Should you be eating THAT bar?

You’ve probably heard that you should eat five or six small meals a day to maintain a healthy weight and keep your energy levels high, particularly if you work out regularly. But let’s face it: it’s hard enough to find time to cook one meal a day, never mind six. When you’re on the go and looking for a quick, healthy snack, a nutrition bar can be a good option.

There are so many different brands and types of bars on the market — meal replacement/diet bars, energy bars, protein bars — that choosing one that’s healthy and suits your goals can be confusing.

Different types of bars all contain varying levels of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and sugar, depending on their intended goal.

  • Energy bars:  Designed to give a boost of energy to endurance athletes, such as marathoners and cyclists. Main ingredient is carbs, which provide the “fuel” necessary to make it through a competition.
  • Meal replacement bars/ “diet” bars:  Contain the least amount of calories and more carbs than protein. Meant to replace a meal or as a healthy, low-calorie pre- or post-workout snack.
  • Protein bars:  Designed with weightlifters in mind. High levels of protein meant to help build muscle and lose fat when training.

While a nutrition bar can be a healthy choice once in a while, you should always read the labels carefully. Many bars are packed with sugar, which can make them just as unhealthy as a regular chocolate bar. Choose one that contains little refined sugars and saturated fats.  Don’t make the mistake of eating too many; especially if you’re not very active, or you might end up packing on the pounds (remember the movie “Mean Girls”).  Be aware that many bars tested by Consumer Lab didn’t meet its labeling claims, which means that they may contain more fat and sugar than you think.

Here are some disturbing facts:

  • 1 out of 12 protein bars meet the labeling claims
  • 1 out of 8 meal replacement bars meet the labeling claims
  • 4 out of 10 “diet” bars meet the labeling claims
  • Some products exceed their claimed amount of fat
  • 50% of bars tested exceeded their claimed level of carbohydrates, some by a significant amount.

 Reason:  A major ingredient in most of these bars is glycerin (used as a sweetener to keep the product moist) but is not regarded as a carbohydrate by most manufacturers so it is not counted as a carb.  However, the US Food and Drug Administration states that glycerin is a carbohydrate and should be counted as such. 

Protein Bars are a great option but do your research when choosing a bar for your specific needs.  For more information or to ask a question, please visit us at  



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