In just a few years, protein bars went from being sold only in sports nutrition stores to supermarket shelves. The increase in demand for protein-rich products has led to many companies that previously made sweets that have included protein bars in their production.
While some protein bars may be considered healthy, generalizing that all protein bars are good is a mistake.
This article describes the nutritional composition of protein bars and tips for choosing the best one. What’s the difference between a regular protein bar and a sugar-free one?
Protein bars. Are they good?
The nutritional value of the vast majority of brands of protein bars is usually not the best. Although they seem a perfect product for an athlete, even sugar-free protein bars typically have unhealthy ingredients camouflaged in their composition.
Of the nutritional value of protein bars, their protein content stands out. To achieve this value, manufacturers often add whey protein.
The problem with protein bars is in the coverage. This is usually based on processed vegetable oils and fats and is high in flavorings, preservatives, and sweeteners.
Protein bars – Ingredients
Protein bars are often high in fructose syrup. An ingredient that serves to sweeten and improve the flavor and extend the shelf life.
In addition, some brands of cheap protein bars tend to have a chocolate-like coating, an imitation of chocolate that is usually high in trans fat.
In terms of calorie content, most protein bars differ little from regular chocolate.
The content of vitamins and minerals in protein bars is usually low. It is typical for glucose syrup, invert sugar, or other simple carbohydrates to be added to them. The WHO recommends that up to 10% of total calories come from this energy source. (5)
Nutritional value of standard protein bars (100g)
Below is a table of nutritional values for 100g of standard protein bars:
Table of the nutritional value of 100 g of protein bars. Source
Sugar-Free Protein Bars Are They Better?
Sugar-free protein bars replace sucrose with the addition of sugar substitutes. The bar’s texture becomes less airy, and the flavor is substantially flatter and more artificial. Also, some sugar-free protein bars use maltodextrin. Including this carbohydrate is not recommended for weight loss.
The body reacts to maltodextrin in much the same way as sugar. Although its composition is different, its insulin index is similar. For this reason, it is essential to avoid these types of ingredients in a diet for type 2 diabetics.
Nutritional value of sugar-free bars (100 g)
Table of the nutritional value of sugar-free protein bars. Source
Protein bars: When is it better to eat them?
Protein bars are recommended before or after training when there is no other option for natural foods such as protein intake. They will always be better than eating sweets and bakery items like donuts.
However, using protein bars as a fundamental component of an athlete’s diet is not recommended. In addition, its price is high compared to other sports supplements such as whey protein.
If the goal is to lose weight, it simply does not make sense to consume this type of food. The encouraging words on the packaging of the No Added Sugar Protein Bars are made to attract the attention of inexperienced consumers.
If you are a good shopper, you should read the ingredients and packaging of the product carefully and avoid glucose and fructose syrup. If you still decide to buy this product, opt for the best quality ones; cheap protein bars are usually the worst.
How are protein bars made?
Like any other industrial food, protein bars have a long shelf life. Protein bar producers use fats and carbohydrates such as palm oil and maltodextrin to prolong them over time.
Palm oil is a cheap oil with factual inconsistency at room temperature and has a long shelf life. The main disadvantage of this oil – is the imbalance between Omega 3 / Omega 6 fatty acids that it causes in the body.
Don’t forget that one of the ingredients in protein bars is whey protein. A product with lactose. Those with lactose intolerance should avoid protein bars.
The best protein bars
Choosing cheap protein bars can have adverse health effects. The price of this product is usually directly related to the quality of the ingredients used. While a high price doesn’t always guarantee better quality, it likely does.
Una regla general para elegir las mejores barritas proteicas es que su lista de ingredientes sea corta. Si es posible que no contengan aceite de palma, o símil chocolate en su composición.
En Nutrición 360 recomendamos las barritas proteicas orgánicas. Ya que no sólo no permiten el uso de fertilizantes y pesticidas en la elaboración. Sino que no permiten incluir conservantes y productos sintéticos en la lista de ingredientes.
- Las barritas proteicas deportivas son un alimento alto en proteínas.
- Algunas barras de proteína contienen alto contenido de carbohidratos simples así como conservantes artificiales y grasas en su composición.
- Las mejores barras de proteína son las que su lista de ingrediente es corta, así como no incluyen el aceite de palma y símil chocolate en su cobertura.
- Si bien la importancia de las proteínas no se puede negar en términos de nutrición, las barritas proteicas deben ser utilizadas únicamente cuando no dispone de mejores opciones de alimentos altos en proteínas.