When we think of nutritious foods, we might not think of prepared (or prepackaged) food being at the top of the list. For centuries there has been a need to transport nourishing food. Such as during a journey or a hunt. This might have been a combination of meats, fruit, nuts, fat, grains and tree sap that was left to cook on hot stones and wrapped to preserve them. These handheld bites provided a high protein, carbohydrates, and fats needed for a nutritional diet on the go.
We have come a long way from cooking a meat mixture on stones to a plethora of offerings that we can buy in stores or online today. Whether they are dairy-based, plant-based, or meat-based you need to look very carefully at the ingredients and Nutritionals. What many believe to be eating a perfectly good protein, energy, diet or meal replacement bar is just filling their body with empty calories, carbs and/or fat. Now, I am not saying that every bar is treated equally here, but many bars are either full of fat and/or sugar (even if it is disguised). Manufacturers often replace or substitute common ingredients with names you don’t even know.
Therefore, we should all read and learn. Read exactly what is in our food and learn exactly what we are putting into our bodies. It is important to understand what each ingredient is on the package. Some bars are used to lose weight and some bars are used for weight gain. Some bars are meant to be eaten for protein while some are for energy, but the delivery system can still consist of ingredients that are good for your body and easy to process. Ultimately, we want anything that we are going to eat to taste good. That said, so does the manufacturer of the item, but we typically want it for different reasons. Most manufacturers just want to sell more and more of their products, so they put anything in it to preserve it (improve shelf life) and make it taste good. Often that is more than enough to bring consumers back over and over again.
It becomes a cross between art and science when developing bars and snacks. Trying to find that perfect balance of fats, carbs, and protein is not only a challenge, but that balance is not always agreed upon. One diet believes that you should have meat, fish, veggies, and fruit but no dairy or grains. Another theory is mostly fat, small amounts of protein with little to no carbs at all. What works for one might not necessarily work for someone else but there is one reality no matter what. Calories in… calories burned. If you eat high calorie, sugar, and fat-laden bars and you think you are eating a healthy snack or “meal” then you are doing yourself and your body a disservice. If your bar or snack tastes like a candy bar, then it is probably just about one step away from being a candy bar and you might as well just eat that candy bar. Let’s face it, a triple layer bar of protein nougat topped with peanuts, caramel and covered in chocolate is pretty close to being a snickers® bar.
It is highly recommended to look for snacks or meal replacements that are filled with real ingredients. Ingredients that we are familiar with. Ingredients that we are comfortable sharing with our entire family.