RSVP Magazine

Here’s why you probably shouldn’t be eating protein bars

Protein bars have become a major fitness craze, but here’s why you probably shouldn’t be eating them, and how to choose the healthiest choice if you do. Up until now many people have reached for protein bars are a source of protein for their workouts, however, they may actually be causing you harm.

While of course they’re a great source of protein a lot of bars contain very high amounts of sugar, and for those who eat the bars without doing a hard workout, they may be consuming too much protein.

Speaking on RTE’s ‘What are you eating?’, one of Ireland’s top nutritionists, Dr Sharon Madigan, explained that eating protein bars for health started off at a “respectable level of research”, designed for athletes and competitors who were looking to increase their muscle mass and improve their physique, according to The Irish Independent.

However, over time marketeers realised that they could take a niche concept of eating for maximum fitness and aim it at regular people. Hence the sudden surge in popularity of protein bars. But if these were designed for athletes, are we doing more damage by eating them?

While protein is important in your diet, especially if you workout regularly, nutritionists recommend eggs as a better source of protein, as not only are they cheaper, they also don’t have the huge quantity of sugar that protein bars tend to have.

While many people take protein bars thinking they are making a healthy choice they may not be. According to Jillian Michaels, personal trainer most known for her role as a trainer on ‘The Biggest Loser’, some protein bars are just as bad as candy.

“Their wrappers make it easy to think that they’re healthier than a candy bar, but sometimes they’re not. In reality, they could have even MORE calories,” she said in a post on her blog.

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Jillian gives three very simple tips when choosing protein bars so that you can pick the right type.

First tip? Decide if it’s a meal replacement or  snack.

“Just because these bars are the size of a candy bar, it doesn’t mean you should think of them as a snack. A lot of people don’t even look at the calorie count — which is a huge mistake, since some of the “snack” bars have as much as 400 calories!” she said.

Also, if there are too many unusual ingredients that you’ve never heard of, put it back. Jillian say that you should treat protein bars like any other food. If you don’t recognise a lot of the ingredients then it’s not a good sign.

“There are some bars that have only four to five ingredients like almonds, whey protein, etc. — those are great. On the other hand, there are bars like the Supreme Protein bar, which has more than 56 different ingredients,” she says.

Adding, “I don’t care what health benefits it may claim — you have to treat a protein bar as you would any other food — and if you see too many unfamiliar words on the ingredients list, just put it back on the shelf.”

And lastly, when getting a protein bar, make sure you’re getting one with the right type of protein.

“You don’t want a bar that has soy. Instead, you want proteins that have the most isoleucine, leucine, and valine, branched chain amino acids that are great for muscle growth,” she says.

“The proteins that score highest for this amino acid are whey protein, calcium caseinate, P-protein, brown rice, and lastly, hemp,” she explained.

We had no idea just how much sugar there was in some protein bars!

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