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Energy bars play a fundamental role in sports nutrition, acting as supplements and even meal replacements at times when it would not be possible to take that source of nutrients in any other way. To make it easier to understand, let's take the example of an athlete who works in an office for 8 hours a day and, for whatever reason, cannot have a protein shake or eat properly while working; in this case, a protein bar can be the perfect solution.
Convenience and portability are the two most distinguishing attributes of this type of product. However, rapid developments in the sports nutrition industry have led to innovations that have made energy bars a category full of delicious flavours and textures, as well as nutritional novelties.
The difference between protein and energy bars
Before getting into the subject, it is advisable to make a small distinction between protein bars, on the one hand, and energy bars and gels, on the other. It is true that both share formal characteristics, such as the aforementioned convenience and ease of transport, but in terms of their purely nutritional objectives, there are certain variables that are worth highlighting.
Protein bars fulfil a rather more generic function than energy bars, as their protein-rich composition makes them a beneficial product for physical performance on many levels.
Like any protein supplement, it has ideal properties when it comes to maximising muscle performance. To this end, it protects tissues from catabolism, nourishes muscles for optimal performance, facilitates lean mass gain and, finally, improves recovery after intense exertion. In addition, it can be a good meal replacement thanks to its satiating effect, although it should not be used on a daily basis.
Energy bars and gels, as their name suggests, are designed to provide a valuable extra boost of vitality in specific situations. The fact that there is also a gel format shows that there is more specialisation than in the case of protein bars.
There is also a wider range of possibilities when it comes to choosing one product of this type or another, as the compositions can vary considerably.
How to take protein bars?
The abundant benefits offered by protein bars mean that the range of possibilities for their use is wide open. We have already mentioned their possible use as a meal replacement, but this is just one example of many.
A protein bar can be taken before training, with the aim of maintaining the correct nutrition at a muscular level to facilitate the increase of qualities such as strength or endurance. This will also protect your tissues from catabolism, encouraging instead the emergence of anabolic processes that allow the creation of new muscle fibres.
These last two benefits are maintained if you have chosen to take the energy bar after training, as post-workout periods are a time when catabolism is still a danger. In addition, there is the added ability to improve the body's recovery tasks, making rest times after intense sporting activity more effective.
When to take energy bars?
In the case of energy bars, the possibilities are somewhat reduced, as their benefits are more focused on a specific aspect. The compositions of this type of product always seek to combine a series of substances that, as a whole, manage to increase the athlete's energy qualities.
Therefore, the ideal time to take an energy bar is just before starting to train, so that the properties of its ingredients are released during physical activity, providing greater vitality and preventing the onset of fatigue.
How to take energy gels?
Energy gels are a variant of traditional energy bars, and their appearance responds to a series of needs specific to highly demanding and long-lasting sporting disciplines. There are sports, such as athletics or cycling, in which the action of an energy bar ingested before starting to compete/train would be used up too quickly, leaving the athlete without energy before it was due. To solve this problem, gels have emerged, a much more convenient format that allows the athlete to take their energy supplement during the physical activity itself.
Obviously, the composition of this type of product is specially designed to suit an organism in full sporting performance. The most important attributes to be met are ease of digestion and high absorption speed. In other words, they must not cause any kind of intestinal or stomach discomfort, as this would have a negative impact on performance, and their assimilation must be almost immediate, in order to provide a boost of energy just when it is needed.
A world of possibilities
The evolution of sports nutrition has allowed, in the case of protein and energy bars, the creation of a whole world of possibilities of textures and flavours, to such an extent that some of the products can even be confused with snacks and chocolates.
Thanks to this, supplementing your sporting activity with bars of this type has become a real pleasure for your palate, and at Life Pro we want to offer you as many alternatives as possible. Forget the monotony and try all the flavours and textures available for your bars.