Just like protein powders have been nutrition heroes since the 90s, the holier-than-though handy snack of choice these days for many health conscious folks are protein bars, with many brands now claiming to do things like bust cravings, speed weight loss and boost energy too. But with so many types to choose from, how do you separate the best from the rest?
First though, why do we even need protein?
Experts suggest adults need around 0.8g of protein for every kilogram of body weight every day to stay healthy, but studies show around half of all women 18-50 don’t get anywhere near that amount of protein in their diets.
Protein-rich snacks are a convenient solution, especially as a post-exercise source of energy source, since protein helps aid the repair of damaged muscle fibres. (Our bodies digest protein slowly, which means we get a prolonged energy hit and feel fuller for longer.) However, packaged sources of protein that are chocked full of artificial ingredients and sugar can cancel out all the benefits of having just exercised at all, so picking the right one is key.
So what should we be looking for?
It’s worth taking the time to actually read the label of that tasty-looking bar in your hand. Look for a high vitamin and mineral content, with low levels of fat, sugar and calories, but steer clear of bars with unnatural or artificial additives, like high fructose corn syrup, vegetable oils and artificial flavourings.
Proteins are readily available in common foods like vegetables, beans, meats, fish, poultry, dairy and grains, so adding protein bars – which, not surprisingly, usually contain a significant amount of easily-absorbed protein – to your diet may be an unnecessary expense if you’re eating in a perfectly balanced wholesome way.
However, for the majority of us who don’t eat a perfect diet all of the time, or who are exercising regularly, the right protein bars can be a convenient, useful way to give our diets – and bodies – a boost.
Why? Because they’re all-natural, gluten free, with no additives and developed from the kind of wholefoods you’d find in your pantry – including sesame seeds, almond, ground LSA, coconut, cacao powder and chia seeds – as well as whey protein. Each bar contains 8.2g of protein and 10.7g of carbs. They come in two nut-variety flavours too: Peanut and Cacao, and Almond, Coconut and Cacao.