Are Protein Bars Truly Healthy?

Are Protein Bars Truly Healthy?

Convenience has made protein bars more popular over the years. Now, there are several brands to choose from and they all seem to offer similar, yet different benefits. From meal replacements to quick boosts of energy, there is most likely a wrapped bar that promises to fill your fitness and hunger needs.

But what is really in the bars themselves, and how healthy are they?

Types of Protein Bars

Some protein bars are designed to provide essential nutrients that would be found in a normal sized meal. These bars are used as meal replacements for two purposes. The first is for people who do not have time to eat a full meal because of a busy schedule. In this case, the person would attempt to get the basic nutritional requirements of a breakfast, lunch, or dinner with a bar that looks and tastes like candy.

Another reason for eating a meal replacement bar is to add calories to a muscle-building diet. Bodybuilders need to eat a certain number of meals each day. Stopping their daily activities every so often to eat a meal might not be practical, and a meal replacement bar quickly fills their calories quota in between larger meals.

Energy bars have become popular for office workers. They are considered to be a possible solution for the mid-day drop in enthusiasm. Again, it is a matter of convenience. Taking a bar to work or keeping it in your pocket is much easier than packing most lunches or snacks.

What to Look for in Protein Bars

Protein is a necessary element in rebuilding muscles. However, not all protein bars are a healthy source of protein. It is important to read the labels to find out what kind of protein the bar contains, as well as other ingredients. A lot of the bars available will have things added to them that improve the taste. In fact, the levels of sugar and saturated fat can even be the same as regular candy bars.

As for the energy boost that the bars advertise, it depends on the brand you select. Basically, the energy comes from the calories, and there might be healthier options for you to receive the same effect. Almost any kind of food has calories that can be converted into energy. Bananas, Twinkies, and energy bars all lead to a spike in energy after they are consumed. Of course, you can decide which one you would rather have based on your situation.

Tips for Protein Bar Shopping

Read the packaging of any protein bar you are thinking of purchasing. Try to get one that has less than 5 grams of fat. If weight loss or weight gain is your primary motive, look at the number of calories. Meal replacement bars should have at least 15 grams of protein along with 3 to 5 grams of fiber, and approximately 35 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDAs) of vitamins and minerals. Calculate the vitamins in your other meals and make sure that you are not digesting more than your body can handle.

Although reading the labels of protein bars is definitely recommended, you should be aware of bars that misrepresent their ingredients. In a recent study, half of the nutrition bars tested had a higher carbohydrate level than advertised. Research the name of a particular bar to learn more about its ingredients and reputation.

No matter which bar you choose, do not rely on it too heavily in place of regular meals. A good tip is to eat some type of food with the bar, such as fruit. Consult with your personal physician or a nutritionist to determine the right protein bar for your fitness and nutritional goals.

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