The best protein bars, according to nutrition experts

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Whether you’re traveling or struggling with a busy workday, you know this scene: you’re standing in a gas station, bodega, or pharmacy. You are hungry. And while you watch the dizzying display of protein bars – dozens of options packaged in brightly colored, rectangle-shaped, vacuum-sealed pouches, each proudly touting how many grams of protein it will provide and / or the number of carbohydrates it is not, you have absolutely no idea which one to choose. After four minutes of helpless gaze, you put your hands up, grab a bag of crisps, and end the day.

Good news: Now you can save your frustrations for more important things, like Sunday football. We asked a few experts what everything on those Byzantine nutrition labels really means, and which protein bars you should buy (and avoid) as a result.


Quest Nutrition Bar, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Numbers: 200 calories, 21 grams of protein, 14 grams of fiber, 9 grams of fat, 1 gram of sugar (0 added), 3 grams of sugar alcohol

If you’re looking for a bar that will keep you full for longer, look for something full of fiber and protein, suggests nutritionist Alissa Rumsey, RD. Why? Fiber takes longer to digest, which means it stays in your stomach for a while, which means after eating it you feel fuller for longer.

Quest bar might fit that bill, but it’s true that I’ve only ever consumed them half at a time for fear of what it might do to my guts. “A high fiber content can definitely cause gas and bloating,” says Marsha Girgis, RD. “As much as I support a high fiber diet, it’s important to get comfortable in it to avoid discomfort. “

Another thing to note about this bar: Although it is low in sugar, it contains sugar alcohol, sweeteners that contain fewer calories than regular sugar, notes Rumsey. These can also be difficult to digest. In other words: experimenting with one of these before a first date, a job interview or your wedding ceremony is a risky proposition.

Quest Nutrition Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Bar (12-Pack)

RX Bar, Cherry Chocolate

Numbers: 210 calories, 12 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, 8 grams of fat, 17 grams of sugar (0 added)

These bars are as simple as they sound, with the ingredients listed on the front of the package. “The sugar content is slightly high, but it’s the natural sugar in cherries,” Girgis explains. “There are no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Due to its levels of fat, protein and fiber, it can definitely keep you full until the next meal,” which, if you are. lucky, will not have to come in bar form.

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RX Bar Cherry Chocolate Protein Bar (pack of 12)

CLIF Builder’s Protein Bar, Chocolate Peanut Butter

Numbers: 290 calories, 20 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 17 grams of sugar (17 added)

This is the kind of bar that should be reserved for athletes practicing long endurance activity. It has about four teaspoons of sugar in it, which is a nightmare for someone sitting at a desk all day, but great for a cyclist on their second hour of climb. Unless your desk is the seat of a very expensive bike, consider saving them for another day.

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Clif Builders Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars (12 pack)

Muscle Milk Protein Bar, Chocolate Peanut Butter

Numbers: 250 calories, 20 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar (14 grams of sugar alcohols)

Warning: possible bloating. While they’re high in protein, they also contain processed ingredients, which isn’t exactly ideal. “The best bar choice will have as many real foods as possible, such as nuts, seeds and fruit,” says Keri Glassman, RD.

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Muscle Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars (12 pack)

KIND Bar, Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt

Numbers: 180 calories, 6 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar (4 added)


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