Packaged Energy. Know the advantages and disadvantages of energy bars

By: Debra Wein MS, RD, LDN, CSSD, NSCA-CPT *D
Courtney Standish Hernandez, MS, RD, LDN

When you go to the supermarket you can see a lot of bars that promise more energy. But, is it really true what they promise? or they are actually pure junk food. After practice or going to the gym what’s better… an energy bar or natural food?


After a hard training session you can choose between a banana or an energy bar. Several studies show that natural food is the best choice as fuel for workout and recovery. Actually, nutrition bars have no nourishing advantage over real food. Bars provide mainly carbohydrates and/or protein, and some contain vitamins. But they don’t have nutrients that we find in real food. Furthermore, bars, almost always contain more fat than you would get by eating a piece of fruit, or a chicken breast.

Other advantages

By comparing their weight in grams, all natural foods are cheaper. However the bars’ great advantage is that you can take them anywhere and eat them anytime. When choosing a bar, select the one with the most amount of carbohydrates which shouldn’t come as sugar, low in fat and not too high in fiber. These characteristics are almost always present in very tasty bars, because they have great amounts of sugar and saturated fat. Nothing good for the body of a soccer player.


Before eating a bar you should read the label and choose one with 60% carbohydrates.

If you want a bar after workout, find one with a proportion of 3: 1 in carbohydrates; it’s protein to feed your body.

For recovery, the bar may have some fiber. You should drink enough water to help ease digestion of fiber and protein.

Remember to be careful with saturated fats and the total amount of calories of the bars, so that you don’t consume more than you need.


Energy bars should not replace a balanced meal, because they don’t have all the nutrients your body needs.


An energy bar can be carried in a gym bag, and be used as snack, before or after workout.


Some people make their own energy bars at home. They use cereals, such as oats, and different types of seeds.