Good Protein Bars, Decoded: 5 Signs a Bar is Worth Eating

Here's the first thing you need to know when browsing the health bar aisle looking for options that are actually good for you:

Not all protein bars are equal

And – if we are honest – most bars labeled as "healthy" have more in common with a chocolate bar than a handful of kale or a protein shake.

It's the health industry, where it's much easier to hit buzzwords on a label than, you know, to provide you with what you need.

But instead of being frustrated by marketing tactics (they exist in every business and with every product), we want to make your life easier. Because there are many good protein bars on the market.

We are here to help you identify the real problem of real problems.
That does not mean you have to get a Ph.D. in nutrition. Just follow these five rules and no matter which bar you select, you can feel good that you do not waste your time (and calories) on a crappy chocolate bar.

5 rules for the identification of good protein bars

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Four apparently all-natural health the bars are close to one another, they are made of nuts, but they are largely maintained by the sugar.

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Rule # 1: Sugar is NOT the first ingredient of a good protein bar

This rule seems obvious, but here's why it's so important:

1. Most people do not look at the actual ingredients. They simply scan things like "calories" or "proteins".

2. Most people do not know the order of ingredients reflects the amount in a product. If sugar is prime, it means that there is more sugar than any other ingredient.

3. Sugar has many different names, so it's easy to be fooled. So, if the first ingredient is dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, agave nectar or turbinado, well, that means "sugar".

And do not think it's just because a bar looks to be made up of whole foods that's lighter on sweet things.

"Even if you see these nuts and raisins through the label, the bar [can have] is a sugar coating," says Valerie Goldstein, dietitian and owner of Eating to Health . "It looks like a nut glob, so it looks very innocent, but even these" food-like "bars have to be held together by something. sugar syrup. "

If you want to make sure that the bar is really healthy, the main ingredients of the bar should be a source of protein, a fruit or a vegetable, or a source of healthy fat such as nuts.

Proteins, fats and carbohydrates consumed with fiber (which you will get from fruits or grains) all take longer to digest than simple sugars, so they will keep you longer, longer. This means that you do not need sugar to be energized; you just need a good source of fuel.

The benefits of having good "primary" ingredients (proteins, fruits / vegetables or a healthy fat source) are part of what distinguishes a good protein bar from a snack bar . These nutrients have been shown to have a beneficial effect on your weight and size.

For every 10 grams of fiber you eat, you will have as much as 4 percent less fat around your belly. It has been shown that monounsaturated fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds, olive oil and oily fish, help people lose belly fat according to a 2013 study . And a research journal published in Nutrition in 2015 found that Americans who eat a high protein diet have a lower BMI and waist circumference.

Looking for more nutrition tips?

Rule # 2: Good protein bars contain 10 grams of protein or more.

This rule comes with what should be an "if" obvious.

If you use the bar as a protein supplement or as a meal replacement, you want at least 10 grams or, ideally, even more,

"The biggest thing I say to people is," Know how you plan to use the bar, "says Anthony D Orazio director of nutrition and physics at Complete Human Performance, LLC. "If I seek to replace the protein specifically, I am looking for about 20 grams of protein,"

This means that the first ingredient in the bar will probably be a source of protein. Whey isolate, casein, pea or egg protein are all high quality choices.

Soy chips will appear on many protein labels and will "count" as protein, but they are not the source of the highest quality. So, if the "first ingredient" is "soy crunch," even if a bar contains a large amount of protein, it's probably not the best choice.

If you do not use the bar as a protein supplement, you can get the lower protein total. In fact, D'Orazio sometimes supplements his breakfast with a bar that is less rich in protein and carbohydrates. Why?

"I use it as a quick source of healthy fat ," says Orazio. "The main ingredients are peanut butter, rolled oat ingredients that people would recognize."

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Three seemingly natural but very sweet nut bars rest on a gray slate.

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Rule No. 3: Aim for less than 15 grams of sugar

Remember that we have said that many protein bars are really just chocolate bars disguised as something good ?

Well, here's the proof.

Did you know that Gatorade Whey Protein Bar contains 29 grams of sugar? And CLIF Builder Bars have 1 gram more sugar 21g) than protein (20g)? Compare that to the Met-RX Big 100 Colossal Bar . A lot of protein (30g). But a lot of calories (400) and 32g of sugar.

What in what?

Before you panic over sugar, be aware that this is not the terrible villain that it is made to be. And there are many good bars out there (RX Bar comes to mind) with over 10 grams. The catch? If the bar contains more than 10 grams of sugar, most of it should come from fruits or other natural sources of sugar such as lactose.

Why are natural sugars better ?

Lactose in dairy products and fruit fructose, like all sugars, contains 4 calories per gram. But unlike refined sugars, these natural sugars accompany other nutrients from fruits or dairy products like vitamin C, potassium, calcium, vitamin D and other things that help your body to work.

Good protein bars are often defined by their nutrients. This is what helps to separate a healthy bar from a chocolate bar. And refined, the added sugars do not provide the added nutrients.

Added sugars can also hurt you in the long run. People who consume more than 21% of their daily calories from added sugars are twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who consume only 10% of their added sugar calories, according to a research study. 2014 published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine.

Rule # 4: Beware of Sugar Alcohols

What sugar?

No, the bars do not contain alcohol. Sugar alcohols are a category of artificial sweeteners.

They have names like xylitol, sorbitol, isomalt and glycerol . You will find them in all sorts of things labeled "sugar free". And for some people, they can lead to a rather unhappy stomach, depending on how you react to them.

"This is true for every person.I personally do not have a problem with them, but they can give other people digestive problems," says Orazio. .

Just as for whey concentrate, one must pay attention to how the ingredient affects you. If the bar produces something less like a feeling of fullness and more like a feeling of having to go to the bathroom, then you will want to stick to the gap.

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Rule # 5: Look for protein bars with less than 400 calories.

Good protein bars are supposed to be supplements – something that you use to consolidate a weak point in your diet, just like protein powder or a multivitamin . They are meant to provide nutrients, proteins or calories that you might not receive from your diet, or if you find yourself busy and missing meals.

When a bar weighs 400 calories or more, it's more calories than if you were eating a Whopper, Jr or half of a Chipotle bowl. And a bar is not necessarily "healthier" than these options.

For example, some popular bars have 200 calories only deliver 6 grams of protein, but a hard-boiled egg will give you 7 grams! And it's less than 80 calories. So, if you can eat whole food, eat whole food. But of course, this might not always be possible.

"It may be difficult to pack a meal because you are on a construction site and you do not have access to a refrigerator," says Dr. Orazio. In these cases, the bars offer you certain advantages. "They're portion-controlled and pre-measured – they provide the kind of nutrition you might not get at a drive-through window." (But even then, the 400 calorie "rule" is still a good line director to follow.)

"It is difficult to eat too much if you only bring what is needed.If you plan to eat two bars – and you bring two bars – you can use them as a tool to help you control yourself. You control your consumption with a mobile food package. "


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