As of 2018, the global market for protein bars hit a staggering value of $1.18 billion, and research suggests it will hit $1.9 billion by 2026. With so many options on the market today, it can be hard for consumers to find the right product for them and their unique health goals. If you find yourself overwhelmed by all these choices when you walk the grocery store aisle or search online, follow this guide to find the perfect product for you.
Protein in a Package
Protein bars are the perfect breakfast or snack as they’re quick to eat, easy to carry, and often quite tasty. Eating them every day is a convenient way to ensure you get enough protein. Regular protein intake enhances the performance of various internal systems and organs, promoting your overall wellness.
The macronutrients also enable the repair and growth of body tissues and cells and boost your immunity against diseases. They’re critical to metabolism, bone structure maintenance, cellular communication, and weight management. Plus, eating enough protein each day will make you feel full and energized.
However, consuming a certain amount of protein isn’t enough to satisfy your body’s needs; you also need to eat the right kinds of protein. Twenty different amino acids make up various proteins, but the body can’t produce all of them on its own. Nutritionists refer to the nine amino acids that you must get from your diet as essential amino acids.
What Makes a Protein Bar High-Quality?
A high-quality protein bar should offer most, if not all, of the essential amino acids and taste great without the addition of artificial sweeteners, oils with trans fats, or high-calorie ingredients. As a general rule of thumb, look for bars with at least eight grams of protein and primarily whole-food ingredients, natural sweeteners, and only monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.
Popular Protein Bars
Which protein bar is right for you largely depends on your health goals, and your purpose for eating protein bars. Do you want to use protein bars as a meal replacement, or is your main goal to build muscle? Do you have any dietary restrictions? Answering these questions and reviewing the notes below can help you find the ideal option.
- High-fiber Protein Bars- These are rich in dietary fiber, which improves digestive health and lowers blood cholesterol levels. Eating such bars can give you a feeling of fullness, helping avoid overeating between meals. High-fiber options are an excellent choice for individuals on a weight-loss diet. Keep in mind that women below 50 need 25 grams a day and men below 50 need 38.
- Vegan, Vegetarian, or Paleo Protein Bars– If your diet excludes meat, dairy products, grains, and legumes (including peanuts), you’ll have to find a protein bar with a bit more creative protein sourcing. If you follow one of these diets, look for products that contain nuts, seeds, dates, and dried fruits.
- Gluten-free Protein Bars- Many protein bars pack in grains, which naturally contain gluten. Anyone on a gluten-free diet will have to avoid protein bars with wheat, oats, granola, pretzels, and other grain-containing ingredients. For a nutritious gluten-friendly protein bar, look for products that are composed mostly of nuts and seeds.
- Keto-friendly Protein Bars- The keto diet excludes anything with significant carbohydrate content, meaning you’ll have to avoid protein bars with grains and high-carb nuts. If you’re on the keto diet and need a low-carb protein source, you can try MCT protein bars with collagen. These are perfect for keto dieters because the healthy fats in MCT oil help prompt ketosis. Just make sure you check the label first, as not all varieties and flavors are keto-friendly.
- Protein Bars for Muscle Building- If you want to put on muscle, look for protein bars with ingredients that give you energy for longer workouts, and promote muscle repair. Seek out protein bars that contain all nine essential amino acids, offer plenty of fiber, and have low sugar. Often, muscle-building protein bars include whey protein.
- Protein Bars for Weight Loss- If you’re trying to lose weight by substituting breakfast with a protein bar, look for an option that offers not just a lot of protein but fiber too. Naturally, you’ll want to stay away from any protein bar with added sugar.
Picking a Protein Bar With Your Preferred Nutritional Profile
Eating the right protein bar can help you achieve your health goals, whether that means losing weight, controlling your cholesterol, building muscle, or sticking to a certain diet. To select the right product for you, you should start by identifying your primary objective and research the natural ingredients that will support your efforts.