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You Asked: Energy Bar For a Meal?

Dear Fit,
I just got off the phone with a friend and I need some advice. She says for breakfast, she eats one Balance Bar. I know some bars are fortified with vitamins, but this doesn't seem like enough to me — calorie- or nutrition-wise. What do you think? Is it OK to eat an energy bar for a meal?
—Concerned Friend

This is an excellent question because I think many people grab a bar for a quick meal because it's quick, easy, and fairly inexpensive. Is it enough, though? To find out what I think


Replacing a meal with an energy bar is not a good idea. For one, most bars contain only about 200 calories. That calorie amount is suitable for a snack, not a meal. Another reason is that those bars were designed to give someone energy before or after a workout, so they tend to be high in carbs and low in fiber. That translates to quick energy at first, but your friend probably feels tired and hungry soon after. The low fiber issue may also affect regularity. The bottom line is that energy bars are not designed to replace a well-balanced meal, since they won't offer the same kind of nutrition. Even the ones that are fortified with vitamins and minerals only offer about 25 percent of your RDI, which isn't very much.

I think it's best to ask your friend why she's only eating an energy bar for breakfast. Is she short on time? Is she trying to lose weight? Does she think it's healthy? Once you find out her reasoning, you can suggest healthy breakfast ideas that suit her needs. There are plenty of tasty options that are high in protein and fiber to offer sustained energy, are easy to make, and won't break the calorie bank.

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Join The Conversation
FitBnnie FitBnnie 7 years
Have any of you ever tried Builder Bars by Cliff? I sometimes have one after a serious workout, half of one as a snack, or for breakfast if I'm really in a rush. I agree that it's not a good idea to replace real food with bars, but if you must, or need a quick snack, Builders are amazing. They have 20 grams of protein, are vegan, all natural, and taste delicious. Peanut butter and chocolate mint are best.
wolfjinx25 wolfjinx25 7 years
I use to eat South Beach Diet bars for breakfast until my personal trainer told me it's not good for me because of the sugar content and whatnot. So, I end up getting up a little earlier in the morning and making a bowl of cereal with some protein powder in it.
filmgirl81 filmgirl81 7 years
filmgirl81 filmgirl81 7 years
A lot of people skin breakfast, so an energy bar is better than nothing. But I'd probably pair it with a banana since that's easy to eat as well
Spectra Spectra 7 years
I'm not a fan of processed energy bars because they never fill me up and they don't taste all that good. I'd rather eat real food, like fruit and oatmeal or an egg and some yogurt or something for breakfast. I guess if your friend wants to eat energy bars for breakfast, it's her call, but I'd suggest she add a piece of fruit with it to keep things moving down there.
kensielove17 kensielove17 7 years
My nutritionist recommends that I don't eat energy bars. They have a lot of sugar and really aren't that filling. Instead for breakfast I have 1 starch (15g carbs) 1 protein (1 ounce) I prefer cottage cheese, 1 fruit, 1 dairy product, and 1 fat. A filling and balanced meal =]
insanitypepper insanitypepper 7 years
I eat protein bars for breakfast all the time. They're easy to eat during a commute. And there are some out there that have four or six grams of fiber. The bars that I eat are usually around 240 calories, so with the 60 calories in the half cup of skim milk in my coffee I think I get enough fuel to last until my morning snack.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 7 years
It's certainly better than going without breakfast at all.
darc5204 darc5204 7 years
There are plenty of people who just don't bother to eat breakfast, so I think an energy bar isn't an unhealthy choice. Maybe not optimal, but not bad.
fauxcat fauxcat 7 years
I agree, Leb35, although Fit's advice is sensible also. The thing is that it's the reader's friend, not her. I went for years without touching breakfast, all through high school, because I was always too queasy and bleh early in the morning. In my early 20's, I started eating it regularly and now probably couldn't stand to go without it. My point is that people differ and change and have varying blood sugar levels in the morning and carb needs and so forth - if the Balance bar works for your friend now and she eats pretty well otherwise, I wouldn't hassle her about it too much. If she has other dietary/eating issues, however, you might want to bring up some other options. But the bottom line is that unless you're in her kitchen every morning cooking, she's going to eat what works for her, for now. I'm not even a fan of Balance bars as a general concept, but at least it's not a doughnut or something, right?
califab califab 7 years
Energy bars scare me. So much unnatural stuff to be eating regularly. My boss is incredibly healthy, never smoked, and got colon cancer in her early 40's. She swears it's because she ate a couple energy bars every day for 20 years. I don't think a bar every now and then is bad, but there are so many healthy foods out there that are natural and have more fiber and less sugar. Intuitively, that just seems better for you even if bars are marketed towards the "healthy type".
Allytta Allytta 7 years
my breakfast never exceed 200cal and I have a full meal. yogurt+cereal+coffee
runningesq runningesq 7 years
Sorry, I think it's best to let your friend eat what she wants to eat. Is it the best decision? No. Is it really harming her, making it your business? No.
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 7 years
My husband sometimes eats a cliff bar for breakfast along with an orange or bananna. :shrug: it's still better then a pastry or nothing.
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