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A few weeks ago we posted a blog that compared the pros and cons of popular protein bars. As a follow up to that topic, we’ve created a guideline for picking a quality protein bar.

With all the different protein bars on the market, it can be challenging for the consumer to determine which bar is best. By following these guidelines, we hope that your next protein bar shopping experience will be free of confusion!

  1. Calories Count

To determine the appropriate amount of calories in a protein bar, you first must ask yourself: is this bar going to be used as snack or a meal replacement? Snacks should generally be around 150-200 calories, therefore a protein bar eaten as a snack should fall within this calorie amount. If the bar is going to be replacing a meal, a higher calorie count (~300 calories) is warranted.

  1. Not all fats are created equal

When looking at fat content in a protein bar, pay attention to the type of fat found in the bar. You should look for a product with a low amount of cholesterol-raising saturated fat (<3 grams). If you find a bar with higher amounts of unsaturated fat (i.e. monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat) fear not, as these types of fat are heart healthy. Ingredients in the bar that would provide unsaturated fats would be nuts and seeds.

  1. Don’t forget fiber!

It’s important to pay attention to total grams (g) of carbohydrate but also take a look at total grams of fiber. Fiber helps to keep us full, stabilize blood glucose levels, lower cholesterol, improve gastrointestinal function, and prevent certain cancers. With a track record like this, who wouldn’t want to increase their fiber intake? Look for protein bars with at least 3 g of dietary fiber.

As for total grams of sugar, look for bars with approximately 15 grams or less. Also, take a peek at the ingredients for natural sources of sugar such as fruit instead of cane sugar, molasses, corn syrup, etc. It’s best to avoid bars that list sugar as one of the first 3 ingredients. 

  1. Adequate protein

Ideally, a protein bar should have at least 10 g of protein per serving. However, if you are looking to increase your protein intake or using the bar as a meal replacement, higher protein content (~20 g) is appropriate.

Examples of brand of bars that meet the above criteria include: Luna bars, Clif bars, Kind Bar, LaraBar, and Quest bar. Remember, there’s significant variability of nutrients depending on the brand of bar you choose and the flavor you choose- so always check the label!

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