Energy drinks and energy bars: Should you reach out for these?
Busy lifestyles often deprive us of the time we need to prepare elaborate and healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In such cases, it is easy to reach out for an energy bar to satiate your hunger pangs. However, when you are expecting or lactating, it is important to assess the nutritive value and safety of such energy bars and drinks, before you consume them.
These days, there are different kinds of nutrition bars available in the market, including those that are rich in carbohydrate, protein, energy, and nutrients that claim to help boost brain power. You will also find breakfast bars that can come in handy if your mornings are super busy, meal-replacement bars that are ideal for those who have little time for lunches, and even diet bars that are perfect for those who wish to lose weight. Some nutrition bars are specifically made for women too.
The dilemma for pregnant women
Energy drinks during pregnancy as well as nutrition bars claim to enhance energy and alertness, provide extra nutrition, and boost athletic performance and concentration. However, there are high chances that you will end up with extra doses of sugar and caffeine, if you don’t moderate your consumption.
Leading a fast-paced and busy lifestyle can make pregnant women feel exhausted and they might also end up skipping a meal. Protein bars, nutrition bars, and energy drinks promise to bridge that nutritional gap and offer convenience on the go. This can be especially a boon for pregnant mothers who usually do not have any time for breakfast. But remember, energy bars during pregnancy can never be a replacement for a meal or snacks, and will not be able to meet all your nutritional requirements. All said and done, they are still more nutritious than foods that contain empty calories or excess sodium.
Things you need to know about energy drinks and bars
Sugar and calories: Calorie-rich energy bars and drinks are more suited for athletes who engage in high-intensity activities. But for others, especially for pregnant women, energy bars that are high in calories might contribute to weight gain. Excessively sugary bars can cause tooth decay if you are don’t follow a healthy oral care regime.
Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant which might cause anxiety, upset stomach, headaches, and sleep problems, when consumed in excess. Excessive amounts of caffeine can cause fast or irregular heartbeats and high blood pressure too. Hence, moderation is the key while consuming energy drinks, as they contain varying amounts of caffeine.
Not a meal replacement: An energy bar cannot replace a balanced and nutritious meal, or meet all your nutritional requirements. Even if it contains some vitamins and minerals, you shouldn’t depend on the bars to provide you with the nourishment that is needed for your baby to grow properly. So, it is best to consume these bars along with wholesome homemade meals.
Mysterious ingredients: Some energy drinks and bars might contain ingredients like guarana (a type of caffeine), taurine (an amino acid that enhances caffeine's effect) and herbal supplements like ginseng. So, remember to check the nutrition label and consult your doctor, before you eat or drink any energy supplements.
Cost: Energy bars and drinks are available at different prices nowadays, but might be slightly more expensive than regular foods, like a banana or a glass of milk. So, it is wise to consume them moderately and along with natural, healthy foods like whole grains, veggies, whole fruits, lean meats and eggs. Plain water, homemade milkshakes and coconut water are the best energy drinks for pregnancy.
When you are choosing a bar, keep these points in mind:
- Choose a bar that has less than 5 grams of fat.
- Choose bars that give at least 3 to 5 grams of fibre.
- If you are watching your weight, make sure you choose a low calorie bar.
- If you are looking for the best protein bars during pregnancy, choose a bar that gives about 15 or more grams of protein, fibre, and is fortified with vitamins and minerals. They tend to be larger than the other kinds of bars, as they have complex carbohydrates, fats, and protein.
- Have some fruits or vegetables along with a bar.
- If you are eating more than one bar per day, make sure you are not consuming excess vitamins and minerals. Eating multiple bars along with a multivitamin supplement like zinc might interfere with the absorption of other minerals.
Pregnancy is a delicate phase in a woman’s life. Hence, consulting a doctor and following a balanced, nutritious diet is essential for you as well as the foetus. All in all, it makes sense to consume energy bars and drinks in moderation during this time, and load up on fresh and natural foods. Remember to stay hydrated, be physically active and sleep well too.