Before you start your workout, you probably look for something quick and easy to munch on to give you a bit more energy. Sometimes you may not even be headed to the gym—you just need an extra bit of energy to make it through the rest of the afternoon. A great way to get a properly balanced serving of all the right nutritional elements you need for a safe and effective workout is to grab an energy bar. Energy bars are a great alternative to chocolate bars or other sugary, tempting options, and will give you all the nourishment you need to make it through that midday slump.
Here are 5 things to look for when shopping for energy bars:
- Natural protein source such as nuts, seeds, quinoa, brown rice protein, or hemp protein
- Natural sweeteners such as brown rice syrup, honey, maple syrup, or coconut nectar instead of sugar
- Short ingredients list with ingredients you recognize
- As few processed ingredients as possible
- No preservatives, additives, or unpronounceable ingredients
A key thing to note is to look for ingredients that you know. If there’s something you’re unsure of, then it probably isn’t the best thing to be feeding your body. Look for ingredients that you can pronounce because a lot of bars have additives and preservatives to prolong their shelf life but are not necessarily good ingredients to be consuming.
Here are 4 ingredients to avoid when looking for the best energy bars to purchase:
- High-fructose corn syrup: Worse than refined white sugar, is the most processed form of sugar, and is genetically modified
- Whey: Not as great as people assume, high absorption rate but can also be extremely allergenic, causing inflammation and bloating, and it is very acidic on the body
- Natural flavors: Usually means MSG which is a flavor enhancer that can cause side effects like facial pressure, headaches, nausea, and chest pains
- Artificial sweeteners: Low or zero calorie products trick the body into thinking it has received some form of energy, and cravings become unsatisfied, which results in you craving even more sugar
Don’t forget that home-made energy bars are very doable! Yes, this can take some planning on your end but you can customize your energy bars to include all of your favorite ingredients and combine them into one awesome pre-workout bar. When you make your own, you know exactly what is going in it and can ensure that all ingredients are going to be healthy choices. Give the recipe below a try and pack it for your next pre-workout snack.
Homemade Energy Bars
What’s In It?
- 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
- ½ cup smooth almond butter
- ½ cup brown rice syrup
- ½ cup Nude Bee honey or vegan honey substitute
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup dried apricots, chopped
- 1/3 cup raisins
- ½ chopped almonds
- ¼ cup each: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds
- 2 ½ cups puffed rice cereal
- 1 ¼ cups rolled oats
- ¼ cup Enjoy Life of dark chocolate chips
How It’s Made:
Preheat oven to 200° F. Spread the nuts and seeds on a large baking pan and lightly toast in the oven for about 10 minutes.
In a large saucepan, heat together coconut oil, almond butter, and rice syrup on a low heat. At the last, add the honey and heat until blended.
In a separate bowl, add the rice cereal and oats and mix in the almond mixture until the grains are well coated.
Add the apricots, raisins, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and chips; mix well.
Using lightly oily hands, press mixture evenly into an 8-inch square cake pan greased with coconut oil. Let stand for 15 minutes or until firm. Cut into squares.