Fuel your studies and workouts with these energy bars

Amber Gibson, Columnist

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Energy bars can be a student’s best friend. When you’re studying late at night in the library and need a little fuel, a bar can be the perfect boost. When it’s really cold, windy and snowy out, and your fridge is looking bare, a bar or two can be a suitable alternative to delivery. However, a lot of energy/protein/snack bars are really just glorified candy bars, laden with sweeteners and sure to spike your blood sugar.

With hundreds of bars on the market, it can be hard to differentiate between them. Just look at the colorful wall of bars at Whole Foods. It’s easy to grab something quickly based on the packaging or flavor, but next time take a look at the ingredients and nutritional facts before you buy a snack bar. What is the ratio of protein to sugar? Can you pronounce all of the ingredients? These are just a couple of questions you might want to ask yourself next time you’re shopping.

I’ve discovered a few great-tasting and all-natural new bars that you probably haven’t heard of. You won’t find these at Whole Foods (yet), but they are all available online if you want to try something new.

If you like quinoa, which has been popping up in fast-casual restaurants everywhere as an alternative to rice, you’ll like Mark Bars. These bars contain only a short list of ingredients, including rolled oats, quinoa, nuts and dried fruit. Peanut butter chocolate is the most popular flavor, and they use dairy-free chocolate. I love the slight crunch of quinoa and the almost crumbly texture. These are manufactured in Chicago and available at fitness clubs around town, as well as at Freshii and The Goddess and Grocer. Recommended for Clif bar fans.

Coconut lovers will adore Joebars from Cocomo Joe. Regardless of which flavor you pick, organic coconut will be the first ingredient. These bars have more fat and saturated fat than most, but these are healthy fats from coconut, and one bar will keep you full for several hours. You can even buy a sampler box online with two of each flavor if you are indecisive. Mango, inspired by Thai mango sticky rice, is my favorite. Recommended for Nature Valley Crunchy granola bar fans.

GoodGreens bars are both vegan and gluten free, and each bar has a special superfood protein powder blended in. The proprietary blend contains everything from spirulina and wheatgrass juice to goldenberries, aloe vera and mangosteen. A little agave and brown rice syrup are used as sweeteners. These taste the most like candy bars since most flavors include a dairy-free dark chocolate coating. They also just released a new line of Greek yogurt bars. Recommended for Balance Bar fans.