Are Protein Bars Making You Fat?

Hey Chicago!

I get a lot of questions from clients about which protein bars/meal replacement bars I recommend and there’s not an easy answer to this because it really depends on what type of training you are doing, what time of day you are eating them and what else you are eating throughout your day that will help guide you in making that decision.

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But there are a few pretty good “Rules To Live By” and I think if you try to adhere to these, you should be ok.

RULES TO LIVE BY:

  1. Stay away from a lot of added sugar (most health sites recommend we consume less than 45g of added sugar a day, that’s less than what is in one can of soda.)
    • So here’s a good rule of thumb: If you’re eating 3 meals and 2 small snacks a day, (if you are working out everyday, you can probably slip in another snack for energy and recovery from your workout), and you are to have less than 45g of added sugar throughout your whole day, then each meal or snack should contain less than 9g. of added sugar. This might seem like it would be pretty easy to do but wait until you try it, it’s harder than you think and you’ll soon realize why we have a problem with sugar consumption in this country. Sugar that is not used for energy by the body will eventually be stored as fat.
  2. DO NOT eat any bars that contain High Fructose Corn Syrup! Read the ingredients and if it contains HFCS, put it DOWN. I try not to give orders very often but this is definitely an order. HFCS is not processed by the body and it is making us obese!
    • Check out a prominent Physician, Dr. Joseph Mercola’s article  on HFCS.
  3. Find one’s that contain at least some fiber, preferably 4g. or more.
    • There are two types of fiber, Soluble and Insoluble. Soluble fiber breaks down with water and is found in some fruits and vegetables, legumes and oats. Soluble fiber helps lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Insoluble fiber does not break down in water, is found in wheat bran, some vegetables and whole grains and aids in digestion and keeps us “regular”. You should be consuming both types of fiber on a daily basis and the recommended amount of fiber is 14g. for every 1,000 calories consumed. So most of us need around 28g of fiber a day. If you aim for around 4g at each meal, you will be close to hitting your recommended daily allowance.  Other benefits of fiber include:
      • Fiber helps lower cholesterol and helps the body get rid of fat.
      • Fiber helps make you feel full longer.
      • Fiber helps regulate blood glucose levels after eating.
      • Read More Here.
  4. Avoid bars with “too much” protein.
    • Most bars that promote an exorbitant amount of protein are really just catering to those individuals who think eating any carbs will make them blow up like the stay-puff marshmallow man. If a bar does not have an adequate amount of carbohydrates to help your body use the protein, then the protein will just be broken down by the kidneys and literally pissed away. If you are looking for a bar with more protein than carbs, then shoot for something that is no more than 2g of protien for every 1g of carb.
    • If you are training for endurance events or even after a weight training session then you should look for something that actually has more carbs than protein and in the ratio of 4g of carbs for every 1g of protein. This ratio of 1g of protein for every 4g of carbs is scientifically proven to be the best ratio for your body to replenish used energy stores and repair muscle tissue from your workout.
  5. Stick to bars with 300 calories or less.
    • Again, unless you are working out for more than an hour every day, your snacks should stay around the 200-300 calorie range. Most of our true “meals” (breakfast, lunch, dinner), will be at least 500 calories. If you are shooting for around 2,000 calories in your daily diet and you have two snacks that are 400 calories each, then you will more than likely be closer to 2,200-2,400 calories  by the end of the day, 400 extra calories a day can wreak havoc on your nutrition plan.

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