Are protein bars good for you?

Are protein bars good for you? They’ve certainly become popular as an easy snack on the go on the way to the gym, and for those days when you don’t have time for a meal. They can even be used as an aid to help with weight loss. But are protein bars a healthy snack? Does it depend on the brand or flavor you buy? And are some protein bars a healthier choice than a bag of chips or a chocolate bar?

Sometimes called energy bars, protein bars can contain a range of ingredients, from healthy to surprisingly unhealthy. While many of best protein bars are packed with seeds, nuts and whole grains, some may also contain added sugar and sweeteners – often to mask the bitter taste of some of their healthiest ingredients.

When it comes to choosing a healthy protein bar, knowing what ingredients to look for on the package and understanding basic nutritional information can help you make an informed choice.

This article takes a closer look at protein bars, their nutritional makeup, and the health benefits they provide. It also examines whether protein bars are the healthiest way to get the protein you need.

Are protein bars good for you: Nutrition

As for the quality of protein bars for you, it depends on the brand of protein bar and the ingredients that go into the bar. Most protein bars contain a good mix of ingredients that provide flavor and texture, such as nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. They may also contain whole grains, such as oats. To bind these ingredients together and improve the overall flavor, they may also contain sugar syrups, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, milk, eggs, or yogurt powder. Vegan brands may choose to use plant-based agents, such as soy or rice.

Given the variety of ingredients, it’s impossible to tell if each protein bar is good for you. But knowing the standard nutritional information can help. According to United States Department of Agriculturean average 63g protein bar will contain the following nutrients:

Rising % Daily Value
Energy 250 calories
Protein 20g 40%
Total lipids (fat) 9 grams 14%
Carbohydrates 26 grams 9%
Fiber 10g 40%
Sugars 8 grams
Calcium 150mg 15%
Iron 1.08mg 6%
Potassium 120mg 3%
Sodium 170mg 7%
fatty acids 3.5g 18%
Cholesterol 5.04mg 1%

Using this as a guide, we can see that our medium protein bar is an excellent source of protein, fiber, and calcium. It is also a good source of carbohydrates and iron.

It is important to note that not all protein bar manufacturers display their ingredients on the packaging. Some use a blend of ingredients that are kept secret from their competitors, so it can be difficult to know exactly what you are ingesting into your body. Opting for protein bars with a full list of ingredients will help you make a more informed choice.

Many protein bars use highly processed forms of protein to load their bars, instead of using less processed foods. So you might notice ingredients like whey protein isolate or soy protein isolate. If you want to avoid more refined and processed foods in your diet, you can rule them out and opt for bars that contain more protein from less processed sources, such as nuts, grains, and seeds.

misfits plant based protein bar

(Image credit: future)

What are the potential benefits of protein bars?

You might be wondering if there are any potential benefits to eating a protein bar, and the good news is there certainly can be. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common.

Weightloss

Many people use protein bars to help achieve weight loss. Protein can help have a “satiating effect” on the body, curbing the urge to snack between meals or eat more than necessary at meals.

A study 2019 in 62 overweight women in Korea examined how having a daily protein bar reduced calorie consumption. Researchers found that, on average, women reduced their daily calorie intake by up to 39%. They also achieved weight loss and improved blood cholesterol levels.

Weight gain

Protein bars can also be helpful if you need to gain weight, such as if you have an imbalanced thyroid or find it hard to make time for regular meals.

If you need to increase your daily caloric intake, a protein bar can give you around 250 additional kcal per day, some provide more. While eating a protein bar is better than relying on fatty foods and sugary snacks, you should instead try to aim for regular meals and healthy snacks for weight gain. But having a protein bar in your pocket can help. Just look for bars that contain fewer refined and processed ingredients, artificial sweeteners and additives.

Muscle gain

Adding protein to your diet can help you gain muscle. Indeed, healthy, protein-rich foods can help muscles repair themselves after exercise, thereby stimulating muscle growth.

the International Society of Sports Nutrition advises eating up to 3g of protein per kilogram of body weight each day, to optimize muscle growth during high-intensity resistance training. While he recommends opting for protein-rich whole foods, he also says the best protein powders and supplements are a convenient and easy way to get more protein in your diet.

Man eating a protein bar

(Image credit: Getty Images)

meal replacement

Some days you just don’t have time to sit down and eat breakfast. So grabbing a protein bar before you go out can give you the energy you need to start the day. Just make sure you don’t do it every day.

Convenient and fast energy boost

If you’re tired after a workout at the gym or just need a mid-afternoon boost, a protein bar can help give you some extra energy fast. Although you can achieve the same effect with a healthy snack, it may not be as portable and easy to eat as a protein bar.

Protein Bars: Cons and Considerations

Although protein bars can be a quick and effective snack to boost your energy levels and protein intake, it’s always best to meet your nutritional needs through a healthy, balanced diet, using unprocessed and unprocessed ingredients. refined. The following points should be kept in mind if you are considering adding protein bars to your diet or increasing what you are already eating.

  • You may be eating too much protein. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 g per kilogram of body weight. This means that the average 200 pound man needs about 72g of protein per day. While that sounds like a lot of protein bars, consider the other proteins in your diet, from sources like meat, fish, eggs, and milk.. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans say that men between the ages of 19 and 59 are already eating too much protein.
  • Protein bars can be expensive. If you’re used to using a protein bar as a gym prep or an afternoon snack, the costs will increase. With an average protein bar between $1 and $4, you could end up spending over $100 a month. That’s probably more than your gym membership. Replacing your protein bar with a high-protein homemade snack a few days a week can save you money and ensure you have a varied and healthy diet.
  • Some protein bars contain so much sugar and refined ingredients that they are not far from chocolate bars. Reviewing the nutritional information on the back of your favorite bar can help you decide if it’s right for you or if you need to switch brands. Even better, you can make your own protein bars at home, so you know exactly what ingredients are in them.

Bibliography

Jäger, R., Kerksick, CM, Campbell, BI, Cribb, PJ, Wells, SD, Skwiat, TM, Purpura, M., Ziegenfuss, TN, Ferrando, AA, Arent, SM, Smith-Ryan, AE, Stout, JR, Arciero, PJ, Ormsbee, MJ, Taylor, LW, Wilborn, CD, Kalman, DS, Kreider, RB, Willoughby, DS, Hoffman, JR, … Antonio, J. (2017). Stand position of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: protein and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14, 20. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8

Park, D., Lee, HJ and Son, SM (2019). Effects of a low-calorie diet including a high-protein, low-carbohydrate protein bar on weight loss and serum lipid indicators in overweight women according to dietary compliance. Korean Journal of Community Nutrition. The Korea Community Nutrition Society. https://doi.org/10.5720/kjcn.2019.24.6.485

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