This post was originally published by Lamond’s Family Medicine.

energybars-300x230In today’s fast-paced, multi-tasking world, it seems a new food group has emerged, the bar. Call it what you want, a granola bar, energy bar, protein bar. No matter the name, they are everywhere and the choices are endless. You can purchase them at the grocery store, the gym, gas station, coffee shops or even customize them online to suit your own personal tastes. There are high-carbohydrate bars, protein bars, energy bars, breakfast bars, brain-boosting bars, meal-replacement bars, diet bars, and women-only bars. With all this selection, I am often asked which ones actually reach or exceed daily nutritional requirements.

When sizing up a bar, the first question to ask yourself is what role does this bar play in your diet? Are you looking for a snack, meal replacement or a workout bar? Once you know, turn your attention to the nutrition label. Not all bars are created equal.

Some important information to keep in mind when making your decision:

o Look for a bar that’s low in fat (less than 5 grams of fat).
o When evaluating the fiber content of bars, aim for 3 to 5 grams of fiber which will help stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full longer.
o Look closely at the sugar count. The bar’s carbs should not be coming from simple sugars.
o Some bars are packed with sodium. Make sure the one you choose one that has 300mg of sodium or less.
o If you’re watching your weight, check the calories listed on the label. If the bar is a snack, keep it under 200 calories.
o If you need a meal-replacement bar, choose one that has 20 grams of protein or less. More protein than this and your body can’t absorb it. Again, keep the carb and calorie count as low as possible.
o Don’t be fooled by advertising, women do not need a different type of bar than men.

Bars certainly can be a convenient way to stave off hunger when on the run but don’t let them crowd whole foods out of your diet. For a quick snack, you may be better off eating a piece of fruit or a hand full of almonds.

If you still feel overwhelmed by all the choices and variety, you can purchase bars from Blue Sky MD. We sell several tasty bars that are perfect for meal replacement or just a snack depending on your calorie needs for the day. These bars have been carefully selected by our medical staff and dietitian for their nutritional value.