By Nicolette M. Pace
Ever wonder which bar is right for you? With the multitude of options out there, it can be confusing to pick one that does the job right. Here’s what to look out for and expect when you choose a healthy bar for you!
1. Meal Replacement Bar: On the go lifestyles demand attention so next time you run out of steam and reach for an artery clogging and “feel not so happy” meal, bring along a rescue bar to crowd out less careful food choices. Look for ones that are heavy in weight (2-3 oz) and provides about 1/3 of the daily value for key nutrients like protein, fiber and key vitamins and minerals to be sure you get good nutrition on the go.
2. Breakfast Bar: Cereal, milk and fruits sounds yummy in the morning but when you’re not near your kitchen table and pressed for time, take along a high fiber (5 grams) whole grain bar with added protein that will give you flavor and nutrition to start your day right. Stick to healthy add-ins like nuts, oats, flax, millet, triticale and dried fruit and skip the candy pieces to help avoid sugar crashes and calorie overload.
3. Low-cal/quick snack Bar: In between meal nourishment can save you and your hunger from building up to be the next meal catastrophe when you opt for a snack bar that satisfies your taste and doesn’t stretch your waist. Look for psychologically satisfying 100 calorie portion controlled amounts to pick you up in the afternoon or relax you in the evening so you don’t go down the calorie drain.
4. Nutrient Bar: A way to supplement your diet with nutrients that may be needed at different times such as during illness or recovery, surgery or when your diet falls short in nutrients that can help you maintain good health. These functional bars can contain any variety of ingredients such as beneficial fats like omega 3, probiotic bacteria for gastrointestinal health, high quality proteins for tissue repair or soluble fiber to help stabilize blood sugar numbers.
5. Energy Bar: Not to be confused with energy drinks or with the idea that it will pick you up if you have a sluggish metabolism, energy bars are dense, concentrated sources of calories to sustain you during peak high energy need. Think vigorous activities like hiking, climbing, biking, skiing, running, and competitive sports. Healthy energy bars will have recognizable whole food ingredients like nut butters, high quality proteins and natural sugars and a minimum of chemical ingredients.
Be sure to recognize not only the differences in diet bars but how they can best be used for optimum results. Some bars must be therapeutic in design (contain certain levels of nutrients) to properly fit into a program for weight loss, blood sugar control, nutrient repletion or physical performance. This is espeically true for meal replacement, diet and nutrient bars so be on the lookout for great ways to boost nutrition and be sure to discuss with your health provider which ones may be right for you and enjoy!
Be Healthy! Be Happy!
Nicolette M. Pace MS,RD,CDE,CDN,CFCS