Have you picked up a new interest in fitness lately? Perhaps you’re always on the go and are looking for something healthy to snack on?
Whatever your reasons may be you may find yourself in a supermarket aisle looking at the large selection of protein bars that are now available for sale. These bars can be a great addition to your overall diet if you do a bit of research and find the best protein bars for you and your needs.
In this article, we will discuss what a protein bar is and how it works. We will also discuss how to determine which one that best fits your personal needs.
What Is a Protein Bar?
Simply put, a protein bar is a food bar that has a high protein content. Many are marketed towards individuals who are in need of a quick source of protein. A source that needs no extra preparation. They are quick and easy to eat, and can also be a good complement to having protein shakes.
How Do They Work?
These bars typically have one or more sources of protein – such as whey, soy, or pea protein – that account for the majority of calories within it. Protein aids in muscle repair and can even enhance recovery after a hard workout. That’s why protein bars can help promote the growth of lean muscle when used in conjunction with a strength training program.
They are perfect for burning fat and keeping muscles (if you choose one with a low fat and carb content).
Meal Replacement Or Snack?
One of the first things that you need to determine is whether you are looking for a meal replacement or a snack.
If you decide that you are looking for a snack you should look for protein bars that contain 150 calories or less (to keep you from eating too many calories). Bars that are meant to replace meals can contain 150 or more calories, depending on your caloric goals.
Be advised, bars that are used for meal replacement should have extra added nutrients (for example iron, calcium and potassium), just like what a normal meal would contain.
If you are looking to lose weight you should pay close attention to the number of calories that your protein bar contains. If your daily caloric goal is 1500 calories and you eat a protein bar with over 300 calories, that is over 20% of your daily calorie allotment in one bar. So make sure you check the label before buying it.
Look At The Label
After determining what type of protein bar that best suits your caloric needs, it’s time to take a look at the ingredients and the dietary values that the bar contains.
Take note of the following dietary values found in the nutritional information:
- Protein – How many grams of protein does the bar in question contain? The USDA recommends that men and women eat 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram (2.2lbs) that they weigh. Using this recommendation someone who weighs 160 pounds should consume 58 grams of protein a day. These are, of course, general guidelines. Athletes or highly active individuals may require more protein in order to support and recover from their strenuous workouts and activities.
- Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for our bodies and are necessary for our daily functioning. If you are following a low-carb diet look for a protein bar with a lower carbohydrate content. Beware of any bar that uses sugar alcohols, as sugar alcohols are carbohydrates but do not have to be listed as such in the nutritional information.
- Sugars – So many protein bars are packed with sugar, to the extent that their sugar content looks like that of a candy bar. Stay away from these types of bars, they will do you no good. Instead, look for bars that contain 10 grams of sugar or less per serving.
- Dietary fiber – It is recommended that the average woman consume 25 grams of fiber each day, whereas men should consume 38 grams of fiber. The sad truth of the matter is that many adults do not meet this guideline. If you are replacing a meal with a protein bar you should aim to find a protein bar that contains some dietary fiber. Dietary fiber helps aid in digestion and can help you attain a feeling of fullness.
- Fat – Look for bars with a low fat content. Avoid the ones that contain trans fats, as these fats can negatively affect your health.
What Are The Best Protein Bars For Women?
When looking for the best protein bars for women there are a few factors to consider. Look for a bar that is lower in calories, as women often times don’t need as many calories to maintain or lose weight as men. A protein bar that is fortified with calcium and folate is also something that women should look for.
What Are The Best Tasting Protein Bars?
Taste is a subjective sense to say the least. What one person may love might not be another person’s cup of tea. If you are new to protein bars, purchase a few different flavors and brands to sample. Once you find a brand and/or flavor you enjoy, you can buy a box or two knowing that they are something that you will enjoy.
Protein bars can be a great addition to a well-balanced diet. Whether you want to lose weight, gain lean muscle mass, or are just in need of a quick and easy snack, there is one out there for you. By using the guidelines in this article, you can find the best protein bar for you!