For many people, sitting down and having a meal on a workday is a luxury. For these people, snacks from vending machines and donuts from the nearby carts seem to be a lifesaver. However, these eating choices are not healthy and are mostly just empty calories. Here, nutrition bars have emerged as a better alternative. But are they really worth it?
Contents of a Nutrition Bar
Artisan nutritional bars are a healthy alternative to snacks and handy but junk food. They have sufficient calories to keep one energized for a while. That is why they are an ideal pre and post-workout snack. The calories and nutrients vary in different bars because of the difference in their ingredients and primary source.
Most bars provide around 350 calories per serving. They are helpful in consuming additional calories for a weight gain regime. The person can consume the required calories without having to eat much. However, if a person is not satisfied with the calorie count, they can always opt for a different flavor or brand.
Some nutrition bars have nuts and seeds as a primary source while some contain eggs, milk, and whey. The major nutrients in these bars include fiber, fat, and protein. They also contain useful micronutrients like calcium, potassium, iron, and vitamin B and E. The fiber content ranges between five and ten grams. Protein is around 15 to 30 grams while fiber is at least three grams.
Are Nutrition Bars Worth It?
Nutrition bars are no doubt a convenient choice for people with an active lifestyle. These bars prevent people from consuming unhealthy snacks and provide the necessary nutrients on the go. They are also suitable for people who are trying to gain a few pounds, as they can be an easy source of additional calories. They also have utility for weight loss regime and offer many health benefits. They are also a convenient carry along with no spillage or hassle.
However, these bars are not some magical solution. They are a fine source of calories and nutrients, but they also have high sugar content and saturated fat. In fact, some of them are equivalent to a candy bar in this regard, which is a big no for daily consumption. The intake of such nutrition bars should be limited if not avoided altogether. Here are a few things worth mentioning regarding nutrition bars:
Benefits Vary Between Bars: One study shows that some bars might not give the health benefits associated with nutrition bars. One study compared the effect of two bars. One increased the blood sugar levels that remained stable while the other one caused a temporary increase that declined rapidly after a while. The latter one has the same effect a chocolate bar has.
Not A Replacement for Food: Many nutritionists stress that nutrition bars cannot be a replacement for whole foods. Do not exclude natural food from your diet because you ate a nutrition bar earlier. Also, do not make these bars a permanent part of your routine diet. If you want a quick, energizing snack, eat banana or nuts. You might be getting the requisite calories from these bars but with a lot of added sugar and saturated fat.
Even when the bar has adequate sugar content, it is not providing all the ingredients natural food can. Just as eating only tuna sandwiches or peaches is not enough for a balanced diet, eating nutrition bars is not sufficient for meeting your daily nutrients requirement.
Labels Are Not the Whole Story: You cannot assess every bar’s calories and ingredients by its label. A laboratory test of 30 nutrition bars found that 18 bars do not contain the levels of ingredients claimed on the label. What’s more, these bars had higher carb levels than those written on the label. One bar that was branded as low-carb and stated to have 2 grams of carbs actually had 22 grams. Even when the ingredients are not misrepresented on the label, it is difficult to judge the sugar calories in the bar unless they are stated explicitly.
The experts may not be united on the utility of nutrition bars. However, they have a consensus that these bars should be taken as processed food or a supplement rather than a replacement for whole foods. Moreover, they should be taken after a diet assessment or people who cannot consume balanced diets for a reason. Another caution is to avoid sugar-loaded bars and go for one with below 35 percent sugar calories.