Energy bars have become rather popular. Perfect for stashing in a bag or your car, bars travel well and come in handy for those times when you need something convenient and quick to eat. There are dozens of varieties to pick from- so how do you know which are the best? Keep it simple and be mindful of these two criteria when selecting your next energy bar:
Calories:Bars range in calories from under 100 to over 400. Determine whether the bar you need is for a meal replacement or just a little snack in between meals to tame your hunger. If you are using a bar for a breakfast or lunch replacement you may want to go with a higher calorie bar and pair it up with a piece of fruit. Go for a bar under 200 calories if you want to take the edge off your appetite when you are feeling hungry and still have a couple of hours until your next meal. Be aware of how many calories are in the bar you eat and figure that number into your total calorie requirement for the day. Energy bars can fit into a balanced diet; just don't start eating them in addition to your typical meals and snacks unless you are in need of the extra calories they supply.
Ingredients: Most people go right to the nutrition facts panel in search of grams of protein, carbohydrates, fats, sugar, and fiber. While this can be useful information, the most important thing to read on the energy bar package is the ingredient list. This will tell you where those various grams of this and that are coming from. Are the sugar grams coming from healthy additions like dates and raisins or are they coming from refined white sugar and corn syrup? Is the source of fat and protein health-promoting like nuts and seeds or is it health-damaging like partially hydrogenated oil? You want to know what you are eating. The ingredient list will inform you.
The vast assortment of energy bars available can cause you to feel overwhelmed until you know what to look for. Use the above tips the next time you are at the store. Select a few different brands and flavors of bars to discover which you like the best. Everybody is different with unique dietary needs and taste preferences and that is why there are so many choices. One of the healthiest is the Larabar which consists of just a few ingredients, all recognizable and healthy. Save for less frequent occasions any bars with questionable ingredients like soy protein isolate- not a food you want to be eating on a daily basis. Keep a variety on hand, sticking mostly to the more natural ones with a few for when you feel more like indulging. Some personal favorite energy bars are: Larabar (especially the Peanut Butter Cookie), Odwalla Bars, Pulsin' Bars, Raw Revolution, Greens Plus, ProBar, 22 Days Bar, and the occasional Luna or Mojo Bar.
Corinne Goff is a Registered Dietitian who is absolutely passionate about food, health, and nutrition. Corinne has a BA in Psychology from Salve Regina University and a BS in Nutrition from the University of Rhode Island. As a nutritionist, her objective is to help people reach their health goals by offering a personalized holistic approach to wellness that incorporates natural foods and lifestyle changes. She works together with her clients to develop daily improvements that they feel comfortable with and that are realistic. She believes that the focus on wholesome, nutrient-rich, real food, is the greatest possible way to become healthier, have more energy, decrease chances of chronic disease, and feel your best. For more information, please visit her website at RI Nutrition Housecalls.com.