Nutrition Bars for Weight Loss: Can They Help You?

by Matt Weik

There are many different types of things that you may find online for weight loss – pills, powders, detoxes, nutrition bars, premade beverages, the list goes on and on. Although it seems like a simple thing to do, and that they make it sound so simple, it surely isn’t. There are many factors that play a role when it comes to weight loss. Starting from your body mass index to your nutrition plan, hormones, exercise, and so on, everything has some impact on your weight loss journey.

There are many products out there on the market that promise to help in weight loss, and one of them is nutrition bars. When it comes to healthy and tasty snacks, nutrition bars seem to find their way to top the list. That being said, we always have to be vigilant in the snack bar aisle, as there are so many options out there that make it hard for us to resist the items we should stay away from.

The market is full of brands that are selling high protein and high fiber energy and nutrition bars that promote weight loss, but how much of it is actually true?

Nutrition Bars: Are They REALLY Helpful?

Nutrition bars are quite convenient, and you can carry them anywhere you like. It is the best on-the-go snack for you if you are trying to maintain a sensible and balanced diet to accommodate for weight loss.

Health and fitness lovers seem to have their favorite brands for nutrition bars and seldom deviate from what they know they like. Sometimes, these individuals even substitute nutrition bars for meals.

If you are wondering if they are really helpful, well… it mostly depends on the contents of the bar. Listen, I’m not going to sugarcoat things in this article. There are a ton of great nutrition bars out there on the market, and I don’t want you to look at this article through just one lens that nutrition bars are exactly what you need in order to help with weight loss. Sure, they can help. But there are a ton of “nutrition bars” out there on the market that are complete garbage and merely candy bars disguised as healthy nutrition bars.

There are some nutrition bars out there that do not have any amount of healthy fiber or even protein. Many times, the bar is made of primarily carbohydrates sprinkled with around 2-3g of protein which they call out on the packaging. It’s deceptive. Not to mention many are loaded with sugars and sugar alcohols that can mess with your stomach.

But then, on the other hand, you have some brands putting out high-quality nutrition bars that can actually benefit you in various ways. The bottom line is that it’s important to check the content of the nutrition bar before you purchase it and ensure you understand how to read the label and know what to look for.

Can Nutrition Bars Improve Weight Loss?

If you’re asking if nutrition bars (themselves) can improve weight loss, the answer is no. Let me put things into perspective for you. Suppose you consume 2,000 calories per day, and that figure is below your maintenance number. If you consume a 200-calorie nutrition bar, will that alone help you lose weight? No. It’s simply part of your daily nutritional intake.

Now, let’s change the perspective slightly and see why some people may disagree with what I just said. We will use the same example above, only this time you’re going to replace your sugary bowl of cereal you eat in the morning with a nutrition bar. Assuming the nutrition bar has a better macro- and micronutrient profile, you could argue that the bar has fewer calories than the bowl of cereal along with more protein and fiber, and you have yourself a case to be made.

You need to think of nutrition bars as a tool. They aren’t an end-all-be-all when it comes to weight loss. Can they help you make some substitutions to your nutrition plan and help eliminate some areas where your nutrition may become lax, such as snacking between meals or swapping nutrition bars in place of food you normally consume during a typical day that you know is unhealthy? Absolutely.

But again, nutrition bars do not directly improve weight loss. You need to look at the big picture of calories in versus calories out. There is nothing in nutrition bars that will directly impact your metabolic rate other than the fact that if it contains protein, you could argue that the body has to work harder to break down the protein and therefore has a greater thermic effect, but now, we’re splitting hairs trying to prove a point.

Tips for Choosing the Right Nutrition Bars

Whether you decide to utilize nutrition bars as part of your weight loss plan is entirely up to you. If you do find them helpful in your scenario and help you clean up your nutrition and make some substitutions, go for it.

And if you’re one of those people who sees the value and has a plan for how you want to utilize these bars, below are a few tips to help you make the best purchase possible when you’re staring at a wall of various nutrition bars.

• Go for nutrition bars that contain dry fruits such as apricots, dates, raisins. So, you will get the sweetness but from natural ingredients along with some micronutrients versus straight sugar.
• Always check the label for sugar content and know what to look for. If something is suffixed with ‘-ose’ on the nutrition label, then it’s sugar. Look for nutrition bars that have a low sugar content (single digits).
• Avoid sugar-free nutrition bars as they mostly contain sugar alcohols, which isn’t the healthiest thing for you, along with the fact that they can cause digestion issues.
• Check the protein to carbs ratio in the bar if you’re looking for weight loss. Look for a ratio around 1:1 for nutrition bars. Or go with more of a protein bar that is higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates.
• Go for nutritional bars that are made from healthy ingredients such as oats and other high-fiber ingredients like nuts, seeds, and nut butters. The fewer the ingredients found in the bar (and that you recognize and can pronounce), generally, the healthier the bar will be.