You may have read about them in fitness magazines, heard about them from your gym trainers or even seen them being consumed by your friend – but do you really know what protein bars are and why you should eat them? Many people believe that protein bars are no more than a marketing gimmick designed by companies wanting to sell their products and maximise their profits. But if they weren’t really good for you, they wouldn’t have lasted this long, would they? Here’s an explanation of what exactly these protein bars are and the benefits they provide to their die-hard fans.
What are protein bars?
Picture this: you’re working really hard in the gym and want to build up your body, but for that your trainer has told you that you’ll need to eat at least six protein-rich meals during the day. But with the effort and time you put in your gym workout, you find it difficult to cook protein-rich food every day. Worse still, you’re a vegetarian and eating non-vegetarian foods rich in protein like chicken, eggs, and anchovies are out of the question. What do you do then? Do you let all your hard work go waste or do you look for a quick solution?
Protein bars have been created to provide you with this solution. Simply put, they are a quick, simple and healthy source of protein that will aid in your digestion and provide better results in the gym. Similar to meal replacement bars, energy bars and diet bars, protein bars are particularly effective for people who need more protein in their body.
But what exactly is in a protein bar?
As their name suggests, the major ingredient in these bars is protein, which can be as much as 20-25 grams. This may not seem all that much to you, but remember that fully grown adults only need about 46-56 grams of protein per day. When seen in this context, they can be a powerful provider of this nutrient. But they also contain certain other things that are useful for the body. It is not uncommon to find carbohydrates, vitamin, minerals, amino acids and even some sugars in the bar. Make sure you check out the list of ingredients on the packet before buying them. It is important to distinguish healthy protein bars from the unhealthy ones – look out for undesirable ingredients like fats, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated vegetable oil and artificial flavouring mentioned on the packet. Brands like Nutribar, Pure Protein Bars and Oh Yeah are good options and can be purchased from the HealthKart site.
Who is a protein bar for?
Anybody who has a protein deficiency in the body can make use of protein bars. However, it is not always necessary to have them only when there’s a deficiency. Protein bars are particularly useful for athletes (especially marathoners and cyclists), bodybuilders and exercise fanatics who spend a large part of their day doing strenuous physical exercise or training.
When should I eat a protein bar?
While it is true that a protein bar can be a substitute for a meal and as such be eaten any time during the day, there are certain times when it proves to be more useful. This is just before or after a workout as that is the time when your body craves for and requires protein the most and you can derive the maximum nutrients from the bar. If you eat a protein bar more than an hour after your workout, it will be considerably less effective and you will end up wasting a lot of the effort you put in at the gym.
Benefits of protein bars
There are certain reasons why protein bars are extremely popular, some of which are listed below.
- Protein bars are very convenient – They can be eaten anytime during the day and do not require any effort to make or maintain. All you need to do is open the pack and pop it in your mouth. There is no refrigeration, microwaving or anything else needed to prepare them. Besides, they take up hardly any space, don’t need utensils, and are delicious to eat. Also, with protein bars, there is a fixed portion which prevents you from overeating.
- Protein bars curb your dessert cravings – While they’re definitely not a dessert, they do contain certain amounts of sugars that make them sweet to taste. This means that your body gets its required sugar and does not crave for sweets, chocolates or pastries after each meal.
- Protein bars keep you feeling full for longer – This is because protein takes a longer time to get digested than carbs and fats. Protein also provides more energy and helps you feel satiated for a long time after you’ve eaten it.
Protein bars help build lean muscle mass – Ever wondered why all the hardcore gymmers have pecks of steel? That’s because they eat plenty of protein bars, which aid in building the body’s muscle mass.