Calories370Fat12 saturated Fat6 gCarbs33 gFiber1 gSugar7 sugar Alcohol22 gProtein32 the “lean muscle” headline may cause you to take a second glance, but the 32 grams of protein doesn't justify the nearly 400 calories this bar will cost you. Sugar alcohols can be difficult to digest and, in large amounts, can cause gastrointestinal distress (bloating, glassiness, diarrhea) in most people.
To make matters worse, they also have high amount of saturated fat,” says Maria-Paula Carrillo, MS, RUN, LD. That's a sacrifice you just shouldn't make when you're trying to burn fat; fiber and protein are the two nutrients that will keep you feeling full and satisfying and, therefore, out of the snack drawer.
Energy bars can fit into your meal plan, but being savvy about nutrition labels and ingredients is necessary in order to make the best decision,” says Carrillo. Their nutrition composition make them a better choice for endurance athletes who require fuel for activity lasting longer than one hour,” says Carrillo.
We are driving around, for work or family reasons, with no time or opportunity to stop for a snack or meal to tide us over. We need something small and easy to eat 30 minutes or so before we exercise, so we'll have plenty of energy to get through the workout.
Taste, fat, fiber, protein, sugars -- what means more to you? Slimmest Meal Options bars, for example, have 8 grams of protein per bar, but that protein comes at a price: Each bar of Milk Chocolate Peanut also contains 3 grams of saturated fat and 44% calories from sugar.
And if a bar tastes pretty good, it's likely to have at least 12 grams of sugars per serving. I try to make sure my own breakfast and snack choices contain 5 grams of fiber.
Fiber helps our bodies in many ways, but in a bar, it will slow digestion and make the energy from the bar last longer. I also try to make sure my breakfast and snack choices contain 5 grams of protein.
This helps balance the carbohydrates, so the bar seems more satisfying and the energy lasts longer. One of the bars my daughters really like (Nature's Choice Multigrain Raspberry) has 13 grams of sugar Which, at 120 calories a bar, comes out to 43% calories from sugar.
I like to calculate the percentage of calories from sugar because different brands of bars differ dramatically in size and calories. Putting sugar into a percentage gives you a way to compare them fairly.
You definitely want some fat in the bar, so that it has a more satisfying taste, texture, and helps slow digestion a bit. I was able to find some bars with 3 or more grams of fiber, 5 or more grams of protein, lower amounts of fat, and no saturated fat.
Cliff bars score really well on protein and fiber content. They tend to be pretty low in saturated fat (1.5 grams of saturated fat or less per bar) but their percentage of calories from sugar ranges from 26% to 47%, depending on the flavor.
These bars tend to have 7 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per bar, and their percentage of calories from sugar hovers around 30%. Luna bars score great for protein and sugar, but their fiber doesn't get to the 3-grams-or-more level.
But the percentage of calories from sugar ranges from 34 to 38%, depending on the flavor. (Journal as 1 cereal bar + 1 teaspoon peanut butter).
If you can relate, I’ll give you fair warning now: after reading this article, things may never be the same again. Whether you’re pondering quitting Cliff Bars like me or bringing them into your diet, I hope this post will help you make an informed decision.
Even if you can check off all the boxes above, don’t go eating Cliff Bars every day. Cliff Bars have an additional 20+ grams of complex carbs, which brings their carbohydrate count even higher.
Many flavors, such as White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, tip the scales at over 45g total carbs. The trouble with the soy protein in Cliff Bars is that it has not been naturally fermented, making it difficult to digest.
Traditional cultures who have eaten soy products for thousands of years have always fermented them before consumption. Fermentation naturally breaks soy down into digestible compounds, making it much more nutritious.
It’s important to note that just because non-fermented soy doesn’t give you a stomach ache does not mean your body is digesting it efficiently. Whey protein is easily absorbed in the upper digestive tract, which means the Branch Chain Amino Acids it’s loaded with can get to your muscles fast, helping with recovery.
Go with grass-fed whey protein, and you’ll also get 4x more CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid). What’s more, soy molecules can mimic the effects of estrogen, potentially causing hormonal imbalances (seriously, it sounds crazy, but it’s been documented).
Granted, they’re not as bad as Quest Bars, but don’t kid yourself: they’re absolutely a processed food. That means they’ve got preservatives, which you want to avoid consuming with any kind of regularity.
Is it OK to replace meals with prepackaged bars that are most likely loaded with carbs and sugar? Despite the marketing claims made by many popular “health” bars, these can be anything but healthy when ketosis is your goal.
They may be low-calorie, low-sugar, soy-free, and non-GMO, but those things alone don’t necessarily make them a healthy snack, much less a nutrient-rich meal replacement. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t have a strict definition of what a meal replacement bar must be or contain.
Portion and calorie control (typically less than 300 calories each) Enough protein to replicate a small meal (between 15 grams to 20 grams) Small amounts of fat to keep you full Fiber to balance out the carbs More than 20 vitamins and minerals at the good or “excellent” intake levels Meal replacement bars shouldn’t be your first choice for fuel, but they can help you lose weight in the following ways.
Meal replacement bars show you exactly how many calories, fat, and protein you’ll be eating, so you don’t have to measure or guess. If a replacement bar keeps you just as full, you may be able to shave off a few hundred calories to get you closer to your scale victory.
In order to do that, they need to be fairly comparable to the nutritional weight of your normal breakfast, lunch or dinner. You want a high-quality protein, a decent amount of healthy fat, and loads of fiber.
You need it to trigger your body to stop sending out hunger hormones and start suppressing your appetite after you eat it. There’s no use reading the rest of the label and calculating carbs if you’re not satisfied with the protein count.
If your meal replacement bar fits this, proceed to the carbs (but don’t get your hopes up just yet). Carbs are the biggest sore spot when it comes to narrowing down your choice of bars.
If the nutritional info doesn’t provide the net carbs, you’ll have to calculate it yourself by subtracting the grams of fiber along with any applicable sugar alcohols (detailed in the next section). Fiber helps keep you full between meals and reduce those unwanted cravings.
Prebiotic fiber is the best choice since it helps balance the bacteria in your gut microbiome. Pay attention to the fat content not to see if your bar is too fattening or calorie-rich, but to see how much energy it will give you.
When you’re on the keto diet, fats are your main energy source rather than carbs. Unlike traditional protein bars, a eco-friendly bar won’t rely on carbs to bypass the afternoon crash, so you’ll want to check out the fats after scoping out the protein and carbs.
And stick to higher quality fats you’d actually eat in a meal, like: Once you research these macros, your final step is reading over the ingredients label for unhealthy additives, artificial sweeteners, and inexpensive fillers.
Aspartame Capitol Mannitol Mannitol Sorbitol Spend Somali Action Sucrose Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolyses Vegetable glycerin It doesn’t get metabolized by your body until it reaches your colon, so while it can keep you regular, if you eat too much, and it could create bloating or gas.
Fake ingredients help preserve low-quality meal replacement bars on the shelf. With your crash course in the best and worst ingredients wrapped up, take a peek at bars you should definitely avoid.
When you’re on the keto diet, you learn that close to 95% of the meal replacement bars on the market aren’t going to fit your macros. Here are examples of meal replacement bars that are marketed as low-carb, but may kick you out of ketosis.
At one net carb, you could be tempted to try this, but that many sugar alcohols in one bar can cause some major digestive upset and bloating. Not to mention the fractionized palm kernel oil, glycerin, and sucrose.
One Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Nitrogen Crunch bar comes in at: Atkins says their low-carb bars are made with simple, quality ingredients and zero refined sugars, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
Though all the ingredients may be organic in the Cliff protein bars, it doesn’t mean they’re any good for you. You’ll also see poly dextrose, chicory root syrup, glycerin, and sucrose.
It also removes the artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors, so you may want to check out those high-protein bars instead. Combat Crunch bars don’t taste like the others on this list; they’re baked, so they have the texture of a cookie.
That won’t sound so appealing when you find out they have 15 grams of net carbs. And that’s not the worst news: Combat Crunch bars still use IMO, so you can’t trust their net carb count to be accurate.