March 2005 Newsletter
Choosing the Best Snack Bar
for Your Travels
Dear Fellow Business
Thank you to everyone who participated in last month's survey on snack
and meal replacement bars. As many of you've discovered, bars are a
convenient "grab and go" way to eat while you're on the road. What are you really eating, though? If
you don't check the label, you might be surprised to find out how much sugar and fat is in your
favorite bar. In this month's article, our testers compare 10
different bars, to uncover the best
and worst in both taste and nutrition.
As always, there's plenty of new activity in the Travel Fitness
Blog, including Travel Fit Tips and news releases from your
favorite hotels and airlines.
To Your Health,
Customer Service, Healthy Travel
Network and Chief
Snack and meal
replacement bars are a boon to travelers with hectic schedules. While
bars are no substitute for real food (i.e., fresh vegetables, fruit,
and protein), they’re a certainly a step in the right direction from
burgers and fries. Plus, as those of us traveling regularly
can’t even get a burger and fries at 30,000 feet!
But when you grab a handful of bars at the grocery or convenience
store, what are you really getting? Have you stopped to read the label
to check calorie, fat, trans fats, carbohydrate, and protein content?
You might be surprised at the nutritional content (or lack thereof) in
your favorite bar.
To help you make a more informed decision, we spent some time surveying
and taste testing the snack and meal replacement bar landscape. Based
on research and discussion with nutritionists, we developed several
Note that we categorized most sports bars as meal replacement bars
(perhaps somewhat erroneously). They pack a substantial amount of
calories, making them inappropriate for a quick snack for the
bars got a check mark if they have less than 200 calories each.
replacement bars got a check mark if they are at least 250
calories. The rationale behind this is that you need a certain
of calories throughout the day. If you consume too few calories, you’ll
be hungry and more likely to binge.
|Less than 30% of
calories coming from fat and less than 1/3 of total fat grams coming
from saturated fats. (Fat has
calories per gram.)
|Ingredients do not
include any partially
|At least 6g of
fiber. Experts recommend women eat 25g of fiber per day; men
38g. Most American’s get less than
half the recommended amount.
|At least 30% of
their calories coming from protein.
(Protein has 4 calories per gram.)
|No highly processed
and refined sugars such as white
sugar or corn syrup.
|A totally subjective
assessment of how good the bar tastes.
|Retail price when
sold individually, based on our local Raleigh, NC grocery store.
Our selection of bars was primarily based on availability. In addition,
we steered clear of
“low-carb” bars, as we find them to have extremely
high fat content and, as a result, high caloric content.
Healthy Travel Snack
selected our bars from the “diet” aisle in the grocery store. You’ll
find additional varieties in the cereal aisle. As always, be sure to
check the nutrition label. Many breakfast bars are loaded with added
sugar. As an example, the number 1, 2, 4, and 6 ingredients in the
filling for Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Apple Cinnamon bars are highly
refined sugars—specifically, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and
sugar. And that’s not even the end of the story, as high
syrup and sugar both show up again in the cookie portion of the bars.
(We’re not trying to pick on Kellogg’s. We know they have the ability
to make a good tasting and good for you bar; one of our favorites is
actually owned by Kellogg’s.)
|Dexatrim All in One
|Lemon Bar Crisp
|Kashi GoLean Crunch
Energy Snack Bar
|Lemon Poppy Seed
|Iced Oatmeal Raisin
|Slim Fast Optima
In general, while these bars are a great way to avoid snacking on junk
food, they provide limited
nutrition value when compared with fresh
foods. In their defense, manufacturers face a big challenge;
difficult to duplicate Mother Nature and produce a bar that’s both good
and good for you.
Many of the bars
were very caloric. While most met our total fat
requirement, only two bars
(ClifBar and Kashi GoLean Crunch) met our
saturated fat requirement. Note that many experts now recommend
you limit your saturated fat
intake to only 7g per day; some of these
bars have as much as 4g of saturated fat. That’s more than half of your
allowance coming from one snack alone.
Only a single bar (Balance Gold) met our fiber requirements. Word to
the wise: eat your vegetables!
Only two bars
(Balance Gold and Dexatrim All in One) met our protein
requirements, although many of the bars were upwards of 20% protein.
Fortunately, manufacturers are getting serious about avoiding trans
fats, and only two of the bars
(Slim Fast Optima and Dexatrim All in
One) contained any partially hydrogenated oils.
sugar remains the number one food additive in America,
and our survey firmly confirmed that. 60% of the bars surveyed
contained either white sugar or corn syrup.
While everyone’s tastes are subjective, we picked our favorite snack
bar and favorite meal replacement bar based on texture, flavor, and
overall nutritional content. Bars that avoided trans fats,
refined sugars and extensive preservatives helped sway our opinion.
Remember that, as
with anything you put into your body, ultimately you
have to make to your own choices about the foods that are “right” for
you. We list our favorites and comments here only in the spirit of
sharing, not as a guideline or recommendation.
here for our complete nutrition and taste analysis for all 10
snack and meal replacement bars.
Travel Network Favorite Snack
GoLean Crunch Bar
for about $1.39
Overall, we like the
GoLean Crunch Bars. Relatively new, the
Kashi bars are unfortunately hard to find. (We found them at Target.)
Don’t confuse them with the original Kashi GoLean bar, which pack on as
much 100 extra calories per bar!
The GoLean Crunch
bars are one of the few bars that meet both our total
fat and total saturated fat requirement. In addition, we love
approach to all natural ingredients, with minimal processing and no
highly refined sugars, additives, or preservatives. You can actually save 30
calories and a gram of fat by selecting the
Chocolate Carmel Karma variety, but it’s not as tasty as the Chocolate
Peanut Bliss. And alas, the Sublime Lemon-Lime flavor was nowhere to be
Bar Runner Up… Pria Nutritional
Energy Snack Bar
Retails for about $0.89
Although we’re not keen on the refined sugars in this bar, the PowerBar Pria is a
skinny 110 calories. That’s simply the lowest calorie bar
could find anywhere. That coupled with its lack of trans fats and low
price (lowest of the bunch, in fact) makes it a good snack choice, in
Travel Network Favorite Meal
Replacement Bar… ClifBar
Retails for about $1.39
Although technically a sports bar used by athletes, we like the ClifBar
for its all-around goodness and 70% organic content. Besides the
GoLean Crunch Bar, the ClifBar is the only other bar that met our fat
requirements. And while it didn’t quite meet our fiber and protein
requirements, it still provides 5g of fiber and is 20% protein.
The ClifBar comes in 14 different flavors from Lemon Poppy Seed (our
favorite) to Black Cherry Almond to Peanut Toffee Buzz, so you should
be able to find one that suits your fancy. At only 230
calories, the ClifBar is a little slim to be a full meal.
Consider pairing it with a high-fiber salad or similar dish.
The selection of meal replacement bars seems to be fairly limited, and
we didn’t find any worthy of a runner up award.
Everything in Moderation
As with anything, you should use snack and meal replacement bars in
moderation. We recommend not
eating more than one per day. Focus your
remaining meals on fresh, unprocessed vegetables, fruit, whole grains,
and lean proteins. This balanced approach will help you stay healthy
and fit throughout your travels.