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Do you think an Energy Bar will make you energetic, or that a Power Bar will build muscle? That's what their marketers want you to believe.

All foods give you calories (energy), but if you don't move and burn the calories you eat, you will store them as fat. How many Energy Bars do you think they'd sell if they called them Calorie Bars?

If you're running a marathon, cycling 100 miles or hiking all day, energy bars are a convenient way to get the calories you need. But if you're sitting at a desk feeling sleepy, the last thing you need is an "Energy Bar"! That blast of refined carbohydrates and sugar will raise your blood sugar, you pump out insulin, store the calories as fat and feel tired and hungry again in half an hour.

Protein does not build muscle. YOU have to work against resistance to build muscle. When you build muscle, you use protein from the food you eat, but any extra protein you eat is stored as fat. A reasonably varied diet provides plenty of protein. If you are doing heavy weight training, you can eat a little more tuna, milk, beans or any other food source of protein. Protein bars, shakes and supplements are no better than protein from ordinary foods.

Energy bars are made of sugar, refined carbohydrates and fats, fortified with small amounts of vitamins and minerals–-the nutritional equivalent of a cookie and about 1/6 of a multivitamin pill. Protein bars add milk or soy powder. They are not more nutritious than a bowl of cereal, and they cost a lot more.

Energy & Power Bars - $8.00-$20.00/pound $1-4/serving
Breakfast Bars - $6.00/pound $.75-$1/serving
Oatmeal Cookies - $3.00/pound $.30/serving
Cheerios - $2.50/pound $.20/serving
Vitamin pill - $.16/day
Whole grains - $0.69/pound $.05/serving

No bars provide "complete nutrition," and should not be used as substitutes for meals. They will not make you more muscular, thinner or more energetic. Eat a varied diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and other seeds, and treat these bars as cookies or candy bars – for occasional treats or convenient snacks during endurance sports.

Before you fall for the ridiculous claims about bars with added ingredients such as gingko biloba, that are supposed to make you think better, boost immunity or offer any other health benefit, read my report on "Functional Foods".

Here's what the promoter of "Think" bars says about his product: ".. If somebody feels great after a Think! Bar, who cares if that's just a placebo effect?" (1) Is that how you want to spend your money?

1) Quoted in Nutrition Action Newsletter, December 2000

Checked 7/1/09

May 12th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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