When the going gets tough, you go and get a protein bar. For many of us who don’t have much time or mental capacity in the day to whip up a meal, this wonder snack is a convenient and tasty option to get our nutrition levels to where we need them to be. While they shouldn’t replace your mainstay meals, a healthy snack every 2-3 hours can do you some good.
Whether you’re looking for a boost in energy in the middle of a taxing day at work or a quick protein fix to maximize gym results, there’s never a protein bar that’s out of reach. However, with how popular they are as snacks, some brands might include other additives like sugar to lure you into tastier options that may not be good for you.
These brands won’t out themselves, but there are a few things you can look out for in a protein bar’s nutrition label to see if they’re actually doing you any good.
What to Look For in a Healthy Protein Bar
At the end of the day, we all have unique health goals that may have different nutritional requirements from our favorite snack. However, an important principle to keep in mind as you peruse your labels is to find a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, and should be low in sugar and calories.
Let’s break down a few of these key elements:
It doesn’t seem to warrant saying, but do inspect the amount of protein there is per serving. Protein is an essential nutrient that helps you recover from workouts and build yourself back stronger than before, among other functions. You’ll want a bar that contains around 15-20 grams of protein per serving. To be even more specific, you can see if your bar has any whey protein, which might suit your specific nutritional and fitness needs.
Carbohydrates & Sugars
Your first instinct might be to look for bars with as low of a sugar content level as you could possibly find. While you do want to limit your consumption of sugars to 50 grams a day as a broad suggestion, you don’t want 0 grams of sugars either. High levels of artificial sweeteners can lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes, but no source of healthy carbohydrates can also leave you without much of an energy boost. Instead, look for a reasonable carb to protein ratio, with complex carbohydrates like whole grains or fruits.
While not essentially the key ingredient you’re looking for in a healthy protein bar, don’t forget to include your dose of healthy fats, too. Nuts, seeds, and avocado tend to do the trick and can help you stay fuller for longer.
Other Nutrition Label Tips & Tricks
- Pay attention to serving size. Make sure you are comparing the nutritional information for the same serving size across different brands.
- Check the calorie count. While it’s important to choose a protein bar that is low in calories, make sure that you are not sacrificing nutrition for the sake of fewer calories.
- Look for fiber. Fiber can help you feel full and satisfied, so choose a bar that contains at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Finding the Right Nutrients for You
In the end, you can also use these guidelines to find healthier brands for not just protein bars, but also other snacks and meals. Remember, it’s also important that you also enjoy your snacks because you want your nutrition game plan to be sustainable, not torturous. That said, if you want to further empower your day-to-day nutrition decisions, a DNA test from CircleDNA can help you do that with your very own genetic blueprint. There are general rules you can follow, but tailoring your diet and fitness to your body’s genetic blueprint can further optimize your lifestyle.