Your Eating Healthier By Chowing Down On Protein Bars Or Shakes, Right?

But You Might Also Be Overdosing On Sugar And Carbs At the Same Time!

Ok, I get it, we are all busy, and over the past decade or so, most health-conscious people reached for a new “Healthier Product”, nutrition bars, to help them satisfy those hunger pains they sometimes were hit with mid-morning or afternoon.

After all, these bars are supposed to be a nutritious gift to the serious athlete, or those simply trying to live and eat, a healthier lifestyle, right? And when these bars hit the fitness magazines and talk shows, it generated a LOT of interest in on-the-go nutrition. Now most everyone who is looking to get a healthy energy boost is grabbing them off their grocer’s shelves. And why not? They are supposed to be the perfect go-to source of not only giving your bodies a little bit of satisfying nourishment it needs, but they are supposed to contain protein and the “good” carbs that help make you feel full, so you won’t have that after snack “Guilt Trip Feeling”.

Web Med put it simply; “In the current nutrition/energy bar environment, there are literally hundreds of these prewrapped and portable products competing for shelf space at gyms, health-food stores, and supermarkets, with names ranging from Power-Bar and Luna Bar to Balance Bar and MET-Rx. But nutritionists agree that not all bars are created equal. There are high-carbohydrate bars, protein bars, energy bars, breakfast bars, brain-boosting bars, meal-replacement bars, diet bars, and women-only bars. And with so much to choose from, consumers hungering for a quick nutritional fix -- whether they're recreational athletes, workaholics tied to their desks, or overcommitted moms with barely a moment to spare -- may feel dizzy from all the product overkill and heavily hyped claims.

Now don’t get me wrong. Eating a “protein” bar or other branded energy bar is a lot better than getting yourself a 1000 calorie late, a couple of doughnuts, or even a bag of chips. Now the bars do provide an easy to travel with, nutrition snack. If, and the key word here is If, you don’t rely on them solely as your means of fueling up your body. Liz Applegate, Ph.D., lecturer in nutrition at the University of California at Davis said "There's nothing magical about these bars. Most of them are fine, but some are too high in sugars and fat."

Dawn Jackson, RD, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, concurs, noting that the bars are convenient, especially when you're physically active. "You wouldn't put a turkey sandwich in your pocket when you go on a bike ride or a long-distance run, right? But you could easily bring one of these nutritional bars with you." However, she cautions, "Some of the bars have as much sugar and as much saturated fat as a candy bar. So, use them in moderation." Always keep in mind that these bars contain a high amount of your daily recommended protein, carbs and fats intake for the day. You would have more leeway if you were working out, going for a long-distance run, swimming laps or other strenuous exercises where you're expending a lot of calories to accomplish your daily/weekly fitness routines. But, if you’re just grabbing 1-2 or even 3 of these energy bars because they go well with your afternoon coffee, then you’re probably causing more harm to your goal of being fit than you realize!

Eating the right amount, and the right kind of food is the key to maintaining your blood sugar levels, which is one of the important factors in avoiding that afternoon run-down feeling. In order to do this correctly, it's better to pack your lunch/snack the night before in order to give yourself some time to prepare your nutritious food properly, by balancing the proteins, fiber, and carbs so that you get the proper amount of each.

Nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD, points out that anything that provides calories will give you some energy. "Bananas give energy," says Clark, director of nutrition services at Sports Medicine Associates in Brookline, Mass. "Twinkies give energy. Energy bars give energy. That's because they all provide calories." The key is to consume the calories that also provide a balance of protein, carbs, and fiber, not just empty sugar calories, like that Twinkie, that after you get the “rush” you then bottom out after those calories peak.

According to nutritionists, a good rule of thumb to follow when choosing the right bar is that they should include:
A total calorie count of between 150 -250 calories MAX!
Their ingredients should be composed of “Whole Foods”, non-processed. It is this processing step that strips away most of the healthy nutrients that are found in nature. Example of this are nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fruits. 7+ grams of protein, (which equates out to eating 1 hard boiled egg), 3+ grams of Fiber, and Should NOT contain more than 13 grams of Sugar!!

Read your labels!! We really can’t stress this enough. Marketers today have keyed in on all the health fad names/labels of nutrients and are trying to market their goods to you on the backs of these catchphrases that television commercials and infomercials use to catch your attention. Just because a package has a picture of oats, and Quinoa on their packages, doesn’t mean that the product is automatically healthy. Remember, attention-grabbing names aren’t always what we think they are.

*Take for example this chip product from “Simply 7”. It’s a Houston-based snack company that claims its Quinoa Chips are designed to deliver all the flavor and nutrients of the ancient super grain quinoa. Would a hefty amount of protein be among those nutrients?
Not really. Simply 7’s Sea Salt Quinoa Chips contain almost no protein. Well, almost none. One gram per serving. That’s it.
How can that be when the first ingredient is quinoa flour? For starters, quinoa isn’t exactly high in protein. And it’s not as if you’re eating a serving of quinoa in these chips. There’s also potato starch, cornstarch, oil, corn flour, sugar, and salt.
Well, at least the company no longer claims that these chips are a “Good source of protein.” That’s what bags of Simply 7 Sea Salt Quinoa Chips said until last spring.
*This information was taken from an article about amounts of protein found in some packaged foods

How much protein do you really need each day? Protein is one of the most important nutrients we need to consume in order to help our bodies work/perform the way they were designed to. From developing the proper amount of muscle mass, to making hair, blood, connective tissue, antibodies, enzymes, and more. It’s common for athletes and bodybuilders to wolf down extra protein to bulk up. But remember, they are working their bodies in an extreme way that most of us will never attempt.

So, how much protein do we need? The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The RDA is the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements. In a sense, it’s the minimum amount you need to keep from getting sick — not the specific amount you are supposed to eat every day.

To determine your RDA for protein, you can multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36. or use this online protein calculator . For example, a 50-year-old woman who weighs 140 pounds woman and who is sedentary (doesn’t exercise), that translates into 53 grams of protein a day. To easily convert grams to ounces, you can go Here .

Getting back to our talking point of are you getting what the packaging is marketing to you? Packages on the supermarket shelf look great: "Omega-3." "Excellent source of fiber." "As much protein as an egg." But take a closer look to discover the sobering reality: "Food companies design packages in order to sell products!" says Marion Nestle, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University "They know that if the label says 'gluten-free,' 'fat-free,' or 'vitamins added,' consumers will believe the product to be healthier—even though that might not be the case." Your best defense for a better diet? Learn how to see through the hype.
THE HYPE Great source of protein!
THE TRUTH It's not enough to keep you full.
"Protein" was once a word reserved for giant tubs of whey powder used by weightlifters, but now it's showing up on labels for drinks, snack bars, and cereals. So if a box of cereal claims that each serving has as much protein as an egg, it can help you muscle up, right? And a protein drink can silence your grumbling stomach until dinner? Some of those drinks have as little as 5 grams in a cup. One serving of some protein-boasting cereals provides a meager 10 grams of protein. And another marketing ploy is that the manufacturer sometimes will include the protein contained in the "MILK" you add to its cereal in order to claim additional protein that is NOT part of the manufacturing process. "This is not high-protein food, although the marketing implies it is," says Men's Health nutrition advisor Alan Aragon, M.S.

And if you're seeking a muscle-building benefit, check protein products carefully. "Not all proteins are the same," says Aragon. "For example, whey and egg have higher concentrations of leucine than plant sources of protein, and they're more potent in their ability to promote muscle growth."
A better bet to reap protein's benefits: Aim for 20 to 40 grams of protein at mealtime to fight hunger, Aragon says. That's the amount in 3 to 4 ounces of a cooked chicken breast or baked fish.

Valerie Berkowitz, M.S., R.D., nutrition director of the Center for Balanced Health in New York City, states that “Foods” engineered to be low in fat usually harbor other ingredients that expand your belly. "Low-fat processed foods often are made with excess sugar or other carbs to enhance flavor; they can trigger your body to produce fat-storing insulin," says Berkowitz. And there's psychological trickery at work here too: People in a Cornell study ate about 50 percent more of a snack if it was labeled "low fat." That "health halo effect" may lead to the notion that it's okay to eat more than usual if the food is low fat, the researchers say.

Bottom line is, always remember to read a packages label of ingredients! Just because it says protein, or low-fat, or organic, does NOT mean that it is the best dietary choice for you to make. Be conscious of your daily intake of sodium, sugars, and other additives that also contains hidden sugar!

If you don’t, you might as well, leave that energy bar on the rack and go and pick up a candy bar, but then, that’s not exactly going to give you the best bang for your carbs now, is it?


Previous article You Take Life Seriously, Right? Well Are You Just As Committed To Your Fitness?
Next article Spring Finally Made It Here On The East Coast, And Summer’s Right Around The Corner!