How to Choose the Right Protein Bar
When you’re searching through protein bar options at the store, you’re bound to get flustered with the variety that’s available. It’s hard to determine which ones are right for you at first glance. But with proper research and adequate knowledge about what kind of protein bars are available, you’ll be able to find one that suits you best.
Whether you’re looking for an option to snack on before/after a workout or in between meals, different protein bars have different ingredients, nutrients, and proteins—and you should choose one that aligns with what you need. There are also ones with lower amounts of sugar, plant-based protein, and even vegan chocolate.
Here’s how you can choose the right protein bar for you.
The Ingredients You Should Look Out For
If you’re looking for a protein bar that keeps you going in between meals and through a rigorous workout, you’ll want one with lots of energy. A low-glycemic protein bar works best for these situations, because it gives you a steady dose of stamina that’ll keep you going for hours.
These work the most effectively because they’ll help prevent you from craving on anything sugary in between your meals. If you’re trying to portion out your meals and have smaller ones distributed throughout the day, a quality protein bar could make a great filler.
Here are the ingredients you should look out for:
Oil—if you’re going for a chocolate-covered snack bar, it could have high quantities of oils, such as palm and kernel oil. Try to keep these off your list if you’re looking for something that won’t affect your weight and diet.
Fiber—fiber is a great addition to protein bars because it can work as an entire meal replacement. If you’re ever short on time before leaving for work, a protein bar with at least 3 grams of fiber will make up for breakfast—that is—every once in a while. It also helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Carbohydrates—the carbohydrates in a protein bar could make or break your decision. Look for ones that have low levels of carbs because they help to keep you fuller, longer. They align with your diet and they have a slow release of energy, so you don’t need another snack for a few hours.
The level of carbohydrates can often be hard to determine because they’re labelled in different ways. Dextrose, honey, molasses, and even sugar fall under the category of carbohydrates. You can’t find a protein bar that doesn’t have some amount of carbohydrates, but you should make sure it’s not the main ingredient.
Instead, try focusing on the ratio of carbohydrates to protein. If you have double the amount of carbohydrates as protein, that isn’t a good option.
Sugar—sugar usually falls under the carbohydrate category. High levels of sugar could result in a temporary feeling of energy but lead to a crash soon after. While sugary snack bars make a great treat every once in a while, they’re not a good option when you’re on the lookout for a consistent snack to have throughout the week.
Look for protein bars with only a small amount of fructose, sucrose, and corn syrup. Artificial sweeteners also add to the sugar levels and should be at a minimum.
Fats—it’s important to look out for fats in a protein bar. Higher levels of fat make a snack unsustainable and only fit for occasional consumption. If you’re looking for a viable option for post-workout hunger, go for a protein bar that has very low quantities of trans fat and saturated fats.
Protein—last but not least, the best protein bar will have the highest levels of protein. Check for the different kinds of protein, such as pea and whey. You can also find plant-based protein for an option that works with your diet.
Calories—if you’re trying to put on more weight, a higher number of calories will work best for you. Look for a bar with around 140 to 300 calories per serving. On the other hand, if you’re trying to lose weight or be consistent with your current weight, the calories per serving should be fewer.
Why Do You Want a Protein Bar?
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to protein bars because you might not need them for the same reason as someone else. People who are looking for a burst of energy to wake them up in the morning will prefer a protein bar with more carbohydrates than protein to get them to work.
They are also a preferred choice when you’re exhausted after a long day, or after strenuous exercise.
When you’re trying to build muscle, however, the level of protein should be higher. The ratio of protein should always be higher than carbohydrates when you’re going for a bar that helps you work out and put on more muscle.
For example, if you’re going to be lifting weights at the gym, your protein bar should have more than 20 grams of protein per serving.
If you’re looking for an energizing snack bar minus the protein, you can opt for a gluten-free snack bar. It gives you an energy-boost while ensuring you don’t have any reactions to the protein.
If you’re someone who regularly snacks on something throughout the day, getting a sugary protein bar is a bad choice. It’ll cause you to put on weight over time and won’t keep you energized. You’ll end up feeling lethargic at the end of the day, especially if you’re consumed too many of these sugary treats.
For a snack or a meal replacement, make sure your protein bars have a lower number of calories. A sustainable protein bar should have more fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy fats.