Protein bars are delicious and an incredibly convenient way to supplement your diet when you are pressed for time at work or school. With a variety of brands and flavors, the protein bar section at the grocery store can be overwhelming. It is easy to get lost in the fancy packaging and complex labels and overlook the nutrition facts! Let’s break down selecting a protein bar that’s right for you.

First, check the nutrition label to determine source and amount of protein in the bar. Protein comes in a variety of types, such as whey, casein, pea, hemp, brown rice and plants. Consider your food allergies and sensitivities when selecting proteins to ensure your body is able to adequately digest the bar’s ingredients. Dr. Durland recommends consuming at least 100 grams of protein a day, so if you are using a protein bar to replace a meal, choose a bar that contains 15-20 grams of protein.

The sugar content of the bar is also something to be aware of when examining labels. Sugar is the distinguishing factor between a protein bar and a candy bar! Check to see if the bar’s first few ingredients include a type of sugar, such as sucrose, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, maltitol and sorbitol (The ingredients are listed in order from the greatest to least amount.)! Your ideal amount of sugar may vary, so choose a bar that supports your activity level and your health goals.

Although the word ”fat” is commonly associated with weight gain, it is important to remember that certain types of fat actually work to build muscle, absorb vitamins and minerals, and promote fat burn. There are two types of fats – unsaturated and saturated fats. Unsaturated fats are a great energy source and lower your risk for heart disease! Saturated fats can increase “bad” cholesterol. Dr. Durland suggests limiting your intake of saturated fats and avoiding protein bars with trans fats!

Carbohydrates are a good source of energy, vitamins and minerals and are found in various food items such as fruits, vegetables, breads and pasta. Dr. Durland suggests calculating the net carbohydrates rather than simply focusing on the total amount of carbohydrates. Calculate your net carbs by subtracting the dietary fiber content from the total carbohydrate content. If you are trying to lose weight, Dr. Durland recommends consuming less than 100 grams of carbohydrates per day and choosing a protein bar with less than 10 net carbs!

The Wellness Team at Simple wants you to feel confident when making choices about how to fuel your body and reach your health goals. Our goal is for you to feel empowered when reading labels while grocery shopping!

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