The other night after filming a set of workout videos at a friend's gym, I reviewed the plethora of meal replacement energy bars at the front counter and thought, "What a scam".
Some were made with all natural ingredients, while others contained numerous chemicals, but all contained about 250-300 calories.
As I reviewed the labels, I told my videographer about the energy bar paradox (aka scam).
Each of these bars, I said, was advertised to replace a meal. But as anyone who has ever eaten one knows, these bars never fill you up. As a result, you are still hungry and end up eating more calories to calm your appetite.
In contrast, for 300 calories, you could have eaten 3 large apples, and that is guaranteed to fill you up for hours. So that's the energy bar paradox. They don't do what they are claimed to do.
In fact, Brazilian researchers compared apples, pears, and oat cookies (a type of meal replacement snack) in their ability to reduce appetite. Four hundred and eleven women were put into three groups and instructed to eat one of the foods three times per day plus three regular meals.
(Reference: Weight Loss Associated With a Daily Intake of 3 Apples or 3 Pears Among Overweight Women. Appetite. Volume 51, Issue 2, September 2008, Pages 291-295)
After 12 weeks, the subjects eating the pears or apples lost over 2.5 pounds, significantly more than the oat cookie group (and with no other diet instruction or exercise program). The fruit eaters also significantly lowered blood sugar levels.
So if you are looking for a snack to fill you up between meals, go with apples or pears. Apples are more portable than pears, and can be taken on airplanes with you as well. Skip the so-called energy bars.
Helping you cut through the fat loss clutter to get more results in less time,
Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
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