For busy working professionals, snacking provides an ideal opportunity to fuel the day between meals or when the next meal amidst the chaos is a long way off. Too often though, we snack on the wrong thing and lurch from one sugar low to another. Many snacks claim to give us just what we need, but what is clever marketing versus actually a beneficial source of nutrients to support our work performance and well-being? Cereal bars are so varied and often make all sorts of claims which don’t necessarily translate into anything nutritionally meaningful.

Enter my cereal bar recommendations – this has to be one of the most confusing aisles in the supermarket! I’ve chosen some that provide a nutritional edge. It’s a fast paced market though with new brands coming out all the time but with the following criteria you can critique the new arrivals yourselves!

Criteria for picking cereal bars for busy days

Calories – Around or over 200 calories – on the basis that busy working days often result in skipping meals, or long gaps between meals. If Lunch is at 1pm and you know dinner won’t be until 8pm then you are not supposed to surg through the afternoon trying to avoid the biscuit tin and making do with an apple that barely touches the sides. Well balanced snacks can help to make dinner more mindful and healthier as a result.

Carbohydrates – These are essential for energy but it’s important it’s the type of carbohydrate that is released slowly and brings other nutrients with it such as B vitamins, iron or calcium. Cereal bars providing at least 15-25g of total carbohydrates coming mainly from complex carbohydrates, with added sugar much lower down the ingredient list.

Protein – To help regulate the release of carbohydrate within cereal bars protein is important. It also contributes to satiety and is essential for growth and repair of all our cells, especially those brain cells we burn in those long meetings.  I’ve looked for a minimum of 5g of protein per bar.

Fibre – We should be consuming 30g fibre a day so if our snacks can help to support us to meet that target then that’s great. I’ve looked for a minimum of 2g of fibre per bar.

Fat – To keep in line with fat guidance to have no more than 20g saturated fat for women and no more than 30g for men, I’m wanting each bar to contain no more than 5g saturated fat per bar.

Next week we’ll be looking at cereal bars for those with PCOS that have lower amounts of carbohydrate and lower calories in them so look out for that.