With the world embracing on-the-go methods of fueling, the production of snack bars has skyrocketed! If you go into your local grocery store, you will find that there is a whole aisle dedicated to them! We all love variety right? The only problem is with so much variety you could spend 15 minutes in the snack bar aisle deciding between a mint chocolate or peanut butter crunch just to leave with the blueberry one. Even with that many options, you may not even need that particular bar nutritionally. Yep, I have been there too. So how can you find not only the healthiest bars but also the one perfect for you? By asking yourself this short list of questions; you should be in and out of the grocery store in record time with a purchase you won't regret later! Can you read everything on the ingredients label?
Since some snack bars are filled with junk like fillers, bulking agents and preservatives that neither you nor I can pronounce, your best bet is to go with the bars that contain a list of ingredients that you are familiar with. An added benefit is if you can count those ingredients on one hand! The less the better in most cases.
Where does the sugar come from?
When you look at the nutritional label, you can usually find "sugar" listed under "Total Carbohydrates." Its important to note that not all sugar is created equal, natural sugars found in milk and fruit are very different and more beneficial than added sugars like chocolate, High Fructose Corn syrup, sucralose and molasses. You may get lucky and find a label that will differentiate between the two by listing "added sugar," to make it easy on you as a consumer. However, if its showing you that it has added sugars then you should probably look for a different option. Alternatively, choose snack bars that use fruits as their base sweeteners, this can not only curb your sweet tooth but can also provide a serving of fruit!
What do you need it for?
Decide what exactly you will be using the bar for. Some people are looking for a meal replacement bar, while others are looking for the perfect pre-workout snack. Either way, pay close attention to what the bar is telling you about its purpose and and then take a look at the nutritional facts to make sure it can do exactly what it "guarantees." Key point, anything in excess has the ability to do more harm than good. In other words, instead of snacking on protein bars all day to cut carbs have one to pair with your workout and keep some vegetable packs on hand for the rest of the day!
Can you get more bang for your bar?
If you know you are the type of person that has a hard time incorporating healthy fats, vegetables, or even fruits into your daily food regimen; look for bars that can help fulfill some of these categories for you. Yes, "whole foods" always come first... but you also know yourself. Go for the next best thing and grab a bar that might sneak in some leafy greens or omega-3s! Happy Snacking!