There are days when you might feel tempted to grab a quick meal and that is when, a nutrition bar will come in handy. Nutrition bars have become hugely popularly because they are easy to carry and also offer nutritional boost. You can stash a few of these pocket-sized bars in your bag and munch on them at work or relish them after a workout session. Nutrition bars, protein bars, energy bars are the terms that can be used interchangeably. With the surge in their numbers, the question that arises now is how healthy they are. Since there are a wide variety of bars in different categories to choose from, we can't generalize. Some bars may prove to be a good source of vitamins and minerals while some may be high on the sugar content, so when you are on the hunt for a quick snack, you need to carefully choose a nutrition bar. If you want to know more about the right kind of bar that you can pick as per your needs, you can take guidance from a diet and nutrition expert.
Here are certain things that you can consider:
1. Choose a bar that has at least 5 grams of fiber and not more than 7 grams of sugar. Read the ingredient list before buying. If it mentions high-fructose corn syrup as sweetener, you must realize it is not healthy. Sugar in any form won't do you good and consuming that will lead to more sugar cravings.
2. Another important factor that you need to keep in mind is that these bars don't always contain what their label displays. Tests by Consumer labs have shown that these bars have more fat and carbohydrates than what their label or the nutritional information specifies. Even bars that mention 'low sugar' contain sugar alcohols that can lead to diarrhea and bloating.
3. Protein bars are another category of bars popular amongst athletes and bodybuilders, and are a quick source of protein especially after a workout. Most of these bars contain at least 15 grams of protein and the amount of carbs varies. Some are low in carbs because they contain artificial sweeteners which can cause bloating. Protein bars can be used for building muscles and these are high protein, low carbs bars. Primarily used after strength training, these help build muscles. Protein bars can also be used for weight loss as some protein bars claim to be meal replacements and their target audience is those who want to shed some weight. But again, they do contain sugar alcohols and overconsumption can lead to diarrhea as these nutritive sweeteners aren't fully digested by the body.
4. Then there are sports bars aka energy bars which are rich in carbohydrates and contain average amounts of protein. Carbs provide fuel for muscles and protein aids in muscle repair plus they are low on fat which makes them easily digestible and satiates your hunger pangs. They can also act as a substitute for post-exercise recovery food.
5. Even when you opt for a healthier bar, you shouldn't eat more than one a day and try to avoid them before bedtime. All said and done, the bottom line is that consuming these bars once in a while or when you are in great rush is okay but you really can't replace real, whole food with them.