Energy / Nutrition Bars

High protein bars, low carbohydrate bars, and energy bars...
are popular meal replacements and snacks for those who are highly physically active and want extra calories and for those who are trying to control their food intake and need fewer calories. These bars can be divided into two general groups: those that contain a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrate, and those that contain mostly protein, fat, and very little carbohydrate. Basically, the energy bars that contain a concentrated source of carbohydrate for quick energy and a source of protein for muscle repair and growth are geared towards sports/fitness enthusiasts. The meal replacement or snack bars that contain very low amounts of carbohydrate and mostly protein are marketed towards the weight loss population and those who wish to follow a low carbohydrate diet. How do they fit into a healthy diet for good health and for weight loss or weight gain?

Advantages
Energy bars are convenient, travel well, and many contain reasonable amounts of fat, saturated fat, and sodium. Many are a good source of high quality protein without the cholesterol and saturated fat of high fat animal protein sources. They have a low sodium content, and most are fortified with vitamins and minerals. In short, for a quick, small meal or snack, they are a better choice than a fast food meal and other highly processed packaged convenience foods. 

Disadvantages
While energy bars may appear to be nutritionally equivalent...
to a balanced meal of whole foods, they don't take the place of a nutritious, varied diet of natural, minimally processed sources of protein, fat, carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals. It is a challenge to break them down into natural food groups. For example, many of these bars are fortified with the same vitamin and minerals found in fruits and vegetables, but they don't contain the phytochemicals, bioflavonoids, natural fiber and balance of vitamins and minerals found in these foods, so their comparative health benefits are not the same. Most do not contain the amount of fiber that would be found if one ate an equal amount of carbohydrate from whole grains or beans rather than the carbohydrate in the energy bars. Most of the energy bars contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated palm oil, so even though the fat content of these bars is within reasonable limits, the percentage of saturated fat in the bar can be quite high (more than 50% of the fat in some bars)

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The Diet we all need - Personal Diets!

A Few Good Rules
If your choice is between a high fat, high salt typical fast food meal and an energy bar, you're better off nutritionally choosing the bar. But they don't contain the nutritional health benefits of a well chosen, varied diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, very lean sources of protein, nutrient dense carbohydrates and good sources of fats. So, if you choose these as part of your diet, keep them in perspective, and make them healthier by adding some raw veggies, a piece of real fruit, and some whole grains or beans if you expect to make a meal out of these bars. As a snack or pre-workout source of energy, they are pretty much o.k. as is, with the proper amount of water you need for exercise.

Some basics:

  • Read labels for other substances added to the bars. Some of them contain herbal supplements or carbohydrate blockers, and sources of caffeine or other stimulants. Find the bars that fit your needs and don't have anything you don't want in them.

  • Look for energy bars that are low in saturated fat and do not contain palm oil or other hydrogenated fats, or at least contain very small amounts of these fats (less than 2-3 grams or so for about 200 Calories of food).

  • Look for bars that are fortified with vitamins and minerals if you are going to replace an occasional meal with a bar. This will help keep your intake of these important substances within a good range, to replace the lost nutrients from the foods you are substituting the bars for.

If you're following PersonalDiets diet plan, I provide a set of personalized eating guidelines for the bars listed below so you could easily incorporate them in your diet.  Review the table below for a comparison of some popular energy bars. Most of the bars contain some soy and some dairy protein, and most contain some palm oil. Look at the ingredients, but also look at the breakdown of fat, protein and carbohydrate to choose the bar that best fits into your daily plan. I do not recommend any brand or product and discourage replacing fruits, dairy, and lean meats with their carbohydrate, fat and protein derivatives that are in bars, but realistically, people consume these products and they are not a bad choice for a quick fix once in a while.   

 

Bar 1
Calories  Fat  Saturated Fat Protein Carbo
hydrate
Sodium Fiber

Balance Bar, Chocolate

  • Carbohydrate source: corn syrup,honey,sugar

  • Fat Source:mostly palm oil, some Canola,sunflower,
    soybean

  • Protein Source:
    soy, dairy

  • Fortified w/vitamins/minerals?
    yes  

  • Eating Guidelines for one bar:  1 1/2 Fats,2 Meats

200 6g 35 14 g 22 g 230 mg 1 g
Bar 2
Calories  Fat  Saturated Fat Protein Carbo
hydrate
Sodium Fiber
  • Power Bar- Chocolate

  • Carbohydrate source:
    High Fructose Corn Sugar, Juices, Oat Bran, Malto Dextrin, Rice, Peanut Flour

  • Fat Source: Peanut Butter

  • Protein Source:  Dairy,Non-Fat Dry Milk

  • Fortified w/vitamins/minerals? 
    yes
  • Eating Guidelines for one bar:  1 Dairy, 
    1 1/2 Fats, 
    1 1/2 Breads 
240 3g .5 g 10 g 45 g 95 mg 3 g
Bar 3
Calories  Fat  Saturated Fat Protein Carbo
hydrate
Sodium Fiber
  • Doctors Low Carb Diet

  • Carbohydrate source: 
    Peanut Flour, Poly Dextrose

  • Fat Source: Palm Oil, Butter Oil, Canola

  • Protein Source:  Soy, Dairy

  • Fortified w/vitamins/minerals? 
    No Vitamin or Minerals Added 

  • *Contains stevia - a plant source sweetener and carb blocking products

    Eating Guidelines for one bar:  1 Fat, 
    1 1/2 Meat, 1 Dairy

234 8 g 3 g 19 g 2.6 g 162 mg 0 g
Bar 4 
Calories  Fat  Saturated Fat Protein Carbo
hydrate
Sodium Fiber
  • BioChem, Ultimate Lo Carb Bar

  • Carbohydrate source: 
    Nuts

  • Fat Source:  Canola Oil, Almond Butter, Almonds

  • Protein Source: Soy, Dairy

  • Fortified w/vitamins/minerals?
    yes 

  • *Contains stevia - a plant source sweetener

  • Eating Guidelines for one bar: 2 Meats, 
    1 Dairy

240 7g .5 g 23 g 2 g 260 mg 1 g
Bar 5
Calories  Fat  Saturated Fat Protein Carbo
hydrate
Sodium Fiber
  • GeniSoy, 
    Creamy Caramel

  • Carbohydrate source:
    corn syrup, sugar

  • Fat Source: palm oil, peanut butter

  • Protein Source:  Soy, Dairy

  • Fortified w/vitamins/minerals? 
    yes 

  • Eating Guidelines for one bar: 1 Meat,
    2 Fruit, 1 Dairy

230 4 g 2.5 g 14 g 34 g 160 mg 1 g
 

If you're looking for a good diet plan to follow & like to use energy bars & other diet foods consider the following:   
PersonalDiets weight loss programs and the weight loss and healthy diets our dietitian custom develop are set apart from most online diet programs which are almost entirely "one size fits all".  Diets that do not consider your needs are unlikely to be of much value and is key to our clients' success. It's what helps our clients stay motivated, losing and succeeding after they've reached their goals.

PersonalDiets: A Diet You Can Live With!
 

The PersonalDiets menu plan that you start with is customized to give you the structure needed to eat right and lose weight. However, you need to follow a meal pattern that works best for you, along with food choices that meet your needs and/or your family's too. That's why we developed the exclusive technology to custom develop diets - so that you can start with a meal plan but choose the way you want to eat instead of following a set menu.  This can only be done with PersonalDiets program - a diet plan that actually lets you change each food, repeat foods as desired, and even add your own favorite foods, as well as types of packaged meals, snacks and even recipes.

Is eating out in restaurants keeping you from losing weight?
Using PersonalDiets you'll learn how to fit in dining out into your weight loss and healthy diet plan. You don't have to avoid  restaurants to lose weight, but you've got to have a plan for dining when you dine out. Our dietitian can add foods you use when dining out - it really is a Personal Diet. No more rigid meal plans that make it hard to stick to a diet.  Instead you get a plan you enjoy and "A Diet You Can Live With™" so that you can keep off the weight.