Trying to lose weight? What do you envision when you read the term energy bars? If you’re working hard at weight loss, you’ve seen the messaging.
The advertisements for most bars portray them in the light of health and as a vital part of an active lifestyle. Companies advertise energy bars as a healthy snack or meal replacement frequently.
That raises even more questions in my mind. Why not just eat a quick piece of fruit or pack a healthy lunch?
However, here are the larger questions. First, are they any good for your health? More importantly, do they help with weight loss?
What energy bars should you avoid?
Energy bars are intended to give you energy, but not all energy bars are created equally. Some energy bars are no more than repackaged candy bars. Therefore, seek out energy bars that use natural sweeteners and whole grains.
Avoid bars that list either sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as a primary ingredient. These bars will give you an energy rush, but moments later will cause blood sugar plummeting a few hours later and leave you hungry again quickly.
An article in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition proves that high fructose consumption likely contributes to weight gain. Quite the opposite of your intent of losing weight!
Also, pass up bars that have partially-hydrogenated oils or palm seed kernel oils, as these oils are high in saturated fats.
Researchers are still researching the ill effects of fructose on the human body.
What energy bars should you choose?
Choose energy bars with natural ingredients such as whey protein, dried fruits, and nuts as the primary ingredients.
Look for bars that include sweetening ingredients such as dried fruit, honey or agave nectar as sweeteners rather than sugar, fructose, glucose, or HFCS. If an energy bar appears too much like a candy bar, take special note of the ingredients.
Healthy Home-Made Energy Bars
Do your research on energy bar recipes. You can make them at home using natural, healthful ingredients. Pack them in plastic wrap, and take them with you on the go!
(Recipes will follow soon. So…subscribe to our push notifications so we can alert you when we publish them!)
Should energy bars be a part of your diet plan?
As with all things related to diet, moderation is the key. In a pinch, consider an energy bar as a snack or meal replacement.
They are definitely better than choosing fast food! While you’ll find them useful for a healthy lifestyle, don’t consume a steady diet of only energy bars!
Use an energy bar for a push during a long hike or bike ride; their size and portability make them perfect for eating during those activities. For exercise or activities shorter than 2 hours, you should eat a light snack before–and not during–exercise.
Are energy bars ideal for losing weight?
Bars can be a quick, portable snack on the go and can fit into a healthy eating pattern for weight loss. If you choose a bar for a snacking option, limit the calories to around 200 calories or less, and with at least 5 gm protein and 3 gm fiber. As previously noted (because it’s important enough to restate), make sure most of the ingredients are natural.
If you see a bunch of ingredients that you can’t pronounce, those are artificial flavors and/or preservatives. These ingredients are not beneficial for promoting health or weight loss.
Other healthy and portable snack ideas are fruit, a small handful of nuts, string cheese or cut up veggies with hummus.
If you need to choose a bar as a meal substitute on the fly, select a bar that has 300-400 calories, with around 10gm of protein, and has greater than 3 gm of fiber. Eat an apple or a banana with the bar for added nutrition.
WW (formerly Weight Watchers) and Energy Bars
If you are on WW, like me, you probably notice that most of these meal replacements eat up a lot of your smartpoints. WW points are based on factors such as:
- The amount of sugar in a product (raises WW smartpoints value)
- Protein levels (higher protein lowers the smarties)
- Whether the food has the potential to be abused or addictive (ie, sugary or salty snacks)
Personally, I lost almost 75 pounds on WW now and reached my goal weight without overly relying on these. However, I admit that I purchased the WW branded protein bars for a quick boost and a brand called Built Bars (3 smarties each) regularly. Steered clear of the rest, and they have more WW points than a nice, big, satisfying salad with grilled chicken.
The Bottom Line on Energy Bars and Weight Loss
Here is a summary of the connection between losing weight and energy bars.
- Eat these in moderation when you need them for a quick snack on the run.
- Eat healthful foods most of the time, including fruits, nuts, whole grains and lean proteins for a healthy diet.
- Choose bars containing natural sweeteners and ingredients.
Are you interested in trying WW (Formerly Weight Watchers) with me? I have a special WW offer for new members, here: