Not all energy bars are made equal. Many are high in saturated fat, synthetic sugar and empty calories. Even healthier bars are naturally high in sugar and carbs, perfect to top up your energy on the go, but not a great choice for weight loss or meal replacement. Always read the label carefully and choose bars with a good nutritional value.
So how should you choose a healthy energy bar? We’ve answered some of the big questions about energy bars to help you make an informed choice.
Are energy bars good for you?
Can energy bars be good for you? The short answer is yes.
If you’re using energy bars to help fuel your active lifestyle, making sure you’re exercising and eating well, then they can be a great choice.
We’ll go into the details below of what to look for — and some things you might want to avoid — when choosing an energy bar. Not all bars are created equal, but healthy energy bars do exist.
At Veloforte we’re committed to only using natural, real food ingredients in all our energy bars. Which means as well as providing natural fruit energy, they’re also a good source of natural fibre, healthy fat from nuts, plus natural vitamins and minerals. Soft and chewy, nutritionally dense and they taste great too.
Are energy bars bad for you?
Energy bars are a great tool to have in your active lifestyle. But could they actually do harm? Because they’re designed to quickly deliver carbohydrate energy during sport, energy bars are usually high in carbohydrates and sugars. To find out more, read our guide on what energy bars are.
For example, our all-natural Avanti bar includes 40 grams of carbohydrates from dried fruits, cane sugar & plant syrups, of which 28 grams are glucose and fructose sugars. This is really handy exercise fuel to power a healthy, active lifestyle. But it wouldn’t be a great idea to eat two or three bars if you’re just sitting on the sofa.
Some other bars rely entirely on simple sugars to deliver their carbohydrate load. This has the effect of creating blood sugar spikes, and inevitable crashes as levels drop.
Many energy bars (including a lot of the big names) rely on synthetic sugars, flavouring and ingredients — some of which have been linked to digestive problems and gastrointestinal distress.
In fact, many of the energy bars you might see on the supermarket shelf are about the same as a chocolate bar in terms of nutritional value.
Some can also be high in saturated fat and salt. The only fats in our energy bars come from whole nuts which are low in saturates and heart healthy. Our philosophy is: if we wouldn’t have it in our kitchen, we won’t have it in our bars.
Are energy bars a good meal replacement?
We wouldn’t recommend replacing meals with energy bars.
A good meal should contain an array of different foods, providing your body with vitamins and minerals, slow release energy, proteins and healthy fats.
Many energy bars provide nothing more than a quick boost of carbs and sugar, often with high fat and saturated fats thrown in. They have all of the nutritional value of a regular chocolate bar — and we wouldn’t recommend swapping your lunch for that.
But we know people live busy lifestyles and you’ll occasionally need to grab something in an emergency. If you do opt for an energy bar in a pinch, we’d choose one that has real nutritional value from real food ingredients.
Are energy bars good for weight loss?
The short answer is no. The ‘energy’ in energy bars almost always comes from carbohydrate calories. This means they tend to be high in sugars (either natural fruit sugars or added sugars). Which is great news if you’re exercising and need to replenish burnt calories.
Your body will always want to replenish its carb stores — so choosing a healthy, real-food option to quickly restore burnt calories after a morning run, for example, can help to curb cravings for less healthy food throughout the day.
However, if your lifestyle is sedentary and you’re not getting enough exercise, then swapping out a healthy meal for an energy bar won’t help you lose weight. You’ll be taking on more carbohydrates than you’re using, and your body will try to store these as fat stores. The simplest and best advice if you’re looking to lose weight is to increase your exercise, follow a healthy balanced diet and make sure you’re not eating too many excess calories.
There is no such thing as a silver bullet for weight loss, so be wary of any product which claims to burn fat, control appetite or drop the pounds without exercise.
What to look for in a healthy energy bar
Don’t just believe the claims of the manufacturer. Check the ingredients list!
Where is the energy coming from? Is it from natural sources like dried fruits, or from added sugars and synthetic carbohydrates?
How much good stuff is inside? Are there natural ingredients? Fibres and healthy fats from real food sources? Or a list of unrecognisable ingredients? We know we’d rather see almonds, honey and sea salt rather than things we can’t even pronounce.
What else is in there? Cheaper bars can be bulked out with stabilisers and fillers, or rely on palm oil or soy oil for texture.
If you have specific dietary or digestive needs look for symbols like ‘gluten free’ or ‘vegan’ for peace of mind.
Conclusion: Real food is best
Energy bars are designed to deliver a quick energy boost while you’re exercising. Your muscles only store so much energy, so energy bars can be an essential part of keeping you energised and active, especially on longer rides and runs. In that sense they are great as part of a healthy, active lifestyle.
But not all bars are made equally. Some deliver empty calories and inevitably a sugar crash. Look for bars that provide a healthy mix of carbohydrates, fibre, protein and healthy fats. Better for digestion and your overall health.
Energy bars aren’t a silver bullet for weight loss, and shouldn’t be relied on to replace meals.
Our belief at Veloforte is that nature has the power to create optimally balanced energy bars to fuel your active lifestyle, so we never rely on anything artificial.
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