Are you overwhelmed by the number of protein/energy bars on the market? What are the ingredients to look out for? What should you avoid? These are our top tips for shopping easier and the 10 protein bars we recommend.
Navigation The Nutrition Facts Label
NUTRITION FACTS This is where macronutrients are listed ( protein, carbohydrates, and fat ). Their amounts are also listed on the back. All three macronutrients are vital, but the amounts required will vary depending on your health, lifestyle, and level of activity. The food label may also include micronutrients, which are vitamins and minerals. Food is considered a “good source” if it contains between 10 and 19% of the daily value of a nutrient like Vitamin C. It is considered to be an “excellent source” if it contains more than 20%.
You should look for bars that contain at least 10g of protein, and at least 20g of carbohydrates if you intend to use them as a snack before or after a workout.
THE INGREDIENT LIBRARY Before I examine the nutrition facts, I first look at the ingredients. This will show you from where these grams came. Are the sugar grams coming from whole foods like dates? Or are they made from refined sugar or corn syrup? Are the fats from whole foods like nuts or seeds? Or are they hydrogenated oils
Avoid bars that are marketed as low carb or sugar before you start your workouts. They often contain artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, erythritol, and xylitol. These can also cause GI issues such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea. The tolerance level for artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols will differ depending on who is using them.
The order in which ingredients are listed is determined by their weight. The heavier, more dense ingredients will be listed first. Lighter ingredients will follow. A half-cup of honey or brown rice syrup weighs the same amount as 2 cups of oatmeal. Therefore, honey will be listed first regardless of whether it contains more honey than honey.
Search for Whole Food Ingredients
What does it mean to look for whole-food ingredients? Here are some examples.
CARBOHYDRATES: Dates, unsweetened dried fruits, whole-grain sources such as oats, brown, and other grains
PROTEIN – Brown rice protein, pea protein, eggs/egg whites, lean animal proteins sources, whey isolate
HEALTHY FATS: Nuts, nuts butter (ex. peanut butter, almond butter), seeds, and sunflower butter
10 Protein Bars We’d Recommend
Rise The Simplest and Most Delicious Protein Bar
88 Acres Protein Bar
Get Raw Sprouted Protein
For athletes looking to lose weight, energy bars are a great option. Energy bars are a great way to consume more calories without feeling deprived. Only 2 Perfect Bars = 640 Calories! You can see that too many can lead to weight loss.
Bars are great for snacking between meals or when you’re working out, but they should not replace a meal. I also don’t recommend using them as a snack more than once a day. Whole food snacks such as bananas with peanut butter or apples with hard-boiled eggs are better options. You can make your own energy bars at home. For healthy recipes, check out my book Fuel Your Body.