Protein bars are a convenient source of nutrition for folks on the go. They work as a snack or as a meal replacement. As a healthy and more satisfying option than a candy bar, it is no wonder they have become a staple food in your neighborhood grocery store. With so many to choose from, how do you find the right one for you?
One rule of thumb is to focus on the amount of protein and the amount of sugar in the bar. A protein bar, aka nutrition bar, should have at least 10 grams of protein, and little to no sugar; 5 grams or less. This is only a guide and not set in stone, but some protein bars are more like candy bars with a few grams of protein and loaded with sugar.
Take a look at the Nutrition Facts on the label to get an idea of the protein and sugar content. If it also has fiber, well, that’s a bonus!
So, how do you know which protein bar is best for you? Well, it depends. If, for example, you need a midday snack, you might reach for one that contains about 10 grams of protein and around 150 calories. This may tide you over until dinner. If you are running out the door in the morning and grab a bar for your breakfast, then you may want one that has enough protein and carbohydrates to act as a meal replacement. That means a bar with greater than 10 grams of protein and around 300 calories.
A few years ago, a client of mine was having trouble with snacking between meals. When she was hungry, it was too easy to select the office donuts left in the break room or the cookies her kids would eat after school. Too tempting to pass by but not always satisfying. Plus, she would feel sleepy or hungry again less than an hour later. And she was frustrated with her weight gain in the last few months. She wanted an alternative to these sugary snacks to help her maintain a healthier weight and stay energized during the day.
My client needed a satisfying snack, one with protein and fiber that would not cause a dip in energy and act as a buffer later so she would not overeat at lunch or dinner. Protein bars were a great choice. She found that keeping a protein bar in her handbag and one in her car helped to curb any hunger cravings she would experience. Her typical times for cravings were mid-morning after breakfast but before lunch, and some days around mid-afternoon when she was picking up her kids from school. Instead of reaching for something like cookies or chips, the protein bar satiated her enough to wait for dinner and caused less havoc with her hormones and weight.
A fast and easy way to find the right protein bar for you is to look on the internet first and type in a search engine for a “10-gram protein bar with no sugar”. Or “20 grams protein bar with fiber”. If you have any allergies or follow a particular diet, type that in too. You will find more options to choose from and be able to add your picks to your grocery list!