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Belly Up to the Bar…Maybe

Belly Up to the Bar…Maybe

energy bar

I’m not meaning a bar that serves liquid fun but to the plethora of protein bars that seem to be on the market. As people are committing to a healthier lifestyle, the popularity of protein, and energy, bars has increased. However, the quality of protein bar (including the protein itself) varies drastically and some ingredients are questionable than others. Keep an eye for some of the ingredients as noted below.

  1. Some protein bars may contain up to 30 grams of sugar (more than 6 teaspoons).   That’s like eating a candy bar. Further, if you multiply the total grams of sugar in a bar by four (there are 4 calories per gram of sugar), you will get the total number of calories from sugar per bar. For example: 30 gr sugar x 4 = 120 calories. Compare that number to the total number of calories for the bar.
  2. Fractionated/hydrogenated palm kernel oil. Do you have any idea what that is? What it is is a high concentration of saturated fat that created the chocolatey coating on many bars.
  3. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). I can’t even pronounce it! It’s a chemical preservative that some studies have linked with cancer.
  4. Artificial sweeteners. Maltitol and erythritol may cause gastrointestinal distress (these are usually found in “sugar free candies”). Ever notice how bloated and gaseous you become after eating sugar free candy? Some studies have shown that these can even trigger cravings for sweets thereby causing you to eat more.

So, what should you look for? Ideally, you want a bar that offers high-quality protein, fiber, heart-healthy fats like those found in almond butter or the omega-3’s in walnuts, chia seeds, and flax, and carbohydrates from whole food sources like oats and fruits.
Look for at least three grams of fiber and five grams of protein, and stick to shorter ingredient lists made of pronounceable foods like nuts, seeds, veggies, and fruits. Be wary of “natural” bars that list multitudes of sweeteners such as honey, brown rice syrup, and agave nectar. While these sweeteners are natural, loading up on several in one sitting is no different from eating a high sugar bar.

 

Other considerations are if you are looking for a bite to tide you over, or you’re replenishing your muscles after a strenuous session at the gym or multiple-mile run. Obviously, a bite to hold between meals needs less calories. Try to keep calories under 200 if you just need a quick snack.

 

Final word: More bars have come onto the market that contained healthy ingredients while leaving out the bad ones. Better yet, the internet is full of recipes for easy, homemade bars that cost a fraction of the price. Again, check the list of ingredients but at least you know you won’t be including chemicals into the mix.

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