Snacking plays an important role in your diet. It can help keep the fires of your metabolism burning strong, keep you working out at your best and help you feel fuller so you don’t eat as much at your next meal. That doesn’t mean just any snack will do. You need a healthy snack that is lower in calories and provides many of the nutrients you need each day. Many people have found that granola bars are their go-to snacks. They’re portable and often quite delicious, but are they good for you? The answer is yes and no. It all depends on the granola bar and how many you consume.
The most popular ones aren’t necessarily the healthiest.
In order to find out whether a food is healthy, you have to read the label. Does it contain high amounts of saturated fat, over 20% of your daily allowance? Does it contain added sugar? Unfortunately, some of the most popular brands of granola bars were also ones that contained the most sugar and saturated fat. While some granola bars contain natural sugar from fruit, like date paste or natural applesauce for sweetening, others use unacceptable types of sweeteners, like cane sugar, honey, maple syrup or high fructose corn syrup.
How much protein, fiber and unsaturated fat does the granola bar contain?
Nuts and seeds can provide the unsaturated fat your body needs to be its healthiest. Just like protein and fiber, it helps keep you feeling full, while providing nutrients to your body. In order to be effective at that, your granola bar should contain at least five grams of each, fiber, unsaturated fat and protein. Check the label to see if your favorite does. Not only do nuts and seeds provide unsaturated fat, they also provide protein.
It’s hard to find granola bars without some type of added sugar.
If you’re reading labels faithfully, you’ll notice some companies don’t show how much added sugar in their nutritional facts. Very few bars are produced with little added sugar, which includes all sweeteners that don’t come from fruit. Most of the time raisin juice, raisins or date paste is used. Some companies sweeten their products with artificial sweeteners like xylitol and sorbitol, which can cause digestive upset. Like many highly processed foods, they may contain preservatives and artificial flavor.
- The American Heart Association suggests that consuming an average diet of 2,000 calories, 13 grams is all you should have. Any bar containing more than 2.6 grams contains more than 20% and isn’t as healthy as it should be.
- Some bars are created to be meal bars and aren’t meant to be snacks. Don’t treat them as such. They’re acceptable as a meal-on-the-fly, but are often far higher in calories. Some contain as many as 600+ calories.
- You can make your own granola bars and control the ingredients. Use oats, nuts, dates, nut butter and dried fruit. You need to pulse the dates in a food processor or use date paste and warm the nut butter before mixing it into the other ingredients.
- Don’t be fooled by the location of the granola bars. Even if you buy them from a health food store or the health food aisle of the grocery, always read the label to see just how healthy it is.
For more information, contact us today at Next Level Fitness