(g= grams, kcals = calories)
Brand A: Carmel Peanut Butter: 180 kcals, Total of 6g fat (3 saturated), 16g carbohydrates (2g dietary fiber and 6g sugars.) 15g Whey Protein (over 30 ingredients)
Brand B: Creamy Peanut Butter Crisp: 310 kcals, Total of 10g of fat (6 saturated), 33g of carbs (2g of fiber and 3g of sugar with 26g of sugar alcohol* See Below) 32g of protein (contains over 30 ingredients) *WARNING: This product contains sugar alcohols, which may cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Excessive consumption may have a laxative effect.
Brand C: Peanut Butter: 270 kcals, Total of 8g of fat (5 saturated), 30g of carbs (4g of fiber, 20g of sugar and 6 other carbohydrates) *15g of protein (less than 10 ingredients *the protein is coming from soy which does not have a high biological value)
Brand D: Protein plus, Chocolate Brownie: 360kcals, Total of 11g fat (4.5g saturated), 30g carbs (less than 1 g of fiber, 30g of sugar) 30g of protein, over 25 ingredients.
Brand E: Peanut butter and jelly: 210 kcals, Total of 10g of fat (1.5 sat), 22g of carbohydrates (*17g of fiber and 2g of sugar) 20g of protein, less than 10 ingredients
*the fiber is 100% natural prebiotic from plant sources and does not make you bloated.
And the winner is…..Not so fast! If we didn’t educate you first hand on how to read a label, where would all the fun be? So let’s take a second to help you understand what to look for in a good, quality protein bar.
1- Serving Size. Make sure the bar isn’t broken up into 2 or 3 servings because you will then have to multiple everything by 2 or 3. i.e. some sports drinks and bars have 50 kcals per serving, but there are 4 servings, so in the whole drink / bar there are 200 kcals. That’s a HUGE difference!
2 – Calories. Is your protein bar going to be a snack or meal replacement? The former should be between 100-200 kcals, while the latter could be as high as 300kcals. To lose weight, we want to save as many calories as possible. An extra 50 calories a day adds up to almost 5lbs of fat in a year!!
3 – Fats. Fat is very important and essential to proper functioning. Too much can be harmful, especially the saturated ones. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and can lead to hardening of the arterial walls. Ideally, less than 10% of your total fat intake should be saturated, so the lower the better.
4 – Sodium / Potassium ratio. In a perfect would, we would be consuming a 1:3 ratio (for every 10mg of sodium, we should consume 30 mg of potassium), but with all the processed food we are eating, it’s the opposite. Americans should be consuming 2300mgs of sodium a day, yet we surpass 4000 mgs! Less sodium is better for us. So look for a bar that has an equal ratio or more potassium’s i.e. 50mg of sodium vs. 150mg of potassium.
5 – Total Carbohydrates (carbs). Carbs are a great source of energy and we shouldn’t be as afraid of them as Dr. Atkins has suggested. We need fuel to be able to workout at maximal capacity in order to produce maximal results. Extra carbs will be stored as fat, so keep that in mind. Less than 20g in a bar is Ideal.
6 – Sugar and Fiber. Excess sugar increases blood glucose levels. When blood glucose levels are elevated for a long period of time, it can lead to fat storage and in worse cases type II diabetes. Fiber needs to be consumed to strengthen our intestines and help fight off cancers. Females should be consuming at least 25g a day, while males should be getting close to 40g. A lot of Sugar Alcohols cause gas and are basically artificial sweeteners. The long term studies on these are still pending.
7 – Protein. One of the most misunderstood Macronutrients. A lot of trainers continually profess that more is better- eat your weight in protein to gain muscle and stay away from carbs and eat more protein! Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! This is where we educate you! The human body is only able to metabolize a certain amount of protein per meal. After you consume more than your body is capable of metabolizing (on average its 25g-35g per serving), your body is unable to utilize the excess protein and will either use it for energy, like endurance athletes, or storage, which is everyone else. So, think harder next time you purchase a protein bar with 50g of protein, the extra kcals will just be stored as fat!
8 – Ingredients. Once again, the more, the worse! When we were cave people, we ate all natural ingredients: fruits, nuts, vegetables and yummy saber tooth tiger. Now everything is processed and contains so many different chemicals that I would be impressed if anyone, other than someone with a degree in chemistry could pronounce (d-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate; HAVE FUN!) Ideally, less than 10 ingredients are best, but look for the bad ones, like the F words (High Fructose Corn Syrup) and fatty oils.
NOW for the winner (air drums please……..) Brand E or QuestBar! To make sure we are not going to get sued by any other of the makers, we purposely will not disclose the names of brands a-d. QuestBar, in our opinion is the best protein bar on the market. Show Up Fitness sells these bars, so if you would like to try a box, they are only $30 for 12; great price for a snack or even a morning meal replacement! Try heating them up for 5-10 seconds; they taste exactly like moms cookies!!!