What Are You Looking for in a Protein Bar?
Follow this Rule of thumb – The fewer the ingredients, the better.
1. High-quality Protein.
Protein gives the body energy, regulates mood, and improves cognitive function. While protein is in many of the foods that we eat, it can still be a misunderstood part of our diet. The fact is if we want to make the healthiest protein choices for our well-being, quality trumps quantity.
When it comes to protein bars, since we are not eating protein from whole-food sources, it is essential to be sure that the protein in the bar contains high-quality sources such as milk (whey or casein) or eggs.
Some find soy to be a high-quality protein (especially people who follow a vegan diet) while others believe soy products are too contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, and hormones. Even with organic soy, some people still prefer to stay away. For vegans who want to avoid soy altogether, nuts, hemp protein, and brown rice protein are excellent substitutes. On the other hand, low-quality protein sources include collagen and gelatin
2. Low in Sugar.
Some protein bars contain too much sugar which makes them glorified candy bars. We don’t need sugar in our diet, and most of us actually should eat much less sugar than we do. If you are health conscious looking to maintain a healthy weight and want your teeth to remain healthy, then eat protein bars that do not contain added sugar.
Manufacturers of food products use many different names for sugar, which makes it difficult to spot on an ingredient list. Some readily used names for sugar are dextrose, sucrose, glucose and corn syrup.
Sugar disrupts energy levels, makes you hungry and lazy. Researchers found a clear relationship between sugar and numerous diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease.
Sugar is empty calories which may give short-term energy, but don’t provide the body with any vitamins or minerals. The fact is, your body uses vitamins and minerals to digest sugar, which means that you are robbing your body of essential nutrition when you eat sugar
3. Low in Calories.
When you choose a protein bar, consider its total calorie count especially If you want to lose weight. Eating a 400-calorie protein bar on a regular basis is not going to help you much. You are better off saving those 400 calories for foods like fish, brown rice, and vegetables.
However, if you are building lean muscle mass and want to increase your caloric intake, a 400-calorie protein bar is right for you. It is imperative to always look at the number of calories in each protein bar because of the variability between products. Mistaking one bar for another offers you minimal benefit when it comes to building muscle and could undo any fat loss progress for the day
4. Low in Carbs.
Check your protein bar for its carb content, especially with all of the low-carb options out there today. To lose fat, stick to bars that have less than 30 grams of carbs. However, after your workout, you can bump up the carbohydrates a bit to help you replenish carbohydrates.
Furthermore, look at the carb-to-protein ratio to make sure that the protein content is high enough when compared to the carbohydrates content. If the bar has a low protein-to-carb ratio, then you aren’t benefitting your body by eating this type of protein bar.
The best ratio of protein to carbs for weight loss is a 2:1. If you are looking to build muscle or are eating your bar as a post-workout recovery snack, then a ratio closer to a 1:2is recommended
5. Healthy Fats, low saturated fats.
Bars which contains some healthy fat will make the carbs release more slowly into your bloodstream which will keep you satisfied longer.
Also, limit the amount of saturated or trans fat the bar contains. Ideally, try keeping those amounts at zero. A smart option for your protein bar is the one with a healthy amount of fat that will benefit your diet plan.
6. No Artificial Sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols have adverse side effects such as bloating, diarrhea, cramps, and gas. These sweeteners are not real food sources, which confuses the body when it tries to digest them.
Try to stick with the fewest ingredients bars. Aim for the naturally sweetened ones with ingredients that you recognize, such as honey or dried fruit.