Looking For The Best Protein Bars
Theres no question that protein is an essential part of a healthy diet: Research suggests that protein keeps you feeling full, helps muscle recovery after a workout, can contribute to weight loss, and may even lower blood pressure. A recent study published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, found that replacing the calories in refined carbs with a daily 40-gram supplement of milk or soy protein lowered blood pressure modestly. All these benefits help explain why protein bars have become a diet staple in the United States.
Protein bars are a type of nutritional supplement that comes in a variety of brands and flavors chocolate, dark chocolate, almond, vanilla, peanut butter and chocolate, oatmeal, and more. Many protein bars have a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, making them a nice choice for a snack or postworkout recovery boost. Some protein bars are higher in sugar while others use sugar alcohols.
Similarly, Ericka Stachura, RD, of Boston, recommends dieters watch the sugar, protein, and fiber in protein bars. For a snack, look for protein bars with 200 calories or less, she says. For an on-the-go meal replacement, look for bars that have 200 calories or more. Serious athletes who want a postworkout recovery protein bar should look for bars with about 20 grams of protein. Its also a good idea to look for a short ingredients list to ensure your bar is minimally processed.
Myoplex Deluxe Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter
Worst: Chocolate and peanut butter may be one of the all-time greatest flavor combinations, but they’re far from their best selves in this high-calorie protein bar. Packing 340 calories and a list of ingredients that includes obesogens like high fructose corn syrup, milk protein, sugar, and soybean oil, all the vitamins and minerals crammed into this bar still don’t make it worth your while.
The Truth About Protein Bars: Pros And Cons
In more recent years, protein bars have been given a bad rap and for good reason: some bars are pure garbage and certainly fit the mold of a glorified candy bar.
BUT ,there is a time and place for protein bars if you know what to look for.
Personally, Im a HUGE fan of protein bars I often keep one in my purse in the case I dont pack enough food for work, Im running low on energy, I have extra macros to fit in, or Im going on a road trip/vacation. Theyre one of my go-tos for convenience, and theyre likely one of the first things youll see me grab in a gas station .
When going for a protein bar, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
Don’t Miss: Special K Protein Bars Healthy
What Are The Best Snack Bars For Diabetes
Here are some great alternatives to healthy diabetic snacks: Crackers – Choose whole grains for energy and stable blood sugar. Fruits: Fruits such as peeled apples, apricots, blueberries and grapefruits are a good snack for diabetics. Meat: Meat contains protein and contains almost no carbohydrates.
Protein Bars Could Trade Sugar For Artificial Sweeteners
The debate about artificial sweeteners has had as much back and forth as a tennis match at Wimbledon. Some research studies have claimed that artificial sweeteners cause cancer, while others have said that those experiments were flawed and other studies have claimed to disprove any connection between artificial sweeteners and cancer. The FDA has approved six different high-intensity sweeteners as safe for consumption. Some protein bar manufacturers have turned to these as a way to lower or eliminate their added sugars and decrease calories in their products. But there are other concerns with artificial sweeteners than their much-debated link to cancer: their effect on your taste buds.
Artificial sweeteners are also called high-intensity sweeteners because of the exaggerated sweet flavor even a small amount of them gives food. As people get used to the sweeter taste, they lose sensitivity to less sweet flavors, such as fruits, and may lead people to craving more sugary foods. Instead of helping people ween off of sugar and eat a healthier diet, artificial sweeteners may actually make it harder for people to eat fewer sweets and choose healthy foods.
Don’t Miss: Fat And Protein Efficient Metabolism Diet
What Are The Best Bars For Weight Loss
If you’re eating a protein bar to lose weight, protein bars that weigh no more than 20 grams are best for you. If you are recovering from a workout, protein bars with 20-30 grams of carbohydrates are best.
Low sodium lunch ideasWhat are some healthy lunch ideas? A deli sandwich is a good idea for a healthy lunch. Healthy eating ideas can include bananas. A bowl of yogurt. Lean chicken can be used to make a low-calorie chicken soup. In addition to salads, some large supermarkets also sell healthy snacks. Cottage cheese and hard-boiled eggs are healthy alternatives for lunch.What foods are low in sodium/list?Low sodium. Unprocessed fresh foods, such a
Protein Bars Can Be Saturated Fat Bombs
Trans fats were made illegal in the United States in 2015, with a grace period until 2018 to give companies a chance to transition to different ingredients. Since then saturated fats have become the new villain of the fat world. Saturated fat raises LDL , the bad boy of cholesterol that has long been blamed for clogged arteries, heart disease, and heart attacks. The FDA recommends an adult eating a 2,000 calorie diet only consume 10 percent or less of those calories from saturated fats. The American Heart Association recommends only eating about 13 grams of saturated fat a day.
Many protein bars are heavy in saturated fats, offering half or more of that daily recommended amount. Power Crunch Protein Energy Bars have 7 grams of saturated fats. Quest protein cookies have 10 grams, nearly a full daily allowance in one snack. These high levels of saturated fats take many protein bars further away from their use as a healthy food.
Recommended Reading: Protein In Urine Treatment Options
What Are The Side Effects Of Protein Bars
Many protein bars also contain high amounts of added sugar and use unhealthy sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup, which adds excess fructose to your diet and can increase your risk of fatty liver, obesity, and diabetes when consumed in high amounts .
Benefits Of Protein Bars
Protein is the essential macronutrient that helps to grow, shape, repair and maintain every single cell in your body.
Protein bars can aid in protein-synthesis and help your muscles in the recovery process. Milk derived bars with casein and whey, contain all nine essential amino acids necessary to build new proteins in your body. And for vegan diets, soy based proteins are also considered complete.
Trifecta Tip: Look for bars with at least 20g of protein.
A study in 2009 mentioned in order to activate protein-synthesis the optimal amount of protein for stimulation is 20g. This will allow your muscles to adapt to the intense strength training your doing and keep muscles lean without losing any of it. Anything more than 20g can be digested but does not lead to more lean muscle preservation or protein synthesis stimulation.
To learn more about the essentials of protein and exactly how much is ideal to consume for you, click HERE.
You May Like: What Is Considered A High Protein Breakfast
Good But Not The Best Contain Agave
The following bars are good in that they meet ALMOST all of the criteria of the best bars, but contain agave sugar. Agave, a form of fructose sugar, can increase the risk for weight gain, especially belly fat, and may increase insulin resistance for both diabetics and non-diabetics when eaten in higher amounts. So, if you must eat these bars, eat in moderation and on occasion.
Ingredients: Organic Cashews, Organic Sunflower Seed Kernels, *Organic Agave Nectar, Organic Dates, Organic Coconut, Organic Cocoa processed with Alkali, Organic Almonds, Organic Sprouted Flax Seed
Protein Bars Could Tip The Scale In The Wrong Direction
Many people reach for protein bars as a way to help them lose weight, using them to replace a meal or as a healthy snack. The trouble is that protein bars aren’t actually a diet food, but made to give people energy to burn before or after a workout. If you’re eating them at your desk at work or on your sofa while watching TV, you may be in danger of putting on weight instead of taking it off.
Protein bars are often infused with vitamins and minerals, which make them seem like a good meal replacement, except that to make those vitamins and minerals taste good in bar form, they’re packed with fat or sugar. While you may be getting some of the same nutrients you would when eating a lean chicken breast and some carrots, you’d also have to cover that plate with chocolate sauce and butter to make it comparable. Experts agree that people, especially teenagers, will be better off eating a healthy meal than replacing it with a protein bar.
Those fats, sugars, and high calories will be burned if you consume them close to when you exercise. But if you don’t workout, your body stores those things as fat to use later. So if your goal is to lose weight, adding protein bars without adding exercise could make your scale change in the wrong direction.
Also Check: Can Lack Of Protein Cause Headaches
Protein Bars Need To Have The Right Vitamin Content
With the popularity of protein bars and the plethora of choices on the market today, it is important to read food labels and look at ingredients to compare products, according to Allison Curtis, MS, RDN, the director of Integrative Nutrition at the STRATA Integrated Wellness and Spa at Garden of the Gods Resort and Club.
If you’re not sure what to look for, don’t sweat it. Curtis says to focus your attention on protein, fiber, iron, sugar, and calcium, as well as vitamin A and C. Then, answer these questions:
- Does it provide at least 10% of the daily values for these nutrients?
- Does it have less than two grams of saturated fat and under 15 grams of sugar?
- When looking at the ingredients list, do you see whole foods or highly processed ingredients?
If you’re not sure what to grab, check out our list of 15 Best Healthy & Low-Sugar Protein Bars in 2020, According to Dietitians.
Protein Shakes Are Not For Rest Days
Fact: Protein shakes can be beneficial even on rest days.
Because our muscles can take up to 24 hours to recover from a workout, using a protein shake on a rest day can still help boost recovery. Even if youre not trying to recover, the benefits of protein for satiety and overall health make protein shakes useful even when you arent working out.
Try our 15 high protein shake recipes if youre stuck for inspiration.
Recommended Reading: Do You Subtract Protein From Carbs On Keto
How To Make A Healthy Protein Bar
Ive got a few recipes on the blog for protein bars and bites that will give you a boost of nutrition and energy. To make a bar nourishing, stick with natural ingredients, as you see in the recipes below.
My Easy 7 Layer Paleo Bars are a great recipe to make at home. One bar has 5.9 grams of protein and 329 calories. This bar will give you energy without a lot of sugar because they are sweetened with pure maple syrup!
Another one of my favorite recipes is No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls. With few calories and super nutrient-dense ingredients like dates and chia seeds, these energy balls are winners when it comes to a quick pick-me-up snack.
Speaking of bites, you gotta love dark chocolate! Give these a try: Dark Chocolate Cherry Energy Bites and Dark Chocolate Coconut Covered Bites. Cherries and dates give you fiber, and the almonds are your protein supply for the cherry energy bites. For the coconut bites, use unsweetened coconut and just a little honey for a sweet snack that will get you through to dinner without eating a lot of processed ingredients.
Flaxseed Apricot Bars have tons of goodness in them. Calcium, protein, and potassium are just a few nutrients youll find packed into this bar.
Ive got a protein-rich granola bar recipe, too, with 5 grams of protein per bar. Each portion has 29mg of calcium, along with 339mg of potassium. Give them or any one of these other yummy recipes a try!
The Second Culprit: Sugar Alcohols
Much like many of us are trying to eat more fiber, a lot of people have cutting down on sugar on the brain. Enter a weird type of carb called the sugar alcohol.
Sugar alcohols taste sweet, but dont add to the sugar content and contain fewer calories per gram than real sugar, per the FDA. So food companies often turn to them when they want to make a product that will appeal to people seeking snacks lower in sugar and calories, Tewksbury says. They can be made in a lab from sugars and starches, or extracted from fruits and veggies, where they naturally occur in small amounts, according to the FDA. Look for these eight FDA-approved sugar alcohols on the label: erythritol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates , isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol. Its up to manufacturers whether or not to include sugar alcohol content under Total Carbohydrate in the Nutrition Facts , so the only way to know for sure whether something contains sugar alcohol is to scan the ingredients list.
The other reason sugar alcohols are so popular in these productsmore so than other sugar substitutes, like sucralose is that they result in a yummier bar, texture or taste-wise. They bake really well and make for a much more palatable product than using sucralose, Tewksbury explains. Sugar alcohols can also help add bulk and texture, keep a baked good or bar moist, and prevent it from over-browning during baking, according to the FDA.
So What Does That Translate To In Terms Of Food
Drink an 8-ounce glass of milk, and youll log 8 grams of protein. Add a cup of yogurt for another 11 grams. Follow that up with a 3-ounce piece of meat which is about the size of a deck of cards and has about 21 grams of protein and a cup of dry beans, which has 16 grams and youve already reached the 56-gram requirement for an adult man.
People Dont Need Extra Protein
Dr Catherine Conlon, Director of Human Health & Nutrition at Safefood said: Weve witnessed a significant and consistent upsurge in the number and variety of foods and drinks for sale which claim to be high-protein. From bars to milks and yoghurts, high-protein foods have now become mainstream in our supermarkets. When we asked people about protein bars, a third of them thought they were healthy. However, many of these bars are, in reality, highly processed foods with a calorie content similar to that of a bar of chocolate.
Whats also evident from dietary data is that men and women are already consuming more than enough protein in their diets and simply dont need this extra, highly processed protein.
According to the groups research, consumers may be uncertain as to whether they are getting sufficient amounts, creating a potential desire to enrich their diet with additional protein from commercial sources. However, only the increased risk of sarcopenia among older adults provides the best evidence that some benefit that could be gained from higher protein intakes among this population group, it noted. It added there is promising evidence of small positive effects on bone health for those over 50 years of age.
Of the 39 protein bars surveyed, 38% listed chocolate as their main ingredient. 77% were high in saturated fat with 79% being a source of salt. The average bar size was 55g with an average price of 2.27 / 1.78 though some bars cost up to 3.00 / £2.49 each.
You May Like: When To Eat Protein Bars
Regarding Types Of Carbohydrates Keep An Eye On The Sugar Content
THIS is where the bad rap really comes into play. When a bar claims to be a protein bar but contains 15, 20, 30+ grams of sugar, it becomes a candy bar with some protein .
Keep in mind, if theres chocolate, cacao or fruit involved,the sugar count will be higher, and sometimes thats okay. For example, Larabarsare made up of all natural ingredients often including plenty of fruit. Thecherry Larabar has 23 grams of sugar, but most of it comes from natural sources.
*The daily recommendations for sugar are 25 grams of added sugar per day for women and 37 grams per day for men.*
Kashi Soft N’ Chewy Bars Apple Cobbler
Best: With whole grain flour and plenty of fat-fighting apples, this delicious diet bar is one you can feel good about tucking into. Even better, this dessert-like snack has no high fructose corn syrup, unlike countless other meal replacement bars on the market. To find out where HFCS might be hiding, discover the 25 Sneaky Sources of High Fructose Corn Syrup!
You May Like: Premier Protein Sugar Free Protein Powder
Atkins Mocha Almond Bar
Worst: Atkins may be the number one name in low-carb products, but low-carb doesn’t always mean high-quality nutrition. Ingredients like fiber filler polydextrose, artificial sweetener sucralose, and milk protein all have potentially bloat-inducing effects, so if you want to keep your belly flat, steer clear.