The human body needs a regular supply of proteins in order to keep performing optimally. This is because they are the main building blocks of just about everything in the body. From cells, tissues, organs, protein is present everywhere. Moreover, the hormones, blood, and enzymes etc. also have a significant amount of protein in their chemical composition. Moreover, they are essential to just about every bodily function. Be it digestion, muscle repair, or the production of human body cells, you need protein for everything. Therefore, ensuring a regular supply of protein every day is essential to good health and fitness. Proteins are made up of amino acids. Long chains of these amino acids bond together to form a protein chain, which then proceeds to assist in every bodily function. There are 20 different kinds of amino acids and the patterns in which these amino acids are joined together determine the type of protein. Out of these 20 amino acids, roughly half can be produced by the human body. The rest, called essential amino acids, need to be supplied to the body through our diet.
• Adding Protein to Your Diet
There are many opinions out there about just how much of proteins you require every day. The exact amount depends upon your gender, age, weight, and lifestyle. Generally, an average person needs 55 to 100 grams of proteins every day. Fortunately for us, getting the daily recommended amount of proteins isn’t very hard. There are many sources of protein, most of which are already a regular part of most people’s diets. Good sources of proteins include meat, fish, dairy, eggs, rice, soy, and beans, to name a few.
• A Convenient Solution
But incorporating these protein sources is not a good task, especially if you don’t have enough time or the patience for meal prep and planning. The solution? Protein bars. They are a convenient source of protein and are often quite delicious too. Moreover, it is also a favorite among those looking to lose weight, gain weight, or increase muscle mass. This is why they have now become a staple for many people looking to improve their daily intake of proteins. But are they really good for you?
• Are they Really Healthy?
Protein bars come in all shapes and sizes. Walking along an aisle packed with protein bars in a grocery store, I won’t be surprised if you mistook them as candy bars. But the bright packaging isn’t the only similarity between protein and candy bars. Many of the protein bars have such high sugar content that it might be better to simply opt for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup instead. Add to the mix, the number of chemicals and hard to pronounce ingredients, and you have got yourself a real problem. Such chemicals have been linked to several negative impacts on health.
This does not mean that every single protein bar out there is unhealthy. There are some that might actually not harm your body in the process. Sadly though, the safer versions of protein bars are strictly a minority. So, how can you differentiate the good from the bad? That’s simple. Take a look at the ingredients. And I don’t just mean the main ingredient or two written in bold and flashy letterings on the front of the bar. Look at the detailed composition mentioned in the label at the back of the bar or on the box packaging. In general, you want to stay away from bars with a high sugar content and any ingredients you can’t pronounce or don’t know the meaning of. Other than that, the ratio of protein, fibers, fats, and carbohydrates depends upon the reason behind opting for a protein bar. If it’s for weight loss purposes, then obviously look for a protein bar with low-fat content, especially trans-fat. Moreover, a high fiber content can make you feel sated and full, thereby curbing hunger. This can make it a good way to control your diet.
• Personal Preferences
The choice of protein bar also depends upon your particular lifestyle and dietary choices. For vegans and vegetarians, you need to opt for rice or other plant-based protein bars, while the dairy-based protein bars aren’t a good option for those who are lactose intolerant. Similarly, if you have a very active lifestyle, then you need more proteins than the average person. Protein bars can help bridge the gap for example, for those looking to increase muscle mass and workout regularly, eating a protein bar before and after a workout. The pre-workout protein bar can provide the necessary energy boost for the workout session, and the post-workout protein bar will assist in muscle repair and regrowth. For such people, the best kinds of protein bars are those with high whey protein content. This is the protein that is essential for muscle growth. But it is important to make sure that these benefits don’t come at the cost of your health.
• Make Them at Home
Another option is to opt for a healthier, homemade protein bar. The idea is the same. To incorporate various protein sources in one portion and to add flavoring etc. as per your preference. This way, you can avoid the harmful chemicals that are commonly found in store-bought protein bars and also gives you some control over the amounts of sugars or fats etc. you add to the mixture.
• The Limitations
Finally, it is important to remember that no matter how healthy a protein bar is and even if it has zero negative health impacts, it still cannot replace a proper meal. This is because the human body needs a lot more than just proteins. If your diet consists primarily of protein bars, then your protein intake will be well catered too, but it might cause deficiencies of other nutrients such as carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and fats.
In short, the occasional protein bar is not such a bad thing, but making it a habit is not such a good idea. Be sure to check the ingredients and see that you aren’t consuming something which might cause more harm than good.