COLUMBUS, Ohio - Energy bars, touted for improving athletic performance while providing the right combination of essential nutrients, may not always give endurance athletes the boost they expect.
An Ohio State University researcher compared two popular energy bars and found that one of the bars didn't give the moderate increase in blood sugar known to enhance performance in endurance athletes. Instead, its effect was much like a candy bar - giving a big rush of sugar to the blood, followed by a sharp decline.
"Theoretically, energy bars produce more moderate increases and decreases in blood sugar levels than a typical candy bar," said Steve Hertzler, an associate professor of medical dietetics at Ohio State. "But these claims aren't necessarily valid." His study appears in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Hertzler wanted to know how energy bars affected blood glucose levels. Glucose is a sugar that provides energy to the body's cells - for example, red-blood cells and most parts of the brain derive most of their energy from glucose.
"Athletes - especially those involved in endurance sports - want to enhance performance, and energy bars claim to help keep blood sugar levels at a moderate level," Hertzler said.
Volunteers had to fast for at least 12 hours before taking part in
each of four experiments. Then, they ate one of four experimental
"meals" consisting of either four
Contact: Steve Hertzler
Ohio State University