A large majority of us have extremely busy lives. We end up consuming packaged “convenience” meals more than we should. In such cases, energy bars appear like a quick source of fuel, especially when you’re on the go.
However, many of these store-bought options have huge amounts of sugar, and they can make a balanced diet unbalanced. This is why you should learn how to make energy bars. According to one recent research, Americans are overdoing it with sugar consumption: the average American takes 22 teaspoons, which is about 355 calories of sugar per day, and a large majority comes from prepared and processed foods.
If you make energy bars by yourself at home, you can benefit from all of the macronutrients as well as a variety of minerals and vitamins without all the additives and added sugar. Continue reading to find out how to make energy bars from the comfort of your home. For a list of the best hiking snacks that guarantee to give you more zest and energy, see our article on this topic.
What are energy bars?
Energy bars are products that enable us to keep working out and perform at a higher intensity for a longer time. Energy bars are mainly composed of carbohydrates, along with smaller amounts of fat and protein.
They provide convenient types of sugar that digest easily and quickly to provide the body with some energy. They are built to work with the body’s energy systems and support the aerobic system specifically, which burns solely on carbohydrates.
Even though there are numerous brands of energy bars on the market, they are all categorized into a few different kinds. The types of energy bars are defined by the nutrients it contains, as well as how it is packaged or textured.
Picking a good energy bar depends partially on your own nutritional needs along with your preferences of texture and taste. Some of the types include:
- Meal Replacement: Instead of a quick rush of energy during lengthy workouts, meal replacement bars are made particularly for weight loss and dieting. They are designed to provide the body with complete nutrition for lunch or even breakfast to fill you up. All these bars provide calories from proteins, carbs, and fats in such proportions that satisfy hunger.
- Protein Bars: A few energy bars, like protein bars, are made to help you gain muscle mass. These bars try to stuff as much protein as necessary for recovery from vigorous workouts.
- Endurance Bars: These are mainly designed to be taken before a lengthy workout. They usually have a greater proportion of carbs to provide non-sugary, complex energy that can be digested over an extensive period of time.
- Activity Bars: Just like the endurance bars, the activity bars are focused on prolonging energy. Though, they tend to concentrate on outdoor activities all day that requires energy and meal-replacement nutritional features. They also have crunchier, and more granola, qualities.
- Organic Bars: There’s a new kind of energy bar that focuses primarily on providing energy in a natural method. Organic bars are devoid of artificial sweeteners as well as inserted protein and prefer to have a solid load of simple natural ingredients.
Energy bars uses and benefits
Power bars offer an amazing energy boost during exercise and is an ideal way to aid recovery immediately after the strenuous workout. While being on the go, it is always easier to consume a bar chock full of the ingredients that are needed by the body instead of prolonging the entire process and preparing a meal.
Energy bars or power bars provide a more expedient meal replacement or portable snack for individuals who usually enjoy a healthy diet. Most weight lifters use these protein packed bars to improve their muscle recovery and growth.
Different energy bars provide different amounts of fat, calories, sugar and protein. This is why most consumers should read all labels carefully before picking the bar that suits their dietary needs. People with busy lifestyles often decide to consume energy bars rather than missing a meal. The energy bars are an appropriate snack to take for a run or even a cycle ride to prevent fatigue and energy loss.
Convenient to prepare
As energy bars don’t require a lot of preparation, special refrigeration or utensils, they can be kept in gym bags or even in a pocket and be used as a quick meal replacement.
Fitness fans or control athletes who are sticking to their calorie controlled diet may just find it difficult to work out the nutritional values in daily meals bought from a shop or restaurant. Since energy bars have all the calories and ingredients on the back, they let consumers select a bar that requires the preferred amount of ingredients.
When energy bars are used as snacks, they typically contain about 100 to 180 calories. Bars for meal replacements, on the other hand, contain 300 calories at least. The performance of endurance athletes is improved when they eat power bars at special intervals. Consuming a power bar with 25 to 40 grams of carbs or 100 to 200 calories just an hour before a workout helps build up energy reserves, and leads to surges of energy during the workout.
The bar must have some fat, protein or fiber which can slow digestion down and also cause abdominal distress. Within one hour of workout, an athlete can enhance his/her muscle recovery by consuming a bar containing about 200 to 250 calories and has a three to one ratio of carbohydrates and protein.
When to Avoid Energy Bars
Energy bars shouldn’t be a snack to munch on during the day. Energy bars should not also be a substitute for normal food. They are to be used as sports nutrition as well as when you’re going to be active for the day – and that’s it.
However, if you eat the bar as a snack it is not going to cause you any harm, but you will be wasting money and getting suboptimal nutrition. You would be better off eating good food and using energy products when you’re going to have a serious workout.
Making your own energy bars
Why should you make energy bars by yourself? First of all, you will trim off a few dollars from your monthly food bill. Secondly, the homemade energy bars will be a lot better as workout fuel than the commercial bars which are made with artificial sweeteners and preservatives. Besides, making these energy bars is a snap.
- Food processor: this equipment is used to ease the preparation process. All ingredients are combined inside the food processor to be processed for a few minutes.
- Plastic wrap/wax paper: the plastic wrap is used to store the energy bar during and after preparation. Some wax paper and/or plastic wrap is laid on your work surface while the dough is dumped on top. After the dough is pressed until it forms a square, it can be wrapped and chilled for an hour or even overnight.
- Sharp knife: this tool is used to cut the energy bar into eight large bars or sixteen small squares, depending on what you want.
The energy bar can be made with different ingredients, so you can customize how your energy bar tastes. A few common ingredients are;
- Brown rice syrup: this ingredient is best for both crunchy and chewy bars. It was very difficult to find in the past, but now, you can buy jars in grocery stores natural foods sections. This thick syrup also has a sweet tasting, caramel-like flavor. It helps bind all the ingredients in the bar.
- Dates: a lot easier to use than rice syrup, you can also make energy bars with dates. The semi-dry fruits are used as a sticky cream when ground. The paste works like an adhesive with other nuts and dried fruits. Dates taste like brown sugar as well, sweetening your energy bars without any addition of refined sugar.
- Mixed fruits: immediately you master how these energy bars are prepared, you can begin to experiment with your combinations of nuts, fruits, and grains. You will not find energy bars that as good as these ones at the store.
Here are three preparation methods.
1. Crunchy peanut butter and chocolate granola bars
You can double the rice syrup in the recipe if you prefer chewy bars. This should make eight large or sixteen small bars.
Ingredients for this recipe:
- ½ cup chopped and unsalted peanuts
- 1 ½ cups rolled oats
- 1 ½ cup crispy rice cereal
- 1/3 cup of brown rice syrup
- 3 tsp smooth peanut butter
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup of chocolate chips
- Heat your oven before starting to 325 F and line the 8- by 8-inch pan with parchment ensuring that the ends overhang on the edges of the pan. Some cooking spray can help hold the parchment together.
- Mix the rolled oats and peanuts on the baking sheet. Toast it until the nuts are sweet-scented for about 8 to10 minutes. Combine the oats, nuts, and cereal in a mixing bowl.
- Also, combine the peanut butter, rice syrup, salt, brown sugar, and vanilla in a small saucepan. Cook it over medium heat, and occasionally stir, until the syrup relaxes to a pourable consistency or when bubbles appear on its surface, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
- Pour your syrup over the cereal and nuts. Stir using a heat-proof spoon and continue until all dry ingredients are coated evenly. Scrape the mix into the pan and then pat it into the corners. Bake it for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle your chocolate chips over the energy bars and bake it for another 2 minutes. Next, spread the softened chocolate over the top side of the bars evenly. Cool it overnight. Refrigerate when necessary in warm weather so the chocolate can set.
- Slice into bars and wrap each bar in plastic or wax paper. Store the finished product at room temperature.
2. Chewy tropical fruit snack bars
You can halve the rice syrup here if you prefer your bars crunchy.
This method makes eight large or sixteen small bars.
Ingredients to use:
- ½ cup of flaked coconut
- 1 ½ cup of high-fiber cereal mix
- 1 ½ cup of crispy rice cereal
- ½ cup chopped, dried mango
- ½ cup chopped, dried pineapple
- 2/3 cup of brown rice syrup
- 2 tsp of brown sugar
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- Heat your oven to 325 F and line the pan with parchment like the previous recipe.
- Combine your cereal mix and coconut flakes on a baking sheet and toast until the coconut becomes golden, 8 to 10 minutes should be sufficient. Combine the cereals, coconut, and dried fruit in one large mixing bowl.
- Mix the brown sugar, rice syrup, salt and vanilla in a saucepan. Cook it over medium heat, and occasionally stir, until your syrup loosens and has a pourable consistency with bubbles on the surface.
- Pour syrup over the cereal and nuts. Stir with a spoon that is heatproof until the dry ingredients become evenly coated. Scrape the mix into the pan and then pat it into the corners. Next, bake for about 5 minutes and cool overnight.
- Remove all the bars from the baking pan. Cut into small bars. Wrap in plastic or wax paper.
3. Raw cherry-almond bars
This method can make eight large or sixteen small bars. It’s the easiest to prepare so far.
Ingredients to use:
- 1 cup of dates, pitted
- 1 cup of almonds
- 1 cup of dried cherries
- Combine all ingredients in your food processor. Allow it to blend the ingredients. Mash up the dates when they clump together, then run until a ball starts to form.
- Transfer this ball to the kitchen counter and pat it into a pan. Wrap in plastic and then refrigerate until it is firm. Cut it into bars. Wrap the bars in your plastic or wax paper.
- Making your own homemade energy bars from nutritious ingredients is an excellent way to get “real” food all through the day, without the added sugar.
Always remember to add a variety of micro and macronutrients: dried fruit and carbs from cereal grains, fat seed, and protein from nuts, nut butter, and protein powders.
Many energy bars can be stored safely for 1 to 2 weeks in a sealed container.
We hope our suggestions ease your energy bar preparation at home. Do you have a favorite recipe? We love to hear it; please share below.
Do you have a different preparation method? Comment below. If you also have some tips to help others make better energy bars, don’t fail to share.
To give you more options, check out our review of the best energy bars for your reference.