Home > Nutrition > Nutrition Bars: When and How to Use Nutritional Snacks

Nutrition Bars: When and How to Use Nutritional Snacks

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 5 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Nutrition Bars Nutrition Diet Bars

Nutrition bars go by many names including "meal-replacement bars," "energy bars," "protein bars," and "sports bars." Walkers, runners, cyclists, marathoners and triathletes alike enjoy them. As well as benefiting from their nutritional content, they are enjoyed for their taste and convenience. But even these health snacks can be non-beneficial if you over do them. So what makes these bars purpose-built for an athlete?

What is the Composition of an Energy Bar?

Although definitions are not well established, "energy bars" tend to claim to contain more carbohydrates, while "diet bars" (also called "weight loss" bars) generally claim to contain fewer carbohydrates. "Meal- replacement bars" are typically the largest of the nutrition bars - weighing 70 to 90 grams - and have proportionally higher amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, while "protein bars" are simply higher in protein. Some bars are combinations (such as a "meal-replacement, protein bars") while others do not claim any specific purpose. Bars may also include vitamins and minerals or other ingredients permitted only in dietary supplements, such as ephedra, and therefore must be labelled as supplements, rather than foods. It pays to read labels carefully before choosing.

Generally, nutrition bars are designed to provide a compact source of energy, carbohydrate and protein. Although the size and composition of bars varies, the carbohydrate content is typically 30-50 g per bar. Most bars are low in fat (2-3 g per bar) and fibre. The protein content of sports bars ranges from minor (1-5 g), to substantial (10-15g or more). Most sports bars are fortified with vitamins and minerals, so that an intake of 1-2 bars typically provide the daily-recommended intake of micronutrients. All this means that they're ideal for eating during exercise or immediately after, when other solid foods are not well tolerated.

Nutrition Bars are Designed to Assist Athletes in Meeting Their Dietary Needs in Specific Sports Situations:

  • They provide a more concentrated source of carbohydrate than sports drinks and provide a substantial fuel boost when consumed during or after exercise.
  • They provide an easily chewed and digested form of solid food to help satisfy hunger during prolonged exercise (i.e. cycling).
  • They provide an easily consumed source of carbohydrate and protein for post-exercise recovery.
  • They provide a reliable source of protein and micronutrients for the athlete who is travelling or living in a situation where there is limited access to a range of nutrient-rich foods.
None of these bars are designed to be used as a general snack, or as a replacement of daily meals. Substituting wholesome foods such as cereal bars, cereal, fruit, toasted muffins, sandwiches and low-fat fruit yogurt with energy can prevent you from meeting vital requirements for a range of nutrients that are not provided in the sports bar. Eating too many highly fortified nutrition bars could also potentially contribute to an overdose of minerals. When you eat several highly fortified energy bars per day, plus take a multivitamin and mineral supplement and eat highly fortified breakfast cereals, you're consuming megadoses of vitamins and minerals. Whereas you will most likely excrete the excess vitamins in your urine, your body may develop health problems related to mineral imbalances.


While nutrition bars can play a specific role in your sports and diet plans, they are not intended to play a general role in meeting dietary goals.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Babu
    Re: Health Benefits of Magnetic Bracelets
    Hi I m William my age is 45 I have 2 sons both r smart and my wife and my mother who is age 70 yrs and she has…
    22 March 2019
  • Craig
    Re: Essential Oils to Avoid
    If you can how do you reverse being immune to lavender oil. I used it for longer than two weeks. now it doesnt work anymore. Thanks…
    30 July 2018
  • Nug
    Re: Does Leech Therapy Really Work?
    1. Check your sugar blood first 2. Put the leech 4 in your foot finger (2 right & 2 left) 3. Next day check your sugar…
    28 June 2018
  • Rits
    Re: Does Leech Therapy Really Work?
    Hi I want to give this a try but there is nowhere locally for me to have access to this therapy. I wouldn't mind giving it a…
    4 May 2018
  • Dr.Ali
    Re: Natural Testicular Cancer Treatments
    Hello Is there any update treatment for testicular microlithasis?? Thank you much.
    21 January 2018
  • Sue
    Re: Essential Oils to Avoid
    I have very low blood pressure 81/31. What oils should I avoid?
    21 December 2017
  • kin
    Re: Lavender: a Natural Antibiotic and More
    We are asking for the price of; ANTI-BACTERIAL LAVENDER THICKNESS 5CM THICKNESS 5 pcs each also include cost…
    11 October 2017
  • Baraka
    Re: Wild Yam: Is it a Scam?
    I have been using wild yam tablets and I do not experience menopausal symptoms that my friends in their 50's do. My sister who has a…
    4 July 2017
  • Lady T
    Re: Can Garlic Treat Athletes' Foot?
    I've used garlic w. Olive order for about 3 nights straight and it is working tremendously! And my feet were awful but they…
    1 July 2017
  • Jo G
    Re: Essential Oils to Avoid
    Can I use WHITE Angelica as a diabetic? I know the book says not to use Angelica, but my book is missing information for White Angelica,…
    18 June 2017