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Archive for Monday, December 25, 2006

The good, the bad, the gooey

An objective/subjective look at some readily available nutrition bars

December 25, 2006

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Nutrition bars are big business.

Anybody thinking differently needs only walk into any grocery store or convenience store and check out the awesome variety.

Once a niche item available only at health-food stores, nutrition bars - or sports bars or energy bars - now get their own huge displays, and the industry went over the $1 billion mark in 2003.

High-carbohydrate, low-fat bars such as the original PowerBar and Clif bars were developed to provide athletes with carbs on the go.

Now, nutrition bars of all sorts are available.

They're geared toward women, body-builders and people too busy to eat breakfast.

They're supplemented, sweetened and dipped in chocolate.

Some are more candy bar than anything, while others are low-cal, low-fat and all-organic.

And there are so many, choosing the right one can be daunting.

So here's a look at just a randomly selected handful of nutrition bars that are available.

It's a two-part look.

First, Randy Bird - the Kansas University athletic department's sports nutritionist - looked at the bars' nutritional worth and ingredients to assess whether they're good for you.

Then I ate 'em.

All of 'em.

Nutrition bar facts

Or, at least, most of all of 'em. I couldn't choke down a few in their entirety. Some I scarfed without pause.

In the interest of fairness, I picked similar flavors of each kind of bar: some semblance of chocolate and peanut butter. After all, it wouldn't be fair to compare a chocolate-chip bar to a guava-pomegranate bar, now would it?

The lone exception was the Pria Bar I swiped from my wife's stash, just to see how her favorite stacked up.

I also snuck in a Snickers Bar, a granola bar and a banana for sake of comparison.

Overall, Bird said, "I would not recommend any of the 15 items as a meal replacement unless other snacks are included during the day. : These should be consumed for extra energy, not to replace a meal."

Bird's objective analyses appear below, under the "Good for you?" header. My subjective views run under the "Good going down?" header.

Bon appetit.

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