Everything You Need to Know about Protein Bars

By: Tim Rigby (courtesy of Inside Fitness)

Delicious, nutritious, convenient and inexpensive.  What more could you want from a protein bar or cookie?  This ever-growing segment of the food industry is thriving due to increased consumer demands for easy-to-consume, handy little treats that pack a lot of health into them – especially for a very low cost.  In the current day, we almost take for granted the usefulness of protein bars and cookies, but it wasn’t that long ago where your choice for such a supplemental snack was very limited.  If you harken back to the mid-1980s, there were only a few brands on the market, and even they were extremely limited in terms of nutritional profile and flavours (furthermore, they often tasted like sawdust or leather).  If you were to venture just a little further back in time, protein bars and cookies didn’t even exist at all.

So how did it all happen? During the last 25 years or so, several trends in fitness have led to the rapid development of the protein snack industry.  In general, more people now pay close attention to their nutritional consumption as the number of individuals active in fitness has shifted from a once male-dominant segment of the populace to an equalized gender demographic.  As the number of fitness-minded people increased, it became necessary for manufacturers to deliver broader choices in nutrition profiles and flavours; furthermore, companies began to pioneer new and different styles of snacks, such as protein cookies, chips and mini-bites.  The overall goal was to develop these snacks for easy, convenient consumption which people could comfortably squeeze into their daily diet.

Let’s now take a look at the advantages and benefits to today’s wide array of healthy protein snacks:


Nutritional Profile. 

Not all protein snacks are the same; far from it.  You’d likely be very surprised (not to mention impressed) if you sat down and studied the entire spectrum of nutritional profiles for the protein snacks on the market today.  It wasn’t that long ago that you had but one and only one choice in a protein bar: mid-grade protein (usually from milk) and high sugars.  Back in the day, the fabled Met-Rx bars (pronounced “Metrics”) were the king of their time, but you’d often find inconsistencies in their texture, ranging from chalky to resembling sawdust.  Furthermore, in every such case, they were

For starters, you no longer have to eat a protein snack that’s laden with unwanted carbs, especially sugars.  These days, most consumers are savvy enough to require more nutrient-dense protein snacks without a lot of wasted calories.  You have the choice of consuming strictly protein bars with no carbs or fats whatsoever, and often for taste they’ll use a sweetener.  Lest you worry about artificial sweeteners and all their nasty side effects, many bars are sweetened with stevia and other natural sweeteners.

Another great trend in protein bars is that many of them contain high amounts of fibre, often ranging from 12 to 17 grams in every bar.  Fibre is very important to one’s nutrition and the overwhelming percentage of the population is well-documented as being deficient.  Fibre not only helps with regularity but promotes a feeling of satiety (i.e. that you’re full); both of these consequences of high fibre have a direct influence on weight loss.  This means you can not only help build and develop muscle, but also keep the waistline trim as well.


Pick your protein. 

Sometimes we really don’t appreciate how lucky we have things these days.  Protein bars of old were essentially made from milk and milk alone.  You were forced to accept this, and if you didn’t like it your other option would be to crack open six raw eggs and eat the albumen (the whites which start out as clear goop).  If you were feeling caveman-like, you could knock back the whole damn mix.  Oh, it was healthy and cheap, but the taste definitely made most people queasy.

These days, there are an abundance of different choices in protein composition.  The king of all proteins being whey isolate, this is often found as the lead source (or only source) of protein in a bar or cookie.  If your nutritional needs happen to call for other forms, such as with a lower biological value (BV) and absorption, you can easily locate yourself some bars made from egg albumen or casein, all the way down to soy and hemp.  You can even find some bars made from peas and rice, if you look hard enough.  While whey isolate delivers the best and fastest bang for your buck, if you’re looking for a more slow-digesting protein that you can consume before bed, casein will do the job for you.


Taste and convenience. 

So, let’s talk about the myriad of flavours of protein bars and cookies on the market today.  If you’re over the age of 40, you likely remember when your only choices were a scant chocolate or vanilla.  If you were lucky, you might have been able to find strawberry.  In the year 2020, however, your choices run into the dozens with many manufacturers offering such tasty and exotic flavours as birthday cake, cookies and cream, peanut butter, cinnamon roll, lemon cake, white chocolate truffle, salted caramel, churro and banana bread.  These are just a few of your choices.  Let’s face it, even though you know how nutritious a protein snack is, you’re more likely to actually consume it if you’re in love with the taste.  These days, it’s very easy to do just that.

Finally, it cannot be understated that the convenience of protein snacks is perhaps their greatest advantage.  When you’re running late for an important meeting, or you just dashed like an Olympic hurdler through a train station to catch your late train home, how easy is it to relax in your chair, pull out a tasty and inexpensive protein snack, and munch away on great flavour and nutrition?  Outside of actually having a meal, your only other option to consuming with supplemental protein is to find a blender and some powder – but this method doesn’t easily fall into the daily realm of busy, mobile people.
    
We here at Fitdeals.ca wholeheartedly recommend the use of healthy protein bars and cookies at least once a day, in order to help you achieve your fitness goals.  Whether your aim is simply to build muscle (or shape and tone), or to lose fat and weight, science has shown repeatedly that increased protein consumption is directly responsible for igniting all of these mechanisms.  Protein snacks ensure you make the most out of all your hard work in the gym, and also the effort and discipline you put into keeping your diet as nutritious as possible. 

For a mere couple of dollars per protein snack, you’re truly doing your training endeavours a world of good and helping to amplify and accelerate all of your fitness gains.  Be sure to have a healthy protein bar or cookie today.

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