The Truth About Food Bars and Energy Drinks

Nutrition bars and energy drinks have been popular among the health conscious and people on the go. Some claim they can increase your alertness and energy levels, while others say they offer extra nutrition. Others still claim that they can boost powers of concentration or your athletic performance.

All hype. Once you look past the gaudy packaging and cut through the hard sell on nutrition bars and energy drinks, chances are what you are largely getting is a dose of caffeine and sugar. So should you fall for them? Here are some things you should know before munching or drinking these products:

They contain extra calories and sugar

Many nutrition bars and energy drinks contain hundreds of calories. No problem if you are an athlete since you need to lots of calories to burn in high-intensity activities, such as competitive swimming and running. However, the excessive calories and sugar only contribute to weight gain if you are not into such activities.

Nutrition bars are not good meal replacements

We do not see someone consume a nutrition bar for lunch and then lie down with a very satisfied grin. Energy bars are not good meal replacements. You need real meals to have that nutritional satisfaction and well-fed feeling. While many energy bars contain some extra minerals and vitamins, they cannot give you all the nutrients you need to grow and develop and do your daily activities.

Many energy drinks are stuffed with caffeine

Caffeine, when taken in moderation, can give you health benefits. However, too much caffeine causes side effects such as sleeping problems, headaches, upset stomach, and jitteriness. Consuming too much energy drinks will only drag you down.

Energy bars and drinks may contain unsafe ingredients

Nutrition bars and energy drinks can have mysterious ingredients whose effectiveness or safety has not been tested. Examples of these ingredients are taurine (an amino acid believed to enhance the effect of caffeine) and guarana (a caffeine source). Some have herbal supplements (like ginseng) not regulated by the FDA. So you must be very careful. Play it safe. Check the labels before consuming energy supplements.

Back to the question: Should you fall for nutrition bars and energy drinks? You can have them as long as you moderate your consumption. The occasional protein bar and energy drink in the morning are okay. But people who are having four or five nutrition bars and energy drinks each day are definitely overdoing it.