For many, the new year also means resolutions involving weight loss and maintaining a healthy diet. Setting realistic goals, and also following a no-gimmick plan are two ways to help stay the course. As a part of a weight loss program or as a snack option, energy bars, nutrition bars, protein bars, energy bars, and so many more variations, are often included in a meal plan. They are available at nearly any store, are easy to pack while on-the-go, and when trying to make healthy choices, it can seem like a great option. But not all bars are created equal. Some are loaded with sugar, saturated fat, sodium, and other ingredients that are neither healthy or needed.
One source shares:
“Steve Hertzler, PhD, RD, assistant professor of medical dietetics at Ohio State University, conducted a study showing that endurance athletes may not get the sustained energy boost that they’re expecting from certain bars. In his research, he compared the effects on blood glucose levels of two popular energy bars — the Ironman PR Bar and the PowerBar. Hertzler found that the Ironman PR Bar provided increases in blood sugar levels that remained fairly steady, which could translate into enhanced performance for endurance athletes. By contrast, the PowerBar produced a quick rush of blood sugar, but it was followed by a rapid decline — not much different than occurs with a Snickers bar.”
That is a perfect example of how a well-known brand, seemingly available to supplement a healthy lifestyle, can really lead people astray. With 24 grams of sugar (out of a daily suggested max amount of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men), the bar isn’t exactly a nutritious choice. Imagine downing several of the PowerBars a week- that can really take a toll on an otherwise great diet and exercise effort.
When the cost of store-bought bars is factored in, it really isn’t worth it. Store bought bars cost between $1-$5 each. If you consume two a day, over the course of a month, you could be spending $280 on “nutrition bars” that may not even offer much in the way of nutrition. Making your own bars is a great way to cut the cost of snack and protein bars. The ingredients can be purchased in bulk and stored (for example, nuts, oatmeal, seeds, etc.), and if you make several batches, the effort can last weeks. Not to mention that the nutritional value will exceed anything that you can buy; you can limit the amount of unnecessary ingredients and tailor the flavors to your preferences. Here are a few great options:
These bars are loaded with seeds and nuts- and contain no added sugar. Bonus: they require absolutely zero baking! Nutrition: No details listed- but, these contain only nuts, seeds, and dates, giving you energy without unnecessary additions.
Another great recipe that requires no baking, these also have a the treat of a bit of chocolate. Having just a little chocolate can help satisfy a sweet tooth without reaching for candy, ice cream, or cookies. And, the recipe has many healthy ingredients like oatmeal, flax seed and chia seed. Nutrition: 263 Calories, 7g Protein, 4.3g Fiber
These bars are loaded with protein from Greek yogurt, and eggs. Low in sugar, these will provide energy during a busy day and keep you away from crashing from a high-sugar option, like a candy bar. Nutrition: 219 Calories, 8g Protein, 4g Fiber
Not only do these bars look beautiful, but they are also gluten, dairy, egg, soy, peanut and refined sugar free, as well as vegan and paleo – so you can easily enjoy them regardless of what kind of health journey you are on. Can’t beat that. Nutrition: No details listed; but the ingredients are clean and full of nutrients- can’t go wrong on this one.
These bars are a classic combination of flavors- apple and cinnamon. Besides the great flavor, they also have oatmeal, pecans, and flax meal for energy. Nutrition: None details listed, but considering the ingredients (no oil, butter, nut butters, or added sugar), these are a winner.
A variation on an energy bar, these Lemon Poppy Seed Energy Balls don’t have any nuts, nut butter, or coconut oil. For those with allergies, or trying to keep things really simple, these are an easy choice. Nutrition: 143 Calories, 17.5g Protein, 1.3g Fiber
The name may sound too good to be true, but these bars are delicious and healthy. They are grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. There are only seven ingredients, and they are all high-quality foods guaranteed to give you an energy boost with a punch of flavor. Nutrition: 146 Calories, 3g Protein, 4g Fiber
The ingredients are incredibly simple, and the site we found these delicious Carrot Cake Energy Bites on also has many other variations that only require tweaking the ingredients. These can also be made in bulk and frozen. Nutrition: 107 Calories, 2g Protein, 2g Fiber
As you can see, many of these energy bars/balls have a lot of cross-over of ingredients. Knowing what the basics are can really open up ideas for making your own bars and catering them to your favorite flavors and dietary needs. The site lifemadesweeter.com also has a great step-by-step if you’d rather try your own bars.
“To make the best tasting homemade bars, a few key ingredients are required in order to achieve that perfectly soft and chewy texture we all love from the boxed granola bars.
1. Dry coarse base: oats – old fashioned or quick oats, shredded coconut, chopped or sliced nuts
2. Sticky liquid binder and sweetener – maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut nectar, date paste, coconut syrup, yacon syrup
3. Liquid binder: oil, butter or nut butter
4. Dry binder: flour / almond meal / coconut flour / flaxseeds / shredded coconut / protein powder
5. Fillers – add-ins for crunch, crispy texture or sweetness: seeds / chopped nuts / chopped chocolate / chocolate chips / dried fruit