4 truths about the energy bar

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Energy bar sales have grown tremendously over the last decade, with more than $ 70 million in sales. But even if they are practical and easy to carry, are they really healthy? Or, even worse: can they make you gain weight?

What is in a bar?

Nutritionist Jonathan Fontaine, Dt.P., took a close look at this famous bar with attractive packaging that squats the displays of all supermarkets. “In general, it is a source of carbohydrates (most often glucose syrup or corn), a source of protein (very often whey powder, also known as whey, or soy) and nutrients. of flavor – chocolate, nut butters, nuts or fruits. ”

One of its disadvantages? It is often rich in calories, sugar and fat . An energy bar contains between 200 and 300 calories, he says.

Should she be in our grocery basket? Read the following four truths to help you make a more informed choice.

Truth # 1: It does not replace a balanced meal.

Meal replacements are handy when you want to lose weight, but do not make it a habit. The bars are not all the same and it is important to read the list of ingredients to choose the best ones.

According to Jonathan Fontaine, the ideal energy bar, capable of replacing a meal, should contain 15 grams of protein, 30 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of fiber. Note, however, that you will only lose weight if your candy bar replaces a larger meal with at least 10 to 15 grams of protein. For the practice of physical activity, it suggests a low fiber bar to facilitate digestion.

He goes on to explain that energy bars should be used only when we do not have food at hand , and encourages us to plan our meals and snacks in advance rather than considering the bar as a solution.

Truth # 2: It is designed for long-term efforts.

For a serious athlete, who engages in extended exercise or endurance sport, this kind of snack can be helpful. “When practicing sports activities where stopping is impossible, bars can be useful,” he explains. At the root of their design was a product that was highly concentrated in nutrients and energy , in a compact form, easy to carry. “It’s not easy, however, to avoid choking! You may prefer to consume it before, or drink fluids loaded with carbohydrates, sodium, minerals and electrolytes during your bike race or marathon.

Conversely, it is of no use to the casual sportsman. It does not increase its energy, if its endurance, nor its musculature. If the energy it provides is not burned right away, it will turn into extra weight . But for most people, it’s the practical side that wins. The bar makes a nutritious snack when they do not have time to eat a fruit or yogurt.

Truth # 3: It brings “energy”.

An energy food is defined as a food necessary for the body to repair its energy expenditure. In nutrition, energy is synonymous with calories . All food therefore contains energy. “However, the energy needed for physiological functions differs from what you hear when you feel energized, says the nutritionist. Many people will feel that they have more energy after drinking a full-bodied black coffee. However, it does not bring any energy, but stimulates the nervous system. It’s different for the bar: it brings a lot of energy, but does not stimulate the nervous system .

Truth # 4: It is not equivalent to an energy drink.

“The energy drink, like Gatorade, provides energy in the form of carbohydrates and minerals,” explains Jonathan Fontaine. An energy bar is necessarily more concentrated in energy thanks to its proteins and its small amount of lipids , nonexistent in an energy drink. ”

Avoid especially these:

PowerBar Energize Berry Blast Smoothie: This bar, designed for athletes, contains only one gram of fiber. It is not a good choice to replace a meal. In addition, it contains 27 g of evaporated cane juice (sugar).

Quaker Oatmeal to Go Apple and Cinnamon: It contains a high amount of fructose (corn syrup) and partially hydrogenated oil. Much too sweet!

Dr. Monika Mathur

Ph.D Yale University

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