Protein bars have been on the market for quite a while. Originally, those bars were the ultimate for people who wanted to do tough workouts and build big muscles, but they became a quick go-to for people who weren’t working out and just assuming that they were the healthiest option when there was no time to sit down to a meal. There’s a new kid on the block of bars called meal replacement bars. Which one is better? First, most people don’t require the boost of protein that the protein bar provides, but let’s look at other factors.
What is a protein bar?
That’s a tough question. There are a wide variety of protein bats on the market. Some are fortified with extra vitamins and nutrition, plus a substantial amount of protein. If you put it side by side to a full meal containing 3/4 cup cooked vegetables, a medium fruit, 3 ounces of chicken and a glass of low fat milk, the meal would have about 415 calories or 85 more calories than a protein bar. However, the protein bar would have only half the protein of the full meal and more fat. It would also have fewer nutrients than the meal, including phytochemicals found only in plants or minerals like phosphorus and potassium.
What is a meal replacement bar?
Here’s where marketing muddies the water. Most protein bars are now being touted as meal replacement bars. First, not all protein bars contain over 200 calories to qualify as a meal, so they’re considered snacks. Some contain high amounts of sugar and are like eating candy bars that are packet with protein. While the protein might entice you, think again when it comes to the sugar. There are bars that tout the nutritional needs of the average person who is not an athlete called meal bars. They contain more nutrients and are more balanced for those not seeking to build muscle. They’re plant based, so contain many phytonutrients.
Here’s the answer.
Be careful whether choosing a protein bar to supplement a meal or one of the very few true meal replacement bars. If you’re the average person or an athlete with a day off from the gym, you don’t need all the extra protein. However, they can be useful if stopping for a complete meal is impossible. Just check out the ingredients, some are far better than others are.
- Always read the label and check for sugar content and nutrients. Some bars in both categories, provide more hype than nutrition.
- Avoid the extra cost and find ways to create your own. Remember, peanut butter is a good source of protein and you can add protein powder, nuts and dried fruit. Adding whey powder to homemade veggie snack bars is one option.
- If you’re using any type of bar to replace a meal, make sure it meets certain standards. For those not trying to lose weight, it should contain high quality protein from whey or casein. For weight loss, limit the calories to about 200 and make sure there’s about 10-15 grams protein and 3 grams fiber.
- Using a meal replacement bar or a protein bar to substitute as a meal is okay occasionally, but don’t make a habit of it. You need more than just the macro and micronutrients, you need phytonutrients, too.
For more information, contact us today at Biofit Performance