What do you think of when you hear the energy bar? The advertisements of most bar companies have promoted energy bars in light of health and part of an active lifestyle. Often energy bars are promoted as a healthy snack or meal replacement. However, are they really good for your health, and can they help with weight loss?
What energy bars you should avoid
Energy bars are created to give you energy, but not all energy bars are created equal. Some energy bars are no more than fancy candy bars.
- Avoid bars that list sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as the main ingredient. These bars will give you an energy rush, but often times will send your blood sugar plummeting a few hours later leaving you hungry again. A 2002 review in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that high fructose consumption may contribute to weight gain.
- Avoid bars that have partially hydrogenated oils or palm kernel oils, as these are high in saturated fats.
More research is needed on the effects of fructose and effect on the human body.
Energy bars you should choose
- Choose energy bars with natural ingredients such as whey protein, dried fruit, and nuts as the main ingredients.
- Choose bars that use dried fruit, honey or agave nectar as sweeteners instead of sugar, glucose, fructose or HFCS.
Should energy bars be part of your diet?
As with anything, moderation is key. In a pinch, bars can be used as a snack or meal replacement if needed. They are a better alternative to fast food! They can fit into a healthy lifestyle, but bars should not be eaten all the time. Bars can be used for fuel during a long hike or bike ride, and their size and portability make them useful for eating during activities. Note for activities shorter than 2 hours, eating something during exercise is usually not needed.
Are energy bars good for weight loss?
Bars can be a quick, portable snack on the go and can fit into a healthy eating pattern for weight loss. If you choose a bar for a snack, keep calories to around 200 calories or under, at least 5 gm protein and 3 gm fiber. As noted above, make sure most of the ingredients are natural.
If there are ingredients you can’t pronounce, there are artificial flavors and preservatives. These ingredients are not beneficial for health or weight loss.
Other healthy, portable snack suggestions are fruit, a small handful of nuts, string cheese or cut up veggies and hummus.
If you need to eat a bar as a meal substitute on the go, choose a bar that has 300-400 calories, around 10gm of protein, and has more than 3 gm of fiber. Eat a piece of fruit with the bar for added nutrition.
Eat energy bars in moderation as needed for a quick snack on the go.
Eat real foods most of the time such as fruits, nuts, whole grains and lean proteins for a healthy diet.
Choose bars that have natural ingredients and are not loaded with extra sugar, HFCS or artificial ingredients.
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