- It has protein, it's from the well-known fitness brand, it ought to be good for you right? Not so fast. With the rapid emergence from the protein bar market, it can be easy to fall prey to a great looking package along with a brand name "you can trust" with the amount of options to choose from. However this is one of the biggest pitfalls you may make when trying to inject ready-made health food, such as protein bars, into your diet. Bottom line: Simply because it's "formulated for success" or "engineered to give you maximum performance" doesn't mean that's always true. As with anything from purchasing a car to getting a fresh blender, it pays to do your research.
When picking out a protein bar, I would recommend looking at the following main areas:
Overall Fat/Saturated Fat - You need some fat in your diet. However you don't need a lot of saturated fat, and even one other fats should be drawn in moderation. One of the first things to look for in a protein bar is the fat and more importantly the fats content. You would be shocked at just how much saturated fat is at some of these things. Generally, a great tip-off that this might be the case will be the flavor - anything with "creamy peanut butter" or "chocolate fudge", etc. may not be a great choice. Your daily vitamins and minerals based on a 2,000 calorie diet is 20g - and really you don't need this much - and a few of these bars contain half or even more of that value.
Carbohydrates - Less concerning the total amount in your choice, and much more about the break up of the amount. What you want is high fiber content. However what you can see a lot of the time is high sugar content. Sometimes shockingly so, as with most of the carbs originate from sugar. It's OK to have some, especially if you consider this after a workout, however, you don't want 28g of carbs and also have 27 of those result from sugar. Fiber helps your current digestion as well as keeps you full longer.
Protein - How much are you actually getting back in comparison to the two classes above? It may sound obvious, however in general a good protein bar is going to be giving you around 20g of protein. If you're not getting that, you need to at least see proportional decreases inside the other categories. Or even, you're really only getting carbs and fats, and a smattering of protein.
"All Natural" Labeling - Another big marketing technique - "All Natural" doesn't necessarily equate to "All Good". Sugar, saturated fats, etc. - these problems exist in nature. Most likely the source is a bit better, nevertheless the ingredients remain.