Many consider protein bars to be healthy alternatives, ones that are rich in protein, but low in calories, ideal for losing weight. People usually opt for it when they’re on a rush and preparing a meal set isn’t possible. There are also types of protein bars that are tasty, which, in this case, makes it easy for you to incorporate into your daily diet plan.
Whatever your reason is for sticking to protein bars, know that they are made differently. While some can help you achieve your weight loss and fitness goals, some can do the opposite. Bottom line is that not all protein bars are healthy. Hence, it is important that you choose wisely by checking its product label.
Here are 6 things you should look for in a protein bar before deciding to buy:
Total calorie count
Surely, everyone who eats protein bars does so thinking it has less calorie content. While this is true for some types of protein bars, not all can help you limit your calorie consumption. Surprisingly, there are protein bars that contain 400 calories! Obviously, this won’t help you in achieving your weight loss goals any time soon.
If your target is to consume 1,200 calories per day, eating a 400-calorie protein bar is already a third of your supposed-to-be daily intake, all for a single snack. On the other hand, if your physical objective is to build lean muscle mass, and it’s tough for you to obtain sufficient calories, a protein bar containing 400 calories seems like ideal.
It’s crucial that you check the total calorie content of the protein bar you’re eyeing of buying to make sure it suits your needs. The caloric content of these products greatly varies that they can go from 70 to almost 500 calories, depending on the brand/type.
It’s also essential to check the total carbohydrates contained in a protein bar. If you want to lose weight, you can’t go more than 30 grams of carbs per protein bar. But if you’re eating it after your exercise/training, your body can afford to have more carbs since the primary goal at this moment is to have high carbohydrate consumption. Also in this case when you’re eating a protein bar after a workout, it’s vital that you go for the one that’s low in fat. Fat should be avoided after your training.
There are some protein bars that include sugar alcohols, and while a lot of people can tolerate this ingredient, others can’t. Some of the side effects sugar alcohols can trigger are bloating, diarrhea, cramps, and gassiness. You have to try for yourself to see if your body will react negatively. Otherwise, sugar alcohols can be useful in terms of weight loss.
Review the ingredient profile, as well. The thing you’re looking for here is the form of carbs contained in the product. Preferably, high quantities of high-fructose corn syrup should be avoided. Several protein bars still have HFCS as part of their formulations, but if it’s on the bottom part on the list of ingredients that means it’s not too high. This is a better option than the one with HFCS listed as the second or third ingredient. If it’s the first listed component, there’s no way you should be eating that.
Generally, it’s ideal to eat a protein bar that has some fat in it because this will decelerate the release of carbs into the blood stream and help to make it more balanced. The only case you should avoid fat in a bar is if you’re using it post-workout, as mentioned earlier. It is also important to be cautious of the saturated or trans fat content. These have to be in low levels, as low as they can be. Protein bars with healthy quantity of dietary fat can be a great addition to your dietary regimen. These kinds are also better selections than commercial bars that have trans fat.
Carbs to protein ratio
Since it’s a protein bar, you also have to make sure that protein content is higher than that of carbs. If the protein amount is lower than the carbs, you’re not really making a very healthy option. This is comparable to the various granola bars you find in supermarkets. For weight loss, the ideal protein to carb ratio is 2:1. In some instances, even a 1:1 is ratio would be acceptable. If your goal is to develop muscle or eat protein bar as a post-workout food, your body would need the 1:2 ratio.