The energy bar aisle is almost as overwhelming as the grocery store's cereal aisle -- a ridiculously large selection from which to choose. While it's great to have choices, it makes it harder to find a bar that suits your purposes.
Low-carb, high protein, low fat -- there are tons of claims to wade through. Most people have a specific need in mind when choosing an energy bar. In my case, I look for healthy, nutritious fuel -- whether it's for a workday snack or during exercise.
I read a lot of nutrition labels when choosing energy bars, and finding a non-dairy, wheat-free product is like trying to find a Hershey's bar at your local health food store. But that's just part of my selection process. I'm also strongly influenced by taste, fat, calories, sugar content and other included ingredients.
Nice thing about PureFit is there's only a handful of ingredients -- almost unheard of for energy bars. The bars get their protein from non-GMO soy (the soy isn't genetically modified) and are sweetened with honey, brown rice syrup and fructose.
I spoke with PureFit bar creator Robb Dorf, to learn more about what inspired him to produce these bars.
"I was disgruntled with the choices available, so I decided to make a nutrition bar that stood above the rest. Because the nutrition bar industry is so unregulated, I figured it was up to me to set my own high standards and create a bar that nutritionists and my peers would say 'this is a good bar,'" explains Dorf.
"My goal was to make a nutrition bar that stood above the rest; one that people wouldn't just buy, but would tell their friends and family about; a bar that would be healthy enough for kids. I think we've set the stage for the next revolution of nutrition bars."
Dorf also feels strongly about the freshness of his bars. By producing small batches of bars each month, he ensures the bars are always fresh.
I can vouch for their freshness -- over the course of a few months I went through a few boxes of these bars and every bar I ate tasted fresh.
It's gotta sit well
I don't think there's an athlete that hasn't had a bad experience eating something that doesn't sit well. I certainly have and it's not something I'll forget. Not such a big deal if you're snacking on it during the day, but it is a big deal when you're on your bike, hiking or doing something else for an extended period in the middle of nowhere. No matter how nutritious and healthy, if it doesn't sit well, it's not a good choice.
For me, the biggest factor in having a bar sit well in my digestive system is having few ingredients. And that's where PureFit excels -- no dairy, wheat, gluten and artificial sweeteners are included, but they're also free of trans fatty acids and hydrogenated oils.
The other thing I noticed is there aren't any added vitamins and minerals in the bars. "We wanted to make the bars meet 100% of the RDA for vitamins and minerals, but I wasn't able to find vitamins and minerals that met my quality standards," continues Dorf. "In fact, a manufacturer said I could fortify the bars for an extra penny. I thought, 'if it costs a penny, I don't want it in my bars' -- what kind of quality are you going to get for a penny? No thanks."
At around 240 calories, 18 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat and 25-27 grams of carbohydrate, these bars adhere to the 40/30/30 ratio we hear so much about. What's so great about 40/30/30? In simple terms: As with everything else, balance is important. A balance of nutrients provides sustained energy, without the drastic changes in blood sugar.
PureFit bars have a low-glycemic index; lower-glycemic carbs are broken down more slowly so they help stabilize blood sugar and control insulin.
I asked Registered Dietitian Kim Mueller why low-glycemic index is important: "The low-glycemic response of PureFit allows insulin to carry sugars more effectively for use as energy rather than storage as fat. Furthermore, the protein in the bar slows the release of sugar into our bloodstream providing sustained energy to fuel you through cycling, running or any other sport more effectively."
After using these bars while cycling and skiing, I found this to be true. I noticed these bars kept me fueled more effectively than other bars I've used. Dorf claims the bars were specifically designed in the 240-calorie range to give you two to four hours of sustained energy and help stabilize blood sugar like the zone philosophy on which the bar was based.
What about the taste?
I love the flavor of these bars. The texture is soft, easy to chew but with a subtle crunch -- like bits of crisped rice. Flavors are Peanut Butter Crunch, Almond Crunch and Chocolate Brownie (I'm not a big chocolate lover, but I actually liked the chocolate flavor).
And the flavors actually taste like peanuts, almonds and chocolate -- not "versions of" these flavors. The peanut butter is my favorite, and tastes just like you're taking a bite of peanut butter, but with a lighter, non-sticky texture.
The other important distinction about these bars is they don't melt. In San Diego, I do a lot of hot-weather riding and hiking, so the last thing I want is something that gets all over my hands. The chocolate and yogurt coatings certainly taste good, but I can do without it all over my hands. On the other extreme, I found that while skiing, I only had to warm the bar in my hand for a minute or so for a softer texture in freezing temperatures.
When you purchase a box of PureFit bars it comes along with The 40/30/30 PureFit Fat-Burning Nutritional System guide that features a nutrition plan for losing fat and increasing endurance. The sample meal planner included in the guide is excellent. You can also find fitness tips on their Web site.
Whether it's a snack to get you from breakfast to lunch or a snack to fuel a day of cycling, skiing, or any other endurance activity, PureFit bars are an excellent alternative to the mainstream bars you now find in convenience stores and supermarkets.
For more information, visit www.purefit.com or call 1-866-PureFit (1-866-787-3348).