It can be hard to fit healthy eating into a busy lifestyle. Between work, family, social obligations and more, sometimes it feels like there’s not enough time to prepare or sit down for a healthy, balanced or home-cooked meal.
But a shortage of time does not mean you have to sacrifice your commitment to healthy eating!
In fact, snack and meal replacement bars are perfect items to stock up on for those moments when you’re strapped for time and need a healthy bite to eat. They are easy, convenient, portable and if you make smart choices, they can be healthy, too.
From breakfast bars to granola bars to energy bars and protein bars, it’s hard to know which variety is the best, most healthful choice. The wide variety of bars on the market can make selection overwhelming and it doesn’t help that many bars masquerade as healthy despite being packed with sugar and fat.
Use this guide to find a healthy snack or meal replacement bar for the next time your stomach is grumbling but you’re on the way out the door.
Meal replacement bars
These bars are ideal when you’re in a rush and otherwise would skip a meal. Look for the following nutritional requirements per serving when making a selection:
- 200 to 300 calories
- At least 15 grams of protein
- At least 5 grams of fiber
- Less than 20 grams of sugar (Less than 10 grams of sugar for people who had gastric bypass surgery)
- Less than 10 grams of total fat
- Less than 2.5 grams of saturated fat
Snack bars are great for quenching hunger between meals or as fuel before a workout. Make sure that your snack bar contains the following nutritional requirements per serving:
- 150 to 200 calories
- At least 5 grams of protein
- At least 3 grams of fiber
- Less than 15 grams of sugar
- Less than 7 grams of total fat
- Less than 2 grams of saturated fat
These general considerations are helpful to keep in mind when deciding which meal or snack bars to purchase:
- Bars that are low in carbohydrates are generally low in fiber or high in fat, especially saturated fat. Be careful that you’re not trading one unhealthy nutrient for another.
- Some bars, especially those that are low in sugar and carbohydrates, contain sugar alcohols, which can cause bloating, gas and diarrhea.
- Bars that contain fruit naturally have more sugar. With fruit bars, you can be more flexible with the sugar content per serving.
- Pay attention to flavor and consistency. Make sure that you actually enjoy the taste of the bar!
Snack and meal bars made specifically for people who have had bariatric surgery are available on the following websites: