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Are Luna Bars and Belly Bars Healthy to Eat When Pregnant?

by
author image Erica Jacques
Erica Jacques is an occupational therapist and freelance writer with more than 15 years of combined experience. Jacques has been published on Mybackpaininfo.com and various other websites, and in "Hope Digest." She earned an occupational therapy degree from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, Scotland, giving her a truly global view of health and wellness.
Are Luna Bars and Belly Bars Healthy to Eat When Pregnant?
Granola bars on a table. Photo Credit Geshas/iStock/Getty Images

Eating for two is more complicated than you might think. You must pay more attention to vitamins and minerals, your caloric intake and the foods that might pose a potential risk to your baby. There is no shortage of pregnancy nutrition on the market, and while most pregnancy nutrition bars are perfectly safe, you can get plenty of nutrition without them.

General Pregnancy Nutrition

During pregnancy, women need more of certain nutrients as well as extra calories. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the average woman’s caloric needs vary little during the first trimester; however, by the second and third trimester, she might need around 340 extra calories per day. While it can be tempting just to eat anything that looks good, remember that your baby needs extra nutrients too. Iron, calcium and folic acid all play a vital role in your baby’s development as well as your own health during pregnancy. Taking a prenatal vitamin can help. Many women like to eat nutrition bars, some of which are even marketed for pregnancy.

Nutrition Bar Ingredients

Nutrition bars generally contain protein as well as vitamins and minerals. Luna bars are nutrition bars designed specifically with women’s needs in mind. In addition to protein, they contain almost a third of their iron and calcium requirements, and all of their folic acid needs. They contain around 5 to 6 grams of fat per bar, and are just under 200 calories, per Lunabar.com’s nutritional information panel. They also contain around 10 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. A Bellybar is designed specifically for pregnant women and also contains significant calcium, protein and iron. In addition, it has around 5 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber, per the Nutribella.com informational page. It has slightly fewer calories, at 170. The bars are fairly similar in makeup.

Pros and Cons of Nutrition Bars

A pro of both types of bars is that they contain more protein than fat. While 8 to 10 grams of protein is not exactly protein-rich, it can help you get closer to your daily recommended intake, which is higher for pregnant women. In addition, every little bit of calcium goes a long way. Getting 25 percent from a Bellybar and taking your prenatal vitamin can help you meet your 1,000 milligrams per day goal, which is based on ACOG’s calculations. However, there are cons to these nutrition bars as well. Considering that pregnant women need only around a few hundred extra calories per day, spending almost 200 on a nutrition bar might not leave you with enough wiggle room to resist other high-calorie snacks. They also might not be as filling as other, higher-fiber snacks.

Bottom Line

Luna Bars and Bellybars are not bad for you, but they might not be the optimal source of nutrients for many pregnant women. Fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grain products are high in fiber and low in calories, and might keep you feeling full for longer. Eating a Bellybar or a Luna Bar from time to time is generally fine, but relying on a nutrition bar to meet your daily needs is not the best practice. Before you stock up on nutrition bars, consider other ways to satisfy your snacking urges for a little more variety.

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