Nutrition bars are one of the few foods that were created for space and returned to Earth. Yes, that is correct. Manufactured by the Pillsbury Company, these “space food sticks,” as they were known in the 1960s, were essentially non-frozen snacks that provided energy and nourishment. These thin sticks were easy to carry and fit comfortably into astronauts’ helmets.
In a matter of time, these bars got reformulated and reinvented to be used as fuel for athletes and for those who wanted to eat healthily and others who needed the necessary nutrition. Like all foods, these bars are designed to boost your physical energy, nourish you, and give you a protein boost along with a combination of fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins, all of which are balanced to keep what they say they do.
The difference between an energy bar and an energy drink, besides its physical condition, is that the bar does not contain caffeine. These handy bars come in many different flavours, from simple vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry to the most decadent raw cocoa with peanut butter and fruit flavours. So many choices are available, you name it, it’s there!
The company decided to remove the “Space” label from these bars and put them on the commercial market. However, the food sticks left no traces in the mass. Then, in the 1980s, the first “nutrition” bar for athletes was released commercially. Its selling point: high in protein and ideal as a post-workout snack. It was only a matter of time before these energy bars were marketed from a different perspective. Suddenly they were everywhere and presented themselves as the perfect snack for all needs.
A meal replacement, a quick snack, fuel for your stressful day and also a must-have for those on a certain diet. Soon they took the world by storm. Whatever their name, protein bars, health bars, snack bars, food bars, and granola bars all have the same story and serve the same purpose of helping you with nutrition that will help you through the day.
However, it’s wise to analyze the ingredients very carefully to make sure they are what they say, as they can range from healthy and wholesome to artificially flavoured, sweetened, and highly processed items.
What to Look For and Avoid: Read Labels Carefully
Whole Grains: There are a variety of whole grains today, from oats to whole wheat flour to buckwheat and corn. The list is endless. They are a source of carbohydrates and fibre and are essential to our diet, however, due to several stages of processing, completely refined whole grains should be avoided.
Nuts and seeds: They contain good fats and are excellent sources of protein and fibre. They should be included in your daily diet. Avoid extra fat that might appear on the ingredients list.
Sweeteners: Look for bars that contain nuts as they act as natural sweeteners and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Avoid those that contain high amounts of sucrose or fructose like corn syrup. Dates, raisins, and berries are the most common ingredients in energy bars. However, read the labels carefully to check the sugar content.
The different types of bars Energy bars can be defined by their ingredients and nutrients.
Protein Bars: Some protein bars are specially developed for building muscle and are therefore rich in protein so that muscles can recover after a workout.
Endurance Bars: Most endurance bars are designed to be taken before a long workout. Compared to a protein bar, they have more carbohydrates to give you energy.
Activity Bars: They are similar to endurance bars and focus on conserving energy. They are great for outdoor exercise.
Organic Bars: This is a new range of energy bars that aim to provide energy in its natural form. They do not contain any artificial sweeteners or proteins, but rather have simple ingredients that speak for themselves.