Pros: An inexpensive bar with a lot of vitamins.
Cons: A lot of sugar and not enough protein.
I am reviewing PowerBars and will start with this statement: What you are using this and any bar for is really more important than most people realize. If you are eating one for energy, it should have more carbohydrates than a low-carb bar will offer but if you are using it as a meal replacement bar it should have more protein than a high-carb bar will give you.
I am not a nutritionist, scientist or doctor. Making heads and tales of the many bars on the market isn't easy. I'm going to attempt to make some sense out of all this.
PowerBars may have been the first bar of its type. I can?t be certain of this, but I did go to the website www.powerbar.com, which told me that they started making them in 1986. I would be curious if anyone finds a similar product that was made first. It doesn?t matter, really, Power Bars have been around a long time!
Why I bought the bar:
After a workout last week or so, my husband and I went grocery shopping. I neglected to bring a shake or bar from my house and needed to eat something. I wasn't looking for a meal replacement bar, I needed some energy. At $.99 a bar I bought a couple of them, although I hadn't bought one in a long time.
Sometime or other in the last 15 years I probably have tasted most of the flavors. They are apple-cinnamon, banana, chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, lemon crisp, malt-nut, mocha, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, vanilla crisp and wild berry. Years ago when I ate them almost exclusively I liked banana, oatmeal raisin , peanut butter and of course anything with chocolate. I never had the lemon crisp but I am guessing that might taste different than the rest which all pretty much taste the same. I am reviewing chocolate peanut butter.
The PowerBar claims:
1. It claims that the quality is guaranteed
2. It claims to be a high-energy bar.
From the website: Approximately 75% of the energy, (or calories), in a PowerBar? Performance bar comes from carbohydrates. The simple carbohydrates (25% - 35% of total carbohydrates) are in the form of glucose and fructose. The complex carbohydrates (65% - 75% of total carbohydrates), in the form of maltodextrin, brown rice, and oat bran, offer a longer lasting source of energy. The simple carbohydrates are absorbed and enter the bloodstream rapidly, providing quick energy. PowerBar? Performance bar is also fortified with 100% of the B-complex vitamins important to energy metabolism. Approximately 17% of the calories in PowerBar? Performance bar come from a high quality source of protein.
The July 1999 issue of Muscle & Fitness has a superb guide to sports-nutrition bars. If you are truly interested in comparing the various products, seek this one out or e-mail me and I will give you the information you want. For a reference point,they call Balance Bar a Specialty Bar and PowerBar an Energy Bar.
Muscle & Fitness says, "The main source of carbs in these bars (These refer to energy bars.) is usually sugar in its many forms such as high-fructose corn syrup and brown sugar. For quick energy replacement avoid bars high in fructose - it has a slower rate of absorption than other sugars. Conversely, some bars contain fewer refined carbs and more complex carbs such as rolled oats, which may be desirable for a more sustained energy release." (June 1999)
I don't use this magazine normally as one for scientific evidence on a subject unless the source of the article is really credible. From what I know I believe this article is on target and I'll try to translate what they said above.
Basically they reiterate that we need carbohydrates for energy. We can get that from sugar but some sugars are better than others. Fructose and brown sugar are the worst ways because they get absorbed into our blood stream slower than other types so we aren't going to get the "sugar rush" that gives us instant energy. Products that contain maltodextrin and rolled oats are a better choice.
Looking at the breakdown above of PowerBars from the website which I have in bold, it does seem that these bars have a really good mix!
About the product:
The PowerBar company suggests that you drink 8-16 ounces of water to ?aid absorption of nutrients; that you eat this 30-45 minutes before an activity with the water; and ?use it during or after activities as a source of essential energy related nutrients.? (from the wrapper) This is true, in my opinion. A product such as this may give you the energy during an after a workout that you want. Personally I don't eat anything within 1 to 1 1/2 hours before a workout. I do disagree with that 30-45 minute window but you can experiment and see what works for you.
High Fructose Corn Syrup with Grape and Pear Juice Concentrate, Oat Bran, Maltodextrin (Complex Carbohydrate), Milk Protein (Lactose Removed), Rice Crisps, Almond Butter, Dried Apple, Brown Rice, Natural Flavors (No MSG), Cinnamon, Minerals: Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Carbonate, Zinc Gluconate, Iron (Ferrous Fumarate), Copper Gluconate, Chromium Aspartate, VITAMINS: Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Vitamin E (alpha Tocopheryl Acetate), Vitamin B Complex (Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vit. B6], Riboflavin [Vit. B2], Thiamin Hydrochloride [Vit. B1], Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12), ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS: Leucine, Valine, Isoleucine. May Contain Traces of Peanuts or Other Tree Nuts.*
NOTE: anyone with allergies to nuts can eat none of their products because all of them may contain nuts.
PowerBars contain 3 grams of fat; 45 grams of carbohydrates; 10 grams of protein; 150mg of potassium; 95 mg of sodium, no cholesterol and 20 grams of sugar in a 2.3 ounce bar with 240 calories.
PowerBar has 17 vitamins and minerals many of which meet 100% of daily nutritional needs which is very impressive
Riboflavin - 100%
Vitamin E ?100%
Folate ? 100%
Zinc - 35%
Iron ? 35%
Vitamin C - 100%
Niacin - 100%
Pantothenic Acid- 100%
Vitamin B12 ?100%
Magnesium ? 35%
Calcium - 30%
Vitamin B6 100%
There is an expiration date, which is clearly written as ?Best by? on the back of the wrapper as well as their phone number if you want to contact them. You can contact them online also.
There is a frequently asked questions page on the website and I found it interesting that they addressed whether children should be eating PowerBars. We often assume that they shouldn?t be. Here is what the website says on that topic, ?PowerBar? Performance bar is a nutritious addition to a young child's diet - preferably limited to 1/2-1 bar per day. For older children a whole bar (or more) is usually a fine addition to a balanced diet. Please remember that a healthy diet contains a variety of foods. Parents should be sure not to use PowerBar? Performance bar as a substitute for providing a wide range of nutritious foods in their child's diet. Consult your pediatrician for additional information?
How do they taste:
PowerBars taste good, in my opinion. They tend to not be covered in chocolate like other bars so they don?t melt as easily. They are chewy, which is good for me because they last a longer time than other bars. They feel a little like very thick taffy! They don?t leave an aftertaste in my mouth and for me, having just worked out they were really a tasty snack. If you want to go to the website they actually describe the taste of each flavor. The fact I was hungry after I ate it is irrelevant. If this is considered an energy bar and not a meal replacement bar, filling me up isn't the bar's goal, but giving me energy is.
I honestly did not get any kind of major burst of energy from the bar but it did keep me going until I got home and could have a meal.
The wrapper opens easily. This may not be all that relevant to some but it may be to others. I have struggled opening wrappers to bars. PowerBars have a "hold here/lift & tear" mark on one end of the wrapper making it very easy to open. Because the bars are very sticky it was really a task for this wrapper to stay in one piece!
In summary, After reviewing this product and reading over their website I have come to the decision that this isn?t a terrible choice for the price. In fact as an energy bar it is a good choice. I was prepared to rate it low. I may go back to buying them!
I would normally be critical of the bar because of the amount of sugar, but I can't be because you may need that much if you really want some energy.
You have to remember that the bars I buy are well over $2.00 and don't taste as good as PowerBars. So perhaps balancing the price with the sugar makes sense for a lot of people. (including me) In addition 20 grams of sugar isn?t a lot for people who eat regular foods. Look at yogurt if you eat it and never looked at the sugar content. For that matter, look at the protein content of yogurt. You think you are eating a nutritious snack that will keep you going when you eat yogurt? I think it is a really good choice for the average person who is looking for a bar that will give them some energy and that tastes good.
In spite of the website's recommendations for children I am recommending this product for adults only.