Coaching Association of Canada

Does Your Sport Bar Measure Up?

Your stomach is growling and you need some energy to get through your upcoming workout. Before you reach for that handy snack bar, consider this: no single bar is designed for all athletes in all situations. When selecting a bar, you need to know what it can do for you!

Compare sport bars to find your favourites for every occasion:

  • Read the list of ingredients. The best bars contain wholesome ingredients like whole grains, rolled oats, wheat bran, soy or whey protein, fruit, or nuts. Many also contain herbal ingredients, but in such small quantities that they have little effect.
  • Look at grams of sugar, fat, protein, and fibre. Remember that during exercise you need carbohydrates but don’t want much fat, fibre, or protein; however, as a midday snack these nutrients will keep you satisfied longer.
  • Compare calories per serving. Choose bars in the 100-150 calorie range during tapering or if you are a light athlete or if trying to reduce your body fat. Bars over 200 calories are appropriate during heavy training, for heavier athletes, or for those trying to gain muscle mass.

Bars for Endurance Exercise

Prior to, during, or after prolonged exercise, you may choose a cereal bar that is low in fat, fibre, and protein to replenish your fuel stores. Choose bars with less than 4 grams each of fat, fibre, and go for mor than 15 grams of protein if choosing for after. Refer to the list below for bars that can deliver sustained energy during exercise.

Cereal Bars (in alphabetical order):

  • Fig Bars
  • Kashi
  • Kind
  • Nature’s Path Crispy Rice
  • Nutrigrain
  • Oatmeal to Go
  • Sun-Rype FruitSource
  • Nature Valley (Fruit and Nut)
  • Vector
  • Special K

Bars After Resistance Exercise

A sport bar consumed within minutes after resistance training can help speed up your exercise recovery. Choose a bar that has less than 5 grams of fat, more than 40 grams of carbohydrate, and 15-35 grams of protein, to help rebuild and refuel your muscles.

Recovery Bars (in alphabetical order):

  • Cliff Builder
  • Detour
  • ElevateMe!
  • Genisoy Protein
  • Luna
  • Lara
  • Nature’s Path Optimum Energy
  • Powerbar
  • Powerbar Energize
  • Powerbar Harvest
  • Pure Protein
  • Quest 
  • Simply Protein

(This list is not a complete list of adequate recovery bars on the market. Please check with your Registered Sports Dietitian for current recommendations.)

Substantial Bars for Midday Snacks

For a hearty snack choose a bar with at least 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fibre, to give you lasting energy and keep you satisfied for longer. Bars marked with “*” are high fat and you need at least 2 hours to digest them before your next exercise session.

Good Snack Bars (in alphabetical order):

  • BIO Protein*
  • ElevateMe!
  • Flash5 Energy Bar
  • Kellogg’s Special K Protein Meal Bar
  • Powerbar Triple Threat*
  • Vega Meal Replacement Bar*
  • Kellogg's Vector Bar
  • Zone Perfect Supplement Bar*

Choose Foods First

Whether you are an athlete fuelling for your next workout, trying to stay lean or trying to gain muscle mass, bars can deliver energy in a convenient package. But don’t rely on bars for your everyday nutrition! They are after all, a processed food – high in sugar and usually low in nutrients. Real food snacks such as fruit, yogurt, veggies, tuna wrap, cheese, crackers, and peanut butter deliver lasting energy and key nutrients to fuel your training and good health!

Print Friendly and PDF