Written By: Kristy Titus
There are seemingly endless brands of performance, energy, and meal replacement bars on the market today. Selecting one that tastes good, is healthy, and provides good fuel can be a challenge. The last thing we want to do is select a high-quality bar that tastes like cardboard. If it doesn’t taste good, it remains uneaten and smashed in the bottom of our backpack.
Our culture has become more health-conscious, which has driven the market for even more options than ever before. Rest assured, there are good meal replacement bars out there, but first, let me help you navigate the complicated labels.
Serving Size: Be sure to double check how many servings are in each bar you consume.
Nutrient Ratios: Where are calories coming from? The ratio is all of equal importance. The key components we’re looking at are calories, protein, and fat.
Complete Protein: Check the label. Egg white, grass-fed beef, whey protein, or calcium caseinate should be listed within the first one to three ingredients. If soy or nut protein is present, ideally it shouldn’t be listed in the first five ingredients.
Sugar: The first five ingredients shouldn’t contain sugar. Sugar can be easily hidden, so look for ingredients with an “ose” ending.
Fat: We want food to taste good, so oftentimes if bars are low in sugar, then they are high in fat or vice versa. I will always select a bar with less sugar and more fat. Ideally, look for a bar that contains 6g of fat with 10 being the max.
Also, try to identify where the fat is coming from. Ideally, the fats come from a plant-derived source (sunflower seed oils, olive oils, canola oil, peanut oil, or coconut-based oils or whole nuts and seeds). These types of fat are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, which helps keep blood cholesterol down.