Protein Bar Health Benefits
Protein bars are often associated with high performance athletes, muscle-builders, and young active people. However, even busy professionals, mothers, and college students can benefit from these handy and tasty packets of nutrition.
Busy people who run for work sometimes need to get a quick source of energy while on the go. But instead of grabbing a donut or a bagel, many experts recommend having a healthy protein bar, which contains enough nutrients and calories to substitute for a meal. Of course, nothing is better than eating a balanced meal, complete with carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals from whole foods and cooked foods. But for someone who needs a quick energy boost in the office or before a workout, a meal-replacement bar that is rich in protein may be a healthy alternative.
Why Protein Bars?
Here are some reasons why protein bars are gaining popularity and becoming part of a healthy diet:
High Protein Content. Protein is a key component of every cell in the body, including those of your hair and nails. The body needs protein to build tissues like muscles, bones and cartilage, produce hormones, enzymes and other chemicals, and to repair aging and damaged cells. Protein is a “macronutrient,” which the body needs in large amounts. However, unlike carbohydrates and fat, the body does not store proteins and so it needs a constant supply from the diet.
Many athletes take protein bars as a quick source of protein to build muscle. Other active people may also benefit from taking protein bars to increase their protein intake, especially if they are too busy to eat a complete meal. Some experts recommend choosing protein bars with at least six to ten grams of protein per bar to supplement their daily diet. This will help people meet their daily requirement for protein, which is about 46 grams for teenage girls and women, 52 grams for teenage boys, and 56 grams for adult men.
Meal Replacement. Aside from whey protein, protein bars also contain other nutrients such as carbohydrates and fat, which can help provide energy when you are on the go. Nothing can replace a healthy breakfast or lunch, but if you need to power up when you cannot have these meals on time, you can sneak a protein bar into your body occasionally. People who want to avoid eating big meals or want to control their calorie intake may also replace meals with a nutrient-dense protein bar, which contains healthy ingredients such as nuts, dried fruits, whole grains, seeds, and peanut butter. If you are using protein bars to replace meals, look for those that contain about 300 calories.
Protein bars may also contain “micronutrients,” or nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that the body needs in small amounts. These nutrients act as antioxidants that can help protect the body against certain disease. Choose product that contain calcium, potassium, folate, iron, and vitamins A, C, and D.
Weight Loss. Many people who want to lose weight opt for a low carb, high protein diet. Replacing meals with healthy snacks like protein bars can help you lose weight as long as you consume a low fat, low-calorie diet and stay active. Aside from essential nutrients, protein bars also contain fiber from fruits, whole grains and nuts. Having enough fiber in the diet promotes weight loss, so look for products that contain at least five grams of soluble and insoluble fibers. In addition to this, you must also eat other whole foods such as fruits and vegetables to be able to meet the daily requirement for fiber, which is about 25 grams.
To avoid weight gain, eat protein bars that have 200 calories or less. Choose those that have no trans fats or hydrogenated oils and less than 3 grams of saturated fat.
Portable and Convenient. Protein bars are always ready to go – just slip one into your purse, gym bag, glove compartment or desk drawer for a quick snack. Protein bars are light and portable; they do not require heating or refrigeration. You can eat them anywhere – in the office, car, or grocery. In addition to nutrition and energy, protein bars come in a wide variety of flavors to satisfy your taste. You can also eat it as a snack between meals or a dessert after light meals.
It is important to remember that the best way to maintain health is to consume a balanced, nutrient-dense diet that includes a variety of foods and to stay active. Consult your doctor about taking health supplements like protein bars, especially if you have a medical condition that may be affected by a modified or special diet.
This information should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health.
WebMD. The Benefits of Protein. http://www.webmd.com/men/features/benefits-protein
The Nest. Benefits of Protein Bars. http://woman.thenest.com/benefits-protein-bars-2948.html
Women’s Health Magazine. The Best (and Worst) Energy Bars. http://www.womenshealthmag.com/nutrition/protein-bars