Protein Bar or Candy Bar?

by Brooke on May 17, 2011

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Protein is an important nutrient for tissue/muscle building and repair. 

Here are the current Protein Recommendations:

  • Daily Reference Intake (DRI) for protein is 0.8 g/kg/day (0.36 g/lb/day)
  • For endurance athletes it is 1.2 to 1.4 g/kg/day
  • For resistance athletes it is around 1.6 to 1.7 g/kg/day

The amount of protein we consume and time we consume it are both important factors for building muscle.  Within 15-30 minutes after a workout, snacks with a mixture of both carbohydrate and protein are beneficial for replacing energy stores and aiding in recovery.  Many athletes and active adults tend to grab protein bars to get this job done.  A recovery snack or meal containing 10-20 grams of protein should be sufficient enough for most normal weight athletes. 

It is important to check the sugar content of each protein bar before purchase.  Some of them are really high in sugar!  

A simple rule of thumb to follow when selecting a protein bar is for every 100 calories there should be less then 10 grams of sugar. 

Anymore sugar than that per every 100 calories would make your protein bar a candy bar.  Yes, sometimes sugar is found in more natural forms on the ingredients list like dried fruit and other times it is listed as one of these.  Consuming too much sugar shortly after a workout can spike your blood sugar and leave you feeling really fatigued once your blood sugar level begins to drop.  It is also important to look out for sugar alcohols on the Nutrition Facts Label of a protein bar.  The sugar alcohols are listed right under the sugar amount on the label.  Sugar alcohols are carbohydrates that are not metabolized (broken-down and used) the same way as table sugar (sucrose) in the body, which results in less energy consumption.  Protein bars that contain a high amount of sugar alcohols may cause gastrointestinal distress.  

For more tips on protein bars check out this blog post: Protein Bars- Protable but Healthy.

What is your favorite protein bar?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike-Jane May 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm

With the extensive selection of energy and protein bars available on the market today, not to mention the lack of knowledge that most people have about proper nutrition, I found your article very informative and with the proper specific on what to look for. Being over 50 myself and very active as an outdoor enthusiast I regularly supplement my diet with nutrition bars and will take that information to heart. Thank you!


March May 17, 2011 at 9:56 pm

This really segues from the topic of last week! In my comments I wrote, “what passes for “nutritious” has also become distorted by marketing.” That’s very true in this product category!! Segregate these bars from the candy, add a label like “energy” “nutrition” or “protein” in front of the word “bar” and stick a $3 price tag on them. Voila, they’re “HEALTHY!” Some of these bars have as much 400 calories!! You could eat a nutritious whole meal for that calorie load!! I used to have a boss who thought it was a good idea while he was dieting to consume THREE Zone bars a day as “nutritional supplements.” 750 extra calories he was adding EVERY DAY. And not to mention how products like these feed the cycle of food addiction! For people who would otherwise consume candy bars, they might justify to themselves why it’s OK to consume these “nutrition” bars.

Also with respect to last week’s post…I have been known to bring a plastic container of hard boiled egg whites (and one yolk!) or fat-free cottage cheese to the gym with me for post workout. Stick it in the gym fridge, relax for a few minutes after my workout, great time to chat with my trainer. He’s often having chicken and brown rice! Inexpensive, easy to do, quality whole food can still be convenient!


Dagny May 18, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Where is that photo from??!! It’s Lara Bar headquarters!!!


Brooke May 23, 2011 at 2:06 am

Haha…no it was just a grocery store and that was one of the best shots!


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