Rundown on Energy Bars

By Nikki Nies, MS, RD

As you look through the aisles of the grocery store for on-the-go snacks, you may be overwhelmed with the varieties and options. While different flavors and combinations can be an opportunity to expose you to more nutrients and sustain you, have you ever felt like you needed a road map to help decide which to choose?

As you know, nothing is created equal. By taking a look at the nutrient fact label this helps us gauge how the bar will fit into our daily intake. The FDA has announced a proposed new nutrition fact that will include listing added sugars, which will go into effect by 1/1/2020. You may have noticed some manufacturers have already started listing added sugars on the label with the hopes this will be a more user friendly way to list nutrient breakdowns.

We hope you’re not anti sugar as our bodies need sugar as its our main source of energy. Yet, not all sugars are created the same. There are two different types: natural and added sugar. As the name suggests, added sugar is sugars and syrups that have been physically added to foods and/or beverages when processed or prepared. While natural sugars are found in fruit or milk.

Recommended intake for added sugars:

  • Americans maintain intake of added sugars to no more than 10% of total calories (e.g. in a 2000 daily calorie diet, no more than 200 calories from added sugars)

Recommended nutrient breakdown:

We don’t want to endorse specific brands as there can be variations from flavor to flavor. So, we’ve provided a rule of thumb in regards to suggested nutrient guidelines. Keep these numbers in mind next time you’re at the store.

  • At least 4 g fiber
  • No more than 3 g saturated fat
  • Aim for a balance of carbs and protein—7-18 g protein and 15-30 g carbohydrate.
    • While fruit and nut bars tend to be lower in protein, check healthy fat content, which can increase satiety
  • When eaten as a snack, men should aim for a bar that’s 200-250 calories and women for a bar that’s 150-200 calories

It is best to look for bars that have REAL food ingredients, made with nuts, seeds, fruit and whole grains. The addition of prunes, dates and/or oat fiber can promote satiety due to their rich fiber content. From 2003-2010, its been found that Americans aged 6 years and older consumed about 14% of total calories from added sugar. By stopping to read the nutrition label you can help bring that % down!

Tell us what energy bar flavors or guidelines do you use as a rule of thumb? Looking to EduPlate yourself with the help of a dietitian coach? Download our app to get started today!

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