Weighing In: Raising the Bar

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Granola.Hankins02Want in on a secret? Those Special K and Quaker Chewy bars you love so much aren’t as healthy as they seem. The truth is, not all protein and granola bars are created equal – some even contain as much fat and sugar as their candy-bar cousins.

While those 90-calorie options might seem superior, they’re generally high in sugar and provide very little, if any, protein or fiber. As a result, lighter versions often increase blood sugar levels, ultimately sparking your appetite rather than satisfying your hunger.

Next time you’re perusing the health isle, don’t be fooled by your fuel. Try swapping out your usual go-to-granola/protein bar for one of these powerhouses instead.

1. Luna Protein

Some protein bars are unappealing for two reasons: they’re too high in protein (32 grams in one bar is a bit excessive for the average exerciser) or they’re too high in calorie.

Fortunately, Luna has come up with a happy medium. For about 170 calories, Luna Protein bars supply 12 grams of protein and come in delicious flavors like chocolate peanut-butter, mint, cookie dough and chocolate cherry almond.

Plus – for a protein bar – they’re carbohydrate content is fairly modest at just 20 grams. By comparison, Special K Chocolatey Pretzel bars have 17 grams of carbohydrates but only a single gram of protein!

2. Kashi GoLean Crisp!

Another great assortment of protein bars comes from one of our favorite wholesome brands, Kashi. Though Kashi offers an array of granola bars (the dark chocolate coconut are delicious), this particular product line provides more protein than their other snack options.

Flavors include chocolate caramel, peanut butter, pretzel and almond, as well as cinnamon coffee cake. Each flavor provides eight grams of muscle-building protein and between five and six grams of filling fiber. Not to mention you get all that for just 150 to 190 calories.

3. Pure Protein

You’ve probably seen these bars heavily advertised as the ultimate body-building tool. While it’s true that some Pure Protein bars contain nearly 300 calories and a whopping 30g of protein, the brand also offers smaller versions that are more practical for those of us who aren’t aiming for 12-inch biceps.

The smaller bars come in the same flavors as their supersized 78 grams versions but certain flavors are lower in calorie than others. The strawberry shortcake, s’mores and chocolate deluxe 50-gram bars each have just 180 calories with nearly 20 grams of protein – a great option if you’re looking to seriously increase your protein intake without the added calories.

4. SoyJoys

While protein is certainly crucial for maintaining/losing weight and building muscle, consuming too much can be detrimental to your body. To avoid an overload, SoyJoy is a great alternative.

These bars clock in around 140 calories, provide two to three grams of fiber and offer four grams of protein (dark chocolate cherry has five). Not to mention, these naturally-fruity treats contain whole soy, which provides an assortment of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and folic acid. Additionally, soy is a natural source of isoflavones, compounds that have antioxidant properties (great for the immune system).

5. Detour

Unlike most detours, these protein bars won’t take you the roundabout way when it comes to getting healthy. Like Pure Protein, some Detour bars are better suited to serious sweat sessions (the Original Caramel Peanut has 350 calories with 30 grams of protein) while others satisfy more modest workouts.

To stay long and lean, go with the “lower sugar” flavors like Caramel Peanut, Neapolitan or Chocolate Chip Caramel which each have just 170 calories, 17 grams of carbohydrates (only three grams of which are sugar) and 15 grams of protein.

So remember: a bar with fewer calories doesn’t necessarily make every protein or granola more nutritious. Sometimes more is, well, more.

Photo by Tyler Hankins

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