Energy bars have become the most loved snacking option among the athletes, sports enthusiasts, etc. to satisfy their hunger. They also give a quick energy fix. But, are these so called healthy energy bars really healthy? Let's try to decode them.
If you have even the slightest idea about sports nutrition and energy snacking then surely, you are not new to the concept of energy bars. Often marketed as a quick fix food for athletes and sports enthusiasts, energy bars have become too mainstream in the recent years. You can choose energy bars from an array of delectable flavors and packaging replete with tall health claims. But, have you ever thought how healthy these energy bars actually are?
Sure, they are designed to provide instant energy during exercise and intense physical activity, but they are now slowly finding their way as a replacement snack thereby eliminating the convenient meal. Chewing the right kind of energy bar at the right time can still be a healthy choice, but can it be a wholesome meal? Let’s find out!
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Savvy marketing techniques and healthy eating fads have given a boost to the assumption that energy bars are healthy. While some are indeed healthy, others greatly lack in the nutrition department. Like any other food product, energy bars also consist of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids).
Here is a quick guide to analyzing the major components of your packaged energy bar, which you can do by reading its nutrition label:
Carbohydrates: An average energy bar contains 10gms to 60 gms of carbohydrates, subject to various brands and its intended use. Carbohydrates present in energy bars can be further divided into complex carbohydrates coming from rice and oats or simple carbohydrates that come from dried fruits and high fructose corn syrup.
Protein: Meal replacement energy bars usually have higher protein content, which ranges from anywhere between 5gms to 25 gms. The main source of protein in these bars is mostly soy, milk or whey protein.
Fat: Every energy bar comes with a varied fat content depending on its usage. Expert nutritionists believe that 3gms to 5 gms of fat in energy bars comes is in a healthy range.
Fiber: An energy bar high on fiber is not suitable for consumption during exercise, but if you are consuming it as a meal replacement snack then it must contain 3gms to 5 gms of fiber.
Calories: This is something that you need to be aware of. The calorie content of some bars is as high as 500 calories. If you are eating it in between meals then look for bars with less than 200 calories.
Sugar: They might sound like a healthy idea but energy bars contain a lot of added sugar. Read the nutrition label beforehand to determine the exact amount of sugar present in it.
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If you really want to make a healthy choice with energy bars and make it your healthy meal replacement snack, then follow our six-point guide on how to chose a healthy energy bar:
- Look for bars that have less than 5 grams of fat
- Buy energy bar only if it contains only 3gms to 5 gms of fiber
- The carbohydrate and protein ratio in your energy bar should be according to your requirement. If you are buying it as a meal replacement snack then go for higher protein content bars. But, if you are consuming it during endurance exercise than a high carbohydrate content bar will be right for you.
- Weight Watchers, check calories before buying any energy bar. The number of calories in an energy bar range from 150 to 500, so choose wisely.
- Lesser the ingredients, better the bar. Choose bar with fewer ingredients.
- Check ingredients before buying. Go for healthy options like bars that contain oats, dried fruits, etc. Steer clear from bars that contain excessive sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
The Bottom Line
Energy bars might sound like a convenient go-to-snack, but they should not be tripping over your nutritional requirements. Of course, they are a better choice when it comes to gorging on a bag of chips or candy, but avoid overdoing them. Real home cooked food is always a better alternative.
Remember, not all energy bars are created equally. Some are healthy, while some are not. So be a smart consumer and choose wisely.