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How to Choose a Healthy Protein Bar

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Having a grab-n-go snack like an energy bar is perfect for a quick bite when you’re in a rush, or for a little boost when that part of the day hits when your energy levels start to dwindle.

Yet not all protein bars are created equal. What you may think is a healthy protein energy bar is sometimes no better than a sugar-ridden Twinkie after going through the list of ingredients.

In an effort to avoid foods that can derail your diet, it’s important to make sure that your protein enery energy bars meet a specific criteria, such as the following:

1. Choose Protein Bars With at Least 15 Grams or More Protein For Quick Energy

If you are looking for a good in between snack that will curb your appetite and give you a little pick-me-up before meals then you want to make sure your protein bar has adequate amounts of good carbohydrates and protein.

Even though protein is important for that energy boost, the bar itself need not have as much as you would find in a typical protein bar.

Most protein bars center try to convince you they’re healthy simple because they contain alot of protein. But the truth is many are nothing more then glorified candy bars because they contain tons of sugar and artificial ingredients in order to make them palatable.

For a healthy diet and that little surge of energy you might need when that 2pm wall hits, a 30 gram protein bar isn’t always necessary and may be overkill.

Look for an protein bar that contains at least 15 grams of protein, along with a healthy range of carbohydrates that are derived from healthy carbohydrates like fruits instead of added sugars.

2. Choose Protein Bars That Use “Plant” Proteins Whenever Possible

The type of protein that energy bars consist of is an important feature that you need to look at when buying these bars. Many contain animal or dairy protein that are high in fat and highly processed.

Whey protein can be hard on our bodies, and tough to digest. Instead, looking for a brand that uses plant protein among their list of ingredients is a good idea. Protein that comes from sources that are of plant origin are much healthier for the body.

There are a number of reasons why you should switch to plant proteins whenever possible, including:

• High in fiber;
• Low in unhealthy trans and saturated fats;
• Easily digested;
• Free of antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones often found in animal protein.

One of the major reasons for choosing plant based protein ingredients is their effect on the bodies’ alkaline levels.

Maintaining an optimal level of alkalinity will actually help to spare your muscle tissue, which is often where the body goes to get its energy sources. If your body is within an acidic level, it will reach for muscle tissue to help get it back to a more alkaline level.

There are number of plant-based proteins that you should look for when you’re on the hunt for a good quality energy bar, including:

• Hemp protein (which has one of the most complete amino acid structures of any other plant-based protein)
• Yellow pea protein
• Brown rice protein
• Almonds, and other sprouted
• Flaxseed
• Legumes
• Pseudograins, like quinoa and buckwheat
• Chlorella

Dale’s raw protein bars are pretty good.

3. Look for Protein Bars That are Gluten Free, Dairy Free & Soy Free

Cutting down on dairy, gluten and soy from your diet is much more than just about allergies or other food intolerances. There are plenty of health benefits associated with reducing these items from your every day diet.

For one, cutting out dairy can reduce symptoms related to anxiety, stress and nausea. You’ll even find that your sleeping patterns will improve, as will your energy levels.

Cutting out dairy is also a great way to help shed body fat and maintain a leaner physique.

Going gluten-free can be a great way to tweak your diet for weight loss efforts, and can help to get rid of a ton of processed foods from your diet, like cookies, cereal and starchy grains.

You’ll also quickly notice after eliminating gluten from your diet that digestion will be much improved. Bloating and cramping symptoms can also be alleviated by getting rid of gluten-loaded foods.

Soy has been increasingly shown to cause a number of health issues due to some of their harmful properties. First of all, they contain phytoestrogens, which copy the body’s natural estrogen hormones that can lead to infertility in both men and women.

So read your protein bar’s label carefully and make sure that these three culprits are nowhere to be found.

4. Choose Protein Bars That Don’t Contain Any Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are the last thing you want to see on the ingredients list of your protein bar.

Aside from all the serious health issues related to the consumption of artificial sweeteners, like diabetes and certain types of cancers, these culprits cam also cause weight gain.

That’s right. The very ingredient you introduce into your diet to substitute for sugar in hopes of shaving off a few calories in your day can actually make you gain weight.

There has been literature out there, including a review by Qing Yang from the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University, stating that artificial sweeteners actually heighten your desire and motivation to eat more.

Not only that, but the artificially sweet taste that comes from these sweeteners has been found to enhance the body’s appetite.

5. Choose ‘Raw’ Protein Bars Whenever Possible

Anytime a food product is cooked, it loses vital nutrients, and sometimes even gains hazardous substances, like trans fats, depending on how the food is prepared and processed.

Any ingredients that are kept in the raw, or even dehydrated, maintain their original concentrated nutrients, antioxidants and enzymes. Cooking destroys these vital enzymes which are needed for proper digestion.

Who needs protein bars that are full of over-processed ingredients, when you can get all the goodness you need with a protein bar loaded with raw ingredients the way nature intended?

Raw ingredients hands down provide the best source of energy, and are much more easily digested, making them the perfect choice for a quick pick-me-up without compromising on quality.

Healthy protein bars can even be hand made quite easily by mixing a variety of ingredients, including almonds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, shredded coconut, chia seeds, raw honey, dates, oats and coconut butter.

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