Protein bars are the ultimate convenience. Neatly packaged and ready to go, you can grab the your bar of choice and head to the gym, go for a run or head into work for the day. Protein bars can now be found almost anywhere from your local supermarket to elite sporting goods stores, but not all protein bars are healthy.
There are lots of different types including bars containing fruits, nuts and whole grains to treats featuring chocolate and peanut-butter. Not all protein bars are created equal– some flavour combinations are more nutritious than others - so you should pick your protein bar carefully based on your specific needs.
Snack or quick meal?
Although all protein bars are around the same size, the calorie count can range greatly - from 200 up to 400 calories per bar. Get in the habit of reading the label.
If you want a quick snack between meals, choose products on the lower end of the calorie spectrum. You should also be mindful of the amount of saturated fat per bar.
If you’re planning on occasionally replacing a meal, for example when you’re on the run between meetings and don’t have time for lunch, you could consider a nutrient-rich bar that has more calories to provide you with some more energy. It’s important that you carefully consider the amount of calories per bar, as unless you are engaged in extreme physical training, the only benefit gained from high calorie bars will be excess weight.
Beware of high sugar bars and strange ingredients
On average, most protein bars provide around six grams of protein. Unfortunately, some brands also contain 30 grams of sugar! This amount easily surpasses many chocolate bars. While these products may provide a sugar rush, triglycerides and body weight increases will also follow. Not to mention that when the rush crashes, you will be left physically fatigued and hungry.
When you are evaluating calories and nutritional values, take the time to examine the list of ingredients. Healthy options feature a limited list of recognizable food stuffs and nutrients. Other brands boast an exhausting array that includes dozens of strange chemical compounds. Stick with what is familiar.
While all protein bars contain protein, all proteins are not created equal. Choose products with proteins made from branched chain amino acids, isoleucine, leucine and valine that assist with muscle growth rather than soy. Bars in this category include those containing brown rice, calcium caseinate, P-protein and whey protein. Products containing nuts are also good options.