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.

And now, Houston's best 5K and 10K races.

Houston's best bucket list races within 30 miles

Photo via: Pixabay.com

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

I published my list of world's best bucket list races. Last week, I wrote about the best races in the US. There is one last list to complete this series: The best races in Houston. They are not only easier because they are local, but they are 5K and 10K races. These races are great starter races. They are also the best because they have great giveaways. So get your pens out and started planning your races.

Hot Undies Run

June 22, 2019

Our awesome party-loving friends at FFP (Fun, Fitness, and Philanthropy) have built this event up to what it is today. A lot of beer-loving, underwear clad Houstonians running for a cause. The Hot Undies Run is a 2 mile pub crawl that takes place every year in Rice Village.

The cause, this year, is for Girls on the Run, a non-profit that empowers young girls through the sport of running. This run has raised $80,000 in donations to date. Community partners Buffalo Bayou Brewing keep this party going with their local brew. Just to let you know how live this party gets. You can hear tales of runners chugging beer from one participant's prosthetic limb.

9/11 Heroes Run

September 7, 2019

The 9/11 Heroes Run is for runners, walkers, and ruckers who want to show appreciation and support for the fallen soldiers and first responders of September 11. This event takes place at City Hall. It is put on by the Travis Manion Foundation. This race is held all over the world and proceeds go to help veterans and their families thrive.

If you are like me, you are probably wondering what a rucker is. It is a participant who dresses up in full soldier and fireman gear to complete the race.

Photo via: Pixabay.com

Run Houston! Clear Lake

September 22, 2019

So, I'm going to be honest. Run Houston! Race Series was not really an original choice for me. Fred gave me this idea. If you remember, he wrote an article last year on his virtual race in San Fransisco. I got to see his medal and it was a beaut. Coming up on September, 22, you can run a 5K or 10K race on the University of Houston Campus. This is Race #4 in the 5 Race Series. Other locations include Sugarland, Sam Houston Park, Minute Maid Park, and Clear Lake. Don't let Fred be the only one to collect all 5!

Hot Chocolate Run

February 1, 2020

This race starts from Hermann Square and is for the biggest chocolate aficionados. Hot Chocolate Run is a 5K or 10K race. You get exercise and at the end each runner gets an awesome medal decorated like chocolate as well as a fondue tray with a banana, rice crispy treats and other dippables. That sounds all cool, but I think the best thing is instead of a t-shirt, you get this awesome hoodie! I'm running it for the hoodie.

Bayou City Classic

March 14, 2020

This is my favorite 5k and 10K race. It takes place at City Hall every St. Patty's Day Weekend. This is the oldest 10K race in Houston and benefits Houston Parks Department. Things that you can expect to see are music at every corner. Bagpipes. The Blues Brothers, and Gypsy Dancers.

The costumes. Oh the costumes. One year, there was a centipede dressed as a St. Arnold's Beer six pack. There were 2 girls dressed as the 80's. And the cutest kids ever. I can't go on enough about this race. The last thing, you get the most giveaways at the Bayou City Classic. Usually, there are a couple protein bars, but when you leave, you bag is filled to the brim with goodies. All this makes the Bayou City Classic my pick for first time 5K's.

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