After Halloween hits it seems as if the rest of the year goes by in a blink of the eye. The holiday’s approach us so quickly and life can get in the way of our healthy food choices. When you’re running out the door and want to grab something quick, most of us tend to grab a high fat/high calorie snack since it is easy. Even if you’re running errands and want to get something to curb your appetite it often is not a mindful healthy food choice. One of the easy, grab-and-go type snacks are energy bars…most of us rely on these right? Looking at all the different options of protein bars and energy bars can get a little confusing so I wanted to share with you some guidelines to pick out a healthy bar.
- Read the ingredient list: Some energy bars are packed with SO much sugar you might as well be eating a Twix Bar. Look for bars that contain ingredients like dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Kind Bar or LaraBar are 2 examples of bars that sweeten their bars with real fruit instead of brown rice syrup or cane syrup.
- Try to avoid the artificial sweeteners and artificial preservatives: Some of these sugar alcohols consumed in excess can cause GI issues like bloating and gas.
- Pick a bar that provides at least 4 grams of fiber and no more than 3 grams of saturated fat: The bottom line about picking out a bar with a lot of fiber is what it will keep you full longer. Since many pick up these bars to sustain them till the next meal, the fiber is a critical component. It is recommended by the American Heart Association that we should limit the amount of saturated fat in our diet to less than 7% of our total calorie intake.
- Find a balanced bar: How much protein should be in your energy bar? Try to look for 7-18g protein. Watching your carbohydrate intake? Limit the carbs in your protein bar to 15-30g. This type of a bar is a great mid-day balanced snack. You will notice some fruit and nut bars will tend to be lower in protein, but the healthy fats make the bar beneficial.
- Calorie check: Some of those cookies and cream protein bars can pack in 350-400calories. Be mindful of this…for women try to pick a bar between 150-200calories and for men 200-250calorie bars are appropriate.
Bottom line: Once again, these are just tips to picking out a “healthier” energy bar. I would not want to recommend having an energy bar for your snacks all of the time. You would be missing out on too many vitamins, nutrients, and phytochemicals.
Here are some other energy sustaining snack ideas for you during the holiday’s:
- Mixed nuts 1/4 cup with dried fruit (1/2 ounce)
- 6 ounces yogurt topped with 2 Tablespoons natural granola or 1/2 c fruit
- Apple slices or 1/2 banana dipped in 2 Tablespoons almond butter
- 3 cups popcorn tossed with 1 tsp. olive oil
- 5 whole grain crackers with hummus (1/4 c)
Hope this was helpful to all! 🙂