Energy Bars or Junk Food?

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N. If you have cruised the grocery store aisle lately for something fast and convenient to eat, you have undoubtedly seen an increase in the number of nutrition/energy bars on the shelves.  The energy bar industry is a multimillion-dollar booming business.  You can find these bars at the grocery store, the pharmacy, the health food store, discount stores, your fitness center and even at the gasoline station.  We are moving in a fast paced world and all want a quick-pick-me-up snack so we can keep our energy levels up. The energy bar, once used exclusively by the elite athlete, is now being marketed to seniors, weekend warriors, teens, weight watchers and a multitude of other markets not yet even thought of. Nutrient Composition Energy bars contain simple and complex carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals in varying amounts.  (See Bar Wars below for the specifics).  They generally fall into three basic categories: high protein, high carbohydrate and a balance of nutrients (40-30-30). Energy bars range from 120 calories to 515 calories per bar. The larger the bar, the more calories and nutrients it contains. During long, strenuous exercise, eating or drinking about 100 – 300 calories per...Read more