Protein Bar Buying Guide

Protein bars can be a healthy snack if you know what to look for on the label. Use this cheat sheet to help pick the right one!

Protein Bar Buying Guide

Protein bars are a staple in the health food aisle, but some have enough sugar that they could be called candy bars. With hundreds on the market, how can you tell which are good for you? From weight loss to energy, these snacks make big promises, and it can be hard to tell which are the real deal. Use this cheat sheet to help pick protein bars that live up to their name.

Protein Bar Ground Rules

Protein bars can be a healthy snack if you know what to look for on the label. When you reach for a bar, read the fine print and make sure it follows these four rules:

  1. It has at least 10 grams of protein.
  2. It has less than 15 grams sugar (the lower, the better!). Look for natural sources of sugar, such as fruit.
  3. It has less than 4 grams of fat – and no trans-fats allowed.
  4. It has less than 350 calories.

For Weight Loss

If you’re looking to lose weight, choose a protein bar filled with fiber. It’ll fill you up and help keep you regular. Try these if you want to slim down:

  1. Quest Bar Coconut Cashew: 17 grams of fiber
  2. Fiber One Chocolate Peanut Butter Meal Bar: 9 grams of fiber

For Energy

If you want a burst of energy, reach for a protein bar stocked with healthy carbs. Aim for one with about 20 grams. Try one of these before your next workout:

  1. Vegasport Chocolate Saviseed: plant-based and gluten-free
  2. Zing Almond Blueberry

For a Snack

Protein bars can be a great on-the-go snack that will tide you over between meals. If you’re looking for a snack, make sure your bar has less than 200 calories and at least 4 grams of fiber. Try these the next time you need something to nibble on:

  1. Dark Chocolate Coconut Balance Bar  
  2. Grab1 Cranberry Almond  

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Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

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