There are always those times when you are just too busy to get a full meal in. During these times a protein powder makes for a great option. However, for those who aren’t huge fans of drinking their calories, protein bars can make the perfect meal supplement.
If you find that drinking a protein shake doesn’t quite satisfy you like solid food does, not to worry, protein bars can be a great solution.
This said, you do need to know what to look for when shopping for a protein bar. Not all bars are created alike, so you want to be sure that you’re making a smart decision over what you’re putting in your body.
Total Calorie Content
First and foremost, take a look at the total calorie content of any bar that you are considering. You want to stay around the 200-250 calories per bar mark. If you get up into the 300-400 calorie range, unless you happen to have a very high calorie intake each day or you are actively trying to put on quite a bit of weight, this is just going to be too high for a little snack during the day.
Remember, just because it may be a healthy supplement, calories do still count.
Total Protein Grams
Next, you need to consider your total protein grams. Ideally you want a bar that contains 20 grams per serving. This is the standard that most bars have, however some will dip below and others will jump above.
Avoid ones that dip below. You are trying to replace a whole food snack or meal with this bar and that means you do need to get sufficient protein in.
Also take a look at the sugar content. This is perhaps the most important thing to look at. What you don’t want to do is purchase what is more or less a glorified candy bar. For instance, if that bar contains 23 grams of sugar, it’s really not much better than a plain candy bar. The only difference is now you also have some protein added into the mix.
Aim for a bar that contains 5-7 grams of sugar or less. The less sugar there is, the better. Also, be on the lookout for sugar alcohols. If you consume too many of those, they can lead to major gastrointestinal issues for many people, so are definitely less than pleasant.
Along with sugar, also consider the dietary fiber content. Usually, if the bar is low in sugar, it will be higher in fiber. This is because a sweetener that is a high fiber syrup is used, which then helps keep sugar down but boosts fiber.
This is the combination you want. The high protein, high fiber element of the bar is going to be what helps keep you full for a few hours after consuming it, so it is ideal for combating those hunger pangs.
It’s also important that you take a look at the ingredient listing. Ideally you want to see as few ingredients on that bar as possible. While there’s no doubt there will be at least 10 or so ingredients as it is a mixed food product, if there are many ingredients that you can’t even pronounce, it may be time to reconsider adding this to your diet plan.
Consider Making Your Own
Finally, why not consider making your own? If you take the time to prepare your own protein bars, you can ensure that you are only putting quality ingredients into those bars and that they fit your macros perfectly. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper. Just pick up some protein powder and choose your mix-ins. Some good options include oats, nuts, seeds, nut butter, pureed fruit, or fiber syrup, which can be found online and is the main ingredient in many protein bars that makes them so chewy.
There are many different recipes that you can find to experiment and create your own, so know that the options are endless.
There you have the main things to know and remember when on the hunt for a protein bar. Protein bars can be excellent options to use to complete the gap in your menu when you just don’t have time to cook a full solid meal. Choose wisely though or they may do you more harm than good.