Friday, January 14

Protein Bar Puzzle

There’s a lot of talk out there over protein bars.  They are touted as meal replacements, diet aids, snacks or nutrition supplements.  So what should we do with them?  How do you pick a good one?  Do any good ones even exist, or do they all taste like Styrofoam?
I’m here to help!  Protein bars can be a big part of weight loss and weight maintenance.  You can use them as snacks or meal replacements.  One thing protein bars are not: nutritional.  It doesn’t matter how many vitamins they pack in them, a protein bar cannot replace vegetables and fruits—natural sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals.  I often use protein bars to replace a breakfast when I know I don’t have time to put anything together or a snack when I know I’m going to be crazy busy at work.
When you’re choosing a protein bar, your choice is going to first be based on the nutritional facts and second on the taste.  When you’re looking at the nutritional facts, what’s the most important number?  Protein!  That’s why it’s called a “Protein Bar!”  You want there to be more grams of protein than fat.  Ideally, there will be 10 grams of protein or more.
Since you’re already comparing your protein number to your fat number, you simply want to make sure there’s as little fat as possible.  There should definitely be less fat than protein.  Ideally, there will be 5 grams of fat or less.
The next number you’re looking for is carbs.  When you start looking at the number of carbs in protein bars, you’re going to be in for a shock.  For the most part, you don’t want any more than 25 grams of carbs.  If more than 50 percent of those carbs is sugar, chances are that you’re not holding a protein bar in your hand.  Say “hello” to the candy bar that snuck its way into that section with fancy words like “nutrition” and “all-natural.”
If you’re following the rules listed above, you’ll get a protein bar that’s between 150 and 200 calories.
I have a list here of bars that I have tried and that actually taste good!
Special K Protein Meal Bar (Strawberry)
170 Calories, 5g Fat, 25g Carb (15g Sugar), 10g Protein
Zone Perfect All-Natural Nutrition Bar (Double Dark Chocolate)
190 Calories, 6g Fat, 22g Carb (14g Sugar), 12g Protein
Luna Bar (Peanut Butter Cookie)
180 Calories, 6g Fat, 26g Carb (11g Sugar), 9g Protein
I’ve tried a lot of protein bars, and some of them are just disgusting!  Have you tried any good ones?  Any we should avoid?  Were you surprised by the nutrition numbers on your own protein bar?

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