True to their name, meal-replacement nutrition bars are quick and convenient food alternatives that we can choose in replacement of real or actual meals whenever plan to prepare them to fall through. Instead of going for fast food or other unhealthy options when you are tight in schedule and lack resources, consuming this kind of nutrition bar can help you maintain a balanced diet while managing your weight. Although this sounds good and saves you a significant amount of time, dieticians emphasize that eating real meals should still be a priority as it is still the best way to get all the essential nutrients.
Meal-replacement bars have a variety of flavors, styles, and ingredients that mostly overlap with other nutrition bars, so there is no telling what makes up a unique and accurate meal-replacement bar. What dieticians do recommend for meal bars to have in comparison with other nutrition bars are a higher number of calories, with about 200-400 calories per bar, 10 to 15 grams of protein, 3 to 5 grams of fiber, around 10 grams of healthy fat, and the lesser sugar the better. Here are the types of meal-replacement bars that you can choose from based on their main source of ingredients and nutrients:
Wholefood meal-replacement bars
Simply put, when a meal-replacement bar is mostly made up of whole food, it means that the ingredients are either not processed at all, or only processed minimally. There are few to no preservatives or sugary additives which makes it a healthy meal alternative. This may include cereal grains like oats, rice, and granola, varieties of seeds and nuts, dried fruits, animal proteins like egg whites, and other unprocessed food.
Although you may find sugar in any of these bars, they will most likely be from natural sources like dried dates. If not, you can just make sure that the bar you choose has at least 10 to 15 grams of sugar or lesser. In general, wholefood meal-replacement bars have high calories to maintain your energy levels, and a well-balanced profile of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and other essential vitamins and minerals.
Plant-based protein meal-replacement bars
At this point, you might be wondering, why are protein bars part of this list? Good question. Now, while protein bars are mainly made for muscle building or for those who are required to add protein to their diet, some can serve as a meal replacement. Sources confirm that most protein bars will suffice as a meal replacement because each bar usually contains around 15 to 20 grams of protein. Since protein is a macronutrient that represses hormones that induce hunger, this can keep you full until the next meal.
Plant-based protein bars can get their nutrients from various protein sources like whey, peas, soy, seeds, nuts, and brown rice. At the same time, they are also rich in fiber, and antioxidants, and have lower saturated fats, sodium, and cholesterol compared to animal-based proteins. However, you may want to add some meat or egg whites on the side to cover up for some plant-based protein bars that may lack some amino acids except for those made of soy which is complete with 9 essential amino acids.
Meat-based Protein meal-replacement bars
Unlike most of the nutrition bars that we would normally encounter or imagine being made of whole food and/or covered in chocolate and honey syrup, there are nutrition bars that are purely made out of meat ingredients. A lot of them are around 100 calories each, with loads of proteins complete with essential amino acids that help in body growth, have zero artificial sweeteners, and almost fit into several special diets whether paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, or soy-free. It also provides other important nutrients like vitamin B12 which cannot be found in plant-based proteins and heme iron which maintains blood health.
Meat-based protein bars may almost be similar in taste to processed meat snacks like beef jerky but it does not contain harmful nitrates, unhealthy fats, and sodium that is not good for our overall health. Meat proteins that can be found in meat bars include egg whites, lean meat, and poultry. Occasionally, it might include natural spices that can make the meal-replacement bar flavorful. This can be the perfect meal-replacement bar for those working out in the gym or keeping an active lifestyle.