Protein Bars are everywhere...gas stations, grocery stores, gyms and health food markets. But, are they truly healthy? There are some good bars, but you have to understand what to look for. The reality is most protein or health bars are not much different than a candy bar or a Powerade / Gatorade in terms of sugar content and total calories. Most bars have about the equivalent of 9 cubes of sugar. Would you consider eating 9 cubes of sugar healthy? These types of bars are truly only useful after exercise that is intense and lasts one full hour or longer.
Most people tend to use these bars as a snack, a meal replacement or an exercise recovery. Often we make these choices based on the false premise that they are healthy and because it is convenient. The best choice is always real food. It just takes a bit of planning and discipline – and to achieve true health we must own our choices and be disciplined.
What should you look for when examining a bar?
1. Sugar – The first question is how much sugar does the bar contain? Choose a bar that contains roughly 10g of sugar. The second is what kind of sugar: Sucralose, Splenda, aspartame, Nutria-sweet??? All of these have negative effects on the pancreas and thyroid. The sweetness of a bar should come from dried fruits, honey or maple syrup.
2. Soy – Avoid bars that contain soy products and bi-products. The best bars are made with real nuts and seeds.
3. Partially Hydrogenated or Hydrogenated – If you see these words RUN! This is the process of taking plant oil and pumping it full of hydrogen to make it solid at room temperature. Basically it is like eating margarine. I think we all know now that margarine is not a health food.
4. Refined Grains – Many bars are full of processed or highly refined grains. This is the same as eating white bread, which is basically like eating sugar.
5. Protein – Many of these bars simply have more protein than any normal person needs and not from the best sources. Most of these proteins are in isolate form so that they can be absorbed easily. This would only be helpful for someone who is trying to bulk up, and it has nothing to do with health.
6. Fake Ingredients – If you don’t recognize the name and don’t know what it is, don’t eat it. Why would you put something in your body and you really don’t even know what it is or does? Real food works.
7. Fiber – Choose bars with a fiber content of 5g or more.
What are the best bars to choose???
1. Kind Bar
3. Chia Bar
5. Rise Bar
Again, the best choice is to take some time to prepare and plan in advance. Real Food is best!!! The best snacks are nuts and fruit or dried fruit (make sure it is not sweetened), nut-butters with apples, carrots and celery, plain yogurt with fruit and nuts, hard boiled eggs, nitrate free beef jerky, organic cheese and grapes, a little dark chocolate and nuts, hummus and with sliced apple and carrots – there are many more, and these are all easy to prepare quickly and bring along for the day. It is also much more cost effective.