How effective is your energy bar?

How effective is your energy bar?

Meal replacement bars have an overall balance of protein, carbohydrate/sugar and fat. These bars are typically higher in protein and lower in carbohydrate/sugar, with added vitamins and minerals comparable to eating a well balanced meal.

Meal replacement bars have an overall balance of protein, carbohydrate/sugar and fat. These bars are typically higher in protein and lower in carbohydrate/sugar, with added vitamins and minerals comparable to eating a well balanced meal.

by Sherry Fragosa — 

In the pursuit of staying healthy and keeping the extra pounds off during our hectic lives, we have embraced the “bar.” Whether it is a protein, power or meal-replacement bar, we are utilizing its convenience and accepting it as a better alternative to the drive-thru. But is the bar really helping us reach and/or maintain our goals? Let us break it down.

Sometimes called power bars, energy bars are designed to provide energy and additional nutrition to support regular athletic and other strenuous activities. They should be consumed before, during or after workouts, competitions or other demanding physical activities. They are not a meal replacement or snack alternative.

Energy bars are high in calories, carbohydrates and sugar, low in protein and have moderate fat. They are designed to be carbohydrate rich to supply extra energy for very active people — a snack for a long hike or bike ride, or after a workout for individuals with high activity levels.

For someone who is not engaging in daily strenuous physical activity, an energy bar will provide excess calories and carbohydrates that the body does not need, and which will convert to fat and affect blood sugar balance.

Protein bars vary in ingredients, and there is a difference in the types. A protein bar can either fall into the category of a power/energy bar or into a high-protein, low-carbohydrate and low-fat bar. The nutritional information on the bar will help you determine which category it fits into.

Meal replacement bars have an overall balance of protein, carbohydrate/sugar and fat. These bars are typically higher in protein and lower in carbohydrate/sugar, with added vitamins and minerals comparable to eating a well balanced meal.

A good meal replacement bar should have less than 200 calories and provide some vitamin and mineral supplementation. This kind of bar is best used as a between-meals snack or for breakfast, if the alternative is not eating breakfast at all.

Listed below are several bars and their caloric and nutritional breakdowns in order from the healthiest choice to the least healthful. For those wanting a good meal replacement or snack alternative, and to keep balanced nutrition throughout their day, these bars will do the trick.

  1. Metagenics™ Soy/Rice (55g) — calories: 190-210, fat: 6-7g, carbs: 24g-28g, sugar: 12-18g, protein: 17-12g.
  2. LUNA® bar (48g) — calories: 180, fat: 4-5g, carbs: 24-28g, sugar: 9-14g, protein: 8-10g.
  3. CLIF® bar (68g) — calories: 240-250, fat: 4-7g, carbs: 41-45g, sugar: 20-23g, protein: 9-10g.
  4. PowerBar® Harvest — calories: 240-260, fat: 5g, carbs: 41-43g, sugar: 21-23g, protein: 10g.
  5. LARABAR® (45g) — calories: 220, fat: 10-13g, carbs: 23-32g, sugar: 18-24g, protein: 4-7g.
  6. Snickers® bar (58.7g) — calories: 280, fat: 14g, carbs: 35g, sugar: 30g, protein: 4g.

 

Sherry Fragosa is director of operations at Center for True Harmony Wellness and Medicine in Mesa, Ariz. 480-539-6646, sherry@trueharmonywellness.com or trueharmonywellness.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 33, Number 2, April/May 2014.

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