f you are confused when you walk down the health food aisle in your grocery store, you are not alone. The aisle commonly deemed as “health and wellness,” may have a plethora of protein bars promising to build up your muscle mass while burning calories at the same time, however; these labels can be somewhat deceiving. Because they are packed with ingredients that may sound foreign to you, it’s important that you narrow down what to look for in both bars and shakes. Whether you are on the go, or simply want to up your protein calories, here are a few things to be on the lookout for.
Calorie Count. While we certainly never condone counting calories as a way to lose weight, it is important to know that a 400-calorie protein bar isn’t going to do a whole lot for trimming down your waistline. Keep in mind that if you are only allowing yourself to consume a limited number of calories, like 1200 in a day, then a 400-calorie bar would be one-third of your daily intake. That doesn’t leave you will a lot of additional calories and if you really do the math, you could have a plate filled with fish and veggies for that amount. Instead, aim for a protein bar that is closer to 200 calories, to avoid going overboard on the cals in one sitting.
Fat content. If you’ve learned anything from us, it’s the fact that fat is good, as long as it’s the right kind of fat, divided into an appropriate portion. Fat’s purpose in a protein bar is to maintain some control over the speed that carbs get released into the blood stream, allowing for a more balanced snack. Keep your eyes peeled for the level of trans or saturated fat, with a goal of keeping them as low as possible. Once you find a good bar that has a decent amount of dietary fat, you can trade in your trans-fat-filled granola bars for a good protein bar, that will keep you full for much longer.
Ratio of carbs and protein. Ratio is key when it comes to finding a solid protein bar, because it’s crucial that the protein content is close in comparison to the carb content. If you find a bar that has far more carbs than protein, then it’s best to steer clear, because it won’t do you any more favors than a cereal bar. Protein bars are named accordingly, aim to get one that has a 2:1 ratio of protein to carbs. If you have trouble finding that, then a 1:1 ratio will do.
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