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Best Granola Bars for Diabetes

January 7, 2021
Best Granola Bars for Diabetes | Can I Have Granola Bars? - Lark Health

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When you have diabetes, what you eat matters. Every snack you eat affects your blood sugar, and that means that not just any granola bar will do. The best granola bars for diabetes help keep blood sugar in target ranges while supporting better insulin control. 

Best Granola Bar for a Snack

Research published in Nutrition Journal found that consuming regularly scheduled snacks for four weeks was linked to a decrease in fat mass of 0.8 kg (2 lb.). The snacks were moderately low in carbohydrates and high in protein, with 40% of calories from carbohydrates and 30% of calories from protein, and they contained healthy fats.

Every individual with diabetes should ask their doctor about target amounts of carbohydrates. The American Diabetes Association says that a common goal is 15 to 20 grams per snack. A low-sugar granola bar that contains 15 to 20 grams of carbohydrates, at least 10 grams of protein, and no more than 3 grams of saturated fat may be a good goal for a snack. Several varieties of protein granola bars are available on store shelves. Or, you can make homemade granola bars and add protein by mixing in egg whites before baking them.

Best Granola Bar to Lower Blood Sugar

Weight loss and healthy eating are best for lowering blood sugar. A granola bar can further help by being high in dietary fiber. According to research published in PLOS Medicine, individuals who consumed at least 35 grams of fiber each day had glycated hemoglobin (A1C) that was 3.1% lower compared to that of people who had less than 19 grams of fiber daily. 

Granola bars with oats, seeds, and nuts are likely higher in fiber than bars with white rice or chocolate. If you want to try making your own, flax seed, sunflower seeds, and brown rice or whole-wheat flour can add fiber. Mayo Clinic offers this recipe for muesli breakfast bars.

Best Post-Workout Snack

In a study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, those who consumed the most whole grains on average had a 42% lower risk of developing diabetes than those who consumed the fewest daily servings of whole grains. Since they are high in carbohydrates, there is no better time to consume them than after a workout when blood sugar may be low and your tired muscles may need their fuel to be replenished.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) suggests having a snack with a ratio of 3:1 of grams of carbohydrates to grams of protein for replenishing muscles. Eating your snack within 30 minutes of finishing your workout can further increase the benefits, as insulin sensitivity is higher. A granola bar that contains oats and nuts or peanut butter can provide carbohydrates and protein, along with whole grains and healthy fats.

Best Meal Replacement for Weight Loss

Quick and convenient meals can help you stick to your weight loss plan, but these meals also need to be filling and nutritious. Some granola bars are not only calorie-dense, but nutrient-poor and high in added sugars and extra fats. Instead, select a granola or cereal bar without sources of extra sugar and fat, such as chocolate candies or chocolate chips, chocolate coating, and hydrogenated oils.

It is best to have a low-calorie, filling food along with your granola bar. This can help you follow the Plate Method of meal planning, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains can help you eat balanced meals and keep portions in check. Plain yogurt and hard-boiled eggs offer portable and convenient sources of lean protein. A piece of fruit or some baby carrots or other raw vegetables are also ready to eat.

Best Indulgence

Everyone needs a treat, and a granola bar can offer a healthy way to get one. Some granola bars are packed with sugar in the form of white or brown sugar, corn syrup, rice syrup, or honey. They may contain palm oil or hydrogenated oils, especially if they have a chocolate coating. If they have dried fruit, it may be sweetened.

Instead, you can make a satisfying granola bar with a few key ingredients.

  • One or two grains, such as oats, wheat bran, or brown rice.
  • Something to make it "stick" together, such as banana, egg white, or peanut butter.
  • Something to add sweetness, such as mashed ripe bananas, diced apples or pears, sliced strawberries, or applesauce.
  • Flavoring, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, or almond extract.
  • Extra treats, such as sunflower seeds or sliced almonds. You can even spread melted unsweetened dark chocolate over your bars. It has an intense flavor, so a little goes a long way.

The best indulgence is one that has flavors you love but that does not make you feel guilty or unwell. With homemade granola bars, you have complete control over what goes into them and you can make them as delicious as you like.

Whether you make them or buy them, and no matter when you eat them, the best granola bars for diabetes have a few things in common. They contain mostly (or all) whole grains, they are low in added sugar, they have protein and healthy fats, and they come in small portions. The right granola bars for snacking and meals can help with diabetes management, and Lark can help guide you in the rest of your eating and lifestyle choices to lower blood sugar.

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