When searching for ways you can improve on your diet, we are sure you have heard about the importance of healthy snacks instead of junk food. Examples of healthy snacks include fresh and dried fruit, meat snacks like jerky, nuts, and protein or energy bars. But...what’s the difference between the last two? Searching for energy bars can yield results for protein bars and vice versa. So what is best for your lifestyle and fitness goals? At Caveman Foods, we recognize that finding the healthiest energy bar or the best protein bar can be a confusing area and we’ve decided to write this three-part article to hopefully make it easier for you. So let’s dive in.
First, let’s start with energy bars, which are often called snack bars. A typical snack/energy bar will be pretty distinguishable once you know what to look for. Things to look for:
- 100 to 250 calories per serving;
- Relatively high carbohydrates compared to protein bars;
- A base made of grains or nuts.
How you use these products depends on the specific nutrition. Bars that aren’t as heavy on the carbs or calories (or made up of whole food ingredients, like nuts or seeds) are best suited as healthy snacks for in-between meals rather than a meal replacement. Bars that are more calorie and carb-heavy are best suited for a pre-workout snack. Using a bar suited for pre-workout as a regular snack may prove to be counterproductive, as the high carb count may sabotage any weight loss goals you may have, whereas if you use a low-calorie snack bar for your pre-workout sustenance, it may not provide you with enough energy to complete your workouts.
And then, there’s protein bars. Protein bars also have a lot of variety, so they tend to live in their own category. When you check out the protein bar options, here is what you will find:
- A typical protein bar will have anywhere from 8 to 40 grams of protein;
- Sometimes a single protein source or it could be a blend of sources;
- 150-300 calories;
- May or may not incorporate nuts, seeds, and grains.
The protein in protein bars could be sourced from anything from milk and whey protein, to egg protein, to plant-based sources such as pea, soy, and brown rice. What we love about well-made protein bars is their versatility. While protein bars can be used for their typically intended purpose of post-workout recovery, they can also be used as a snack in-between meals or even as a meal replacement.
That’s the basics. Energy bars tend to be best suited for pre-workout pick-me-ups or healthy snacks between meals. They are lower calorie and often we hear customers replacing their not-so-healthy candy bars with a snack bar. Protein bars are versatile but the key ingredient (literally) is the protein. That protein makes them great whenever you need protein on the go. Obviously there is overlap and with the right ingredients, they can both be used for healthy snacking. So now that you know how to best use energy bars versus protein bars, what else do you need to know?
With hundreds of options, how do you choose the right energy bar or the right protein bar?,Not to worry! We’ve still got two parts left of this blog to dig deeper, so keep reading.