There are a gazillion different protein bars out there, some of the most popular include the Luna Bar, Cliff Bar, Think Thin, etc. The problem with many of the most popular protein bars is that they are lacking in the very purpose they are supposed to serve; PROTEIN! Look at the nutrition facts of your favorite protein bar. How many grams of protein does it actually have? Now look at how many grams of carbs there are? What about the fat content and don’t forget about sugar, how many grams of that does it have? In the most popular protein bars, you will often find that the number of grams of protein is LESS than the number of grams of carbs. If you’re about to run a marathon, then the extra carbs are fine. But it you are trying to ward off hunger with a protein bar in between meals, or if it is part of your regular diet as a protein supplement, then the extra carbs really aren’t working in your favor.
Here’s what you should be looking at when choosing a protein bar.
PROTEIN: 20 grams of protein is a good amount. Anything less than 20 grams of protein would make me reconsider eating a protein bar entirely. On the other hand, more than about 25-30 grams of protein is generally more protein than you need at one time and usually when the protein is that high, you can bet that the carbs are going to be just as high or higher.
CARBOHYDRATES: Look for two things, Total Carbs and Net Effective Carbs (or Net Carbs). These number should be quite different, the Total Carbohydrates should be less than 30 grams and ideally around 20 grams, whereas the Net Carbs should be around 3-7 grams. Net Carbs are the carbs that cause an increase in blood sugar so you want the number of grams for net carbs to be very low.
FAT: There are three different listings for fat on the nutrition facts; Total Fat, Saturated Fat and Trans Fat. The Total fat should be around 6-8 grams. If it’s higher than that, you might be holding a candy bar. Saturated fat- there’s been some recent debate as to whether or not saturated fat is healthy but it should be around 0-2 grams. Trans fat should be 0 grams. It’s very unhealthy fat and no good quality protein bar will ever have trans-fat.
SUGAR: The sugar should be very low, 3-6 grams at the most. There are also some options that are sugar free and use stevia instead to sweeten.
My current FAVORITE protein bar is a QUEST BAR. They generally contain 20-22 grams of protein, 3-4 grams of net carbs, 8 grams of total fat and most are sugar free. The fiber is also high, about 18 grams so that’s an added bonus. They come in so many flavors and they are just Awesome!!!
Another alternative when I get tired of quest bars is GNC PUREDGE COMPLETE PROTEIN. They have around 20 grams of protein, 6 grams of net carbs, 8 grams of total fat and about 3 grams of sugar. They are also high in fiber at around 15 grams.
ANSI NATURAL PROTEIN BAR is a third healthy option. They contain around 20 grams of protein, 7 grams of net carbs, 6 grams of total fat and about 6 grams of sugar. They are HIGH in fiber at around 20 grams!
Those are my current favorites. Look at the nutrition facts on your current favorite protein bar and see how it compares. If the nutrition facts are no where near the numbers above, then definitely give one of these three a try. I promise you won’t be disappointed!