A Rundown on Nutrition Bars
a sensible eating pattern throughout life, combined with regular physical
activity, can help a woman maintain a healthy weight with which she feels
comfortable. This might seem easy to read, but with today's hush and rush of
life, women have been left with a lesser time to think about their nutrition.
Result being an increasing use of ready-to-eat nutrition bars (Energy Bars,
Protein Bars, Diet Bars, and Meal-Replacement Bars) to provide the body with
much needed nutrition. The best part about these bars is the convenience --
after all, they're neat, they're small, and you can grab one during a work
Nutrition bars go by many names including:
Meal-replacement bars- contain proportionally higher amounts of
carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Energy bars- contain more carbohydrates,
Protein bars- are simply higher in protein, and
Diet or weight loss bars- claim to contain fewer carbohydrates.
(Bars may also include vitamins and minerals or other ingredients permitted
only in dietary supplements, such as ephedra, and therefore must be labeled as
supplements, rather than foods. Consumers should read labels carefully before
using nutrition bars or offering them to children.)
Nutrition bars are generally much larger by weight than snack bars (such as
granola bars) or candy bars (such as chocolate bars) and have a much higher
protein content — generally 10 grams to 30 grams of protein in a nutrition bar
versus little or no protein in a snack bar or candy bar.
These days you can find a never-ending list of nutrition bars lying at the
stores. Next time when you go looking for nutrition bars do not forget to look
for the following specifications by Consumerlab.com.
for "servings per package" information on the label when looking for
calories and other nutritional figures. Bars can range in weight from about
25 grams (usually 2 per package) to 100 grams each, with the average being
about 60 grams.
They range in calories from about 160 to 420 per serving. If you are not
using them as a meal replacement, they can sabotage your best efforts at
losing weight if you don't read labels carefully. To determine if a bar is
labeled properly, you may do the following calculation: multiply the listed
weight of each component by the number of calories per gram shown below, and
add them together for the total amount of calories.
Carbohydrate (excluding dietary fiber)
4 calories per gram
4 calories per gram
9 calories per gram
For example, a product labeled as containing 25 grams of carbohydrates,
15 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat would have 100 calories from
carbohydrates (25 x 4), 60 calories from protein (15 x 4), and 45 calories
from fat (5 x 9), for a total of 205 calories. Carbohydrates would,
therefore, contribute about 49% of the calories, protein would contribute
about 29%, and fat would contribute about 22%.
Be aware of vitamin, mineral, herbs and other special ingredients in
products you intend to buy. For example,
Ephedra (or ma huang): A natural stimulant and appetite
suppressant that might be added to bars for dieting or weight
management. Ephedra may be dangerous for people with heart disease,
high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, diabetes, or hyperthyroidism.
HMB (Hydroxymethyl Butyrate, Calcium-ß-hydroxy ß-methylbutyrate,
or Beta-Hydroxy Beta-Methylbutyric Acid): HMB is a metabolite of the
amino acid L-leucine (an important component in muscle). HMB may
help increase lean muscle mass and strength for people engaged in
weight training. However, because its safety has not been well
evaluated, it should avoided by pregnant and nursing mothers as well
You should also be aware that bars, particularly those for "energy," may
also include ingredients containing caffeine such as coffee extract, guarana, or
even cocoa. Many bars are also fortified with an array of vitamins and minerals.
Recommended Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) have been established for many
of these vitamins and minerals, so it is advisable to keep track of the amounts
that you may be ingesting from the bars as well as from other foods and
Check on the nutrition bars for they tend to be relatively higher in
saturated fat. Try to limit saturated fat to 3 grams or less per bar.
Most bars claim to be low in salt and cholesterol, with a typical
bar containing about 150 mg of sodium and generally fewer than 10 mg of
cholesterol. The USDA recommends a maximum of 2,400 mg of sodium and 300 mg
of cholesterol per day based on a 2,000 calorie diet for a healthy
if you're watching out your weight, fiber is a big bar bonus,
since it keeps us full, without contributing excess calories. Kashi Go Lean,
EAS Results for Women, and PowerBar Harvest all make the grade. Go for bars
with 3 grams of fiber, for weight control.
If you are wondering about the contents of a nutrition bar, see the Product
Review of Nutrition Bars by ConsumerLab.com a firm which independently evaluates
products that affect health, wellness, and nutrition. ConsumerLab.com purchased
samples of many of the nutrition bars sold in the U.S. and tests their