How to choose – The answer is more complicated than you’d think and may surprise you!
A 9 Tip Checklist For Choosing A Health-Promoting Protein Bar/Nutrition Bar
1. Determine if one serving is going to satisfy both your appetite and your biological needs until your next meal time.
- If one serving of the food bar (or other food) is not sufficient, then simply do the following checks for whatever amount you will be consuming.
2. Check the number of calories per serving for the amount you will be consuming.
- If it is as a meal replacement (for a major meal) anywhere from 300-500 calories is reasonable (depending on your body weight, activity level, metabolic rate, as well as your health & body shape goals);
- If it is intended as more of a snack (or small meal for those eating several smaller meals per day) somewhere between 150-250 calories is reasonable.
3. Check the number of slow-burning carbs per serving (optimum depends on how you handle carbs and physical activity planned after eating):
- If you will not be doing a significant amount of strenuous physical activity over the next couple of hours: Look for 15 or fewer grams of carbs / serving.
- If you will be doing a significant amount of strenuous physical activity over the next couple of hours and you’d like to burn fat stores: Look for 15 or fewer grams of carbs / serving.
- If you will be doing a significant amount of strenuous physical activity over the next couple of hours and you don’t want to dip into your fat reserves and prefer to fuel your activity from recently ingested carbs: Look for 30 or more grams of carbs / serving.
4. Check the amount of sugar (refined / fast-burning carbs) per serving:
- There’s really never any good reason to choose a bar with more than about 10 grams of refined / fast-burning sugars / carbs per serving. Ideally, these should come from food sources (like dried fruit) rather than as added sugar!
5. Check to see if artificial sweeteners or sucralose are used:
- There’s really never any good reason to choose a bar that uses artificial sweeteners or sucralose.
6. Check the amount and types of fat per serving:
- A good rule of thumb is that the total fat content should be between 30-45% the total calories per serving or about 6-10 grams (providing they are the right types of fat).
- Ideally, there should be no trans fats and no hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
- A significant % of the total fat should be as monounsaturated &/or polyunsaturated fats (providing omega 3, omega 6, &/or omega 9 essential fatty acids in their “parent” / unadulterated forms, all are deficient in most diets).
7. Check the amount of protein per serving:
- There is a limit to the amount of protein a person can digest in a given unit of time. Activity and other substances eaten at the same time can also affect this.
- A good rule of thumb is to consume 10 -20 grams of protein at a given snack or meal depending on your particular protein needs.
- Too much protein (anything over about 20-25 grams for most people) or consuming protein along with a significant amount of refined carbohydrates / sugar, leads to compromised protein digestion, odiferous gas, and toxicity.
- More is not necessarily better!
8. Check the amount of fiber per serving:
- Most people do not get adequate fiber in their diets.
- A good rule of thumb is to make sure the bar has at least 3-5 grams of fiber per serving.
- Remember that fiber is counted as carbohydrates on the nutrition facts label, however, this # should be subtracted from the carbohydrate content for calculation purposes since fiber is not broken down by the body.
- Therefore, the calories associated with fiber are not actually absorbed, i.e., they don’t count.
9. Check to see if there are any “undesirable” ingredients listed:
Here are the main ones to avoid: Added refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, fructose, sucralose / Splenda ®, refined grains, puffed grains, artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated / partially-hydrogenated oils, palm kernel oil (esp. fractionated), canola oil, trans fats, gluten, peanuts, artificial flavors & additives, and chemical preservatives.
We don’t know of a pre-made, pre-packaged Nutrition or Protein Bar that meets all of the above creiteria but our Raw Power SuperFood Mix can be made into such a bar. That’s right, you can make your own “fresh baked” or “raw no-bake” bar versions using our Raw Power SuperFood Mix at home!