I recently wrote about how most yogurt should be thought of as a carb, not a protein.

pic: Protein Bars Are Mostly Carbs
Protein Bars Are Mostly Carbs

Well, would you believe the same holds true for so-called “protein bars”?

Most protein bars are really only about 30% protein!  50% is carbs and 20% is fat.

So that makes protein bars essentially “candy bars with some protein”.

Let’s look at some labels:

PowerBar ProteinPlus:  23g protein BUT 39g carb and 6g fat.  Remembering that fat has 9 kcal/g and protein and carbs each have 4 kcal/g, that puts it at about 52% carbs, 30% protein, and 18% fat.

Detour “Low Sugar” Whey Protein Bar:  30g protein BUT 33g carb and 10g fat.  That translates to 39% carb, 35% protein, and 26% fat.  Note that this is the “low sugar” version which is still mostly carbs and only 1/3 protein.

I could go on and on but I’ll leave you by repeating the phrase I use with my kids:  “Protein bars are fine as a treat, but think of them as candy bars with protein.”

If you want to plan for the worst, keep protein powder, a shaker bottle, and a bottled water in your car.  That’s $5 – cheaper than 2″ candy bars with protein” and way better for you.  (I’d suggest casein protein if you have the option.)

Two other things to watch for:

a) soy-based protein

b) “energy” bars, where protein is even lower – like 10%!  The packages look the same but these are really just candy bars

Look, I’m a practical guy.  There are times when you are “stranded” or totally rushed and can’t get real food.  Or maybe on a long flight you get one to stow and eat after 3 hrs.  For most of you, this is once or twice a year but even the busiest of you shouldn’t be eating these things more than once a month.  How serious are you about your fitness?  If you are, then you’ll plan ahead and never be caught having to resort to “candy bars with protein”.

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