Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP has counseled thousands of his patients on healthy, sustainable weight loss. Now he's compiled his best tips and recipes into a six-week plan for you to learn how to eat great food that just happens to be great for you - and if losing weight is your goal, you can do that, too.
Get the prescription for better health as well as healthy weight loss, including:
I am a fan of breakfast - there’s no doubt that it is the most important meal of the day. I have patients almost every day who have trouble with their weight and tell me that they don’t eat breakfast. Research has shown time and again that having a meal early in the day is key to eating healthy.
There are, however, days that you might be just too rushed and breakfast bars have become very popular. While I am not a fan of these as a meal replacement, there are a lot of folks eating these in their cars or on the run and we wanted to take a look at which ones might be better choices.
The first criteria was to look for bars with more fiber. It was amazing how many breakfast bars had so little fiber – many with less than 1 gram per serving.
Two bars came out on top. The Fiber One Chewy Bars Oats and Peanut Butter was very good. There’s an amazing 9 grams of fiber in this 150 calorie bar. They are low sodium, low in fat and have only 9 grams of sugar. They are, however, sweet and have a good chewy texture that has an underlying crispiness sort of like Rice Krispies.
Second place goes to the Zone Perfect Fudge Graham bar. Higher in calories (210) and lower in fiber (3 grams), these are the tastiest of all the bars. That said, they are more like a complete meal in that they have protein that the other bars don’t have (14 grams). We know that a combination of carbs, protein and fats is the key to good balance in meals, so these make a fair replacement for a healthy breakfast. This combined with a good chocolate fudge flavor, chewy texture and the graham crackers makes for a good bar.
The South Beach Living Cinnamon Raisin High Protein Cereal Bars are pretty good and similar in make up to the Zone bars. They have 10 grams of protein and 140 calories. There’s only 3 grams of fiber though. They’re super sweet (they taste a lot like a cinnamon roll) but they have a nice chewy texture.
Quaker’s Simple Harvest Multigrain Chewy Granola Bar is similar to the South Beach. They have a strong and tasty molasses flavor that is wrapped around a lot of good whole grains - barley, rolled oats and whole grain wheat. Still, there’s only 3 grams of fiber.
The only truly crunchy (as opposed to mainly chewy) bar left on the market has really good flavor. It is also the one with the fewest ingredients (and almost all of them are recognizable). Unfortunately, there are only 2 grams of fiber in the Nature Valley Oats ‘n Honey Crunchy Granola Bars. They have a great honey flavor that holds together what even looks like rolled oats (looking at most of the other bars you’re not really sure what all of that stuff is).
There’s nothing really good to be said for the Nutri-Grain Fruit and Nut Bars. They are tiny and have an odd meat-like flavor to them. Granted, there’s a lot of fruit and nuts and the main ingredient is whole grain oats, but they simply taste funny.
This is surpassed in yuckiness only by the Quaker Breakfast Cookies. Both the Oatmeal Raisin and the Oatmeal Apple Cinnamon were tasted and it was hard to tell the difference. I was excited because of the 5 grams of fiber, but these both taste just like a soggy oatmeal cookie. Not a good, fresh, chewy oatmeal cookie but a mushy old tired one.