Protein bars have become a popular source of protein over the years. It is not only a convenient form of protein to carry around in your backpack, but it also provides you with instant energy. It has been hailed as a “healthy snack” and is therefore very popular among athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and those trying to lose weight. But is this “healthy” snack really healthy? Let us find out.
Given the popularity of protein bars, often called nutrition bars or energy bars, there is a wide variety of protein bars available on the market. Most of these protein bars are made from a variety of nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, etc), seeds (sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, are popular choices) and dried fruits (like dates and berries); some protein bars also contain fibre like oats and quinoa. An average protein bar contains about 5-10 grammes of fat, 23-35 grammes of carbohydrates, 5-10 grammes of fibre, and up to 30 grammes of protein; most protein bars have about 150–400 calories.
Are Protein Bars Really “Healthy” ?
Even though this looks like a wholesome and filling meal or a snack, not all protein bars are composed of everything good and nutritious as the packaging or the advertisements promise. Like every store-bought food, protein bars also need to go through a thorough inspection before adding them to your diet.
A lot of protein bars are high in calories and have added sugar, which defeats the purpose of the protein bars as a healthy alternative snack. While natural sweeteners like dates and stevia are common ingredients in protein bars, some bars contain high fructose corn syrup, which is extremely harmful to your health and leads to several serious health problems. Some protein bars also contain cane sugar and honey, which are healthier than high fructose corn syrup. However, sugar and honey often do not help those who eat protein bars for weight loss or muscle gain. Some protein bars also contain unhealthy fats from highly processed palm oil, soya bean oil, and canola oil in addition to the healthy fats in the nuts already present in them.
While protein-rich foods such as nuts, legumes, meat, eggs, soy, hemp, seitan, and cottage cheese fulfil the protein requirements of an average adult, it is not always easy for us to prepare a meal. And this has become increasingly difficult given the fast-paced world that we are living in. So, protein bars come in handy and fulfil a part of the required amount of protein that our body needs. So, it is important to look at the ingredients of the protein bars and choose wisely. The amount of protein in the bars, the type of protein (especially because of protein sources like soy, nuts, and milk, which can act as allergens), the amount of fat, and additional sugar are a few of the things that you can look out for when choosing your protein bar. In addition to that, the fibre content in the protein bar also has to be taken into consideration for a wholesome and nutritious protein bar.
In conclusion, we see that protein bars have become a popular meal and snack choice for a lot of people as meal replacements and snacks. These have proven to be helpful for people, but like every store-bought food, protein bars are prone to becoming unhealthy under the veil of healthy alternative food. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the ingredients of the protein bars and choose wisely.