Energy bars are nothing less than a miracle for people looking to eat healthy and stay active. Protein bars as they were popularly known before the market scenarios transformed and energy bars a.k.a the protein bars became a household name.
Protein rich Energy bars, no doubt, provide their share of health benefits and aid eating healthy to wide range of people like weight watcher, sports enthusiast, cyclist, runner and hikers or normal people like you and me, who want to reduce their dependency on unhealthy snacks and crisp. However, if you are opting for energy bars as a healthier alternative then it is crucial to wisely distinguish a healthy energy bar from the sugar filled junk some brands label as energy bars.
While you go shopping for a healthiest energy bar screen it to see if it meets the following criterion.
- HIGH QUALITY PROTEIN
Protein is an important macronutrient – often running low in our diets. Protein bars are easy way to add up on this important nutrient. Added protein via the protein bars or high protein energy bars are boon to people involved in physical training, resistance training, running marathon, or playing sports.
Protein bars are also ideal for weight watchers as proteins are known to aid weight loss. How? Well for starters, it is known to curb cravings and hunger pangs by promoting the feeling of satiety, thus, helping you to stick to your diet.
So, when you go buying an energy bar select a bar with minimum of 5gm of protein. One other important consideration is the quality of protein in the bar. whey and milk proteins are good to go for. Some bars also contain soy protein but soy protein have been associated with stomach upset therefore better be avoided.
- LOW SUGAR
Sugar, for all the right reasons, should be avoided. Sugar is the worst thing to add to your diet therefore replacing this added sugar is a wise road to take.
Whatever may be your health goal, but while you select energy bar be vigilant with regards to the amount of added sugar it contains. Some energy bars in the market are no different than sugar filled candy and chocolate bars.
Too much of sugar increases insulin secretion and promotes fat build- up adding to the weight you are so rigorously trying to lose. Even for sportsperson and athletes, sugar is not required as it causes a surge in blood sugar for a short time.
An energy bar or protein bar should contain less than 8 gm of added sugar to make it to you shopping cart.
- LOW CARBOHYDRATE
If you are trying to lose weight or build muscle or train then you bar should contain more of proteins and less of carbohydrates. A perfect, healthy energy bars should contain less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per bar with atleast 3 gm of fiber with it.
Look for good carbohydrates from ingredients like whole fruits, whole grain cereals, oats, granola, dried fruits etc as it provided healthy dose of energy with bountiful antioxidants and nutrients.
- LOW CALORIE
The energy bar you add to your diet should not increase your calorie intake drastically. The calorie content of the bar you choose depends upon the role the bar will play. You can go high calorie bar if you are about to run a marathon or race up your cycle or about to hit the gym. However if you are trying to lose weight or opting for the bars as a mid meal snack then keeping a check on the calories of you bar is vital. An energy bar providing calories between 200-300kcal is safe and ideal to go for.
- HEALTHY FATS
There is no need to ban fat from your diet infact you need little fat in your diet to balance it well. However, keep up your guard in regards to what type of fat the energy bar provides. You should strictly keep trans fat off limits and saturated fat as minimum as possible. Look for bars with healthy amounts of omega 3 and MUFA and saturated fat less than 3 grams.
- THE ADDED SUGARS
Most protein bar manufacturers use artificial sweeteners (i.e. Sucralose) and sugar alcohol ((i.e. xylitol, maltitol and sorbitol) to make the protein taste better. These added sugars are generally listed along with the total carbohydrates so be sure to read the ingredient list.
Sugar alcohols are considered healthier compared to the sugar as they are low calorie, do not drastically affect blood sugar levels but are known to produce intestinal discomfort and bloating.
Either the case, anything added to the other than natural ingredients lowers the health quotient of the bar. Therefore sticking to bars made with natural ingredients is for the best.
Choosing a healthy protein bar or energy bar can be quite a task. For all we know , health is never easy and once you find a perfect bar then the road ahead gets easy. Now, equipped with knowledge on how to choose a healthy bar hunting one would be easier than before.