How to choose a healthy protein bar!
Posted by PROPROTEIN LTD ADMIN
Author: Kate Searl - Marketing editor
Protein consumption - amount and timing
Regardless if you want to build muscle or not, protein is an essential part of the human diet. It is one of three macronutrients which are crucial for every day bodily functions and structure. Consuming a higher protein-rich diet has shown to suppress the feeling of hunger and also speed up metabolism, thus increasing the amount of calories burnt (4). Studies show that 0.75g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight is sufficient alongside regular exercise (1). Increased physical activity will increase your daily protein requirements as your muscles will need to repair. Thus, the range of protein consumption will likely increase to 1.2g - 2g per kg of bodyweight with more strenuous exercise (2).
Timing of protein intake is equally as important as the total protein consumed per day. The key is to spread out your protein consumption throughout the day (3). Multiple studies have illustrated and highlighted the fact that consumption of protein and carbs, before or during exercise, can improve performance and recovery. However, protein consumption after exercise is also essential! After undergoing any form of resistance training, protein is predominantly utilized in order to rebuild physical muscle (1). Similarly, after endurance training it is used to restore mitochondrial proteins, which is where energy is produced.
Consuming a variety of protein sources gives you different amino acid profiles and also helps you increase fibre, vitamins, minerals and carbs. Supplements are an excellent way to increase protein intake without adding too many extra calories.
Are protein bars healthy for you?
Complete protein sources, such as meat and eggs, will always be a better option than protein bars as they don’t contain additional sugars and carbohydrates. However, that isn’t to say protein bars should be avoided entirely! Protein bars, of a decent quality, provide a convenient way for people with busy lifestyles to consume a good source of protein with minimal interruption.
There are many protein bars on the market which are essentially just glorified chocolate bars, containing excess ‘filler’ ingredients. Here’s what you should be looking out for when deciding on which protein bar to buy, in order to maximise the efficiency of your training and daily life…
Ingredients to look for
The calorie content of the bar which you select can be dependent on the results you want to achieve. If you already have higher calorie needs, or are trying to gain weight, protein bars are a quick and easy way for you to reach your target of calorie intake, and therefore you could opt for a high calorie bar. However, if your aim is to lose or maintain your weight, a low calorie bar would be better for you. Sometimes you may want to snack on a protein bar, regardless of your fitness goals. Just ensure you are looking out for what is making up the calories in the bar; is it protein, carbs or fat? Protein bars usually contain about 10-20g protein, 5–10g of fat, 25–35g of carbs and 150–400 calories (6).
Product ingredients labels are listed in order from the highest amount to the lowest. This may sound obvious, but it is important that the primary ingredient in your protein supplements is in fact protein, and therefore should be one of the first ingredients listed on the label. Some bars which claim to be ‘packed with protein’, also contain excessive amounts of sugar, calories, additives, and artificial sweeteners. Although these ingredients make the bars taste better, they may also present unnecessary obstacles in achieving your health and training goals. In order to prove an acceptable level of functionality and efficacy, protein bars should contain at least 10g of protein per serving. Common protein sources found in such bars include, whey, casein, hemp, egg, soy and rice.
The key is to find a balanced bar, with a good protein to carbohydrate ratio. Popular carbohydrate sources to look out for typically include wheat, oats, dried fruit, agave, sugar and brown rice syrup. It is hard to pinpoint an ‘ideal’ protein to carb ratio, as this will depend upon your training goals. As you know, protein intake decreases muscle protein breakdown and increases both strength and performance. Whereas carbohydrates replenish muscle glycogen levels which help maximise recovery and work capacity (9). Typically protein bars with a higher carb content than protein should be avoided, unless your main focus is workout recovery or weight gain. 20g or less per serving would be considered a low carb bar.
The sad truth is that no protein bar would taste great without some additional fat, salts or sugar. Rather than choosing bars with trans or saturated fat, a healthier option would be a bar with fats from nuts and seeds (5). Many bars which claim to be ‘sugar free’ will contain sugar alcohols (aka low-calorie sweeteners) such as xylitol or sorbitol. Depending on the person, these ingredients may cause digestive discomfort like bloating and gas.
The bottom line
Protein bars are a quick and convenient way to up your protein consumption on the go. To help maximise the benefits of protein supplements, it is extremely important to look closer into all of the ingredients and calorie content. There are many protein bars out there which appear ‘healthy’ at first glance, but in reality are quite similar to a candy bar. Protein should always be one of the primary ingredients in a protein bar and therefore should be found as one of the first listed ingredients on the label. Ignore the flashy product wrappers and read the black and white text!
Steps to follow when choosing a healthy protein bar:
- Forget the glam of the product packaging!
- Read nutritional information and look out for excess carbohydrates/sugars.
- Protein bars should contain at least 10g of protein per serving. Unless your main focus is workout recovery or weight gain, protein bars with a higher carb content than protein should be avoided. A low carb bar would typically contain 20g carbs or less per serving.
- The calorie content should also be considered alongside your training plan and goals. You can expect a protein bar to contain between 150 and 400 calories.
- Read ingredients and ensure protein is one of the first listed ingredients. It's a bonus if the bar contains Whey or Casein protein. Also be aware of products containing sugar alcohols, as these can cause digestive discomfort.
Here at MYOBAND, we pride ourselves by using the highest quality ingredients with transparency and traceability in every label. Each MYOBAR contains 25 grams of protein with ZERO sugar and minimal calories.
Energy - 192 Kcal (802.5 KJ)
Total Fat - 5.85g
- of which Saturates - 2.60g
Total Carbohydrate - 10.15g
- of which Sugars - 0.35g
Dietary Fibre - 1.2g
Protein - 25.4g
Salt - 0.11g
Our MYOBAR now also has 9 added vitamins (that is vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, B12, C and D).
Vitamin A is effective in helping the production of white blood cells in the body, helping to avoid ear infections, chest infections and the common cold. Vitamin B plays a key role in maintaining a healthy body. They impact many functions such as cell metabolism, energy levels, and cardiovascular health. Vitamin C is necessary for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues (8). It's involved in many body functions, including formation of collagen, absorption of iron, the proper functioning of the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth. We all need vitamin D to help us absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet (7). These minerals are important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.
Another added bonus to MYOBARs is the selection of nut-free flavour options! As someone with a nut allergy, I personally struggle to find decent tasting protein bars which do not contain any nuts! Luckily 3 out of 4 of the MYOBAR flavours are all clear.
- Peanut Butter
- Caramel Bliss
- Strawberry Milkshake
Click here to get a box of 10 MYOBARs for only £19.99!
Get creative with your MYOBARs! They don’t always have to be eaten in ‘bar’ form...
Our ambassador - Jen West likes to top her oatmeal with a scoop of protein powder and a peanut butter or caramel bliss MYOBAR!
- Phillips, S. M. and Van Loon, L. J. (2011), ‘Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation’. Int. J. Sports Sci., vol. 29, Suppl. 1, pp. S29-38
- ACSM/AND/DC (2016), ‘Nutrition and Athletic Performance’. Med Sci in Sports and Ex, vol. 4(8) pp. 543-568.
- Schoenfeld, B. J. et al. (2013), ‘The effect of protein timing on muscle strength and hypertrophy: a meta-analysis’. J. Int. Soc. Sports Nutr., vol 10(1), pp. 53.
- JOHNSTONE, A. M., HORGAN, G. W., MURISON, S. D., BREMNER, D. M., & LOBLEY, G. E. (2008). Effects of a high-protein ketogenic diet on hunger, appetite, and weight loss in obese men feeding ad libitum. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 87(1), 44-55. doi:10.1093/ajcn/87.1.44
- Estruch, R., Ros, E., Salas-Salvadó, J., Covas, M., Corella, D., Arós, F., . . . PREDIMED Study Investigators. (2013). Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a mediterranean diet. The New England Journal of Medicine, 368(14), 1279-1290. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1200303
- U.S Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/index.html
- Vitamins and minerals. NHS. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/
- Pullar, J. M., Carr, A. C., Vissers, M. C. M., Anitra Carr, Margreet Vissers, & Juliet Pullar. (2017). The roles of vitamin C in skin health. Nutrients, 9(8), 866. doi:10.3390/nu9080866
- Bean, A. (2013). The complete guide to sports nutrition (7th ed.). Bloomsbury Sport.