Have you ever flipped over a protein bar only to find that it was pretty much a candy bar disguised in a healthy-looking wrapper? It can be disappointing to see a label to a protein bar promising 10+ grams of protein and health benefits, only to find out that it really won’t help you with your goals.
Here are six things to look for in a protein bar:
1. A concise and easy to understand ingredient list:
It’s always important to know what we’re putting into our mouth, especially when choosing a protein bar. By sticking with ingredients that you know, you’ll avoid consuming high amounts of preservatives and sugar that are sometimes hidden away in popular bars.
2. Ten or more grams of protein:
If you want your protein bar to keep you feeling full in between meal intervals, you will want at least this amount or more. Compared to carbohydrates, protein takes longer to digest. Eating enough protein will help you stick to your eating patterns and avoid snacking.
3. A carbohydrate amount that is no more than 30 grams:
Carbohydrates can give us an immediate energy boost. But if you are regularly consuming more than 30 carbs in a single bar, there’s a good chance that a good chunk of those carbs are sugar with very little fiber.
4. Check sugar content:
When picking a bar search for the one lowest in added sugar. Keeping it in the single digits would be ideal. Note also the type and quality of sugar contained in the bar. Organic cane sugar, for instance, is healthier than corn syrup or other common sweeteners such as dextrin.
Fiber can help carbohydrates digest more slowly , which can prevent sharp rises in your blood sugar. Choose a bar that provides the highest amount of fiber possible.
6. Healthy fats that come from nuts and seeds:
Healthy fats from these sources can help you feel full longer, which will also keep you from snacking in between meals. Healthy fats can also be beneficial to important organs like your brain and eyes.
One more caveat:
Nutrition is meant to fuel activity, and the above suggestions are meant to describe the ideal meal replacement bar for people living an average life. When it comes to bars for training and endurance events, we might slightly change our suggestions to reflect the truth that different activity levels require different types of metabolic fuel.
When it comes to a bar you can eat on a regular basis, we recommend following the six guidelines above. Far too many of the bars sitting on grocery store shelves today are not healthy for what people are buying them for—convenient meal replacements or additions.