9 Sep 2015

What's In a Protein Bar?

In the earlier days of energy bars, athletes favored them as a quick energy boost during a training. Nowadays, these snacks are consumed by just about anyone who’s on a run and needs a refill. The time for a regular, warm meal at the dining table is sometimes a luxury, so the rise of these quick, on-the-go snack bars was, to some extent, anticipated. We keep them in drawers and cupboards around the house, in pockets, purses and briefcases.

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Here’s something you should know about protein bars.

A Quick Recap

Energy bars have been around for about 20 years. Many of the brands contained up to 45% of carbohydrates, and lots of sweeteners that made them tastier. They were advertised as a means for providing your body with an energy boost. However, as amino acids in proteins are the body’s main fuel source, there were other types of low-fat energy bars that contained up to 35% of protein, with extra ingredients such as oats, nuts and dried fruits. These protein bars were sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and comprised of very few minerals and vitamins.

In 2015, the health-conscious people decided that they didn’t want a quick energy fix, but a protein bar that’s packed with healthy ingredients, to provide a positive, long-lasting effect. Today, these energy bars are much more nutritious, containing ingredients that are both tasty and organic. Gluten-free, with carbohydrates and proteins to provide energy, protein bars today are consumed by a wide array of consumers, not just athletes.

Retailers such as www.killcliff.com make sure that you can always ask an expert before purchasing any of their products, and because protein bars are sold to such a large and assorted crowd, you can bet half of the people buying are only slightly informed about nutritional values. Basically, this is a field that extends the reaches of fitness experts and enthusiasts, and responsible retailers have to take extra measures to educate their customers.

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What To Look For

When searching for the right protein bar, always read the label for the ingredients. Here is what you should look for.

Fat

Does it contain fat? What kind of fat is it? Protein bars with saturated fat are a bad choice. Find a protein bar that contains healthy dietary fat, and low amounts of trans or saturated ones. It would be a better supplement to your diet. There are energy bars without fat, good as a post-workout snack. Otherwise, the fat from the bar slows down the release of carbs into your bloodstream. “Bad” fats, unlike the “good” ones (such as canola oil), can lead to different kinds of heart disease.

Protein

The best protein that can be found in a protein bar is whey protein. Whey is a by-product in the cheese making process, and is one of the healthiest known natural sources of protein. Some protein bar manufacturers use soy bean derivatives and pea flour instead of whey, due to the increase in whey prices. The majority of energy supplements nowadays is whey-based. According to a 1995 study on the use of whey in treating metastatic carcinoma, results indicated that whey protein concentrate caused Glutathione (GSH) (found in breast cancer tumor cells) depletion, making the cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy. It also lead to stabilization, even regression of the tumor. But as all studies, it should be taken with a reserve. The only tangible merit of whey above other proteins is that it is currently king in every gym shop, and available through a large range of credible supplement retailers. All these gym-goers are using, and all of them have verifiable positive results from the whey protein.

Carbs

Fruit and brown rice contain complex carbohydrates, and that’s exactly what you need in an energy bar. The total number of necessary carbs varies. It depends on whether you're merely following a low carb diet or going through hard training.

Calories

If you’re in search for a snack, a bar with up to 150 calories is enough. A bar with 300 calories, alongside other regular nutrients, is enough to replace a full meal.

Sugar Alcohols

A way to disguise carbohydrates. They can be good for fat loss, but if your body reacts badly to them, sugar alcohols may cause occur cramps, diarrhea and gas. The manufacturer doesn’t have to list them on the label, so if you’re looking a low-carb energy bar, it may have more carbohydrates than listed, due to the higher amount of sugar alcohols.

Fiber & Sugar

A daily amount of needed fiber is about 30 grams, so look for a protein bar with at least some fiber. Sugars, on the other hand, should be avoided. Sugar contains carbohydrates, so if a large amount of sugar is listed on the bar, then all the carbs come from it. You want to add clearly stated carbs to your diet (see Sugar alcohols).

Proteins bar can be a good and efficient source of energy for those who are on the run. But the fact is you have to pay attention to labels and know your ingredients, so the bars would work for you and your 

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