Yoga Bar - A Healthy way to answer your Hunger Call

With the fitness market booming and new brands popping up with an array of products,
Yoga Bar stands true to its ideals and does not compromise on giving a “Healthy Snack” to the consumers.

Yoga Bars are packed with super foods and wholesome ingredients like amaranth, flaxseeds, chia, almonds, oats, dates and cocoa. The bars also contain no preservatives, no artificial flavors, no processed sugars, no high fructose corn syrup.

Conceived through initial trials in a home kitchen, the bars have retained the same goodness of homemade, all-natural, honest to goodness nutrition snack. Well-chosen balanced ingredients gives the bars an ideal nutrition profile for a snack bar: 150 -170 calories, source of dietary fiber, 3- 4g of protein, healthy fats and complex carbs. These bars work really well as a snack during a long day without the guilt of "bad snacking" or for getting enough nutrition and energy while training.

The two co-founders of Yoga Bars Ms. Suhasini Sampath and Ms. Anindita Sampath spoke in length to Suman Prasad about their brand, myths attached to snack bars, unhealthy & healthy snacking, their future plans and other interesting details.


Here are the excerpts from the interview:

Q. Few years back there wasn’t much push about snack bars and today everyone is talking about this. Why do you think about this sudden push? Is it just a marketing gimmick or it has some serious benefits?

Demography in our cities is changing - Most households, especially in cities have both the husband and wife working. While this increases disposable income, its also leading more consumption outside the house. While hotels and restaurants are one option, people are also increasingly looking at healthy, convenient, affordable eating options.

Along with that people are more educated and have become more aware of their options. Increasingly people do not want to compromise when it comes to their health. The attitude of "Enjoy now, fix your health later with medicines and surgery" is changing.  This is creating a very positive buzz around healthy snacking options like Snack Bars. Depending on the bar choose, snack bars can be very beneficial to your diet.

Q. Why have you named it as ‘Yoga Bar’? Any significance to Yoga or is it just a name?

For us, Yoga is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. Yoga teaches us that with awareness and focus, we can be better tomorrow than we are today. Yogabars was named as such as it was our journey to make food more honest, simplifying food labels and staying focused to continuously innovate.


Q. How much business potential do you see in this market?
 
It is a growing segment. People are asking the right questions and are getting more and more educated about what they eat. That's a very good sign for the overall growth and potential of the market.

Q. What are few myths attached to snack bars? Would you like to clear them?

The first myth is 'All snack bars are healthy'. They are not. People should be aware of what they are eating and the actual benefits derived. How should you choose a snack bar? The answer is take time and read the ingredient list.

One rule to use while checking labels, is to see the order in which ingredients are listed. Manufacturers are mandated to declare the ingredient list in the descending order of its weight percentage. If maida, sugar/sugar substitutes are mentioned as first of ingredients then the product is not a good option for healthy eating.

Additionally, many top selling brands use synthetically manufactured sugar substitutes. These are just as bad if not worse than refined sugars. Sugar substitutes to be avoided - glucose syrup, high fructose corn syrup, icing sugar, sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, maltitol, erythritol. Consumers should also evaluate the overall content and percentage of sugars declared in the product label.

Another myth is that 'snack bars cannot be tasty or affordable'. While the taste is not for everyone, Yogabars are both a tasty and affordable snack.

Q. How  low calorie snack bars can replace the usual maida and rich in sugar tea time biscuits and unhealthy snacks?

Snack bars are definitely low calorie when compared to the usual samosas etc that are eaten at tea time. The focus is however not purely on low calories but on calories which deliver maximum nutrition. Maida is the most refined form of wheat flour stripped of all the essential nutrients - basically starch powder with a high glycemic index (GI). Refined sugar, also a high GI food is purified sucrose devoid of minerals associated with cane sugar.

A good option now available in the market are snack bars. Generally made with low glycemic foods they are rich in dietary fibre and minerals. While selecting these snacks, a good rule of thumb is to select snacks where the ingredients is something that you can immediately understand. Select  snacks that comprise all natural ingredients - whole grains, millets, nuts and seeds, dried fruit. These foods tend to rely on the  inherent sweetness and are rich in dietary fiber. Natural minimally processed foods also contribute maximum nutritional benefits with minimum calories and grammage.

Q. Can you comment on Unhealthy Snacking Vs Healthy Snacking?
The focus when we are snacking is almost completely on flavour and taste. A lot of this is because of dishonest marketing and what we see as unethical practices by large companies. We have got so used to high fat high sugar snacks, that we have forgotten what natural tastes like. A lot of the ingredients used actually makes us crave foods that are unhealthy for us.

You can see this with beverage makers, biscuit manufacturers, even your neighborhood restaurants that use maida and soda in their preparations. Unhealthy snacking is basically eating foods with very low nutritive value and have a negative impact on your overall health.

Healthy snacking gives your body the nutrition that it needs while giving you a sense of fulfillment.

Q. How Yoga Bars can help entrepreneurs in their busy schedule?

People who are working always feel pressured for time and are stressed out. This is especially the case with entrepreneurs. We do not have time to cook for ourselves and tend to eat food based on what's conveniently available. Stress is another big factor. Additionally one of the worst times to snack badly is late at night. Keep a couple of bars with you so that they are accessible when you feel hungry and want to grab a bite.  And this could be at any time of the day, when you are at a meeting and don't have time to grab lunch, if you miss your breakfast in the morning or if your working late at night or stuck in traffic around dinner time.

Q. How do you incorporate Yoga in business - values, product, and relationships?
Principles of Yoga help us in making sure we stay committed to the values that we have set for ourselves as a company. Setting up a new venture is difficult and especially as a smaller company there are a number of conflict situations that we face. A lot of times we make mistakes as well - what helps us then, is we step back and ask ourselves what is the Yoga thing to do.

Another area that it influences us a lot is how we grow. Growth has to be organic - you go to the next level only after you have confidence at your current capabilities.It influences the kind of products we develop - staying true to our core promise of natural food, using no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives. We will only develop and release products that we are convinced have good nutritive value. Relationships , especially our employees and people we work with on a day to day basis are very important to us.

When we started, a lot of people put their trust and good faith in us and it is one of the reasons we have been able to make it this far. Its something we are grateful for and don't take lightly at all.

Q. What are the different varieties of Yoga bars available in the market? Do you plan to launch any other varieties?

We are currently available in six different varieties for our snack bars - chocolate brownie, vanilla almond, nuts and seeds, cashew orange, coffee zing and peanut butter. We are always experimenting with flavors and whenever we hit a winning combination, we introduce as a new flavor.
We are in the process of launching a couple of further sub lines as well

Q. What are your future plans?  
 
For us Yogabars is a stepping stone to grow and introduce other snacks that are just as healthful, convenient, tasty and affordable as Yogabars.


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