Eating enough protein throughout the day is sometimes easier said than done. Many of us know that protein is a nutrient that is an important part of a healthy diet.
But finding the time to cook up a high-protein chicken breast or whip up a protein-rich smoothie may not be possible for those of us who have a busy lifestyle. Finding sources of protein that are convenient and easy to enjoy on-the-go is a must for many people.
Protein bars are a no-fuss source of protein that requires zero prep and come pre-portioned, but are they good for you?
Why is protein important?
Protein is one of the three macronutrients that your body depends on for proper functioning – the other two being carbohydrates and fat. While all three nutrients are important, protein plays specific roles in the human body.
If a person does not take in enough protein over a long period of time, they can possibly have a harder time meeting their health goals.
Protein plays many important roles in the human body. For general health and wellness, protein needs to be a part of a balanced diet for the following purposes:
Protein helps support weight goals
Eating enough protein can help people maintain or lose weight. While the exact amount of “enough protein” is different for everyone, it has been recommended that people who want to reduce their fat ratio should take in between 25 and 35 grams of protein at every meal.
To support weight loss goals, protein should be a focus in one’s diet. Athletes and heavy exercisers require more protein than what is generally recommended if they want to achieve their weight loss goals, and individual needs vary.
However, it is safe to assume that making a point to eat foods that provide protein is a wise addition to any weight loss plan.
Protein intake has been shown to help people feel more satisfied after mealtime, preserve lean mass, and possibly increase metabolism. All of these outcomes can result in weight loss or weight maintenance.
Protein helps support muscle growth
Increased protein intake contributes to greater strength and muscle mass gains, especially when coupled with resistance exercise.
Therefore, if you are not eating enough protein, you are running the risk of not having enough of this important nutrient to essentially build your muscles and help keep you strong (or stronger). Data suggests that eating enough protein can also help prevent muscle loss.
Protein helps support a healthy immune system
Certain proteins play a role in your body’s ability to fight viral and bacterial infections. Not giving your body enough protein may set your body up for not being able to have the proper immune response that it needs to stay healthy.
Eating protein only when you are feeling under the weather won’t cut it – you need to maintain your protein intake consistently to reap the benefits.
What Are Protein Bars?
So, you know how important protein is for the body, but what exactly are protein bars?
Protein bars are nutrition bars that contain protein levels that are higher than typical snack bars.
Depending on the brand, a protein bar can provide a varying amount of carbohydrates and fat as well. Many protein bars are flavored to taste like an appealing snack and are pre-portioned to be an easy food to toss in a bag on the way out the door.
Why Do People Eat Protein Bars?
Protein is obtained from a wide variety of foods like meat, nuts, and beans.
While some sources of protein are convenient and do not require refrigeration – think peanut butter or protein powder – others are not the most ideal food to snack on in between meals or while squeezing in a quick lunch during a workday.
Protein bars are pre-made, pre-packaged, and contain protein. If a person knows that they need protein during the day, a protein bar can be a convenient and simple way to meet their needs.
So, are protein bars good for you or not?
Protein bars can be a part of a healthy diet if the right type of protein bar is chosen. Some protein bars can be hidden sources of a large amount of sugar, an ingredient that is often not conducive to health goals. Other protein bars may be made with undesirable ingredients like artificial flavors or colors.
Some tips for choosing a better-for-you protein bar:
- Keep added sugars at a minimum – preferably under 15 grams per bar
- Choose a bar that provides at least 10 grams of protein per bar
- Stay away from artificial flavors or sweeteners
- Avoid GMO ingredients
- Only eat bars that contain a minimal amount of ingredients – seven or fewer on average
- Include a bar that is flavored with natural ingredients like real peanut butter or chocolate
- Have at least five grams of fiber per bar to help keep you feel full and satisfied
- Keep the saturated fat content low
Protein bars are absolutely good for you and can help you meet your protein needs throughout the day. The key is choosing protein bars that are not loaded with sugar, saturated fats, or artificial ingredients.
Bars like our grass-fed whey protein bars are made with minimal ingredients.
They provide seven grams of fiber, 15 grams of protein, and are gluten, soy, and GMO-free. Tossing a Naked Bar in your purse, gym bag, or desk at work can help you meet your protein needs in a simple and healthy way.