Nutrition bars, also known as energy bars or protein bars, were introduced as a quick snack for the people who needed a quick nutritional boost. While they were used only by the athletes initially, people have started stacking them in their work desks as briefcases to be used as quick bites.
These days, there are countless varieties of these portable edibles that adorn the shelves of your grocery stores, gyms, and health food shops. There are breakfast bars, high protein bars, women bars, meal replacement bars, high energy bars, low fat bars… this list is a never-ending one. But are these so-called nutrition bars a healthier alternative to your junk food?
The true answer is it depends. While some of the bars really work up to their healthy quotient, the others will be just yet another sugar and fat laden delight. Studies suggest that many of these so-called protein bars furtively include ingredients like saturated fat, sugar, alcohol, hydrogenated fats, and quite a lot calories. So how do you really decide whether a nutrition bar is health?
Here are some factors that would help you decide whether the nutrition bar you pick up is just a hype or real?
Choosing A Healthy Nutrition Bar
1. Decide On The Way You Want To Use The Nutrition Bar
Nutrition bars can be used to replace your meals or just as a snack. Check out for the total calories your bar yields. There are cases where people end up eating a chocolate look alike bar without knowing that they are filing in 400 calorie.
If you want your nutrition bars to be your meal substitute, the opt for anywhere between 300 to 400 calories. However, if it for a snack, restrict the calorie count between 100 and 200. Irrespective of the nutrient density of the bars, if you are going to eat these bars more, you are definitely see a higher number on the scale.
2. Watch Out For The Sugar Levels
Protein bars, these days, are packed with sugar in insane amounts. There are bars that have more than 30 grams of sugar in them. So even if your bars contain wholesome ingredients, the presence of this sweetener alone is sufficient to hamper the benefits.
3. Never Pick A Bar With A Huge List of Ingredients
The number of ingredients in a nutrition bar could vary anywhere between 5 to 60. So review the ingredients thoroughly. If you feel that there are too many ingredients that you haven’t even heard of, it is advisable to refrain from eating that.
4. Look Out For Healthy Ingredients
Choose a protein bar that has more of valine, leucine, and isoleucine and not soy as the former amino acids are more beneficial when it comes to maintaining muscles. A bar that contains one or more of the following ingredients is also good for you. The ingredients that you could rely on include brown nice, calcium caseinate, whey protein, and hemp.
5. Check Out For HFCS.
High fructose corn syrup is yet another ingredient that you should watch out for. It is quite often found in those bars wherein they add less sugar. But the fact remains that HFCS is as bad as sugar, if not worse. Studies suggest that this ingredient of snack bars contribute to diabetes and obesity just like sugar.
6. Saturated Fat Should Be Avoided
Sugar-free bars are quite popular these days and people pick them too often due as they are considered healthier than the sugar-laden delights. But what is not known is the presence of saturated fat. The manufactures, many a time, load up saturated fat in these so-called sugar-free nutrition bars to make up for the taste and quality. And, saturated fat, as you all know, cuts short your lifespan by more than a decade.
So, What Can Be Considered As A Good Nutrition Bar?
A good nutrition bar would be the one that contains the following ingredients:
- 3 grams or more of protein
- 3 grams of more of dietary fiber
- Whole grains that offer around 10 grams sugar
- Heart healthy fats
Nutrition bars need not necessarily be termed bad always. Just be careful about the ingredients and eat moderately. Share your views with me in the comments!