Meal replacement bars and drinks can provide a convenient solution for dieters on the go. Not all meal replacement products are created equal, however. If you are trying to lose weight, choosing the right one can help you achieve your goal, while choosing the wrong one could easily sabotage all your hard work. The best diet-friendly meal replacement products are high in nutrition and low in calories. They should satisfy hunger, quench cravings and provide adequate energy fuel.
Superfood Energy Bars
If you are looking for maximum nutritional benefit with the lowest calories, Dr. Schulze's SuperFood Bar might be for you. This organic bar combines raw fruits, nuts and a wide variety of green superfoods, such as spirulina and barley grass, to provide long-lasting energy and ample nutrition at just 165 calories. It also contains 6 g protein.
Greens Energy Bar is another organic, and nutritious, choice. It is similar to Dr. Schulze's Bar, but it also contains soy protein. It has 250 calories and 7 g protein.
Vega Whole Food Vibrancy Bar is also a healthy "green" option made from raw fruits and nuts. It is gluten-free and contains 200 calories and 9 g protein.
Raw Food Bars
The all-natural Lara Bar is sculpted from raw dates and nuts; a handful of other ingredients, such as chocolate, apples or raisins, are added to create specific flavors. Despite its limited ingredients, this gluten-free bar is loaded with wholesome nutrition and is perfect for those seeking to avoid additives and preservatives. The Blueberry Muffin bar contains 190 calories and 4 g protein.
Pure Bar is similar to the Lara Bar, and just as delicious. The Blueberry bar contains 190 calories and 6 g protein. CookingLight.com named it the "Best Natural Bar."
Grain-Based Energy Bars
If you are looking for a highly satiable bar with a bit of crisp, Clif Bar is the winner. The Black Cherry Almond took the honor of the "Best Meal Replacement" in the CookingLight.com rating. Made with oats, soy protein and over a dozen other ingredients, this bar contains 250 calories and 10 g protein.
The Kashi Go Lean Crunchy Bar is another good alternative. The Chocolate Peanut bar contains 180 calories and 9 g protein.
If you prefer to drink your meal, consider trying a smoothie. Odwalla Protein Monster smoothie is full of soy and milk protein, as well as added vitamins and minerals. The Vanilla Protein smoothie contains 400 calories and 36 g protein per bottle.
The Naked Protein Zone smoothie is made with natural fruits and fruit juices, with added soy and whey protein. One bottle of Protein Zone Mango has 440 calories and 32 g protein.
The Stonyfield Organic Super Smoothie is another nutritious alternative. This yogurt-based product contains probiotic cultures. The strawberry flavor has 230 calories and 10 g protein.
With all meal replacement options, pay attention to the added or natural sugar content. While carbohydrates provide energy, high amounts may lead to fat gain and counter your weight-loss efforts.
Peruse the health food aisle of any grocery store or pharmacy: Your senses will be assaulted with brightly packaged, attractively named "energy bars." Among the competitors is a company called Clif Bar, Inc. -- a family-owned business that was founded to produce nutritious bars for athletes and active individuals. While energy bars like those marketed by Clif Bar, Inc. can be a quick and relatively healthy snack on a busy day, they can't compete with the natural nutrition of unprocessed foods like fresh fruits and vegetables.
In 1986, Clif Bar CEO Gary Erikson went on a day-long, 175-mile bike ride with a friend. They brought energy bars with them for the trip, but found them unappetizing and unsatisfying. Gary realized on his so-called "epiphany ride" that he could use his baking experience to make what he hoped would be a better product. In 1992, Gary debuted his first energy bar. Since then, Clif Bar, Inc has produced several lines of energy bars including the Mojo bar, which combines sweet and salty flavors. Clif Bars are not marketed as diet products. Rather, the company's claim is that it engineers bars designed to provide sustainable energy for athletes.
According to the company, Clif bars are made with all-natural, organic ingredients including real fruit, oats and nuts. Cliff Bar ingredients are pesticide-free, and the bars do not contain genetically modified or bioengineered components. Clif Bars are compatible with vegan and kosher diets, and some bars are free from common allergens. The original Cliff bars contain between 200 and 300 calories, 4 to 5 grams of dietary fiber and around 10 grams of protein. However, the bars also contain a considerable amount of sugar in the forms of brown rice syrup and cane juice.
Energy bars like those manufactured by the Cliff bar company can be a part of an active lifestyle. Although the bars are unlikely to produce any real energy boost, the carbohydrates found in many of these bars keep your blood sugar from crashing after strenuous exercise. Equally suitable post-workout snacks include fresh fruit, a glass of milk, yogurt or a whole-grain slice of bread with peanut butter.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for regulating truth in advertising, an "energy" food is one that contains calories. While you may think an energy bar like those produced by Clif Bar Inc. will give you an extra boost on a long day, the truth is, they contain as much energy as any other product with the same amount of calories. So are energy bars worth their price tag? The short answer is, energy bars are certainly not a necessary part of your diet, nor will they give you any advantage in your weight-loss or fitness efforts. However, they do provide a healthy alternative to the donuts in the break room at work.
According to nutritionist Elizabeth Applegate from the University of California at Davis, you should strive for well-balanced meals rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats and other unprocessed products. If you have to have a snack on the run, an energy bar is better than a bag of chips or a chocolate bar, but shouldn't become a regular part of your diet.