advertisement



Cooking & Recipes


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Nutrition Bars

granola bar

Are Food Bars Food?

When even fast food isn't fast enough, Americans increasingly grab and gobble "nutrition bars" also known as "energy bars" or "food bars." Invented in the mid-1980s for use by endurance athletes, the bars quickly became snack foods for time-stressed Americans of all types, including those whose principal daily workout consists of unwrapping the bar.

It's no wonder the treats caught on so quickly. The bars offer an irresistible package: convenience; the promise of good nutrition; and, often, sweetness that rivals that of many candy bars. But are they too good to be true?

In many cases, they are.

A 2009 report by ConsumerLab.com (CL) - an independent laboratory that evaluates health and wellness products - concluded that more bars are accurately labeled than they were during a 2001 CL test, but there are still occasional discrepancies between ingredients on the label and what's actually in the bar. Also, CL pointed out that neither the FDA nor any other federal or state agency routinely tests nutrition bars for quality prior to sale. Another potential problem: to reduce calories associated with real sugar, some bars contain over 15 grams of sugar alcohols such as maltitol or lactitol. "While these provide far fewer calories than sugar, they can cause bloating and gas," and in amounts over 100 mg "may have a laxative effect" CL noted.

But what about those healthy vitamins? In many cases, the promise of good nutrition is addressed via a dose of inexpensive synthetic vitamins added to the bar's ingredients. If you eat a healthy diet and take a quality supplement, you will simply excrete the excess vitamin load.

So how does one find a good bar? Just read the list of ingredients.

On American food labels, these are listed in order of weight, so if sweeteners are among the first ingredients, the bar is a dubious choice, guaranteed to provide a quick rush of energy followed by an equally quick crash. Also steer clear of bars that derive their protein from soy isolate. There's a great deal of evidence, accumulated over many years, that whole soy foods traditionally consumed in Asia - such as edamame, tofu, seitan and natto - are health protective.  We have no comparable body of data demonstrating the effects, positive or negative, of these new, technologically manipulated versions of soy.

Until we do, I suggest caution.

There are, fortunately, a few good choices in the nutrition bar category. In fact, some bars on the market contain no added sugars whatsoever, deriving their sweetness from whole, dried fruit and their protein and crunch from nuts.

So seek brands featuring unprocessed, organic ingredients with no added sugar, along with nuts that provide protein and fat to help quell hunger pangs. Such bars can't replace fresh, nutritious meals based on Dr. Weil's anti-inflammatory diet, but they can serve to keep blood sugar and energy steady during a busy day. And remember, food bars were invented to help endurance athletes, not desk jockeys or couch potatoes. Use them to propel you through your own athletic endeavors!

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here