Do you LOVE Nakd bars? They are by far one of your favourite health snacks and you find yourself enjoying them quite often. However with all the stuff about sugar recently, do you wonder if Nakd bars are actually good for you?
It’s a very common question I get asked these days as a sugar specialised health coach, so I decided to help you out and lay out all the facts so you can make the most informed choice in line with your own personal situation…
Before I continue, I will say that the lovely Natural Balance Foods sent me a load of these bars to review and this was when I was quite new to blogging. I was in a bit of a quandary because at that point I was what I call quite ‘sugar sensitive’ – I was in a stage of my journey where I needed to be more cautious around some of my former favourite sugar fixes to avoid slipping back to the unhealthy relationship I had with sweet food. Having a whole box of them in my house and not reverting back to old ways was going to be a test…
How bad was I?
‘Natural’ healthy bars used to be my thing. I would try out and hunt the latest ones on the market like my life depended on it because they were the most guilt free way I could satisfy my sweet fix.
At one point, these Nakd bars completely fed my ‘sugar addiction’ on a daily basis (it’s a strong term but you know what I mean). I was eating 1-3 of them a day. I had a ritual of eating them after a meal and in the afternoons and sometimes (also) for breakfast. I was hooked on these because in my head I could label them ‘healthy’, however, I was VERY accustomed to having a decent bit of fructose in my life everyday (read what you need to know about fructose here).
If you feel you’re in a similar place with these, you’re not alone and you should definitely read on….
Are NaKd bars good for you? The for and against…
Firstly, I want to highlight some really great points about these bars. They:
- Are made with 100% natural ingredients i.e. not overly processed
- Contain mainly just fruits and nuts. Not refined sticky rice puffs like other cereal bars
- Are pretty substantial and do definitely fill a hunger gap
- Suffice as a source of some protein which comes from the nuts
- Taste really delicious (I LOVED the cocoa orange one)
However, let’s not beat around the bush, on a sugar front they are not so great, due to the following:
- Most bars are made with dates and raisins. Nearly all of them are made with approximately 50% dates and then another 10-15% raisins on top.
- Dates and raisins are two of the highest and most concentrated forms of sugar (and fructose) around. Some would even compare them to sweets.
- They are big portions. 35g in a packet equals more sugar in one go (I’ve tried and it’s pretty hard to not eat the whole thing)
So how much sugar in Nakd bars?
On average we’re talking 14-15g sugar per bar. This is near enough 4 teaspoons which is quite a lot when you think of it in actual physical teaspoons. The danger of this much sugar is that it’s likely to make you crave sugar again later on and continually build up your preference for sweet food in general.
To put it into perspective, I very roughly aim to eat about 25g of natural sugar a day. So, relatively speaking, one of these Nakd bars is quite a big proportion of that (over half). I found the average cereal bar, for example a Special K, usually was around 7g, so these are over double that. Natural sugars yes, but high in sugar nonetheless.
To help you with the range, here’s a list of the lowest to highest sugar content by flavour:
- Ginger Bread 11g
- Pecan Pie 12g
- Cashew Cookie 14g
- Cocoa Orange 14g
- Cocoa Delight 15g
- Cocoa Mint 15g
- Berry Delight 16g
- Caffe Mocha 17g
- Rhubarb & Custard 18g
To be honest the lower sugar ones are my favourite anyway. You may also find seasonal ones like the Christmas Pud one which is about 17g if I remember (they didn’t send me this one).
So should I eat them?
This really does come down to you and where you’re currently at with sugar. Are you actively trying to reduce your sweet cravings to get more control? Are you trying to just make ‘better’ healthy swaps? Are you just in need of some quick release energy after exercise or running?
1. What to do if you’re trying to get control & reduce cravings
I’d say pull back on eating these for a while. They don’t have to go off your radar forever, but it may be worth you going through more of a detox period. Their high fructose content and addictive deliciousness won’t help with the end goal of getting more control over sweet food (trust me on this one!)
2. What to do if you’re trying to just make ‘better’ healthy swaps
If you’ve decided you’re going to eat something sweet and are about to reach for a chocolate bar, a flapjack or a full on dessert, these are a WAY better substitute. They were a definite ‘bridge’ for me in terms of switching bad foods to ‘better’ foods. However, know there are even lower sugar ‘better’ swaps like a small square of dark chocolate (1-5g) or some full fat greek yoghurt (contains the less addictive lactose sugar). Remember, this is a progressive journey.
3. What to do if you’re intensely exercising
Because dried fruit is a quick releasing source of natural sugar for the body, these can actually be a great post workout fuel. However if you also fall into the first category I mentioned earlier where you’re also trying to get in control, you’re faced with a dilemma. You need to try and refuel where you can with lower fructose options (I know this is hard). I suggest checking out my sugar-free snack guide for ideas and if you’re a runner, you may also find my runners guide to sugar really useful here.
4. Another one… When you’re a bit hungover!
After a little excess, your body is processing the alcohol and as a result isn’t that great at processing other energy you have stored. That’s why you find yourself craving quick sugar (Lucozade anyone?!). A Nakd bar, or similar equivalent can hit the spot in a more natural way, but again just be mindful of the sugar in them and the impact on your cravings. If you can opt for a good hearty eggs based breakfast instead (get some spinach in that fry up!) then you’ll nicely steady your blood sugar without the sugar hit.
I’m hoping this post has been helpful to you wherever you are on your low sugar journey. I do think Nakd bars have a lot of sugar and they certainly aren’t something I’d advise to eat if you’re actively looking to cut down or get a bit more control over things. They are a big NO for those on my Mentor Me Off Sugar programme. These are not something I eat regularly now, but do occasionally enjoy as a natural treat because I know there’s no danger of going back.
However, I appreciate, everyone is different and at varying stages of lowering sugar, so really, it’s your call. Some are mighty tasty and they are a lot ‘better’ than other sweet things. At least now you can save yourself some sugar credits by opting for the lower sugar ginger bread flavour and you’re fully aware of how much sugar you’re putting away when eating one.
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What do you think of Nakd bars? I would really love to hear your thoughts on these….favourite flavour, when you eat them etc.