Let’s Talk about the Nutrition Bar
Proclaimed as the perfect snack by some health nuts, and denied as a sugary placebo by others, the health bar is a very interesting part of the fitness and nutrition world. Made up of cereals, grains, nuts, and other ingredients to bind them, nutrition (or cereal) bars have taken up their fair share of shelf space in supermarkets. In fact, the number of nutrition bars in grocery stores jumped from 226 in 2014 to a whopping 1,012 in 2015. What has made it a popular product in just a short amount of time? Is it the portability? Is it the nutrition levels? Or are they just scams wrapped in nutritious labeling? The only way to find out is to look at it a little critically and pay attention to the growing trends.
How did Nutrition Bars Get Their Start?
This is an interesting bit of trivia. In the 1960s, there was a lot of fascination with new technology and space travel. This fascination carried over to products developed for astronauts. Tang, for instance, was a powdered orange drink that simulates orange juice. So was memory foam, a device intended for comfortable sleep in space. This was also the case for nutrition bars. The first nutrition bars ever produced was from Pillsbury’s Space Food Sticks. They were created with the intent of making a type of food that would have a long shelf life and would not need refrigeration in space.
In 1970, Pillsbury filed a trademark for Space Food Sticks, then repackaged and advertised them to consumers as a “nutritionally balanced between-meal snack.” From there, a craze began. The bars were repackaged and rebranded several times over. First, it was seen as a quick, substitute meal for working families as well as a fascinating type of food created in a lab. Then, when the ’90s rolled around, different kinds of bars went through marketing segmentation. Rebranded “health” bars were geared towards men who wanted to gain bulk, and women who wanted to lose weight.
In the early 2000s, there was further segmentation between various markets. From vegan to health-conscious, to energizing, various nutrition bars claim to have done it all. These days it is an outright necessity for some people who don’t have any lunch break provided for them. Even nutritionists in an interview have pointed out that some of them can work as a protein supplement. However, not all nutrition bars are created equal.
Good Nutrition Bars vs. Bad Nutrition Bars
What makes a good nutrition bar? The rules of nutrition are often complex. Also, there has been an argument about the merits or the dangers of things like fat, wheat, etc. It can be confusing to navigate sometimes, and if you are not careful, you might just wind up eating an unnecessary amount of sugar that is disguised as a health food product. So, what are a few things that you can look out for while shopping for nutrition bars?
It is no secret. At least half of the nutrition bars on the market are oversaturated with sugar and vitamins. This is where being vigilant should come in. The recommended daily value of sugar for an average adult should be no more than 25 grams. So, if you are keeping track of your daily diet, the last thing you need to do is to eat a bar that remotely even close to that level of sugar.
There are different types of fat that exist in our diet. We have bad sources of fat that are common in things like fast food, crackers, frozen food, desserts, fried foods, etc. This type of fat is bad because it increases bad cholesterol in our bodies and decreases good cholesterol. The good fats that exist, are often found in the natural world. Fat from things like eggs, fish, nuts, avacado, and olive oil does the exact opposite. It raises our good cholesterol and decreases our bad cholesterol.
If a nutrition bar has fat in it, make sure that it is unsaturated fat. If the fats come from something like nuts, egg whites, or coconut oil, chances are it is better for you on the whole. However, if most of the fat comes from things
Even if you aren’t into counting things like calories, there is a common sense factor that you can use to determine if a bar is good for you. Look at what the nutrition bar is made of. If the nutrition bar has something with whole ingredients like nuts and quinoa and there is not an artificial thing in sight, you are eating real food. However, if there is an absence of real ingredients or things in there that are vague like “natural flavoring” or dyes, chances are you want to avoid having it in stock.