Are Protein Bars Worse Than Snickers?

If you decide to refuel with a protein or meal replacement bar after exercising, you could be undoing the calorie-burning benefits of your workout and not even know it.

As the popular blog Junk Food News puts it: “You’d probably be better off with a Snickers than a protein or meal replacement bar.”

If that sounds unreasonable then consider this: most protein and meal replacement bars are replete with corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. Junk Food News cites a Consumer Labs study of 30 protein bars that found that 60% of the bars tested failed to match their nutrition labeling claims. Other highlights (or lowlights) of the Consumer Labs study:

1 out of 12 protein bars met the labeling claims.
1 out of 8 meal replacement bars met the labeling claims.
4 out of 10 diet bars met the labeling claims.
2 products exceed their claimed amounts of fat.

Half of the bars tested exceeded their claimed level of carbohydrates, some by a significant amount. Most likely this was because glycerin was not counted as a carbohydrate by some manufactures, although the FDA requires it to be included.

What can you do?
Unfortunately, while a Snickers bar may be nutritionally better than a protein bar, it’s still got 271 calories and 29 grams of sugar, making it not your best option. Junk Food News suggests you mix your own protein powder from a brand that doesn’t include excessive sweeteners. We suggest that you plan ahead and bring healthy snacks to the gym. Nuts will keep just fine in your car, or just bring along some string cheese and an apple. A skim cappuccino from any chain or deli will provide you with both protein and good carbs. Just don’t go for those blended drinks topped with whipped cream and wipe away that hour on the treadmill.

Try one of these fast-food snacks after your workout.

More ways to snack healthy:
5 Snack Makeover for Weight Loss and Energy

5 Healthy Snacks for 100 Calories

The Vending Machine Survival Guide

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