Energy bars, protein bars, and diet bars are just some of the nutrition bars that are popular right now. Since being stuck in traffic is a fact of life in metro Manila we are always in a hurry, hence the popularity of these types of bars.
There’s no denying that they are satisfying and convenient but before throwing a dozen of them in your grocery cart, let’s check if they are worth the space in your tummy.
Awesome protein source
Nutrition bars serve as a great meal replacement if you’re planning to maintain or build muscles. Bars that are available in the market contain at least 15 to 30g of protein. We all know that consuming protein post-workout helps a lot in gaining muscle mass and improving your muscle recovery.
Portability and convenience
Always on-the-go? Traveling? No time to cook? No problem at all! You can easily slip a bar or two in your gym bag, they’re prepacked and don’t need refrigeration. Not to mention they have a very long shelf-life, therefore you need not to worry of spoilage and wastage. Since they are as handy as your favorite candy or chocolate bar, you’d feel less guilty if you choose these bars as an alternative when you’re hungry or as your pre or post workout snack.
Sugar alcohols = lower calories
They are available in low-sugar or low-carb varieties so you can indulge with less guilt. This is because they contain sugar alcohols which make them taste good.
If you’re controlling your weight, this is a great alternative to sugary treats, you can get the same satisfying taste with a reduced amount of calories.
Contains vitamins and minerals
Most nutrition bars available in the market advertise that they contain at least 30% of your daily requirements of vitamins like A, C, D, and E.
As a meal replacement, it is very important to know that these bars aren’t just a nice treat but can also provide at least 1/3 of the recommended daily requirements of zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and other necessary minerals.
Fiber is so good for you
You’ve probably heard of the benefits of eating food that are rich in fiber like vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. Some of the great health benefits of fiber are enhanced weight loss, improved bowel movement, lower percentage of heart diseases, controlled blood sugar, clearer skin, and reduced risk of kidney and gallbladder stones.
Aside from that, eating a nutrition bar that is rich in fiber will help you feel that you’re full without feeling sluggish. Who wouldn’t want a snack that is satisfying for your tastebuds, tummy, and health, right?
They are costly
The price of a nutrition bar ranges from P30 to P100, it can cost up to 3 times the cost of a whole-food meal, fruit, or vegetable containing the same or better nutrition that you needed.
It could add up drastically to your grocery bill if you would consume this on a daily basis.
So relying on these bars as your daily source of nutrition isn’t a good idea, try to control your consumption only when you’re in a hurry and no real-food is handy within your reach.
Lack of research data
Although they are very popular, there is little research about the effect that daily consumption of nutrition bars has on us.
We still don’t know if they are just all hype or if they are really healthy. Truth to be told, a lot of nutritionists have given their point of views regarding nutrition bars, some approve it, some do not.
That being said, it can never replace whole-food permanently, no matter what the labels say.
The dangers of processed food
As mentioned above, a nutrition bar can be stored for a long period of time without requiring refrigeration. Why is that? Simply because the ingredients in it, like soy protein, are highly processed and the bars themselves contain a lot of preservatives to maintain freshness. So in that sense it’s really not that much different from eating a candy bar, right?
Dubious herbal additives
Some nutrition bars we’ve found in the supermarket contain energy boosting ingredients like caffeine which is intolerable to some people.
Others have Ephedra, an ancient Chinese herb that is known for treating illnesses like allergies, fever, asthma, cough and colds, flu, and even joint pains.
However, studies have shown that Ephedra can be used as an alternative to abusive substances and has the same effects of cocaine. Thus, this has been banned in many countries for its suspicious results.
It’s good to know that a nutrition bar can be an alternative to a healthy meal rather than eating junk or skipping your meal all together, and as long as you are eating balanced meals and not just eating nutrition bars exclusively, you should be good to go.
Lastly, make sure to read the labels and nutrition content before indulging and bear in mind that a nutritious home-cooked meal is still irreplaceable.