If theres one thing in this world I cant get enough of, its a quick fix. Anything that makes my life easier, less stressful and adds some time to my day is a winner in my book. That being said, energy bars can be the perfect convenience food that is, if you know how to decipher the good stuff from the junk. With so many health and nutrition bars on the market these days, sifting through all the choices has become almost as hard as finding that perfect dress hidden among the racks at a sample sale.
There are gender specific bars, meal replacement bars, workout fuel bars between all of that and the fancy packaging, it becomes virtually impossible to know whether youre making the right choice. Top nutritionist to the stars, Dr. Oz Garcia says “the main thing to look for is that the bar is low in both carbohydrates and saturated fats. You also want about 10 to 15 grams of protein. There are so many versions out there these days, so find one that tastes good too.” We break it down for you below!
The primary reason for eating a high-protein bar is to help build or maintain lean muscle. This is especially necessary for highly athletic men and women. Make sure to read the nutrition label so that you are aware of the number of grams the bar contains. Anything less then 12g does not constitute high-protein.
Sure, energy bars can be highly nutritious, but with all the added sugar in some of them, any health benefits can easily be cancelled out. Watch out for ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup and other refined sugars, which the body stores as fat and can ultimately lead to weight gain. Don’t be fooled by reduced-sugar either what you lose in sugar, you’ll probably pay for in calories. Go for bars with 5 grams of sugar or less.
A well balanced meal is always your best option, but when you’re in a time crunch, choosing a high fiber and high protein bar is your next best option. The fiber will keep you full longer, which will prevent unnecessary snacking later. Fiber is also crucial for digestive health and regularity. Choose a bar with at least 3 grams.
This one isn’t so much about the number of fat grams as much as it is about the type of fats you’re consuming. Stay away from unhealthy saturated fats. A good hint is that if the bar is topped or dipped in anything that seems too good to be true, it probably is. For example, do you really think those yogurt coatings are made of real yogurt? You guessed it, no way! Instead opt for healthier unsaturated fats like nut butters.
The less ingredients, the better:
This really should be a rule of thumb for any processed packaged food you eat. The energy bar with 5 listed ingredients is inevitably going to be better than the one with 10. Stay clear from any ingredient that sounds like it should be part of a science experiment. Oats, fruits, nuts and whey proteins are the ones you want on the back of your nutrition label.
Larabar in peanut butter chocolate chip! It’s hard to find a bar that meets every energy bar rule, but this one comes pretty close. The only ingredients listed are dates, peanuts, chocolate chips and salt, so it’s pretty impossible to go wrong here. Larabar, $26.96 for 16 pack, larabarstore.com.