Gluten-Free Energy Bars for Outdoor Athletes

Outdoor athletes with gluten sensitivities needn't look far to find gluten-free energy and protein bars. An increasing number of gluten-free (GF) specialty foods are being offered, good news for the 1 in 133 Americans with celiac disease who can't digest the protein in wheat, barley, and rye and need a gluten-free diet. Also beneficial for those with wheat allergies (the autoimmune celiac disease and wheat allergies are different, but many GF foods are wheat-free).

Wondering what the GF fuss is about, and if you should go gluten-free?

GF proponents claim anti-inflammatory and other physical benefits from a gluten-free diet. Notably, the Garmin-Cervélo professional cycling team went gluten free in 2008, and a Google search will yield numerous athletes, elite and recreational, who credit a gluten-free diet for improved performance.

However, “eating gluten-free is not meant to be a diet craze,” says Rhonda Kane, a registered dietitian and consumer safety officer at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “It’s a medical necessity for those who have celiac disease. There are no nutritional advantages for a person not sensitive to gluten to be on a gluten-free diet.”

Whether you go gluten-free out of lifelong necessity or by choice, here are some of the gluten-free energy and protein bars available to fuel your outdoor activities.

Share your own gluten-free outdoor food recommendations in a review, a comment below, or in a GF outdoor recipe in our Camp Kitchen Recipes forum.

Bobo's Oat Bars

Started by a Boulder, Colo., mom in 2005, Bobo's makes four gluten-free oat bars (peach, maple pecan, lemon poppyseed, and chocolate almond) in addition to its ten regular oat bars. All are baked from scratch using organic and vegan ingredients.

 

Bonk Breaker

Bonk Breaker energy and protein bars were cooked up by triathlete Jason Winn in 2005, and are the official energy bar of Ironman. All 10 flavors are free of gluten, dairy, and soy, and use 100-percent gluten-free oats grown in fields and on farms that do not grow gluten-containing grains. Bonk Breakers are baked fresh weekly. Peanut Butter & Jelly is the original.

 

Clif

Sorry, there's no gluten-free versions of standard Clif Bars, but Luna Protein bars and Kit’s Organic Fruit and Nut bars from Clif are gluten-free. New this year, Kit's Organic bars are certified organic, soy-free, and dairy-free, and come in four flavors (berry almond, cashew, chocolate almond coconut, and peanut butter). If you have other dietary concerns (nuts, dairy, soy, etc.), you can compare offerings on the Clif website.

Honey Stinger

Honey Stinger says its protein bars, available in 10g and 20g sizes, "do not have any gluten but they are made in a facility that processes gluten. In between production runs the lines are meticulously cleaned." All Honey Stinger bars are made with more than 30 percent USDA certified organic honey. 

 

KIND

All KIND fruit and nut snack bars are 100 percent gluten-free, including the original Fruit and Nut bars in 11 flavors and Fruit and Nut Plus in eight flavors.

KIND's products are tested for gluten and meet the FDA’s proposed requirement of 20 ppm of gluten, says the company (see certification below). "The manufacturing plant is dedicated gluten free and has a strict allergen control program."

 

LÄRABAR

All LÄRABAR, über, and Jŏcalat products are gluten free. The company uses no gluten-containing ingredients, and says it has manufacturing controls in place "to ensure that there are no cross-contact concerns. We also periodically verify our practices using Gliadin gluten testing" (gliadin is glycoprotein present in wheat).

 

NOW

From New Zealand and Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan come NOW (No Opportunity Wasted) bars with a 4:1 carb-to-protein ratio. NOW bars are manufactured in a facility approved and certified by testing of the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (see certification below) and come in five flavors: peanut and caramel, honeycomb with chia and raisins, manuka honey, manuka honey strawberry, and white chocolate fruit and nut.

 

ProBar

Fruition bars are PROBAR's gluten-free offering. The fruit-based snack bars come in seven flavors (blueberry, cherry, chocolate orange, cran-raspberry, lemon, peach, and strawberry) and are made with oats, chia seeds, and cashews.

ProBar reformulated the Fruition recipe to be gluten-free this spring, and has had the bars independently certified as gluten-free.

Pure

Pure uses no wheat or wheat family products in its bars, and its bars are gluten-free, kosher, organic, and vegan. Pure says, "the facility where our bars are processed is not wheat-free, but contamination is virtually impossible given the measure of  cleanliness required by organic standards."

 

YouBar

If you want a customized bar, but don't want to make your own, YouBar lets you select the ingredients, including gluten-free ones, to build your own personal energy or protein bar, complete with custom label. However, "your recipe may contain traces of gluten because our kitchen also processes recipes with gluten," says the company.

 

Zing

All Zing bars are certified gluten-free and are also soy- and corn-free. Three of the six flavors (chocolate coconut, peanut butter chocolate chip, and cashew cranberry orange) are also dairy-free and vegan.

 

Other Options

Numerous other gluten-free bars abound, including GFB (the Gluten Free Bar), NoGii bars from celiac and TV personality Elisabeth Hasselbeck, "athlete-designed" Picky Bars with a 4:1 carb-to-protein ration, and PureFit nutrition bars.

Share your GF energy bar and outdoor food recommendations in a review.

At anywhere from a buck to three a bar, you may want to make your own. Post your outdoor food recipes (gluten-free or gluten-full) in our Camp Kitchen Recipes forum.

 


Gluten-Free Certification

So what does "gluten-free" mean? It depends, but it does not necessarily mean 100 percent free of gluten. Rather, it indicate no or very low levels of the plant protein. There's no regulation for the term yet, but for voluntary labeling the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed to define "gluten-free" as having less than 20 ppm (read the FDA Q&A).

Several organizations certify products and companies as gluten-free. They include the Gluten Intolerance Group's Gluten-Free Certification Organization (less than 10 ppm gluten), the Celiac Sprue Association (less than 5 ppm gluten), and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (less than 10 ppm gluten).

As with any medical or nutritional issue, consult your health care provider to see if a gluten-free diet is right for you.

Filed under: Gear News

Related Content

Bobo’s Oat Bars  |  Bonk Breaker  |  Clif  |  Honey Stinger  |  Kind  |  Larabar  |  NOW  |  Powderhorn  |  Prijon Kayaks  |  ProBar  |  Pure  |  Zing

Comments

.ghost.
120 reviewer rep
137 forum posts
September 18, 2012 at 12:53 p.m. (EDT)

I am 100% gluten-free, albeit not by choice.  My intolerance was such that I had to have surgery to remove some of my small intestine due to scar tissue formation.  As for flavor: Kind bars are hard to beat.  In terms of caloric wallop: Larabar makes a Cashew Cookie that is pretty tasty and has something like 230 calories in it.  That said, I have only had energy bars from those two companies.  I have found that gluten-free bars offer a suitable alternative to their counterparts in taste and texture; in fact, I think that most gluten-free products are pretty good approximations - with the exception of beer.  Now that is sad.  Still waiting on a solid double IPA showing for us GFers.

Alicia
TRAILSPACE STAFF
700 reviewer rep
3,110 forum posts
September 18, 2012 at 1:04 p.m. (EDT)

Thanks for sharing that, ghost.

I am not gluten-free (more like gluten-full) and agree that Kind bars are quite good. I like that you can see the ingredients you're eating too.

I've had several of the other bars above too. A few I'd happily eat:

  • Bonk Breakers are very tasty and soft, like something you might bake at home (I recommend). 
  • I like Honey Stinger's protein bars quite a lot, but they pack a huge number of calories, so I have to ration them. They started offering 10g (half size versions), which is nice.
  • I had some NOW bar samples while hiking after the summer Outdoor Retailer show and really liked them. I actually looked on their site to see if I could buy some near me (no luck, though they do sell online).
  • Fruition is good, and it's nice to have a fruity bar, plus something a bit lower calorie, as an option.
Alicia
TRAILSPACE STAFF
700 reviewer rep
3,110 forum posts
September 18, 2012 at 1:07 p.m. (EDT)

After we published this article, ProBar offered this one-time discount on Fruition bars to all Trailspace readers.

If you go to http://theprobar.com/shop and enter code “BLOGGER” at checkout, you’ll get 40% off your first Fruition bar order.

hotdogman
0 reviewer rep
606 forum posts
September 19, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. (EDT)

If you like cranberries the tanka bar has no gluten. Its bison and cranberries minimally processed into a bar. The spicy one is better if yiu arent big on cranberries. Its not real spicy, just has a much fuller flavor.

FromSagetoSnow
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
3,612 reviewer rep
1,253 forum posts
September 19, 2012 at 10:08 a.m. (EDT)

I am digging the Kits Organic bars lately.  If you know me well you know that this is a significant event for this organic-shy guy. 

Here is my review:

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/clif/kits-organic-fruit-nut/#review25636

The cashew ones are even better (to me) than the berry ones pictured, although I am working on my 2nd box of the berry ones.  Maybe I shoudnt have bought two boxes of the same type. Next time...

 

 

Jeff

Callahan
255 reviewer rep
1,469 forum posts
September 29, 2012 at 2:05 p.m. (EDT)

There is a Gluten free bakery near where I live and they have the best cinnamon buns that I have ever had.

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