Generally, about 30 grams of protein is enough for the average person for an entire day – athletes can be an exception, the general person reaching for the protein bar does not need to eat it. A protein bar would have about 6-10 grams of protein in it and is a good meal replacement if you are on the go to a football or soccer game. Caution though…protein bars can also be packed with many other things other than the protein they are labeled to be – you fool yourself into thinking you have eaten something healthy when you do this. Then you jump to the conclusion that I can skip the workout, and the protein bar will do the muscle building and fat losing for me. Ideally you should eat the protein and a complex carbohydrate AFTER the workout to help build the muscle, not before. A protein bar will not give you instant energy, or make a workout better. When you eat, your body puts blood flow and energy into digestion, verse the limbs and heart for the exercise. Not to mention, you can feel sort of “pukey” if you eat and then try and do a workout!
Generally, when reading labels the first 5 ingredients are the ones there are most of in the item. So when shopping for a protein bar, look at first 5 …protein and fiber for example are great things to have at the top of the list. You also want to look for no-no’s like partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils. High fructose corn syrup, sugar, and sodium. These things are added to make the bar more palatable BUT dangerous. Protein is not a flavor-filled food product unless it is jazzed up. So, don’t buy a bar by taste, if you are eating it as a meal replacement – it should not taste like a dessert or a candy bar. It is not a treat, it is a meal/snack post-workout replacement, not an addition to your calories for a day, it needs to be part of the calories. Otherwise, it is like stopping at the drive-thru for some fries or a shake that are unnecessary for your total dietary intake of calories.
Remember, eating too much protein (greater than the 30 grams a day for the average person) is hard on the kidneys and the liver. It will also make elimination difficult if you are not eating enough fiber and drinking enough water.
One last thought…don’t eat protein bars and think they will increase your lean muscle. You need to lift weights and overload the muscle first, then eat protein and a complex carbohydrate within 30 minutes to rebuild what you tore up lifting weights. Protein bars do not increase muscle mass without you first putting in the sweat and gym time. Don’t overdo on the amount of protein you eat (no more than 30 grams unless you are trying to bulk up and have increased your workouts to counter attack the calories), that alone will not increase your muscle tone, bulk or lean muscle tissue. Any extra calorie will be stored as body fat, even if it starts out as a piece of spinach or a protein bar!!!
So, ask yourself, why am I eating this protein bar? If you are eating it as a meal replacement on the go or post-workout as part of your calories for the day…fine. If you are eating it instead of the candy bar and Mountain Dew while watching Honey Boo Bo – just eat the candy bar and don’t fool yourself into thinking you are making a healthy choice and gaining lean muscle tissue. If you don’t wise up; you like the Boo Boo family pretty quickly.