As their name suggests, energy bars can be excellent sources of the vital energy you need to fuel you throughout your day.
In their purest and most satisfying form, these tasty snacks give you an energizing boost before, during and after a workout to help optimize performance. They can also give you the extra push you need to make it through a long meeting, a tiring journey or even just a grueling Monday.
However, in their unhealthiest and ultra-processed forms, popular energy (and protein) bars can be sneaky sources of added sugars, saturated fats and unwanted calories. Hiding in plain sight, only clever marketing campaigns and branding strategies separate some popular health bars from your run-of-the-mill candy bars. For example, most CLIF “Energy” bars have over 20g of sugar - nearly as much sugar as a can of soda.
So, what nutrients make an energy bar great? And how can you find quality sources of raw, beneficial energy in a marketplace full of unhealthy ones?
We’ll dive into all that and more in ATAQ’s Guide to Energy Bars:
What Nutrients Give Us Energy?
Before we can understand the essential components of an ideal energy bar, we need to understand the compounds responsible for supplying our body with sustained energy.
On a daily basis, our biological systems rely on three critical nutrients for fuel:
- Carbohydrates: broken down into glucose to supply energy for cells
- Proteins: propel muscle growth and bodily functions
- Healthy Fats: help produce hormones and energy reserves for cells
While each of the three plays an essential role in our body, carbohydrates serve as our primary energy source and will be the backbone of most energy supplements.
However, this does not mean that we can avoid healthy proteins and essential fats when crafting a diet to increase energy production. A complementary balance of nourishing meals and nutritious supplements is your first step on the path toward meaningful energy.
What Makes A Great Energy Bar?
When looking for your new favorite energy bar, or any energizing food for that matter, there are two important categories you need to consider:
Taste and Ingredients
Beyond sustenance, taste is a primary reason many of us eat the foods we do. While we aim for a healthy and diverse diet, if the foods we eat don’t taste great, that becomes a much harder goal to achieve.
When looking at energy bars, it’s important to make sure that good taste comes from good ingredients, not their processed cousins we expect to find in sodas, candy bars and other unhealthy snacks.
Next time you read the ingredient list of your favorite bar, or a new one you want to try, keep an eye out for the ratio of healthy to unhealthy flavors, additives and ingredients.
Here’s a brief guide to help:
- Moderate Levels of Protein: 4-5 grams is ideal for energy without slowing digestion
- Non-GMO: the less genetically-modified foods in your diet, the better
- Minimal Added Sugars: aim for under 15 grams
- Low Quantities of Saturated Fat: under 10% of your daily limit (16-22g) is ideal
- Moderate Carb Levels: shoot for 10% of your daily limit (around 300g)
- Surplus of Added Sugars: some “health” bars easily clear 20g of sugar
- Artificial Colors and Flavors: many bars rely on unnatural taste and appearance to make up for an underwhelming product
When you’re looking for an energy bar, the way it energizes you will obviously be very important.
We recommend viewing an energy bar as an energy-boosting ally to a healthy diet, rather than as a substitute for unhealthy, highly caffeinated drinks like a Red Bull or energy shots like 5-hour Energy.
With this in mind, you need an understanding of what ingredients serve as a great source of healthy energy, rather than those that just provide a quick fix for a bad night’s sleep.
Here’s some quick information on healthy sources of energy versus unhealthy ones:
- Actigin Extract: derived from Ginseng to naturally help your body produce lasting energy
- Natural Sugars: the simpler the sugar, the less likely you are to “crash”
- Excess Caffeine: too much caffeine can leave you anxious, jittery and prone to later exhaustion
Energy Bars and Your Diet
Now that we understand the three critical sources of energy and what to look for in a nutritious energy bar, it’s time to find a consistent, healthy way to incorporate these excellent snacks into your diet.
The first important thing to know is that no health supplement is a substitute for a healthy diet.
Regardless of whether you aim to drop 10 pounds of fat or add 15 pounds of muscle, a health/energy/protein bar should only serve as a companion to a well-rounded and sustainable meal plan.
So, how can we marry energy bars with a beneficial diet?
Follow these four steps:
1. Create a plant-based diet grounded in good sources of energy:
- Carbs: fruits, vegetables and grains
- Proteins: chickpeas, oats, rice and ATAQ Protein
- Healthy Fats: nuts, seeds and avocados
- Energy Drinks: often unhealthy sources of caffeine
- Sugary Foods and Beverages: likely to give you a sugar “crash”
- Unhealthy Energy Bars: promise unlimited energy; deliver unwanted ingredients
- Skip The Vending Machine: try an energy bar for a midday boost at work
- Satiate Your Hunger: healthy bars are the perfect way to satisfy a craving
- Find What Works For You: whether you feel tired pre, mid or post-workout, raw energy bars can be a reliable source of healthy fuel
- Keep Bars Within Reach: storing energy bars in your car, office or gym bag makes for easy access to revitalizing energy
As with any and all diet tips, we recommend you take the above with a (metaphorical) grain of salt. The key to developing the best diet for energy is finding a long-term balance of nourishing foods and revitalizing supplements that works for you.
Does ATAQ Make Energy Bars?
Backed by the science of biochemistry, ATAQ’s plant-based Raw Energy bars are perfect for before or after a workout and can fuel you throughout the day. Using concentrated and clinically tested Ginseng and Rosa Roxburghii extract, our supplement helps speed up recovery, decrease muscle damage and reduce inflammation while supporting glycogen production for sustained high-performance output.
With simple plant-based ingredients, our bars help the body clear toxins (which stimulates recovery) and come in delicious flavors like:
- Banana Nut
- Blueberry Coconut
- Chocolate Walnut
- Mango Almond
- Variety Pack (all the above!)