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Learn about energy bars and other supplements:

Pop quiz - an energy bar is either:A. A quick meal on the go that gives you the nutrients you need. B. Glorified and overpriced sweets.

The answer? It depends which you choose and how you use it.Energy bars are one of the hottest nutrition crazes of the past few years.

There are more than 30 brands filling the shelves of supermarkets and nutrition stores, each claiming something different - some are packed with protein, others offer "quick release" carbohydrates, while many include vitamins, minerals and other supplements such as ginseng, herbs, and amino acids. So what should you look for? And when should you use them?

Most people know that eating five or six small meals a day helps maintain a healthy weight and keep your energy levels high, particularly if you work out regularly. But the reality is, it's hard to find time to cook that many meals per day, so for people on the go, an energy bar can be a good option. The different products available contain varying levels of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and sugar - it's crucial to read the label and be sure what you're getting.

In general, the high carbohydrate products are designed for endurance athletes, such as marathoners and triathletes, so their main ingredient is carbs. Those advertised as meal replacements are for weight loss - they will be lower in calories and usually have more carbs than protein. Finally, those with more protein are designed with weightlifters in mind, to help build muscle and lose fat when training.

Overall they are a good portable food source for endurance athletes and those on the go - but be aware that for recreational athletes working out for a half hour, consuming these in addition to your regular meals and snacks can be a high calorie addition to your diet!




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