The truth about nutrition bars

Nutrition bars were originally manufactured to be consumed in space. Now, they have become quite popular and are perceived to hold a lot of health benefits. Athletes take these bars as they are believed to enhance endurance performance.

They are also a good choice for people with busy schedules, as they are a healthier snack than a donut or pretzel. But are they the real deal?

How Nutrition Bars Started Off?

Nutrition bars were originally dubbed as the ‘space food sticks’ by the Pillsbury Company that introduced them in the 1960s. They were an alternative to the frozen snacks and were convenient, as the astronauts’ helmets could easily accommodate them. They provided both nutrition and energy, becoming a wholesome choice for people flying off to space.

Over time, they also became among the athletes after their reinvention and reformulation. They were also recognized as a suitable snack for people who are health conscious. These bars are now branded as a source of nourishment, energy, and essential nutrients.

For the first time, these bars were reinvented as ‘power bars’ for athletes in the 1980s. Their unique selling point (USP) was that they were loaded with protein and thus an ideal post-workout snack. After some time, these bars were rebranded and the strategy worked. They became popular with all kinds of people, be it athletes, workaholics, health-conscious individuals, and so on. They seemed to check all the boxes when it came to people’s requirements, like being a quick snack, convenient to carry along, healthy meal replacement, and good on the tongue as well.

Now, they come under many names like nutrition bars, health bars, power bars, protein bars, snack bars, and granola bars. They all do the same job and fulfill similar requirements. They claim to be an ideal snack that provides all the necessary nutrients along with energy in the form of ample calories.

Are they as healthy as claimed to be?

There is no denying that nutrition bars are convenient. They are an ideal food for people with active and busy routines as well as for those who are looking to put on a few pounds. However, whether they are a healthier alternative and can be a replacement for whole foods is debatable.

They do contain essential nutrients like protein, fiber, and fat as well as micronutrients like calcium, potassium, iron, and vitamins. But they also contain high sugar calories and saturated fat, both of which are detrimental to health and raise the risk of developing chronic diseases. Hence, it is better to go through the label before making it a part of your routine diet.

Most of these bars are loaded with sugar as much as any candy bar would be. So, they are not as healthy as believed. The same goes for saturated fat. Hence, caution should be observed while replacing these bars with actual food and meals. Also, different bars offer different nutrients in terms of quantity. Choose the bar that serves your needs better. If you are looking for increased protein along with higher fiber, go with the bar that contains around 30 grams of protein and over 5 grams of fiber.

How to Pick the Right Nutrition Bar for You?

As mentioned earlier, you need to read the labels carefully before making a certain nutrition bar a part of your diet regimen. You can go for the bars with whole grains as a primary source. They are a good source of fiber and carbohydrates. However, it is better not to opt for fully refined whole grains.

Nuts and seeds are also a good option when it comes to nutrition bars. They are already required to be in your daily diet. However, try to get a bar that does not have any additional fat and sugar. Some bars are essentially designed to improve muscle gain. These bars are an ideal pre and post-workout snack. The same goes for endurance bars that are designed for athletes and are suitable after a long workout.

Avoid the bars that have processed oils as the primary ingredient. They contain a higher amount of saturated fat. They do not qualify as the healthier alternative to other snacks. Whichever bar you choose, just make sure that their sugar content is below 35 percent.




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