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I pulled up to the gas station . . . “full tank of regular please.”

Opened my car door to dump my trash, and as I did – watched a cascade of bar wrappers flow out of my car garbage bag.

Hmm . . .

Not only had I eaten a ridiculous number of meals in my car (that is a topic for another blog post!), but most of them were from some kind of “sports” or “nutrition” bar.

Are they good for me? Are they truly nutritious? I knew I needed to watch for large amounts of hidden sugar, and overall calorie count, but what about fat, protein, and fiber? I really had no idea.

So, I began my search into what was in these so-called “nutritional,” “snack,” “meal replacement,” or “sports” bars. After reading many articles and best-of lists, here are some guidelines that I found helpful.

When reading label look for:

FIBER: > 5 grams

PROTEIN: 5+ or more grams

FAT: < 5 grams and no more than 12grams (WATCH OUT FOR SATURATED FATS!!)

SUGAR: < 35% of Calories from sugar.

CALORIES: 150-200 kcal for snack

250-300 kcal for meal replacement.

Also, when thinking about how they work in your total diet, consider . . .

* Don’t let them crowd out real food!

* Try to eat real food with your bar.

* High fiber bars slow digestion and make energy from bar last longer.

* Balancing protein with carbohydrates also makes bar more satisfying and energy last longer.

So after all this, is my car garbage can still full of bar wrappers?

Old habits are hard to break, but I have definitely reduced my bar intake. Now, I’m much more mindful of my bar eating, and I always try to pair them with other easily available snacks- fruit, nuts, etc.