Protein bars are targeted towards those who want a convenient source of protein that doesn’t require preparation. They are a nutritional supplement that adds protein and potentially other nutrients to your diet. Whilst protein bars aren’t intrinsically good or bad, how you use them as a part of your overall eating habits can be the difference between them being beneficial or detrimental to your health and energy needs.
Most protein bars not only include protein, but they include other ingredients such as carbohydrates, sugar, fat, and occasionally vitamins and minerals. Not all protein bars are made equal – and some contain more fat and sugar than others. Therefore the quality of the protein, and the amount of added ingredients has an influence on whether these supplements might help or hinder your overall health and lifestyle goals.
Those protein bars that contain high levels of fat and sugar often well exceed our label reading recommendations of having less than 10g of total fat and sugar per 100g. Therefore, it is important to use the label reading guidelines to make the best choice on protein bars. Alongside meeting this label reading criteria, ideally you want one with more than 15g of protein per bar.
It is becoming increasingly common to find supermarket muesli bar brands that have a range of “high protein” muesli bars. These seldom meet the label reading criteria and certainly don’t have a protein content of 15g per bar. Protein bars are either found in health food shops, online or the supplement section of the supermarket, so this is the best place to look.
When eating protein bars, it is important to view them as a meal replacement. Protein bars are not snacks to have in between meals, unless you are trying to gain weight. Protein bars can be a quick convenient option to have at home, in the car or at the office for busy days, or when you forget your lunch.
Protein bars can become detrimental to meeting your health goals when they are being used as an unnecessary snack in between meals. Protein bars can contain the calorie content of a small meal. Therefore, like any food item, as a snack it may take you further away from your health goals. When using protein bars as a meal replacement, choosing one that fits the label reading criteria and choosing the best one for your health, shouldn’t hinder your health or lifestyle goals.
Here at Weight Loss Surgery we encourage 3 protein based meals/day, no snacking and using fluids to help keep you going between meals. Therefore use your judgement to determine if you would like a protein bar to be a part of that structure.
If you do think protein bars are suitable to met your health goals, one’s that meet the label reading criteria are:
· Protein 15 Bars (available from the Waikato Surgery clinic OR www.amsnutrition.co.nz)
· Celebrate Protein + Calcium bars (available from Waikato Surgery clinic OR www.amsnutrition.co.nz)
· Aussie Bodies Low Carb whip’d bars (available at supermarkets and online)
· Horleys carbless bars (available at supermarkets and online)
Note: Not all flavours in these ranges met the label reading criteria