by Super Dave, Industry Expert
Today, the food category known to us as energy bars rivals that of candy bars in sales. It was less than 30 years ago when Brian Maxwell (creator of PowerBar) tried cooking up an energy bar in his kitchen. Today the food group takes up large amounts of shelf space in every grocery store in America. You have lots of options. Your goal in eating an energy bar for running is simple: energy. Energy to make sure you have the best run you possibly can every time you go out.
Before you run!
Are you a midday or late in the day runner? If you go more than 3 hours between a main meal and your run, an energy bar is the perfect snack to keep your energy storage up. Early morning runners should consider a gel if you have less than an hour before the run. If you currently run on empty storage, you aren't having the best run you can have. That last statement is not just for skinny fast runners, it's for every type of runner.
Keep in mind that energy is different than weight. If you don't have the energy, you can't move the weight. Because proteins and fats are harder to digest, we suggest energy bars high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fats. Click here to see our wide selection of bars that meet these requirements.
Find one that you like, stash them in your desk drawer and maximize your mid afternoon or early evening runs.
During your run
If you are running really long distances, say 4-5 hours at a time, you might want to consider taking a high carbohydrate energy bar with you. If your longest run is 3 hours or less, energy gels work best. They are easier to carry and much easier to digest.
Just like you need to top off your energy storage before your run, you need to replace it after you run. There are many different ways to do this. Some prefer recovery drinks while others need that substance only food gives you.
Energy bars are a good source here. Just after your run, the high carbohydrate bars are preferred. Yes, you need protein to repair muscles but you need carbohydrates first to fill the storage tank. The high protein bars work best if they are used in the 3 hour window after your run. If you know there won't be a meal 3 hours after you run, these high protein bars work well to repair the muscle. Recover first with carbohydrates and then repair with protein.
I like to think of energy bars as purposeful food. A runner at any level burns energy fast. Energy bars are the perfect compliment to purposefully fuel your system before or after your run. But remember, like any food, if eat too much, you will put on weight.