Thanks for reaching out to us! These are great questions.
Many nutritionists agree that a nutrition bar is better than a doughnut or vending machine snack. Nutrition bars serve different purposes based on the needs of the individual. People eat them to:
- Replace a meal (protein)
- Give energy (calories)
- Provide a boost for a race (carbs)
- Serve as a snack
But not all nutrition bars are created equal. So when choosing one, check out the label and aim for the following nutritional values:
- Sugar: Less than 5 grams
- Saturated fat: Less than 5 grams
- Fiber: 3-5 grams
- Calories: less than 300 if your goal is to lose weight; more than 300 if your goal is energy, race boost, or meal-replacement
- Protein: 15 grams or more if your goal is a meal-replacement; 5 grams or less if you are eating as a snack
Nutritionists recommend eating whole foods when you can instead of a nutrition bar. Healthy alternatives include:
- Apple, orange, or banana
- Whole wheat bagel with tomato and swiss cheese
- Trail mix with nuts and dried fruits
- Yogurt sprinkled with high-fiber cereal
If your goal is to boost your protein intake, fish, poultry, dairy products, and eggs are great sources. For healthy, ready-to-eat meals, check out this recommended list from an Army Master Fitness Trainer.
Deli and Packaged Meats
Are deli meats and packaged lunchmeats healthy? It depends on what’s in them. Processed meats—anything smoked, cured, salted, or with preservatives—often contain high amounts of sodium and fat. You should consume less than 2,300 mg sodium per day. Your fat intake should be less than 22 grams a day on a 2,000-calorie diet. Be mindful of these facts as you make lunch plans, and opt for low-sodium, low-fat meats.