Energy bars are a convenient way to get energy from food. They are nicely packed with the proper ingredients to fuel your next hike. But not all energy bars are equal. Continue reading to learn more about different types of hiking bars and how to pick the one to fit your demands.
Types Of Energy Bars
The primary purpose of the protein bars is to provide an easy source of protein to recover and grow muscles after a workout. Since hiking is not considered as an activity to gain weight or muscles, the protein bars shouldn’t be used for it. However, our bodies have a process called gluconeogenesis which converts excessive protein into carbohydrates.
The bars with protein weight of ~20 grams more often than not have an unnatural and unpleasant taste. Therefore, it’s recommended to choose the ones that are close to ~10 grams. They not only taste better but less likely to cause GI distress.
From their name, they are intended to be a substitution for a regular meal. FDA has no definition for a “meal replacement“, but usually it refers to a product with 200-300 calories, diversified set of vitamins and a balanced nutrition profile.
The main idea is to provide a good source of carbohydrates and electrolytes over a long period. It’s usually done by using complex carbs that are digested over many hours.
There is a significant trend in a food consumption to eat organic food, and this is where organic bars try to excel. Added protein and artificial sweeteners such as isomaltol, sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup are rejected to be included in the ingredients list.
How to pick an energy bar
In my mind, no matter what promises a manufacturer gives, you should always start with taste. I had boxes of different bars that were eaten for a very long time because they tasted horrible. The last thing you want on a hike is to shovel down your throat the next piece of an awful bar.
Next is to define your the price range. The better quality including organic ingredients always lies closer to the high spectrum of 2-3$ per bar.
The last thing is to pick macro ratios: carbs / fat /protein. When you go on a short hike, take a carb-loaded bar. It will provide you with an instant easily digestible energy. For longer hikes, I recommend looking for a higher content of fat. It packs much more energy in 1 gram. After the glycogen reserves are depleted in a liver, it switches to the ketosis and starts producing energy from fat.