There is an overwhelming number of protein bars on the market to choose from. A number of these protein bars are not much different than chocolate bars, while there are a few that really are great choices.
Instead of calling out the chocolate bars in disguise, I want to give you the tools that you will need to make the best bar choice possible. When looking for the best protein bar, you should be analyzing the ingredients label, along with the Nutrition Facts panel.
Part 1: Scan The Ingredients Label
The fewer ingredients a protein bar has, the better. The length of the ingredients list usually indicates the level of processing it has gone through. The more processing, the longer the list of ingredients, and the more nutrients lost in the manufacturing process.
Identify the Location of Ingredients
Another thing to keep in mind is that the order of ingredients reflects the quantity used in a product. Therefore, we want nutrient-dense items such as nuts, seeds and other protein-rich ingredients to be near the top of the ingredient list, and sugar towards the bottom.
Look for Whole Foods
While some barsare made of nothing but ultra-processed ingredients, others are made from just a few natural ingredients. Check the nutrition label on your bar and make sure the ingredient list contains mostly things you recognize the name of.
Scan for Sugar Alcohols/Artificial Sweeteners
Low sugar isn’t always a good thing. To get a sweet tasting bar without using sugar, many bar manufacturers use artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols. Artificial sweeteners can bring on unwanted side effects including increased sweet cravings, along with headache, while sugar alcohols may result in gastrointestinal side effects such as bloating, diarrhea and excess gas. Not so pleasant!
Part 2: Analyze the Nutrition Facts Panel
To help you analyze a Nutrition Facts panel, look to see if certain nutrients are above or below specific targets.
Protein – 10 g or more per serving
Protein is an essential macronutrient that not all of us get enough of. Protein is critical for building and maintaining lean muscle mass, and helping you feel full for longer, . The amount of protein needed in a bar depends on what you are using it for. You want to aim for more than 10 g if this is a post-workout recovery snack. However if you are using it as a between-meal snack, 10 g should be adequate.
Fibre – 4 grams or more per serving
Fiber is important for keeping your digestive system healthy, while keeping your cholesterol and waistline in check. A high fibre snack will prevent you from continuing to snack, as it keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Look for over 4 g per serving.
Sugar –8 grams or less per serving
Some protein bars contain as much sugar as a Snickers bar!Make sure your chosen bar has no more than eight grams of sugar per serving. This will prevent your blood sugar from increasing rapidly and that will also prevent your body from producing lots of insulin. Insulin promotes fat storage and blocks fat burning so keeping a lid on insulin is very important.
Calories – Aim for around 200
If you’re snacking on a protein bar, aim for roughly 200 calories. Protein bars shouldn’t be a meal replacement, as a balanced meal full of nutrient-dense foods is optimal. A protein bar snack should provide half to one third of the amount of calories you would eat in a meal.
My Favourite Bars
Do you think I could end this without revealing my favourite protein bars? Here they are!
- RX Bars
- Lara Protein Bars
- Hemp Yeah! Bars
- Real Food Bars
- Kinwa Bars