By Alane Palmer, ND, CNC
We all sometimes need a “quick” snack or meal, and protein bars seem like a healthy food alternative. There are so many to chose from so how does one know which ones are truly
healthy and which ones are not? One fact is that protein bars cost more than whole-food, so they may become more expensive in the long run for people. They can also lack many of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that we get from real food. They are also high in calories. The typical “bar” is around 180 – 220 calories so if you are looking to lose weight and stay fit and trim, they may hinder that goal if you are calorie counting.
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 breakdown if you are eating 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 really 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 even 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 can even raise 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 that are 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.
A protein bar to me is good to use when you just cannot sit down and have a meal or find a healthy snack to eat. But eaten on a regular basis they can lead to health challenges and nutrient deficiencies which you were probably wanted to help to begin with.
Protein / Meal bars I like:
One protein bar I do eat daily is by UCAN. I enjoy the simple starch and the lower amount of protein in it which helps reduce appetite and keep my sugars balanced and prevents insulin spikes. Another okay bar is the LUNA bar which has minerals in it and some vitamins. And for those days I cannot sit down and EAT a meal, I will drink an Isagenix plant- based shake or eat one of their plant- based bars. Lastly, there is a fun website called Build-a-bar that you can create the perfect bar just for YOU!.
Even people that are health concerned can have a poor nutrient level. Checking your vitamin, mineral, amino acid and antioxidant levels can be of utmost importance in any journey to health and wellness.
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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.