• Energy bar used by cyclist during race or training


    What happens to our body when we eat an energy bar?

Editorial Board

Have you ever wondered how the body responds to the intake of an energy bar?

Many of us take advantage of our lunch break to train indoor or outdoor. This happens even more often with good weather. Others run away quickly from the desk at the end of the day and take advantage of the last hours of light for some activity in the open air, perhaps with some friends. Each of you also knows how important it is to have that minimum of energy that is easy to digest at your disposal so that your body will respond well to training.

Before a workout or a race, when you have little time or when sitting calmly at the table is not possible, the use of pre-workout energy bars is a good compromise.

When to take an energy bar

Energy bars, especially those of the latest generation, are designed to provide a concentrated amount of energy in the form of carbohydrates, to replenish the muscles before and during exercise. Generally, they release energy a bit slower than gels or energy drinks, as they take more time to be digested. This makes them the ideal food for a pre-workout energy boost. Many of them also contain small amounts of amino acids or substances such as caffeine or other moderate stimulants.

How the body respond to the intake of an energy bar

We have already seen how the body responds to the intake of energy gels. We will therefore now look at the different response we have when we eat an energy bar so that we can make an informed choice for what is best for us depending on the context.

Stages of the intake of an energy bar

  1. When you start chewing an energy bar, the body quickly begins breaking down the sugars it contains, thanks to salivary amylase, the same enzyme we talked about when discussing gels. The chewing prepares the food, once it is swallowed, to be split into molecules that can directly be used.

  2. The digestive process breaks down the food into individual molecules that pass through the intestinal walls and then pour into the bloodstream. This process happens much more slowly than seen with the energy drinks or with a gel. The carbohydrates contained in the bars are structured in a more complex way and require more laborious splitting and are therefore more distributed over time.

  3. Once all of this energy has been set off into the bloodstream in the form of glucose, the receptors stimulate the production of insulin that stores the sugars in the muscles in the form of glycogen, which your body will use during physical exertion.

  4. Energy bars are therefore a good source of slow-release carbohydrates. They are a practical solution for guaranteeing an excellent storage of energy reserves in the muscles when circumstances do not allow the use of natural food. Be careful though if you eat them during a physical effort. If you are doing a particularly intense workout, they may not be the most appropriate choice because they require your body to digest (and chew) more. Better to use them before leaving the office, during a coffee break, or during relaxed rides with friends.

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