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Cancer Nutrition Network for Texans

Meal Substitutes Bar None


Nutrition - An Important Ingredient in Cancer Care and Prevention

Many cancer survivors will tell you that going through therapy is as daunting a challenge as becoming a world-class athlete.  Good nutrition is important always but especially for people during cancer therapy.  Add the need for odorless and palatable meals and the “on-the-run” style of modern life and the need for affordable meal replacements becomes “just one more” difficult decision.

Here’s some information that just may help you make a wise choice among the dozens of pocket-sized bars now on the market.  Every person living with cancer is looking for the same nutritional boost that were once only the staple of serious athletes looking for a competitive edge.

So what do the experts of the CNNT recommend that you consider when deciding…

Things to Consider

The nutrition experts of the Cancer Nutrition Network encourage diets based on adequate amounts of whole foods. Nutrition bars should be used as occasional substitutes when other options are not practical. Remember that the idea is “energy support” can come in the form of a banana or a sports bar or even a supplement drink. YogurtFruit
The chief drawback with the supplements or bars is that they are often more expensive per serving than whole food choices. Some of the bars are very high in sugars and others are high is fat. Research shows that some bars produce more sustained energy support than others. The bars that provide the longer lasting effects are those that balance carbohydrates (~40%), protein (~30%), and sugars (~30).. Snacks of yogurt or fruit are preferable, usually less expensive per serving, but not as convenient as 'sports' bars.

Tips for Choosing a Meal Substitute

Choosing a nutritious meal replacement can be difficult when you are in the midst of cancer therapy. Here are a few tips that should help simplify the task. This will entail reading the nutrition labels and ingredients located on the wrapper.

  • Pick a bar that is well balanced with about equal portions of carbohydrates, protein and sugars. A good rule is to pick bars that supply at least 15 grams of protein.
  • Pick a bar that supplies from 3 to 5 grams of fiber.
  • Pick a bar that is fortified but does not over supply (~35%) the Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamins and Minerals.
  • Pick a bar that supplies no more than 150 calories per serving. Remember a serving is a portion size usually measured in ounces.

Remember that a whole food diet is best and that bars are a substitute should be used when circumstances preclude having a meal. Bars are convenient but that should not allow them to become a staple in the diet. For more information on nutrition bars visit some of the links below.

Recent study of bars done by Consumer Labs

American Dietetics Association - a great source of information

Food Pyramid - the recommended diet of the US Department of Agriculture

American Institute for Cancer Research - another great source of information