By Alane Stieglitz, ND, CNC
We sometimes need a “quick” high-quality protein snack or meal, and protein bars or snack bars seem like a healthy food alternative. There are so many protein bars to choose from, so how do you know which ones are truly healthy and which ones are not?
One fact is that protein bars cost more than whole food, so that they may become more expensive in the long run for people.
Protein bars can lack many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that we get from real food. Many are too high in calories, added sugar, or carbohydrates, so they actually can lead to weight gain.
The typical high protein bar is around 180 – 220 calories, so if you want to lose weight and stay fit and trim, they may hinder that goal if you are calorie counting. Even gluten-free, plant-based protein bars are high in carbohydrates and have too many grams of sugar, even though they state they are a healthy-based protein bar.
Protein is necessary for the daily diet; it is needed for lean muscle mass and provides amino acids to the body. The issue is to make sure the source or kind of protein you are eating is readily absorbable by the body. The proteins in bars can be hard to digest and break down if you eat the wrong kind.
Soy protein isolate is a primary source of protein in many protein bars. The chemical process used to isolate protein from the rest of the soybean often leaves behind toxic substances like aluminum, hexane, and nitrates. Is it a great source of protein for you? Plus, the majority of soy grown today is genetically modified. The soy protein can also lead to negative symptoms like digestive issues, headaches, and weight gain.
Corn Syrup: This type of sweetener is found in some protein bars. It goes right into the bloodstream, which can cause a spike in insulin and even raising cholesterol levels. This sweetener which can be found in some protein bars, can mess up your metabolism!
So what kind of protein bar is okay to enjoy? Look for ones from whole food and plant-based proteins like hemp, pea, brown rice, or chia. These are all easy to digest and are usually hypoallergenic. Chose bars that have natural sugar from dates, berries, coconut sugar, or honey, and make sure to stick to under 10 grams of sugar in each bar.
I do use a protein bar with simple ingredients once in a while. The ones I like have around 20 grams of protein, and the ingredient list is small. Some protein bars that I will eat are No Cow, Nugo Slim, RX bars, Designs For Health Paleo Bars (see link below to order), and an occasional Larabar if I feel fatigued.
For more nutritional assistance, consider making a virtual health and nutrition appointment today. We can check your protein levels, vitamins, and minerals, metabolism, and more. We are here to help you feel fantastic.
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Medical disclaimer: Our testing kits cannot be used to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. All test results are to be used as educational materials and as a guide to help support your overall health and wellness. Always discuss health concerns with your medical doctor.