People are continuously looking for frequent snacking alternatives to replace their traditional pattern of the daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals in a day in our modern fast-paced eating lifestyle.
This led consumers to choose food bars as quick snack options because they can satisfy various hunger needs for various lifestyles. This was especially true for recreational athletes, those workaholics chained to their desks for long periods of time, those on diets to gain or lose weight, those who eat irregularly among others.
These bars tend to offer a quick energy boost with reasonably good nutritional values. The need for more functional and nutrient-rich quick foods has led to a growth in the popularity of healthy snack options like nutrition bars in the current food market.
What is a Diet Bar?
Nutrition bars are another name for diet bars. Diet/nutrition bars are foods designed to be eaten quickly or while on the go. In addition to having a variety of essential nutrients and vitamins, they also provide an adequate amount of protein and carbohydrates to keep the body functioning. Depending on its intended use, nutrition bars could emphasize protein while minimizing carbohydrates or might make an effort to resemble a full meal with a higher calorie content. To make nutrition bars more palatable to consumers, they are typically heavily flavored and frequently sweetened. As a result, they frequently resemble baked products or sweets.
The majority of nutrition bars are formulated with a core of complex carbohydrates to provide the body with energy over a prolonged period of time, frequently in place of a meal. This makes nutrition bars extremely distinct from nutrition drinks, which often provide quick energy that is supposed to be used by the body right away and may result in an energy crash shortly after. Many nutrition bars are sold in the US as a substitute for cereal or other basic morning foods, allowing those on the go a convenient way to avoid skipping breakfast.
Different Types of Diet Bars
Nutritionists claim that while food bars provide health benefits, not all of them serve the same needs or have the same purposes. The food industry has concentrated on launching a range of bars depending on consumer needs and purposes, such as high-carbohydrate bars, protein bars, energy bars, breakfast bars, brain-boosting bars, meal-replacement bars, diet bars, and women-only bars . The following are five of the major nutrition bars that we will describe for your better understanding and knowledge. Each of these various kinds of diet bars target a specific group of consumers and has its own advantages and disadvantages. Most supermarkets provide at least a couple of these varieties, and many offer a variety of items under each category.
1. Protein Bars
Protein intake is prioritized above all else in protein bars, as the name suggests. These are typically made for athletes who lift heavy weights or compete at a high level since their bodies may need more protein for muscle growth than they can easily acquire from a regular meal. The bars will have one or more protein sources, frequently whey, casein, and soy. Although many protein sources have advantages and disadvantages of their own, most bars are designed to benefit the greatest number of body types.
2. Meal-replacement Bars
Simply put, meal-replacement bars are those that are designed to take the place of a whole meal. In most cases, this meal is breakfast, hence they are occasionally called breakfast bars. For consumption on the go, this kind of bar is frequently merely a regular morning meal, like granola, compressed into a bar shape. Snack bars are similar to meal-replacement bars, except they typically have fewer calories and fat content.
3. Whole Food Bars
Whole food bars are still a relatively new product on the market, but they are rapidly rising to the top of the nutrition bar popularity list. The majority of the ingredients in these bars are raw, and they have undergone little to no processing. Typically, they are a combination of various nuts compressed into a bar form, maybe with the addition of sugar. The fat content of these bars is typically higher than that of the other bars, but many people find them to be much easier to digest.
4. Fiber Bars
Despite originally being highly popular, just a few brands of fiber bars have remained in existence recently. These bars are designed for persons who need to increase their intake of fiber but don’t want to consume foods like bran muffins or fibrous cereals, typically people who are older. To try to make these bars more appetizing, they are typically sweetened in some way and sometimes mixed with fruits.
5. Energy Bars
The main sources of energy in these hearty, portable foods are protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Because they are made for people who require a complete meal replacement and an immediate energy boost, energy bars are growing in popularity as a supplement to some diets. These bars, however, cannot serve as the main component of a diet. You can incorporate energy bars, which are primarily composed of fruit and nuts, as a work snack.
Food vs. Bars
The majority of nutritionists stress that even when consuming nutrition bars, you shouldn’t allow them to replace whole foods in your diet. Consider eating an apple or a banana as a quick snack instead. A bagel or graham cracker can have an effect on blood glucose levels before an athletic competition that is comparable to some energy bars, and they are far less expensive.
Even if nutrition bars are good, if there is a mounting stack of wrappers in your car, you might be relying on them too much. You might believe that these bars are superior to food. However, these bars lack some nutrients and ingredients that are present in food. The same as you wouldn’t want to survive solely off of peaches or tuna sandwiches, you need a lot more than simply energy bars in your diet. A container of low-fat yogurt with high-fiber cereal sprinkled in it, or a fiber-rich bagel with a tomato and a thin slice of low-fat Swiss cheese melted on it, are also excellent alternatives to nutrition bars as a snack.
Tips on Choosing a Diet Bar
Not all health bars are created equal when it comes to providing you with the most benefits and fuel. The three primary things to think about while evaluating nutritional bars are their caloric content, hydrogenated fat content, and sodium content.
Here are a few factors to consider:
- Carefully read the labeling.
- Be aware of the ingredients that are healthy or unhealthy for you. For instance, select bars that solely employ dry fruits as a sweetener if you need to reduce your sugar intake.
- There should be no more than 300 calories per serving.
- Seek out bars with no more than 2–5 grams of low saturated fat.
You should avoid the following:
- Bars that are higher in sugar than in protein or fiber.
- Agave nectar, brown rice syrup, cane invert syrup, fructose syrup, and malitol syrup.
- Chemical preservatives and artificial colors.
- Oils with partial hydrogenation and gelatin.
- Sugar alcohols with the prefix “ol,” such as xylitol and maltitol. These may irritate the digestive system and result in diarrhea.
You should do the following:
- Because they make up the largest percentage of a product, the first ingredients on the ingredient list should be healthy. Avoid bars that have soy rice crispies as the first ingredient because it serves as a filler and is simply sugar.
- Choose bars with quinoa, flax, and hemp.
- Do your own research and/or seeking guidance from a reputable nutritionist or physician.
- Search independent websites or forums for unbiased reviews.