People with diabetes need to eat regularly and often want to combat fatigue. Energy bars seem like a convenient way to take care of both issues. While it appears to be a simple fix, learn more about energy bars and diabetes to make the most educated decisions.
- A few years ago, energy bars were only found on the shelves of specialty shops such as health food stores. Now local convenience marts and mass merchants carry energy bars. With hundreds of choices to consider, people with diabetes need to figure out how to select the best ones. Some have high protein or carbohydrates, while others claim to accelerate weight loss. Tune out all the hype and read the labels before choosing any energy bar. Keep in mind some are simply glorified candy bars that contain saturated fat, sugar and other ingredients you don’t want.
- Each energy bar should be one serving with between 90-125 calories. Stay away from energy bars with more than 1 gram of saturated fat or that contain trans- fat. Sugar should not be among the leading ingredients in any bar you choose. Consider bars with less than 15-18 grams of carbohydrates and lower than 15 grams of protein to avoid blood sugar highs and protein overload. Fewer ingredients are always better to avoid fillers, salt, preservatives or other unhealthy additives. Look for healthy ingredients such as whey, whole grains, casein, seeds, dried fruit and nuts. Try to select a bar with 3 grams of fiber or more which is filling and helps with blood sugar swings. While sugar-free bars might sound like a good choice, they may include sugar alcohols that could upset your digestive tract. They also will not deliver much energy. Some bars could be labeled organic, but this does not mean they are the healthiest options. Read the labels to find out the real deal.
- Diabetic snack bars, such as Glucerna nutrition bars, are a great way to reduce hyperglycemia or help prevent hypoglycemia. They help maintain the blood sugar at a reasonable level especially during the night since they contain resistant starch. Occasionally eating an energy bar on-the-go is better than skipping a meal or snack as it can help you maintain better blood sugar levels. Protein bars are not meant to act quickly and should not be used to try to treat hypoglycemia. Keep glucose tablets to help you deal with low blood sugar levels and use bars as a snack.
- Choose energy bars with uncooked corn starch to avoid blood sugar spikes that may lead to cravings. Regular energy bars can metabolize in just 2 hours, which can make your blood sugar increase. The right energy bars can reduce blood sugar spikes and help you control hunger between meals. Keep in mind they are never a substitute for a healthy, well-balanced diet. Make sure to eat foods from all four food groups throughout the day for proper nutrition.
Energy bars can be a good snack that can be incorporated into your diabetes meal and self-management plan. Understand your glycemic response to bars and read the labels carefully to choose the right one. A little research goes a long way when it comes to choosing energy bars with diabetes.