The other night, after filming a set of workout videos at a friend’s gym, I reviewed the plethora of meal-replacement energy bars at the front counter. Some were made with all-natural ingredients, while others contained numerous chemicals. But all had about 250-300 calories.

Each of these bars is advertised as a way to replace a meal. But as anyone who has ever eaten one knows, they never fill you up. As a result, you are still hungry and end up eating more calories to calm your appetite.

In contrast, for 300 calories, you could have eaten three large apples – a snack that is guaranteed to fill you up for hours.

That’s the meal-replacement bar paradox. They don’t do what they are claimed to do.

In fact, Brazilian researchers compared the ability of apples, pears, and oat cookies (a type of meal-replacement snack) to reduce appetite. 411 women were put into three groups and instructed to eat one of those foods three times per day, as well as three regular meals. After 12 weeks, the subjects eating the pears or apples lost an average of more than 2.5 pounds, significantly more than the oat cookie group (and with no other diet instruction or exercise program). The fruit eaters also significantly lowered blood sugar levels.

So if you are looking for a snack to fill you up between meals, skip the so-called meal-replacement bars. Go with apples or pears.

[Ed. Note: A lot of so-called health advice is just plain bunk. Learn what’s fact and what’s fiction from fitness expert Craig Ballantyne. See for yourself the REAL way to get fit, lean, and healthy right here.

And for recommendations about the best and most healthful foods you can eat, sign up for ETR’s free natural health e-letter.]

Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men’s Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he’ll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com