- It's protein, it's from your well-known fitness brand, it should be good for you right? Not too fast. With the rapid emergence of the protein bar market, it could be easy to fall prey to a good looking package along with a brand name "you can trust" with the amount of options to choose from. Nevertheless this is one of the biggest pitfalls you possibly can make when trying to inject ready-made health food, such as protein bars, in your diet. Bottom line: Simply because it's "formulated for success" or "engineered to provide you with maximum performance" doesn't mean that's always true. As with anything from investing in a car to getting a new blender, it pays to complete your research.
When picking out a protein bar, I suggest looking at the following main areas:
Overall Fat/Saturated Fat - You need some fat in your diet. However you don't need lots of saturated fat, and even one other fats should be drawn in moderation. One of the first things to look for in a protein bar may be the fat and more importantly the saturated fat content. You would be shocked at how much saturated fat is in some of these things. Generally, a good tip-off that this might be the case will be the flavor - anything with "creamy peanut butter" or "chocolate fudge", etc. is typically not a great choice. Your daily vitamins and minerals based on a 2,000 calorie diet is 20g - and really you don't need this much - and some of these bars contain half or even more of that value.
Carbohydrates - Less concerning the total amount in your choice, and more about the break up of that amount. What you want is high fiber content. However what you'll see a lot of the time is high sugar content. Sometimes shockingly so, as with most of the carbs are from sugar. It's Okay to have some, especially if you are taking this after a workout, however you don't want 28g of carbs and also have 27 of those come from sugar. Fiber helps your general digestion as well as keeps you full longer.
Protein - How much are you actually getting into comparison to the two classes above? It may sound obvious, however in general a good protein bar will be giving you around 20g of protein. If you're not getting that, you ought to at least see proportional decreases within the other categories. Otherwise, you're really only getting carbs and fats, and a smattering of protein.
"All Natural" Labeling - Another big marketing technique - "All Natural" doesn't necessarily equate to "All Good". Sugar, saturated fats, etc. - these all exist in nature. Maybe the source is a bit better, but the ingredients remain.