Healthiest Protein Bars - 5 Things to Consider
Trying to change your eating habits while trying to carry on a busy life is nearly impossible.
In a perfect world, we would all have the time, energy, and money to prepare healthy snacks and meals. These snacks and meals would have fresh and wholesome ingredients that provide your body nourishment. Instead, we opt for these packaged and ready-to-go snacks that titillate our taste buds and makes the scale creep higher.
Protein bars could be a healthy choice.... but there's a catch.
Protein bars are an excellent source of protein and a staple in many people's diet, but some may not be as healthy as you think. In fact, many people call them an "adult candy bar." That is, it's marked "healthy" but has more sugar than a regular candy bar.
So if you're in the market to try out a protein bar, here are five things you need to consider.
Healthiest Protein Bars
1.) Watch the Sugar and Added Sugars
Something I fell for at the beginning of my fitness journey was all of those protein bars in my local convenience store.
The fancy packaging and catchy names drew me in. Of course, they didn't tell you it would be like eating sand held together with sugar.
Sugars aren't bad, but there are a lot of sneaky ways that sugars get into our diets — and we don't even know.
Find a protein bar that doesn't contain added sugars. It should be sweetened with natural sugars. Be wary though, many companies slap a "no added sugars" onto their label and fail to make it apparent there's still more grams of sugar in that than that Almond Joy candy bar.
Ideally, aim for bars with 10 grams or less of added sugars. If your bar doesn't show if there are any added sugars, take a look at the ingredient list. We'll be talking more about the ingredient list later.
2.) Protein Content
It's obvious that a protein bar has protein... but how much should you look for?
Look for a bar that has at least 7 grams of protein — this is considered a serving.
The more protein a bar has, the more satiating it will be. If you lift weights, the more protein in a bar the better.
Protein helps our body build and repair tissues, transports nutrients within the blood, and needed for our overall function and survival.
3.) Ingredient Selection Quality
Something I've learned throughout the years that quantity isn't better than quality.
That is, if you buy a bar with crappy ingredients, you're going to have a crappy bar.
Many food products bear the phrase "Natural" or "Natural Ingredients," but there isn't any specific criteria for which these claims can be based on.
So here's your homework assignment. — take a look at the ingredient list.
Can you pronounce the ingredients? How long is the list?
Ingredient lists that are lengthy or contain mostly words you did not know existed, they are your artificial sweeteners, colors, preservatives, and cheaper alternatives to the ingredients you can pronounce.
If you really want to do some legwork, Google the ingredients and learn more about them.
Fiber is going to be your friend if you're trying to lose weight. That's because it helps you feel fuller for longer.
Have you ever smashed a protein bar and your stomach was growling an hour later? It could be that it didn't have much fiber in it.
Fiber keeps us regular, lowers our cholesterol levels, and helps with weight management.
Try to find a bar with at least 3 g of fiber.
Daily Fiber Recommendations
- Men 50 or Younger: 38 grams
- Men 50+: 30 grams
- Women 50 or Younger: 25 grams
- Women 50+: 21 grams
5.) Saturated Fat
Many of the cheaper bars with crappy ingredients will be much higher in saturated fat.
Keeping your saturated fat levels to a minimum or at least eaten in moderation.
Saturated fat in moderation is fine, but try to find a bar with 3.5 grams or less in it.
Wrapping It Up
Finding a decent protein bar isn't as hard as it sounds — you just have to do some homework.
You want to find a protein bar that's loaded with quality protein, made with quality ingredients, and isn't more sugary than a bowl of ice cream.
Read labels and take control of your nutrition.
These Shouldn't Be a Meal Replacement
Coming from someone who used to try using supplements as meal replacements... it doesn't work.
The healthy habits you need to adopt don't involve trying to band-aid healthy choices into your diet — it takes consistently eating nutritious foods and exercising.
These are alright for a snack or to help you get some nutritious calories.
Do your research, find a protein bar you like, and keep making progress to your fitness goals.