Question: When I go shopping I see all different kinds of protein bars. Some look more like candy bars and others look like they might be good for me. I'm not sure why I need them, though, so can you answer a few questions about protein bars?
Mitch - About.com User
Answer: The main benefit is convenience. Whether you buy prepackaged protein bars or make homemade protein bars, they're easy to pack in a backpack, purse or gym bag. Eating a protein bar is an easy way to get some extra grams of protein into your diet.
Protein bars can help you lose or gain weight. A protein bar between meals can help control your appetite, just don't overdo it - one should be enough. Look for bars that are lower in sugar and calories. If you're trying to gain weight, eating protein bars can help. Add one or two bars to your regular diet, but don't cut calories from other meals.
Are there any bad protein bars?
I don't think there are any bad protein bars, but make sure you read the labels before you buy one - you may be surprised at the number of calories you're taking in because many brands are high in added sugar.
Some protein bars are sweetened with sugar alcohols, which have fewer calories than sugar, but are not calorie-free. You should also avoid protein bars made with partially hydrogenated oils that contain trans-fats.
Do I need the extra protein?
Maybe, but as long as you eat a balanced diet, you probably get enough protein from the foods you eat. Even if your diet isn't so healthful, it's still probable that your protein intake is sufficient. My Calorie Calculators will help you determine how much protein you need every day.
What does protein do?
You need some protein every day so your body can maintain muscles, organs, and other structures and fluids in your body. If you engage in heavy physical activities, you'll need a little more protein than if you're less active.
What type of protein is used in protein bars?
Most protein bars use soy proteins or whey (a milk protein), and they may have a little extra protein from nuts and seeds.
United States Department of Agriculture, ChooseMyPlate.gov. "Why Is It Important to Make Lean or Low-Fat Choices from the Protein Foods Group?" Accessed January 24, 2013. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/protein-foods-why.html.