The Truth About Energy Bars
You’re driving in your car, speeding to your next appointment. It’s 2:30 p.m. and you realize you’ve had nothing to eat all day. You glance around the car for something (anything!) to eat and you spy an energy bar on the back seat.
Perfect! It’s quick, it satisfies and it’s good for you, right? Well?
They’re the rage, so they must be healthy! You see people eating them in the gym. Runners eat them during marathons. Many who are trying to maintain a weight-loss program believe they help them lose weight. Kids eat them as “breakfast on the go” and air travelers stock up to munch on them while they’re watching an in-flight movie. Want to separate truth from hype when it comes to energy bars/protein bars/meal replacement bars?
- Read nutrition labels. Some bars contain a ton of sugar, cleverly disguised as high fructose corn syrup, sucrose and corn syrup. Ingredients are listed according to the amount used, so if sugar in any form is the first or second ingredient, you’re eating a chocolate bar with some protein.
- Check out the fat content. Not just the number of fat grams, look at the kind of fat grams. Some of these “nutrition” bars contain the kinds of artery-clogging fats that cause cancer and heart disease. These usually show up in ingredient lists as hydrogenated oils, coconut oils, palm kernel oils or other types of tropical oils.
- If you’re trying to lose weight, check out total calories and the protein to carbs ratio. You want a bar that has more protein than carbs (a 2 to 1 ratio of protein to carbs is good).
- “Power” bars designed for athletes, are extremely high in carbs, loaded with sugar and have very little protein. That’s ok if you’re burning calories like crazy during high-intensity training and work-out sessions, but not so good if you’re sitting at your desk job all day.
Just because they’re called “nutrition bars” doesn’t mean they’re nutritious! It just means that they’re a big business with great marketing. In order to make them taste good, they have lots of sugar or artificial sweeteners, neither of which is good for you in any form. Add in the saturated fat content and the calories and you’re heading for some serious weight gain, cancer or a heart attack if you eat these regularly!
One thing is for sure, these bars can’t replace the natural ingredients found in fruits and vegetables, and they definitely don’t satisfy the bulk of your nutritional needs. A bar once in a while is fine; a steady diet of these bars is certainly not! Of course, exercising regularly is a great way to help maintain your health naturally – but using energy bars as part of your exercise regimen is NOT!