The oat bar has become a staple of the modern diet. Easy to find at the grocery store, easy to eat as you’re going on your daily routine, no thought needed other than buying and eating.
All bars are not created equal, however; a mess of different ingredients separate each bar, with some bars being made with dozens of ingredients and others only being made with five or six. This article is an attempt to help you determine the best oat bar to get you through your morning.
#1: Read the ingredients list
The most important step to take when it comes to choosing a good oat bar is to read the label. And by “the label,” we don’t mean the pretty labels designed by enterprising graphic designers, but the decidedly less sexy nutrition label. This is where you will see what separates the good bars from what is basically a sugar cereal in bar form.
The ingredients list tells you what the company who made the oat bar prioritizes. If “high fructose corn syrup” is among the top ingredients, consider staying away, as the company is less concerned about your health and more concerned about getting your money. High fructose corn syrup may not be bad in small doses, but can, like any sugar, result in health issues when overconsumed. And, considering how much high fructose corn syrup is in so many products we consume on a daily basis, it’s not a great idea to consume more when you’re eating breakfast.
If “oats” are your first ingredient, you’re on the right path. Oats contain a wide variety of nutrients and are a perfect base for breakfast. If your bar has more oat than anything else, that means the company likely cares about making a quality product.
#2: Read the nutrition facts
Even less attractive than reading the ingredients, reading the nutritional facts is vital to determining a good oat bar. Since most oat bars are marketed and used as a breakfast replacement, they should have a good ratio of carbs to fat and protein. You would expect that a perfect balance of all three, a 1 to 1 ratio, would be ideal.
That would be wrong.
You need more carbs than anything else when you wake up. Your body has been at rest for several hours, and you haven’t taken in any food of any sort, so your body needs fuel that is easy to access and easy to burn. That’s where carbs come in.
Fats and proteins will also burn, but it takes time for that energy to be accessed by your body, not to mention that your body uses fats and proteins for other processes. So, while a perfect 1 to 1 ratio isn’t ideal, having fat and protein in your bar is still advisable. A protein bar that has a 2 to 1 ratio, with twice the carbs as it has protein, gives you a good balance and will help you to power through the day. More carbs and you risk overdoing it on carbs which will eventually become fat. Fewer carbs, and you may not quite have the right level of energy for the day.
#3: Taste the bar
All of the above doesn’t matter a great deal if the bar tastes like peanut butter-flavored chalk. If a food has a perfect balance of nutrients but tastes like garbage, you’re not going to eat it. So, when you find an ideal bar nutritionally, be sure to get just enough to have for a few days.
Most companies will not sell a bar if it doesn’t have a good flavor, but what they consider good flavor might not be the same thing you consider good flavor. So, sampling different bars until you find the one you like the most is ideal; it’s not what works best for everybody, but it’s what works best for you.
#4: Drink water with it.
This should come as no surprise, but most oat bars are heavy in fiber. So, it’s important to drink water with them, so that your body can process the oats. Plus, if you’re eating as soon as you wake up, you also need to be hydrated. So, drink a glass of water with your oat bar.