Can Nutrition Bars Really Be Nutritional?

My patients frequently ask me if using nutrition bars would be of any benefit to their overall health or weight loss plan. I admit, even I grab one of these bars every now and then for a quick snack, or even lunch on a really busy day sometimes. In fact, I would much rather have my patients substitute a good nutrition bar for lunch than grab a high-saturated-fat burger and fries.

These bars are convenient, they don’t require refrigeration, and, if you read labels before buying, they really can help you get some good nutrition in a hurry. Here’s what I tell my patients about the pros and cons of the “nutrition on the run” that these bars offer.

Are All Nutrition Bars Alike?

Seems every time I go to the health food store, there’s a new nutrition bar promising to be better tasting, or more vitamin/protein-packed than all the other bars! However, what tastes good to me may not to you, so, different flavors aside, let me explain what ingredients should be in a good nutrition bar.

Protein:For meal replacement, a good bar should have at least 15 grams of protein, preferably from whey or even casein protein and not soy, gelatin or collagen protein. Many bars, however, contain soy protein isolate, or a blend of whey, casein, and soy. Soy products can interfere with thyroid hormones as well as imbalance male and female hormones, as it adds plant estrogen, or phytoestrogens, to your body.

Fat: Should be fairly low in fat, not more than 3 grams saturated fat and 0 trans fat, 10 grams total fat. Steer clear of bars that contain cholesterol-boosting oils like palm kernel oil. Bars with polyunsaturated vegetable oils like olive, safflower, or coconut oil are best.

Carbohydrate: For meal replacement, there should be a balanced fat/carbohydrate/protein ratio, in a 40/30/30 distribution, i.e., 30% protein, 30% fat, 40% carbohydrate. If you want added protein only, then the carb and fat level can be lower than this distribution. Some bars can contain a whopping amount of sugar, however! Limit sugar to 10-15 grams.

Sugar Alcohols: Many low carb nutrition bars contain sugar alcohols. These help sweeten the bar without adding carbohydrates. When figuring the carbohydrate, or glycemic load, they should be subtracted from the overall carbohydrate content. For example, if the bar contains 25 grams of carbohydrate and also 20 grams of sugar alcohols, then the effective carbohydrate count would only be 5. Some people get digestive upsets from sugar alcohols which can be a drawback to bars that contain it.

Vitamins: A good bar has at least 1/3 of the minimum daily requirements for vitamins, usually in the 30% range for crucial vitamins like C, E, D, A. This is especially important if you are using a nutrition bar as a meal replacement.

Minerals: Many good bars also contain 1/3 the minimum daily requirement of necessary minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc. Again, should be in the 30% range for meal replacement use.

Fiber: Many nutrition bars contain very little fiber, but several brands have between 4-6 grams. Or, at least have a piece of fruit, or a salad, with it to make up for fiber deficiencies.

Calories: If you’re using it as a meal replacement for a quick lunch, your nutrition bar should have between 200-300 calories in it. Otherwise you’ll be at the snack machine in an hour!

Are There Any Cons to Nutrition Bars?

We’ve talked about what I recommend a good bar should contain. Now, are there any real disadvantages, or cons, to using nutrition bars? As I tell my patients, I think that answer depends on how you use them. With that in mind, here are some possible disadvantages to using nutrition bars that you might consider when deciding to use them everyday or just occasionally:

Cost: Most good nutrition bars can cost anywhere from $2 to $3 a piece. This can get expensive if you use them everyday. However, if you use them as a meal replacement for one meal a day, that’s still less than the cheapest burger place for lunch, a lot less fat and salt, controlled calorie amount, and more vitamins and minerals.

Excessive Nutrition: If you’re using a nutrition bar for just a snack here and there, and not as meal replacement, look for one that has less than the 30% minimum daily requirement of vitamins and minerals to avoid over-intake of nutrients. This is especially true if you are taking a good vitamin/mineral supplement already everyday and eating well at your other meals. Too much Vitamin A can pose liver problems. Too much Vitamin E can result in excessive bleeding should you cut yourself.

May Contain Herbals: Steer clear of nutrition bars that contain “energy boosting” herbs such as ephedra, bitter orange, or even caffeine from green or black tea extracts which can affect some people’s heart rate or blood pressure adversely.

Taste: The taste of these bars can vary widely from brand to brand and price range. Some are in the “acquired” taste category and can be rather dry. Then there are others that really taste great. You really have to shop around and try a lot of different ones to find one you like and could eat on a regular basis.

If you take medications, it’s always a good idea to ask your doctor about adding anything with vitamins/minerals in it that may interfere with absorption of your medications. Nutrition bars should not take the place of a balanced diet of whole foods, but they can provide a satisfying solution to a chocolaty-sweets craving, or provide a quick and nutritional meal on the run!

Real Estate Marketing For Beginners

Real Estate Marketing has become a hot topic. A website with good search engine visibility can capitalize on all the buyers and sellers who use the Internet these days. Every time you turn around, new statistics and surveys are being released about the Internet usage of consumers. These all point to one thing – that majority of buyers and sellers use the Internet for real estate research, so it’s critical for agents to be visible online. The sooner you start optimizing a website, the better.Marketing for Real Estate is a field that is truly complex. There’s so much to learn and so little time to do it. The biggest issue with real estate agents is the high turnover rate, up to 80% by some estimates. Consequently, there’s pressure for agents to get enough buyers and sellers to sustain a living and stay in the business while others wash out.It is important to have good Real Estate Internet Marketing today. After all, people are too busy these days to remember an agent based on a postcard they received or an ad they saw in the paper. To gain an edge in Real Estate Marketing, real estate agents should define their domains by clearly identifying exactly what their market is. Their marketing forte could be upscale homes, country estates, move up single family homes, etc.If you’re new to the world of Real Estate Marketing, start with the basics. It is important to first determine your goals. This will make the entire process easier. But make sure your goals aren’t too vague, and achievable as well as easy to comprehend. To gain any direction from this step, you have to get specific.Next comes the marketing plan. Make sure your marketing plan is constantly evolving, so don’t worry if it’s not perfect from the start. In fact, it’s a good idea to revisit, analyze and revise your marketing plan once a month or so. New ideas, opportunities and challenges will arise, so your marketing plan should be flexible.Consider your primary business objective, and then ask yourself, “How does my Real Estate Internet Marketing program support this objective?” If you can’t answer the question, it’s time for you to put in some effort. If you have a rough idea, you need to refine it. Without a primary business and marketing objective, you’re shooting arrows at random targets. Your chances of success will improve if you shoot arrows at the same target.Using simple tools like HTML to build your website is a great way to rank high among search engine results. Also, putting appropriate, informative content along with the right mix of keywords goes a long way in generating traffic for your Real Estate website. Keep in mind, a Real Estate Marketing strategy that works well for somebody else may not work as well for you. There is a constant evolution in the search engines and the criteria they rank the web-pages on. To become prominent to the search engines, therefore, you need to keep your website up-to-date with the current SEO trends.On a concluding note, a web presence is a combination of online entities, each one reinforcing and supporting the next. When you combine the precise Real Estate Marketing tools, you can steadily increase the number of ways people find you. Specialists like Z57 will be able to guide you to choose the right mix of these marketing tools, enabling your website to stand successful in Marketing for Real Estate.

Deep in the ART of Texas: Economic Impact Study Shows Significant Impact of the Arts in Texas

The results of a 2003 economic impact study out of Austin confirms the suspicions of many Texas cultural art lovers, demonstrating that the cultural arts have a Texas-sized impact on our economy. The purpose of the study, produced by leading Texas economist Dr. Ray Perryman, was to comprehensively examine the economic impact of the arts on Texas. The study concludes that the arts have an extraordinary impact on the Texas economy ranging from billions of dollars in total expenditures, gross product and personal income, to almost two million permanent jobs.The study raised awareness of the total contributions of cultural activities within the state and offers a perspective on future patterns and prospects. The report focuses on the full integration of the arts into the entire spectrum of production in the state.Key findings of the study include:1. The Arts as a Component of the Entire Economic SystemWhen viewed in terms of their contributions to all sectors of the economy, the cultural arts account for $190.2 billion in total expenditures (12.3% of the state total). The cultural arts also result in $98.4 billion in Gross Product, $61.7 billion in Personal Income and 1.918 million Permanent Jobs (15.7%).2. THE ARTS AS TRADITIONALLY MEASURED (Visual, Literary, Media and Performing)The overall effects of the contribution of the arts as traditionally measured (visual, literary, media, and performing) include $63.7 billion in Total Expenditures, $31.5 billion in Gross Product, $18.7 billion in Personal Income, and over 600,000 Permanent Jobs.As traditionally measured, the cultural arts are responsible for about 19.8% of the total tourism in the state.3. THE NONPROFIT SEGMENT OF THE ARTSThe nonprofit segment of the arts brings a net benefit to Texas of $19.0 Billion in Total Expenditures, $9.5 billion in Gross Product, $5.9 billion in Personal Income, and over 200,000 Permanent Jobs.The nonprofit arts sector is the incubator for the vast role of cultural activity in the economy. For every $1 spent on those activities, more than $298 of long-term cultural impact on the economy occurs, as well as $9.20 in State revenues.4. RURAL IMPACTApproximately 5.5% of the economic impact of traditional cultural arts occurs in rural segments of the state.Rural regions of Texas enjoy 6.6% of all nonprofit arts activity.STAND UP AND TAKE NOTICE, Y’ALL!Governmental investments in arts and cultural organizations are no longer about intangibles. Arts and cultural organizations in Texas make very real and significant contributions to the local economy and are worthy of community support and advertising dollars. These contributions are significant and sustained. Even in the face of economic slowdown, arts and cultural organizations continue to impact the Texas economy substantially, in addition to the enjoyment and fulfillment they provide to our citizens and visitors each year.One look at the numbers will surely cause any Texas advertiser to stand up and take notice of the potential when linking up with artistic and cultural endeavors as part of this year’s promotional campaign. They need your support and you need their audiences.In 2003, arts and cultural organizations in Texas generated over $55 million in economic activity and impact from construction and capital expenditure activity to new and existing facilities. These same organizations generated about $320 million in economic activity from indirect audience spending associated with attendance at arts events during that same year. Nearby, the total economic impact of the arts in Fort Worth in 2003 was about $250 million; in Dallas, over $500 million. Other metroplex communities generated about $23 million.Do the math: that’s nearly $800 million! The Governor’s office has noticed. Have you?ARTSY COMMUNITIES MEAN BUSINESSBear in mind, when we talk about “the cultural arts,” we’re including everything from Art Museums to Texas Music and Dance. We’re talking about the ethnic culture here from Polish to German, Mexican to Italian. From Texas Indians to the history of our great educational institutions, people want to know so they can go! They want to visit and they want to learn. It’s ALL of interest to SOMEBODY and people are spending good money in Texas to be part of what the Lone Star State has to offer.The legacy of every civilization is, in large part, found in the art they leave behind. No wonder that, when the one hundred most influential people of the past were named, over one quarter of those named represented the cultural arts. In addition to the arts being so important to our social structure, they are, as shown, an important part of our economy and are worthy of our attention. They are, in fact, completely, immovably, forever engrained into our economic system.Blu Dornan, a local artist from Stephenville, said, “I have been received very well since I started promoting my art [in Stephenville] a year ago… Art within the community reflects the local environment. It gives us pride as a society and lets visitors know who we are as a community and what we are about. Remember, an artist’s greatest fear is that his or her work will never be seen and the vision never realized.”SPEAKING OF STEPHENVILLE…As a Civil War and Alamo buff who has done his share of painting, writing, sketching and illustrating on a professional level, this writer would love nothing more than to see my home town of Stephenville, Texas – the Cowboy Capital of the World – become the State’s next hotbed of artistic and cultural activity as well. We have so much to offer and so many people would benefit by visiting here. Fact is, folks are coming here in droves and tourism numbers are way up for each of the past three years. Among other things, they’re visiting our local museums and historic points of interest including the Cowboy Capital Walk of Fame, Heritage Square, the Dublin Dr Pepper Museum, and the Stephenville Historical House Museum. Tarleton University has much to offer including their Planetarium, the Dora Lee Langdon Cultural and Educational Center in Granbury, and the W.K. Gordon Center for Industrial History of Texas.Currently, thanks to the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council (CTFAC), there’s a surprising amount of cultural arts activity in our community. Last August, we thrilled to the Glenn Miller Band outdoors and the Fort Worth Symphony makes a stop in town every other year. We are always looking forward to more of the same. The Stephenville Chamber’s Hispanic Business Council, entering its second year, has already taken steps toward tapping into the talents and cultural expertise associated with the area’s Hispanic population. And we’ll be seeing more from them as well.Where fine arts are concerned, we have art galleries the likes of Brian Drake Studios, the Thompson Fine Arts Gallery, Brooks Art Gallery, Tarleton’s Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center and Gallery and, of course, the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Center’s River North Gallery.Debbie Reynolds, Director of the CTFAC, says, “The gallery provides a place for artists to exhibit their work without a fee, where they can offer their art for sale and is open free to the public…” Mrs. Reynolds reminds us, “Not only do the arts have an economic impact, but they also improve the quality of life. Not just through entertainment, but education as well. Statistics show that students who participate in any form of the arts: band, theater, visual art, choir, dance, etc. are higher academic achievers. They score higher on tests, develop leadership and cognitive thinking skills, time management, self discipline, creativity and problem solving skills.” She added, “In September 2004 the State Board of Education adopted new curriculum requirements for grades K-5 regarding increased arts education in Texas schools. These new initiatives will start with the 2005-06 school year….we are exposed to art forms every day all day long, whether it is through the music we listen to, through magazines, movies, TV, billboards, architecture, auto design, textiles, clothing design, home decorating, floral design and the like.”Dan Delgado, President of the Stephenville Visual Arts Booster club says, “…the Arts are a basic component of a healthy, well-rounded person…The Arts cause us to stop, remember life and relive….they capture the wonder of life and pass it on in a manner that allows others to enjoy it, even if it’s through a vivid imagination, or a dream. The mind is a wonderful tool and enjoying the Fine Arts is the perfect way to put it to use…there is no right or wrong way to appreciate the Arts. There’s only your way!”To the local business person, looking for the right place to spend your ad dollar, in this writer’s professional marketing opinion, we need to sponsor all cultural arts events and activities as if there were no tomorrow.So, put your money where your ART is. You’ll be glad you did.