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5 Tips on How to Choose a Good Protein Bar

Do you check the nutrition information on the protein bar label, or is the name “protein bar” enough for you? Do you care more about taste or about healthy and balanced protein snack? These purchasing decisions must also be considered when choosing a protein bar.

Some bars state they are protein bars on their packaging, but the truth is that they contain less protein than carbohydrates. And yet you want to take a dose of protein because you do not want to destroy the hours of sweating in the gym with one “protein bar”. Follow these 5 tips and you will no longer have a problem distinguishing a nice packaging from a healthy and high-quality protein bar.

5 Rules on How to Choose a Protein Bar

1. Carbohydrates Are Not the First Component on the Packaging

This rule seems quite trivial, but you would wonder how many protein bars contain a similar proportion of sugar to regular chocolate bars. This is mainly because of the better taste because the more sugar the bar contains, the more delicious it is. Another problem is also the fact that most people do not check the amount of sugar on the package of the bar because they are only interested in the protein and calorie content. However, this is very misleading because carbohydrates may be the first component of a protein bar despite its high protein content.

Carbohydrates are also concealed under various names such as dextrose, fructose, rice syrup, molasses, honey and agave nectar or others.

5 Tips on How to Choose a Good Protein Bar

If you are looking for a protein supplement, your bar should primarily contain protein, fruit or vegetable, or a source of healthy fats in the form of nuts.

All carbohydrates (regardless of source) will break down into sugar at the end of the day. Sugar is drained by muscles and liver, or stored as fat until the body needs it as a source of fuel. [1] [2] [3]

Of course, the bar can contain carbohydrates, but they should not be the first and essential component on the label of your protein snack. Therefore, always check the total amount of carbohydrates per serving.

The Carbohydrate and Protein Ratio of the Product

We recommend avoiding those protein bars that have more than twice the number of carbohydrates in comparison to the protein ratio. In the picture above, there are carbohydrates (40 g) versus protein (10 g) in a 4:1 ratio. Based on this ratio, we know that the protein bar in the picture is more candy than a protein supplement. [2]

In general, if the carbohydrate content of the bar is more than twice higher to the content of protein, another product must be selected. If the bar contains more than 10 grams of carbohydrates, be careful about the source of carbohydrates which should be either fruit or different natural sources. [3]

On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that athletes can consume a higher proportion of carbohydrates than those who are trying to lose excess kilograms or are fighting overweight. Post-workout carbohydrate intake can be an effective source of fuel for the body. [1]

Sweeteners and Seasonings

At this point, we must also mention other types of sweeteners and seasonings. They tend to have a sweeter taste than sugar, but keep the total number of carbohydrates on the product packaging low. Therefore, some protein bars which are free of added sugar contain artificial sweeteners such as acesulfame potassium, aspartame, sucralose, mannitol, sorbitol, maltitol. All of the aforementioned sweeteners which end up in the syllable -ol belong to the chemical compounds called alcohols. They aren’t that sweet, but they have fewer calories compared to sugar. This is what makes them an attractive substitute for sugar. [2] People who are sensitive to food composition may get digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhoea and stomach pain from artificial sweeteners. But artificial sweeteners are nowadays a common substitute for sugar in various foods and nutritional supplements, and most people have no problem with them.

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Of course, it is better when your protein bar is flavoured with an alternative natural sweetener such as stevia or birch sugar in form of erythritol or xylitol. [3]

2. It Contains at Least 10 g of Protein per Serving

If you consume a protein bar to supplement protein, you need to take at least 10 g of protein per serving, ideally more. But be careful, if the bar contains less than 10 g of protein per serving, this does not mean that it is a bad snack. Conversely, bars with a higher dosage of healthy fats and less protein content will serve you as a source of energy for a good start of a day and will supplement your breakfast. [4]

5 Tips on How to Choose a Good Protein Bar

If you need a quick protein snack, choose a bar containing about 20 g of protein per serving. [2] In this case, the primary component on the label is protein. Whey isolate, casein, egg or pea proteins are all high-quality proteins that are most commonly used in these bars as main sources of protein. [2]

3. It Should Have Less Than 400 Calories

A good protein bar should serve as a supplement and therefore a product that fills your empty space in the diet. It should also fill you up with important nutrients such as protein or fibre. You can’t even cut the calories out from your diet. [3]

However, if a protein bar has more than 400 calories, it is no longer a healthy diet replacement. For example, if a bar contains 200 calories but only 6 grams of protein, it contains less protein than one boiled egg that has 7 grams of protein and only about 80 calories. If you don’t care about a balanced protein bar, you will do more harm to your body than good. [2]

But if you check the composition properly, and we believe that after reading this article you will care about it, protein bars can be a great food supplement for you. You will appreciate them at a time when you cannot carry the mentioned boiled egg with you. They are a favourite protein snack on the go, on busy days, at work, or when you simply don’t want to cook.

Protein Bars, Nutrition tables

4. It Contains Healthy Fats and Less Than 3 g of Saturated Fats

In addition to counting calories, it is good to concentrate on fats too. Remember that no bar would taste great without added sugar, salt and/or fat. Thus, if there are few carbohydrates in the bar, this will be reflected in the added fat or in quantity of artificial sweeteners. [4]

In case of fats, you should avoid vegetable oils such as soy, rapeseed, palm, sunflower, linseed and sesame oil. Fats in the form of coconut oil, nuts or nut butter and seeds like chia are significantly healthier. [2]

If you are used to eating a protein bar as a post-workout meal, it should contain healthy fats as they slow down the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream. [3] Because of that, you should start checking the number of saturated fats, that should be as low as possible in your bar, ideally less than 3 grams.However, unsaturated fats which can be found in nuts, seeds, olive oil or fish are welcome, as they have been proved to effectively help to reduce belly fat. [11]

5. It Contains at Least 3 g of Fibre

Proteins, fats and carbohydrates in combination with fibre (from fruit or flakes) go through a longer digestion process than simple sugars. As a result, the body does not feel hunger for a long time. The fibre supports the digestive system, lowers cholesterol level and helps with weight reduction. [2]

Studies say that for every 10 grams of fibre we eat, we lose 4% of the fat on the abdomen. [10] The ideal bar is, therefore, the one containing 3 or more grams of fibre. [4]

The nutritional composition of a quality protein bar based on all the above-mentioned points should be as follows:

  • less than 10 g of carbohydrates per serving
  • more than 10 g of protein per serving
  • less than 400 calories per serving
  • less than 3 g of saturated fats per serving
  • more than 3 g of fibre per serving
carbohydratesproteincaloriessaturated fatsfibre
> 10 g> 3 g

A Quick Tip on How to Choose a Good Protein Bar

Finally, we offer you a little trick to quickly discover a good protein bar. When checking ingredients, subtract total protein and fibre content from carbohydrates. If your result is a number smaller than 10, it is probably a good protein bar. See how to do this test in the picture. [2]

The general rule is the fewer ingredients the protein bar contains, the better. At the same time, the more natural the composition, the healthier your protein bar is. You should, therefore, avoid protein bars containing too many chemical ingredients that you cannot even read. And be sure to always check the composition on the packaging.

What is your favourite protein bar? Do you usually check the composition of the product or you just choose according to its taste? Let us know in the comments, and if you think this article can help your friends too, don’t hesitate and support it by sharing.

Sources:

[1] How to choose a protein bar – – https://www.bslnutrition.com/how-to-choose-a-protein-bar/

[2] Greg Presto - Good protein bars, decoded: 5 signs a bar is worth eating -– https://www.bornfitness.com/good-protein-bars/

[3] Shannon Clark - Bar None: 6 things to look for in any protein bar - – https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/6-top-protein-bar-factors.html

[4] Joannah Konecny - Top 5 tips for chooding a healthy protein bar - – https://www.nugonutrition.com/blog/article/top-5-tips-for-choosing-a-healthy-protein-bar/

[5] Henry Ford Health System STaff - How to choose a truly healthy protein bar - – http://www.henryfordlivewell.com/how-to-choose-a-truly-healthy-protein-bar/

[6] How to pick a healthy protein bar? – https://www.daystofitness.com/how-to-pick-a-healthy-protein-bar/

[7] How to pick the right protein bar - – https://intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/topics/live-well/2017/11/how-to-pick-the-right-protein-bar/

[8] 6 Tips for choosing the best protein bar - – https://www.drphoenyx.com/6-things-to-look-for-in-a-protein-bar/

[9] Kesley Butle - Your 5-step guide to choosing a protein bar thet´s not junk - – https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/g19547025/healthy-protein-bar-nutrition-facts/?slide=4

[10] Soluble fiber strikes a blow to belly fat - – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110627123032.htm

[11] Monounsaturated fats reduce metabolic syndrom risk - – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130329125110.htm