Nutrition bars have become a popular food for their convenience, energy, and apparently essential nutrients. They come in handy when one does not have enough time to sit and eat. Also, they are easy to carry along, as sandwiches and falafels are not practical to keep in a pocket. But are they good enough to be replacing meals?
What do nutrition bars contain?
The composition of nutrition bars differs as do their calorie count, utility, and health benefits. The ingredients are different between flavors. Some of these snacks have fruits, nuts, dates, and seeds while some have quinoa or seeds. As for the nutrients, these bars contain 5-10 grams of fiber, over five grams of fat, and up to 35 grams of carbs. Artisan nutrition bars also provide vitamins, iron, potassium, and calcium.
Most of these bars are rich in added sugar and other artificial sweeteners, which makes people skeptical about their health. Most of the nutrition bars provide 150-400 calories. These bars vary in terms of calories and nutrients’ quantities because their source of protein is different.
Some nutrition bars are composed of milk, yogurt powder, or other dairy items like whey while the others source plant-based food items like brown rice, pea, and soy. Some bars have seeds and nuts as primary protein sources while the others use whole-food proteins that are highly processed.
Are nutrition bars any good?
To determine if nutrition bars are good for health, it is better to weigh down their pros and cons.
Benefits of nutrition bars:
Loaded with nutrients: These tasty, ready-to-eat treats contain sufficient nutrients to keep you going for a while. They also contribute to your daily nutrients requirements and thus can qualify as a healthy snack. Given their fiber content, they can also help prevent overeating and promote digestive health.
Weight loss: Nutrition bars help with weight loss, as they promote satiety and prevent overeating. Research shows that protein-rich diets help with weight loss owing to protein’s filling effects. However, if you are consuming these bars for weight loss, make sure that their sugar calories do not exceed 35 percent.
Weight gain: Interestingly, nutrition bars can also help with weight gain. But you need to be strategic to achieve that. You need to take in more calories than you expend in a day. These bars can help you achieve this goal. You can increase the serving to attain your calorie target. However, do not go overboard with it or else you would be consuming too much sugar.
Disadvantages or potential risks
There are a plethora of nutrition bars available in the market today. Many people do not even read the label or the ingredients chart.
Excessive Sugar: Ideally, a nutrition bar should not contain sugar more than 35 percent per serving. This condition is not met by most of the nutrition bars available on the shelf. Most of them are so high in sugar that they can easily qualify as a candy bar. It can produce more harm than good for your health.
Processed Ingredients: While some nutrition bars source seeds and whole nuts, others contain highly processed oils like peanut, palm, soybean, or canola oil. They are rich in Omega-6 fatty acids, which are associated with many serious ailments like heart disease and cancer.
Excessive Protein: There is a risk that you might be consuming too much protein. If you consume regular meals, the chance exists that you might already be consuming the requisite amount of protein. Adding these bars as snacks would only increase your protein consumption, which may cause harm.
Verdict: Nutrition bars are no doubt highly useful for people with an active lifestyle. Moreover, they are still a better alternative to gobbling up doughnuts and sugary snacks from the vending machines. After all, they are providing essential nutrients more than just imparting empty calories, as is the case with chips and other common snacks.
If you are busy and cannot get up for a healthy lunch, a nutrition bar having balanced ingredients is a better option. But do not make it your routine meal. Also, steer clear of bars with high sugar and saturated fat. Some of the nutrition bars are as high in sugar as any candy bar.