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.

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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