Five Best Energy Bars

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Hitting the gym? You need a bar other than the one you'll be pushing.

Besides being convenient and portable, energy bars have essential nutrients that give your muscle cells fuel to burn, like calories and carbohydrates. Kristine Clark, Ph.D., RD, director of sports nutrition at Penn State University, recommends consuming one at least two hours before a workout to allow digestion. Only have an hour? Clark suggests eating half.

Scope out the nutrition labels to find a bar with up to 350 calories and 35 to 45 grams of carbs. Five to 10 grams of fat are plenty; and 10 to 20 grams of protein are adequate, because as Clark cautions it's not the key pre-workout ingredient. "Protein takes longer to digest and be absorbed. Consequently, it makes the carbohydrate in the product digest and get absorbed at a slower rate," she explains.

Keep one of these top bars in your bag for your next workout.

Powerbar Triple Threat
Chocolate Almond Toffee
Calories: 230
Carbs: 30g // Protein: 10g // Fat: 8g
The lowdown: Nutrient-dense with 16 vitamins and minerals, including 100 percent of your DV of vitamin E to protect your body against oxidative damage.

Clif Bar
Maple Nut
Calories: 240
Carbs: 42g // Protein: 10g // Fat: 5g
The lowdown: 70 percent organic with 23 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, which is used for the synthesis of bone protein, needed for maintaining healthy bones.

Chocolate Chip
Calories: 250
Carbs: 38g // Protein: 15g // Fat: 5g
The lowdown: Packed with six B vitamins, including thiamin, which fuels muscle cells rely on and aids energy metabolism.

Balance Bare
Chocolate Almond
Calories: 210
Carbs: 23g // Protein: 13g // Fat: 9g
The lowdown: Supplies 100 percent of your DV of vitamin A, which strengthens the body's immune defense

Pro Bar
Superfood Slam
Calories: 350
Carbs: 46g // Protein: 9g // Fat: 17g
The lowdown: This meal replacement energy bar is about 70 percent organic and supplies six grams of fiber and 46 grams of carbs to help you sustain energy.

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