This entry was posted on November 17, 2018 by Will Grumke
There are tons of different kinds of protein bars on the market. They’re a popular way of getting more protein. They’re also a popular meal replacement snack.
But… popular or not, are they good for you?
In this article, we’ll explain whether or not protein bars are good for you. We’ll also talk about several characteristics to look for in a good protein bar.
Are Protein Bars Good For You?
It’s really hard answering straight questions like this because the answer is almost always, “it depends.”
Not all protein bars are created equal. Their nutritional value is different. So is their protein content. Some have all-natural ingredients while others are virtually made in a lab. Since there is such a variety of protein bars out there, it’s hard to say whether all protein bars are good or bad. It’d be much more accurate to talk about what makes a given protein bar good or bad then to talk about all of them as if they’re all the same.
So let’s focus on characteristics that make protein bars either good or bad. That way, you can examine any brand of protein bar you find, and make a decision for yourself about whether it is good or bad for you.
What Makes A Protein Bar Bad?
We’re all looking for a tasty, high-protein snack. But that doesn’t mean you should just eat whatever you can find. There are plenty of bad protein bar brands out there and you should avoid them as much as you can.
Here are some characteristics that make a bad protein bar bad.
Lots of sugar
Sugar is just complex carbs broken down into their simplest form.
Your body converts sugar into glucose and puts it into your bloodstream where your body uses it for energy. If you consume too many carbs then your body will turn those sugars into fat. Fat exists to act as your body’s energy reserve. If you’re ever in a situation where you can’t get your hands on carbs and sugar, your body will turn the fat into ketones that it can use as a substitute source of energy until you find more carbs.
If you’re constantly eating carbs and sugar, your body will keep turning that leftover sugar into fat. This means you’re going to experience weight gain.
All of this is important because it helps you better understand why you want to avoid a bunch of added sugars, or excessive amounts of carbohydrates at any one meal. Carbs are not inherently bad… but the over-consumption of them is not beneficial. Added sugars just prevent your body from using its fat stores. Not only that, but added sugars usually increase your body’s fat stores over time, because they provide your body with a surplus of glucose.
If the protein bars you’re looking at have a lot of added sugars in them, you should put them back on the shelf and keep looking. That doesn’t mean you have to refuse all added sugars, but try to avoid anything that looks like a candy bar with protein.
If your protein bars have a lot of added sugar, that’s a sign that those bars are bad.
Just like with regular food, you want to go for quality. Especially when it comes to the protein sourced that is used. Unfortunately, many companies will cut costs on their end by using lower quality protein sources. When looking at the ingredient label, make sure that the protein source used is whey protein. Whey is a complete protein source which means it will have all of the amino acids your body needs to switch into or stay in the anabolic state.
This is beneficial for both those who want to burn fat as possible as well as those who have the goals to build lean muscle tissue.
What Makes A Protein Bar Good?
As you can probably figure out, a good protein bar is the opposite of a bad one. Bad bars have lots of added sugar, good bars don’t. Bad bars are made of synthetic ingredients, good bars are made of natural ones. The quality of a bad bar doesn’t justify its cost, but the quality of a good protein bar does.
But that’s not all you should look for in a good protein bar.
Here are some additional characteristics that you should look for in a good protein bar.
Good bars are either meal replacements or used to increase protein
If you’re eating a protein bar, you’re probably doing it for one of two reasons. You’re either looking to add some extra protein to your diet without extra calories or you’re trying to cut your calories by replacing meals with bars. Whatever your reason for wanting quality protein bars, the bar you buy should be able to do what you want it to do.
If you’re wanting a bar that replaces a normal meal, it’s ok if it’s higher in calories, so long as it has all of the necessary nutrition you need and is still lower in calories than your usual meals. If you’re looking for a simple protein supplement, then you probably want your bar to be as low in calories as possible. Better yet, adding a lower calorie low-temperature processed sustained assimilating protein shake if you need to increase your protein.
Either way, ask yourself why you’re looking for a protein bar and whether the specific bar you’re looking at will do what you’re wanting it to.
Good protein bars are low-temperature baked
If the protein in your protein bar isn’t highly bioavailable (meaning your body can’t recognize it and use it), then eating it is a waste because you aren’t getting the number one thing out of the bar that you want. A protein that is high-temperature baked and less bioavailable might as well be treated as empty calories because your body can’t use as much of the protein. Make sure your protein bar is cooked and baked on lower temperatures. It’ll most likely be a soft bake bar (one that is easy to bite into and chew). This means it has not been exposed to extremely high heats, and in turn, the protein is more bioavailable for your body to use.
So Are Protein Bars Good For You? It Depends
It’s really an impossible question to answer. A protein bar is only good so far as it does what you want it to do, and it’s bad so far as prevents you from doing what you want. The best option is always eating high-quality real food, then behind that utilizing Level-1 to get your protein in, and then if neither of those options work… using a high-quality protein bar.
1st Phorm is proud to announce that we have developed a line of protein bars that we know you will love because they will help you meet your fitness and nutrition goals. They have the protein you want and the nutritional value you need without all of the added calories and sugar that you don’t.
*This post was written by Will Grumke. He is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer