You be the judge

Energy bars that pack a punch: Which one is best for you?

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com

I was starving. I had 1 1/2 hours to get a weight-lifting workout, get showered, and on to the next thing. Of course, I didn't have time for lunch, so I stopped at HEB and headed straight for the energy bars. I looked desperately at the shelves full of energy bars, dumbfounded and overwhelmed. So many to choose from.

In my haste, I grabbed the first one I saw. On the way to the gym, I choked down the dry, chalky mass of god knows what . My workout was super disappointing because the mystery food made my stomach hurt and no matter how much water I drank, I could not get that horrible taste out of my mouth.

Has this ever happened to you?

The nutrition industry has come a long way since the 1960's when energy bars were made exclusively for astronauts. Now, the market is completely flooded with energy bars contending for the title of best bar. I've chosen 6 bars and just for fun we are going to let them take each other on in the ring (or the plate).

We have 2 preliminary and one main event. The contenders are being judged in the following categories:

  • Ingredients- are they real, whole, recognizable ingredients?
  • Taste- does it taste like the ingredients and does it taste good?
  • Texture- does it feel good in your mouth or like rubber dusted in chalk?
  • Functionality- does it make you sick (allergies excluded) and does it last through your workout?
  • Price - is it an occasional treat or can you stock pile it and include it in your meal plan?

The featherweights get inside the ring. In one corner, we have the LARA Bar in the next, RX Bar. These bars are featherweights because they boast being made with simple, whole ingredients that are so transparent that they even list them on the front of the package. No B.S. They are direct competitors. Let's see who gets knocked out.

LARA Bar

  • Ingredients- says it on the bag. 10
  • Texture- has a pretty good mouth feel. 7
  • Taste- 26 different flavors like pecan pie and peanut butter and jelly that taste awesome. 8
  • Functional- some flavors may be really sweet. I would wait at least 20 minutes before your workout. 8
  • Price- at $2 per bar, they are easy to stock. 8
  • Total Score- 8.2

RX Bar

  • Ingredients-says it on the bag. 10
  • Texture- kinda rubbery. 5
  • Taste- 22 flavors like chocolate peanut butter. It was a little bland. 4
  • Functional- made for CrossFitters. 8
  • Price-$2.50 a bar. Little pricey. 6
  • Total Score- 6.6

And LARA Bar wins the Featherweight Title.The middleweights get inside the ring. These bars are contending for the best raw bar. Both are made with ingredients that have live probiotics and plant based protein. You can find both in the refrigerator in your grocer. We have Perfect Bar and Pro Bar.

Perfect Bar

  • Ingredients- made with 20+ superfoods. 10
  • Texture- straight up 10
  • Taste- peanut butter with coconuts taste amazing. 10
  • Functional- no stomach upsets and great for heavy workouts. 9
  • Price- at $2.5 to $3 a bar, makes it an occasional treat. 6
  • Total Score- 9
Pro Bar
  • Ingredients- real ingredients like crunchy seeds. 10
  • Texture- good mouthfeel. A little extra crunchy. 9
  • Taste- good, more savory than sweet. 8
  • Functional- good for heavy lifting. 8
  • Price- at $3. Not good to stock pile. 5
  • Total Score.- 8

Perfect Bar knocks Pro Bar out to win the middleweight title.

The main event contenders are the heavyweights. They both have been in the game for a long time and have the notoriety to match. They are my all time go-tos when I'm on the go: KIND bar and Clif bar!

KIND bar out of Austin, Texas is known for its recognizable ingredients that are easily seen through the bag. With 30+ flavors made with chia seeds, dark chocolate, almonds, and sea salt, they are an quick favorite.

  • Ingredients- Absolutely yes. 10
  • Texture- 10
  • Taste- Never had a flavor I didn't like. 10
  • Functional- may not last through a hard workout. 8
  • Price- $2 a bar. A little pricey, but worth it. 7
  • Total Score- 9

Clif Bar is the hardest working bar in the biz. You see it everywhere from convenience stores to specialty stores. Runners, hikers, lifters, and cyclists swear by its energy that packs a punch.

  • Ingredients- all organic and recognizable. 9
  • Texture- feels like a cookie. 8
  • Taste- 7 words! 34 flavors. peanut toffee buzz. carrot cake. 10
  • Functional- again. Hikers, runners, lifters all use this product.
  • Price- typically $1 a bar. Easy to stock.
  • Total Score- 9

Looks like its still a split decision.

Final words about the matches: If you are looking for energy, you will win every time with Clif and Kind. If you want to try something new, I'd definitely give Perfect Bar a try. Look for it the refrigerator section in HEB or Whole Foods.

A thing to remember about energy bars: It is best to enjoy 30 minutes before your workout just in case of cramps. Raw energy bars are stored in the refrigerator, but you leave them out for a few hours like in your gym bag. Most important. If you have food allergies, scrutinize every bar for these foods. Your life does depend on it and they are notorious for nuts, seeds, chocolate and other foods.

H-Town Run Tourist

Are you an H-Town Run Tourist?

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

You may have noticed that I have begun calling my column: H-Town Run Tourist. H-Town Run Tourist describes my relationship with the city I live in, the sport of running, and myself. Below is a list of the characteristics of an H Town Run Tourist. Read and decide if you if you are a run tourist too.

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You are super curious.

If you are anything like me, you love to discover new running or walking routes. What is this? What is that? Who painted that? When did that open? What does that taste like? Sometimes I feel like I am a dog that has her nose in the grass ready to smell just about anything.

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You started running to find yourself.

A lot of people spend a lot of time running away from themselves. But, if you are like me, you starting running to run into yourself. (Clever, huh) If you missed it, what I mean is that maybe you started running for your health, a mid life crisis, a divorce, or for your mental health.

When I was in Africa, I asked many of the other runners why they were running in Victoria Falls. I got many answers, all of them were amazing. However, one gentleman answered that he and his wife always wanted to run a marathon. She had died the year before and he was running for her. (I know, I need a tissue too.)

You are just not that competitive.

When I thought about it, I found that I am not competitive with other runners as to be the best. I am more interested in how well I can beat my best self. I am always competing with myself. I feel that once you make it to the start line, you have already won. (many things can happen before the start line.) Many times, I "compete" with how much I can enjoy the experience of the race and still stick to a timetable. I love reading signs, taking pics with new friends, and chatting with people at the before and after party.

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You love to think and dream. BIG.

If you are like me, you love to dream and think BIG. If you are running a long distance, you have time to dream. I quickly found that I could let my mind go. When you are on the open road for hours training, you find that it is the best place to solve problems. Then, I began to dream big. I quickly decided that I wanted to run around the world. I set the intention and I was able to achieve that goal. I also use it to meditate. I love studying flowers and trees for their fractal patterns. It helps get the best endorphin high.

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You have wanderlust.

Let me get this straight. If I strap on my running shoes, walk out of my door, and just keep going, I'll end up in this cool place. If I can do that here, where else can I go? This rabbit hole is worth going down. Where is the next race? In Houston? In Austin? In a national park? In a jungle? Overseas? It never ends.

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You can totally put yourself first.

This sounds crappy. Co-dependent people confuse this with being selfish. Healthy minded individuals know that true self care means to take care of yourself first so that you can take care of others. Others will try to get in your way by guilt tripping you to spend more time with them, but know that you have to be in a good place to help others or it just will not work.

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You are truly grateful for......everything.

Chances are, you don't even know that you practice gratitude. It just comes naturally. If you are anything like me, you starting running out of hardship, almost necessity. But, along the way, you could not help but notice the trees, the flowers, and the birds. You just had to stop and smell the roses. Gratitude comes naturally to you!

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You are Houston Proud and Houston Strong.

If you are like me, you love you some Houston, Texas. Whether you are running in Memorial Park to Buffalo Bayou Park or in the Chevron Houston Marathon. You could be running downtown Houston passing by originals by Gonzo 247, David Adickes, or Daniel Anguilu. You know one thing…..You would not live in another city in this country. In fact, you can't wait until this weekend to do your weekend long run and enjoy all the Houston craft beer that goes with it.

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