Protein bars are a convenient source of ready to eat protein that can be used for bulking, weight loss, to meet the high energy demands of high level athletes, or just as a meal replacement for busy individuals. However, if you have a quick look around, it will not take long to realise that there is a huge range of protein bars, and choosing one may not be easy. Considering some may be expensive, you want to make sure you get the right one first time. Hopefully this article will help provide you with some information to choose the right type of protein bar for you.
What are Your Goals?
Just like any other supplement, it is most important to work out what it is you are hoping to achieve. There are a range of motives for wanting to use protein bars, and there's bound to be the perfect bar for you. So before buying, have a clear idea of what you're trying to do. Are you bulking or cutting?
Protein Bars for Bulking
If you are bulking or aiming for weight gain, protein bars can be a great alternative to protein shakes. Because of the huge quantities of calories and protein needed by some people, drinking shake after shake sometimes gets a little boring. For this reason, having the odd bar instead, is a perfect solution, especially when you are unable to make up a shake. Bars that are suitable for this purpose tend to be physically larger. They reach 100 g per serve, contain large amounts of protein, carbs, sugar, and significant amounts of fat. Combined, these can supply almost 400 calories per serve. These bars are also suitable as meal replacements for the busy individual that's always on the road.
One potential down side to these bars is that some products may be very sweet. Sometimes the nutritional panel may not give you the full idea of how sweet the product is, because some manufacturers add artificial sweetener on top of the already high sugar content.
Protein Bars for Cutting
Bars suitable for cutting or fat loss tend to be smaller than other bars, and are generally consumed in place of a meal to reduce total calorie intake. These bars are still high in protein, but tend to be lower in fat and carbs. Dietary fibre (often in the form of polydextrose) is also a common ingredient and can help you to feel fuller, which is a great benefit for those trying to cut calories. Often, these ingredients combine to make a bar that is 200 or fewer calories. Some of these bars also contain ingredients such as HCA, green tea extract, and L-carnitine which can help burn and metabolise fat, which is ideal for fat loss.
When shopping for these types of bars, keep in mind that you should not be put off by the marketing. Quite often, fat loss bars are marketed towards women, but that does not mean it is any less effective for use by men. The converse is also true, women should not be put off a good quality bar targeted at men.
Other Ingredients in Bars
Some bars contain special ingredients to assist in your training. Ingredients such as creatine and glutamine are sometimes added to protein bars, and can also be a convenient source of such nutrients.
Tips on Choosing a Tasty Bar
One common perception is that all protein bars taste bad. Although this was once the case, modern supplement companies invest lots of time and money into making protein bars that are not only nutritious, but also good tasting. It is not uncommon to find ingredients such as real chocolate, cookie pieces, caramel, and all sorts of yummies that most people like. Because of this, protein bars can also be a real treat when you have a sweet tooth or a chocolate craving. So if you've tried protein bars years ago, and gave up because they did not agree with your taste buds, it may well be worth your while to give them another go.
Protein bars are an interesting food as there are very few other foods out that that have the same type of eat-ability. Depending on the type of protein used to make the bar, they can taste similar to protein powders from the same brand. So if you like the protein powder of a particular manufacturer, chances are, you will also like the flavour of their protein bars. The textures of protein bars are very unique. They generally can fall into two categories, chewie or crumbly. The preference for this is, of course, something that is purely subjective.