Some protein bars are a wholesome snack, while others are borderline junk food. How can you tell the difference between the two? Just take a look at the ingredient list and the overall sugar, protein, calories, and fiber.
Guidelines To Follow
The healthiest protein bars have a calorie range of 150 to 250 calories. Their ingredient list also includes mostly whole foods, like fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. A good rule of thumb is to avoid nutrition or protein bars that have a long list of ingredients because that typically signals processed food. The best bars contain at least 7 grams of protein, a minimum of 3 grams of fiber and less than 13 grams of sugar per serving. However, the sugar should come from mostly real foods, not from honey, syrup or any other added sugars.
Examples of GOOD Protein Bars:
RX Bars (Chocolate Sea Salt)
If a clean list of ingredients is what you are looking for, RX Bars are sure to become your new go-to snack. In the case of the Chocolate Sea Salt bar, all six ingredients are real foods, with the exception of “natural chocolate flavor.” The ingredients include dates, egg whites, almonds, cacao, sea salt, and cashews. Keep in mind, there is no added sugar. From a mineral perspective, RX Bars contain a quality source of magnesium and potassium, which are beneficial for muscle function, lowering blood pressure and balancing the adverse effect of sodium. A large source of the protein found in RX Bars come from egg whites, which are a less processed way to get protein. Since egg whites contain fewer calories than the yolk of the egg, you get the protein without the calories.
Health Warrior (Lemon Goldenberry)
Health Warrior bars are plant-based protein bars comprised of peas, quinoa, seeds and chia seeds. Talk about a natural source of protein! Chia seeds themselves are packed with not only protein but fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. Not to mention, the dry chia seeds turn to gel when exposed to liquid, which helps you feel full longer. Health Warrior bars are also a fantastic source of calcium!
Kind Bars (Madagascar Vanilla Almond)
You can get your hands on a Kind Bar just about anywhere. What even better about Kind Bars is that they have a solid nutrient profile. While some flavors are higher in sugar than others (so, be sure to check the ingredients list), the Madagascar Vanilla is one of their better bars. It contains only 4 grams of sugar, 210 calories and 7 grams of protein. However, the ingredient in this particular Kind bar isn't as straightforward as many of the other options. The Madagascar Almond bar contains three sources of added sugar, soy lecithin, and insulin.
Example Of A BAD Protein Bar
ThinkThin Bars (Creamy Peanut Butter)
ThinkThin protein bars look extremely appealing with their 20 grams of protein and zero grams of sugar posted on the label. However, there are hardly any whole foods on the ingredient list and only 1 gram of fiber. ThinkThin bars also have 11 grams of sugar alcohol, which taste good, don’t elevate blood sugar or contain as many calories as regular sugar. However, sugar alcohols can cause serious GI issues and abdominal pain. If you struggle with stomach discomfort, this protein bar is not for you. Make sure you always check food labels for sugar alcohols to avoid further stomach distress.
Evaluate your protein bars based on the ingredients and not just the amount of protein or lack of sugar. Consider the overall list of ingredients first! For more information on reading food labels or finding the best protein or nutrition bar for you, stop in at your nearest Max Muscle location and talk to one of our nutrition experts!