Nutrition bars are often touted for their high protein, high fiber and low fat content, but not all bars are created equal. While many can be the perfect combination of on-the-go nutrients, others may contain enough sugar to qualify as a glorified candy bar, or have a long list of unfamiliar ingredients. However, with a little label reading and a quick crash course in this nutrition bar know-how, it is possible to choose a better bar.
Read the Ingredient List
You guessed it! As with all packaged foods, label reading should be #1 when it comes to choosing wisely. Look for a list filled with real, whole foods and try to stay away from hard-to-pronounce words or chemically laden ingredients. Some of the best bars include simple, short ingredient lists with nuts, dates or other no-sugar-added fruit.
Skip the Sweet Stuff
While scanning the ingredient list, be sure to steer clear of sweeteners or added sugars. Many sweeteners are disguised by names including brown rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, or agave, however, they are all simply sugar substitutes. Instead, aim for ingredients with real, unsweetened fruit and choose a bar with less than 10g of sugar.
Be Picky about Protein
Egg whites, nuts, nut butters and seeds are all excellent sources of protein and can often be found in nutrition bars. These whole, natural protein sources are always the best choice over processed proteins, including soy protein isolate or protein concentrate. While whey protein is a natural byproduct of dairy, it can still cause potential negative side effects including digestive cramping, headaches or fatigue. Instead, choose whole sources of protein over byproducts or concentrates.
Focus on Fiber
Fiber is one of the best sources for filling up without filling out. Look for bars with high sources of natural fiber, including nuts and fruit, to ensure a balanced snack. The powerful combination of protein and fiber will keep you full, satiated and energized until your next meal.
While many nutrition bars are the perfect, portable snack, be sure to balance with other whole foods throughout the day. It is possible to have too much of a good thing, so don’t treat bars as meal replacements. Instead, fill up on fresh foods first and use nutrition bars to supplement during moments of between-meal hunger. As a general rule, snacks should stay around 200-250 calories – nutrition bars included!
WATCH THIS: Check out Lara’s Nutrition Bar Tips featured on Fox News on August 7, 2015
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