Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My bytes: Energy bars

Ask someone what his or her major roadblock to eating more healthfully is, and I would have to guess that you'll often hear the word TIME. Many of my clients identify this as a major barrier, especially when I'm encouraging them to consume smaller, more frequent meals and snacks throughout the day. Who isn't busy in today's fast-paced world? Many of us, including myself, are pressed for time to make or even eat certain meals and snacks during the daily grind. What to do, what to do? Well, I'll tell you one of the things that I do. I go on the offensive when it comes to eating. You'll almost never catch me without some sort of snack on hand, usually a portable piece of fresh fruit in mother nature's own packaging (i.e., bananas) or an energy, granola, or protein bar. Seriously, I keep at least one bar in my purse, car, diaper bag, and desk at all times, and believe me, it's been a lifesaver on many occasions.

Going for long periods of time (typically >4 hours) without eating essentially begins to exhaust our body's energy stores, and then our hunger really kicks into high gear. When our hunger spikes, we are quickly driven to eat to alleviate some of the symptoms of hunger (i.e., headache, fatigue, stomach pangs). And if we're that hungry, anything looks good. Have you taken a look around yourself lately to see what that anything can be? Well, I'm not taking my chances on that anything.

So, how do energy bars fit into all of this? They let us rather than our environment take control of our food-related decisions during a nutrition "emergency". Remember, when we're extremely hungry, anything....no...everything looks good, and I'm sorry to say but our environment doesn't generally support the most healthful eating. Energy bars are also very convenient to carry and consume no matter where you are. Also, the individualized packaging provides automatic portion control, so no worries about going overboard on the calories. A bar newbie are you? Or someone who's just overwhelmed with the options? Well, I've listed a few bars that I currently like and recommend to clients OR if you're adventurous, try making your own. A couple of websites I like are www.eatingwell.com or www.foodnetwork.com.
  • Larabars are a newfound favorite of mine as they are made with very simple whole foods, which makes them very flavorful.
  • Pure Bars are another great option because they also keep it pretty simple on the ingredients and they're quite tasty, too.
  • Zing Nutrition Bars were actually created by dietitians, believe it or not. One thing I like about these is that they contain more satiating protein in each bar at 10-13 g of protein each.
  • Gnu Bars are great because they're chock full of filling fiber providing about 50% of what we need in a day!
  • Raw Revolution Live Food Bars also have very few but easy to pronounce ingredients.
  • Clif Nectar Bars are made with 5 or less 100% organic ingredients and are also a good source of fiber. They also offer bars that are on the lower calorie side.
Question: What energy bars do you enjoy?


Jim Garland said...[Reply to comment]

Awesome post! yummy

Lauren said...[Reply to comment]

Going for long periods without eating is never good! I crash, and thats never pretty =D. For school, etc, I adore Kind bars, and occasionally eat some Lara bars. We buy a wide variety of bars, depending on the ones we see and those that are GF!

Michelle Loy, MPH, MS, RD said...[Reply to comment]

Thanks, Jim!

Lauren - I will have to try the Kind bars as I've heard good things about them. Thanks!

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