With the hectic schedules that we all keep and the decrease in attraction to fast food, the popularity of energy bars is on the rise for a quick, fuel packed snack that can be eaten on the go and is hassle free. Marketers of these handy treats do a phenomenal job of hyping up the nutritional value; however looks can be deceiving and so can marketing campaigns. Having said that, not all the news is bad when it comes to energy bars, but a closer look will reveal whether or not they are worth it.
The number one downfall to believing all the hype associated with on the go energy bars lays not in the product, but within consumer expectations. Regardless of what these products are marketed as and the promises that are made, you will not find miraculous ingredients inside any energy bar that will sustain you for any longer than any other meal might.
Our bodies need energy and we obtain that energy from fuel. Fuel is supplied to our bodies via food sources that contain fat, protein and carbohydrates, as well as the vitamins in that food. Therefore, any food we eat will supply us with the necessary fuel needed to keep us on the go, even if only temporarily. Foods that are high in glucose and sugars will give us a surge of energy, but because it burns quickly, we only sustain that energy for a short time and then experience the ‘sugar crash’ where we feel sleepy and unmotivated.
Because our bodies do not differentiate how our food is packaged and it can’t read labels, it doesn’t matter how we ingest the food or whether it is marketed as a promising energy bar; we simply need to obtain food period.
They Aren’t Created Equal
What should be addressed with on the go energy bars and their worthiness is the actual ingredients that they contain because they are not created equally. Those who fall for the coined phrase ‘energy’ often do their bodies a disservice by eating the energy bars that are nothing more than candy bars, packed with sugar and calories, but offer little as energy sources.
Even if the packaging contains flashy logos that scream ‘nutritious, healthy and energizing’ don’t take them at face value. Some of the leading energy bars have very high sugar contents, and many manufacturers disguise the word sugar in various, lesser known names such as glucose and maltodextrin. Additionally, many also contain hydrogenated oil which is simply another name for bad trans fat which is not healthy.
Carefully check the ingredients and then determine if the majority of them are truly energy source providers. The ingredients you want to see at the front of the list are things such as protein, oats, soy, and some carbohydrates as well. The most substantial ingredients will always be listed first so if these ingredients fall to the end of the list, forgo that particular bar.
High in Empty Calories
Taking in calories is essential to sustain energy, but it has to be the right amount of calories and the source from which those calories come needs to be healthy. Some of the on the go energy bars are staggeringly high in calories (as much as 800 per small bar) but much of those calories comes from the sugar they contain. These bars will offer a burst of energy but it won’t sustain you, you will likely feel less energized sooner rather than later and you risk going way over your recommended caloric intake.
Some of the healthier bars will be in the 200-300 calorie range and most of those calories will come from the carbohydrates which are needed for energy and other things like protein and good fats from essential oils.
Keep in mind that most of the energy bars are pricey so you will have to weigh out the worthiness here too. Most bars will run anywhere from $2.00 to $ 4.00. Multiply that by five to seven days a week and it can add up.
The Lesser Evil
What is good about the more nutritious energy bars is that they are a better option than skipping meals altogether, which will ultimately make you more tired and will slow down your metabolism. Having them handy when you are on the go is at least a way to fuel your body for the time being until you can eat a real meal.
They are also a good option if you work out and need a snack to sustain you during aerobic or cardiovascular activities and many health professionals will recommend them over eating nothing or snacking on other quick treats like a candy bar or bag of chips.
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