-seven grams of carbohydrates, five grams of fat, one gram of fiber, 100 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, E, B6, B12, and choice minerals round out the ingredient list.
A quick label check also reveals that one bar contains 290 calories, not something to be taken lightly. This high calorie load means ProteinPlus bars work great as recovery food after a serious outing or workout, and can even be used to replace a meal when out on the trail. Those with sensitive bellies should note, however, that copious amounts of water will be needed for complete digestion and all four flavors suffer from a taste that was described as “far from natural.” ProteinPlus bars also have a fairly limited optimal temperature range, melting in the heat and turning rock hard in the cold.
Pros: Filling, lots of protein
Cons: Unnatural taste, lots of water needed, limited temperature range
PowerBar: (510) 843-1330, www.powerbar.com

Snickers bar $.69
Overall grade: C
Summary: The good old Snicker bar, found in every grocery store and gas station in America, has been a climber staple for years. Not surprisingly most testers thought it tasted great and was “as smooth as fine wine,” in the words of one tester. Even though Snickers contains high levels of the simple sugars sucrose and corn syrup, its eight grams of fat do help to slow the sugar spike. The simple carbs did play havoc with a few testers blood sugar levels, giving them the shakes.
Snickers are also void of vitamins, minerals, and contain unsavory components like artificial flavors and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Snickers bars also turn into gooey messes on warm days, but they perform admirably in the winter and are easy to eat even when completely frozen.
Pros: Great taste, work well when frozen, inexpensive, universally available
Cons: Void of vitamins and minerals, melt easily, contain artificial flavor and partially hydrogenated soybean oil
Snickers: (800) 551-0702, www.snickers.com

The Test Results:
Gels
Bars

 



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