Energy bars to avoid

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Energy bars to avoid
Walk into any drugstore, supermarket, or convenience store and you’ll see an overwhelming selection of snack bars, diet bars, protein bars and more. While highly accessible and certainly convenient, look out: the majority of them are far too caloric for the average consumer, says nutritionist, Lisa Drayer, MA, RD. Don’t grab the first one you see! “You have to first consider your objective and then find the bar that meets that objective.”

Here is Drayer’s take on what to avoid, and what to consider, based on some of the more common objectives:

*You’re Looking to Lose/Manage Weight Avoid: Clif Builder’s Bars; MET-Rx Bars

“These so-called ‘Performance Bars’ are really only recommended for high-performing athletes,” says Drayer. “For everyone else, they pack on too many calories.” (See also: Best-tasting energy bars) MET-Rx bars, “intended for those who lift weights and need to repair muscle mass,” are not only caloric, but contain 28 grams of sugar alcohols (This ingredient, used in place of sugar, may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.), and worse: 7 grams of saturated fat. “That’s more than a McDonald’s cheeseburger!” says Drayer.

South Beach Bars; Atkins Bars.

Bonus tips: “If you’re watching your sugar intake for weight loss, look for bars with less than 8 grams of sugar,” says Drayer. “You also want to avoid saturated fats, and one way to do that is to steer clear of any sort of coating - chocolate, yogurt - as it often contains palm kernel oil.”

*You’re Time-Strapped, and Want a Meal ‘Replacement’ Bar Avoid: Slim Fast Bars, Special K Bars

Marketed as part of a weight loss ‘lifestyle,’ these bars just don’t have enough protein or fiber to satisfy the average consumer, says Drayer.

Consider: Odwalla Super Protein Bars; South Beach Bars

“When replacing a meal, look for bars that contain 10-20 grams of protein, and 200-300 calories,” says Drayer.

*Dinner is a Few Hours Away, and You Want A Snack! Avoid: ThinkThin Bars

“’ThinkThin’ is a bar that promises a lot, and really under-delivers,” says Drayer. “Despite its name, ‘ThinkThin’ has 14 grams of sugar alcohols. It also has 230 calories-not exactly a diet bar!”

Consider: Kashi GOLEAN Crisp!; Luna Bars

“They contain some fiber and protein, and they’re relatively low in calories, as a snack bar should be (Think: under 200 calories). Furthermore, not only do these bars taste good (Try the chocolate caramel GOLEAN Crisp!), but the Luna Bar stands out because it has extra vitamins and minerals for women, including 35% of a woman’s daily calcium needs,” says Drayer.

*You want something natural, organic, healthful Avoid: Lara Bars

While tasty, chewy, and packed with flavor (mmmm-Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough! Cocoanut Cream Pie!), “they’re just too high in calories,” says Drayer.

Consider: Kind Bars; Gnu Bars

“My only complaint here is that these bars, while delicious, tend to be low in protein; you can get more ‘bang for your bite’ with a Kashi GOLEAN Crisp! Bar or a South Beach Meal Bar.”

Special Thanks To D'Agostino for making this video possible. 

What are your favorite snack and energy bars? Connect with me on Twitter @veragibbons and use the hash tag, #FinFit.

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