As many of you have already watched, I had the opportunity to do a segment on CTV news on energy and sports bars. Since the aired segment was short, I thought I would expand on what to look for and what to stay away from.
In preparing for this talk, one of the things that I found most interesting is where these bars are located. The bars that I consider “healthy” were found in the health food section of the grocery store…I knew where those were. However, I had to go on a hunt for the other sports bars. You will never guess where I found those…that’s right, the pharmacy aisles. To the average consumer this is very confusing, as how could things in the pharmacy section be THAT bad!
Here are the things that you want to keep in mind when eating these bars:
All of these bars use sugar. It is just a matter of what type of sugar they are using. The purpose of most of these bars is to act as quick energy for athletics, so they use sugar such as maltodextrin, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and glucose to provide a powerful punch to the body and give it instant energy. The problem is, these sugars set off a cascade reaction in the body that causes inflammation and insulin levels to spike. So, while you may be getting a “punch” of energy during your workout, the question is…are you really gaining health?
What are these ingredients doing to your body long term? The answer is…nothing good!
Outside of athletics, the average person is using these as a snack thinking that it is a better choice than a chocolate bar. The problem is, the sugars in these bars are broken down and absorbed rapidly making it hard for the body to use all of this energy all at once. Instead, it conserves it for a later date…and it does so as body fat!
It has been shown that foods that contain high fructose corn syrup set off yet another hormonal cascade in the body that actually causing leptin resistance. Big deal! Well leptin is the hormone that is produced by your fat cell to signal your brain when it is full. So, these bars will actually make you feel hungrier causing you to want to eat more and more.
Look for these sugars in products – the are less inflammatory, have a lower glycemic index and send good messages to the body:
- Dates, figs, raisins
- Agave nectar
- Organic brown rice syrup
- Evapourated cane juice
- Organic cane sugar
Most people know that hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats are not good for you. Long term use of these toxic and inflammatory fats has been linked to things like cardiovascular disease, obesity and high cholesterol.
Manufacturers have now become smarter, and have started using things called modified fats. While these may be better than the hydrogenated/trans fats, they are not much better and have still been linked to chronic disease.
Avoid anything that says – hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated or modified fats.
Look for good fats – hemp oil, flax oil.
The old rule applies here…if you can’t pronounce something, you probably shouldn’t be eating it. Common additives on labels of bars are things like sodium benzoate which can cause skin rashes and aggravate asthma, and sulphites which are known to cause rashes, headaches, trigger IBS and aggravate asthmatic conditions. The other things to watch out for are natural and artificial flavours which are like the “mystery meat” of the additive world.
A typical snack should be anywhere from 180-220 calories. Most commercial bars are anywhere from 200-300 – so a snack would be ½ bar (**this depends on activity level, and if you are trying to lose or maintain weight). Keep in mind the calories, and how many serving sizes are in a bar (most calories are per bar…but just double check this).
I am not against the use of these bars, I just think people need to be aware what they are eating. Eating the right bar can provide you with a nutritious convenient snack but just make sure that you are eating good quality bars.
Examples of Nutritious Bars:
Lara, Vega, Elev8me, Luna, Gen Soy, Think Organic, Dr Weil, Perfect 10, Organics, Clif
Homemade Nut and Honey Energy Bars
This recipe was already posted, but it provides a great example of a homemade energy bar that can be made at home.
- 1 cup oatmeal 300
- 1 cup granola 300
- ¼ cup sesame seeds 50
- ¼ cup flax seeds 50
- ½ cup wheat germ 100
- ½ cup bran 100
- ½ cup protein powder 20
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup maple syrup 400
- ½ cup honey 480
- 1 cup peanut butter 760
- ½ cup pecans 400
- Optional ¼-1/2 cup coconut, raisins, dried fruit
- Grease pan, mix dry ingredients.
- Mix peanut butter, maple syrup and honey in a saucepan and stir until very hot, but do not boil
- Pour mix over dry ingredients
- Press into pan, and let sit 24 hours in the fridge
- Cut into individual bars, and wrap or store in container in fridge or freezer and the Enjoy!