I have had a lot of conversations about granola bars that fuel gymnasts.
"Store bought or homemade?"
"What should I be looking for?"
I love recommending bars for busy gymnasts that need snacks that can withstand backpacks, gym bags, and locker rooms. Homemade bars are great because you can make them any way you want and gymnasts can easily help in the kitchen! There are also many great store-bought bars filled with wholesome ingredients IF you know what you're looking for.
Bars for gymnasts will fit into 3 categories: The bars they'll eat for an anytime snack, the bars they'll eat before or during practice, and they bars they eat after practice. Knowing what to look for will help you pick (or create) the perfect bar for your gymnast!
Bars that you eat during the day should include all the parts of a balanced snack. That includes 1-2 servings of carbs high-fiber carbs (15-30g total, >3g of fiber), 1-2 servings of protein (7-14g), and 1-2 serving of fat (10-20g). A homemade bar has a grain (like oats or cereal), fruit, and protein + fat from nuts/nut butter, seeds, coconut, etc. Look for mostly real, natural ingredients like nuts, seeds, oats or other grains, and fruit.
Storebought bars I recommend for everyday snacking include:
Kind (Protein, Simple Crunch, Healthy Grains, Nut Butter)
Special K +Protein
Bars that fuel for practice:
Bars that you eat before or during practice have 1 job: to keep you energzied without making you feel sluggish or upsetting your stomach. These are going to be carb heavy (30+ grams) and light on protein (7g or less) and fat (9g or less). Homemade bars will be heavy on the simple starches (cereal, puffed rice, oats, etc.), dried fruit, and simple sugars like honey or maple syrup.
Storebought bars I recommend for before or mid- practice include:
Belvita (traditional, soft baked, and bites)
Kodiak Cakes Bear Bites
Bars for recovery:
Bars that you eat after practice should have all the tools to help your body get a jumpstart on recovery. This includes that 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein (meaning ~25-30g of carbs and 7-10g of protein). Check out the recipe below for a balanced homemade recovery bar.
Storebought bars I recommend for a post-workout recovery snack include:
88 Acres Seed Bars
Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Trail Mix Granola Bar (Homemade)
1/2 cup of Honey (local if you can get it where you live)
3T Creamy Natural Peanut Butter
1T Coconut oil
1t Pure Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup of your favorite Whole Grain Cereal
3/4 cup Old Fashioned Oats
1/4 cup Ground Flaxseed
1/2t Ground Cinnamon
1/4t Kosher Salt
1/2 cup of your favorite dried fruit, chopped (I like craisins + apricots)
1/4 cup almonds (crushed)
1/4 cup, pepitas (or your favorite seed)
1 1/2 cups Chocolate Pb2 (or plain if you do not prefer chocolate)
Line an 8x8 baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang on two of the sides (like handles). Spray the foil or paper with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a microwave-safe bowl or a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the honey, peanut butter, and coconut oil. Melt gently and stir until smooth and combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Let cool for 5 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, cereal, flaxseed, cinnamon, salt, and PB2. Stir in the dried fruit, nuts, and seeds.
Pour the peanut butter mixture over the top, then stir until the ingredients are evenly combined. (Pro tip: it may be helpful to use your cooking spray and spray your wooden spoon or rubber spatula to help the mixture from sticking while mixing.)
Scoop the mixture into the prepared baking pan and press into an even layer. If the mixture is too sticky, lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the top, then press on its surface. Place the bars in the refrigerator to set, at least 2 hours or overnight.
Once fully chilled, remove the bars from the pan with the foil or paper “handles,”. Slice into 10 bars. Enjoy immediately or store in the refrigerator or freezer for later.
Serving: 1 Bar, Makes: 10 Servings
Calories: 245, Total Carbs: 35g, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 9g, Total Fat: 9g