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What To Know About Protein Bars



When you don't have time to make a shake or sit down for a meal, what do you do after a workout? Personally, I grab a protein bar and to be honest I like protein bars because they're convenient and tasty. Buuuttttt are they the best for us?? I've been hesitant to write this post because there are a lot of factors at play. This isn't a black and white thing where I can just say "yes" or "no".

Before I go into the nitty gritty I will say this: protein bars are definitely not the best way to go when it comes to our nutrition BUT sometimes convenience is number one priority. That is why I'm writing this post so that you can make the best decision when it comes to your health and your overwhelmed looking at the 300 different options at the store.

Obviously this is more complicated than I'm going to go into in this post because I want this to be understandable and I'm no expert this is just my research. Also, always remember that you know your body best so make the decisions that fit your lifestyle and needs!

What I Look At In A Protein Bar

1. Sugar 

Sugar levels can really spike in protein bars because the company wants them to taste good obviously! People tend to prefer sweet tastes which means added sugar and I don't think we want that from a protein bar. That being said, sometimes when looking at a bar you'll see it has only a few grams of sugar or no sugar at all! What the heck!? That can either mean two things, artificial sugars or sugar alcohols. To put it simply sugar alcohols can create GI stress is some people so be aware of how much you're consuming. As far as artificial sugar, some studies have shown that eating fake sugar doesn't activate the same satiation cues in our brains which means we don't get that satisfying feeling which in turn makes us eat more. 

2. Fat 

Despite the common thought that fat is bad for you, it isn't! Okay well good fat, like avocado or nuts, those are good for you but the bad fat is something to look out for. Saturated fat is the "bad" fat (there are studies looking more into that though) that you should pay attention to on a food label. Saturated fat has been linked to raising your "bad" cholesterol and may lead to poor heart health. That being said, it is very complicated and just something you should be aware of. When picking a protein bar a little fat is fine but make sure it is not crazy high. 

Side note: this has nothing to do with nutrition but a lot of bars contain palm oil which is so bad for the environment and climate change!

3. Sodium 

When I first started looking into sodium content I was so puzzled, why does my chocolate cookie protein bar have an insane amount of sodium (aka salt) in it?? That's because salt, just like sugar, tastes really good! Salt paired with sugar enhances the flavor making us want more. Salt/sodium isn't bad in itself, it becomes bad because our diet is sodium rich. I can't speak for other countries but American diets are overflowing with sodium so that is why it is a good idea to be conscious of how much you're taking in on a daily basis. 

4. Protein 

We want a protein bar high in protein, duh! For me personally, when I look at a protein bar I want protein to be the highest number compared to sugar and fat because that is why I'm buying it I want protein! Make sure the protein blend being used is the first ingredient because that means it is the highest quantity out of all the other ingredients. Ingredients are listed most to least so whenever you're reading a food label be conscious of what is listed first, second and third, etc. 


Holy moly that was a lot of info! If you made it to the end, high five! I know these things can be overwhelming but it is so important to know what you're putting in your body. Also, like I said above,  make the best decisions for you and your lifestyle. Everyone has different needs and wants so always listen to your body. 

XOXO, Maddy 

Resources: 1, 2, 3, 4 (video) 

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