Protein bars 101
Fortunately, these days it’s really not that hard. With protein powders, bars, and even protein chips (actually pretty good)…finding a protein snack is a piece of cake (sometimes it even tastes good as one!). However, with so many options to choose from…how do you decide??
1. What do you need? Are you wanting to gain, maintain, or lose weight? Do you struggle to consume enough protein or carbs or fat across your day? Decide what your goals are and whether or not you can “afford” a protein bar in your diet.
If you struggle to eat enough calories to build muscle, a high calorie protein bar might not be the worst idea (have you tried those tasty bits of heaven?! swoooonnn).
My go to’s if I’m struggling to hit…
FAT: Power Crunch bar, salted caramel (13f/8c/13p) + a cup of coffee = little slice of heaven
PROTEIN: Epic bars are the way to my heart, especially sriracha chicken (4f/1c/15p)
CARB + FAT: or need a “meal on the go” I’m all about a Larry and Lennys cookie…always snickerdoodle or white chocolate macadamia nut (16f/54c/16p)
2. Calories. Protein bars go from 80 calories to 500 calories (real quick). If you’re dieting…it’s especially important to plan ahead and limit protein bar consumption. Yes, there will be times when it’s debatably your best option..but if you’re religiously tracking macros, your calories will be best distributed to high volume, micronutrient dense foods (vegetables, fish, etc). Protein bars are dense in calories and will not satiate you the way whole, voluminous foods will. That being said, not all protein bars are created equal. Look at the nutrient label to ensure you’re picking the best option (aka stay away from that 400+ calorie bomber…MET-Rx Big Colossal Bar, I’m looking at you!!).
3. Fat. Timing of intake may aid you in deciding how much fat content you’ll want in your bar. If it’s to be consumed post workout grab something lower in fat. If you’re using a protein bar as a snack reach for something a little higher in fat to help slow down digesting and increase satiety.
4. Protein. If your bar has more carbs than protein….IS IT EVEN A PROTEIN BAR?????? Seriously, you might as well grab a snickers on your way out of the grocery store. General rule: >15-20g of protein or NAH. Where the protein comes from is important as well. Take a look at the ingredients:
Protein blend: Whey/casein = best quality (quality of protein is determined by the concentration of the amino acid Leucine in the amino acid profile)
At the end of the day, consuming adequate protein in your day is most important. Quality and timing of that protein should be a secondary consideration.
5. Carbs. Check the nutrition label. ALWAYS. General rule (for my dieting peeps), if it’s over 30g of carbs….it’s to high. Especially for a snack.
Sugar alcohols: be aware. Though the reduce the calorie count, they may cause bloating, cramps, and other super sexy nice effects.
Examples: erythritol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol
Fiber: this still counts towards your carbohydrate intake for the day. Don’t let those “net carb” claims get ya!
6: Ingredients. ALWAYS check for quality and quantity of ingredients. They are listed in order of most abundance. General rule: pick a bar with limited ingredients. Try to avoid:
High fructose corn syrup: if it’s the first ingredient…put it back! (it’s a candy bar)
More than 8-10g of SUGAR, unless it’s fruit based… (it’s a candy bar)
Bars with more than 10 ingredients. More ingredients = more added junk. (wait for it….it’s a candy bar)
Here’s the thing guys… The “health” industry is constantly saturating the market with new products and supplements. Be an educated consumer and make choices based on your own personal needs and preferences.
AS ALWAYS, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or just want to chat!