These five snacks fit the bill when your body needs recharging to keep going and going.
By Candy Sagon
For long hikes or strenuous outdoor activities, protein bars are a convenient way to fuel a Scout’s body between meals. But choose carefully—you want a bar with a balance of carbs for energy, protein for muscle-strength and endurance, and not too much fat. For the healthiest results (and best taste), keep the protein under 20 grams. Here are five of the best:
Clif Builder’s bar
Balance Nutrition Energy Bar/High Protein
PowerBar Nut Naturals
THREE TYPES OF ENERGY BARS
An energy/protein bar should be more than just a candy bar with some added vitamins. A study of two popular types of energy bars by Ohio State University found that bars with a 40:30:30 ratio (40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, 30 percent fat) gave a moderate increase in blood sugar (for energy) that held steady for about two hours. Bars with higher carbs produced a big sugar rush, followed by a sharp decline—similar to eating a candy bar.
Don’t be fooled by super high-protein bars, either. Those won’t provide the needed energy boost quickly enough, say nutrition experts, and they can be dehydrating, which is dangerous on a long trek.
Here are the basic types of energy bars:
High carbohydrate, low protein: These bars often use combinations of dried fruit, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice, and sometimes nuts to provide a quick hit of energy. Many of the dried fruit bars, as well as many well-known granola and breakfast bars, fall into this category. They’re basically sugar with some vitamins plus a little protein and fiber.
40:30:30: When you check the nutrition information, this is the basic ratio of carbohydrates to protein to fat you should see—the same balance found in a healthy meal. These bars work for a large group of people, from busy adults needing a convenient meal replacement, to athletes, to outdoorsmen. A good example of this type is the Balance bar, with 21 grams of carbs, 15 grams of protein, and 7 grams of fat.
High protein: These are generally the biggest bars, very high in calories as well as protein. These are more suited for body-builders than outdoor campers or hikers. Dietitians generally advise eating no more than 20 grams of protein in an energy bar and many of the high-pro brands contain 20 to 30 grams. Too much protein can be dehydrating and hard on the kidneys, which is why at least one major high-protein brand notes on the label that drinking 8 ounces of water with the bar is strongly recommended.