Look at Carbs to Protein ratio
OK, first thing’s first. If it’s a “protein” bar, it should have at least 15 grams of protein per bar. Less than that and you really aren’t getting much bang for your buck. Also, you want be sure the protein content is higher than carbs. Remember, the protein content is what makes a protein bar a “protein bar.” So if there are more grams of carbs than protein, or even worse, more grams of sugar than protein, you’ll definitely need to upgrade.
Look at the source of protein
Choose bars that contain high-quality sources of protein, such as hydrolyzed whey, whey isolates and micellar casein. Whey or soy concentrates are fine but not the best. Also, gelatin (or collagen) is often added to protein bars to improve texture. You will find the protein type or types in the ingredients, from highest to lowest concentration. So check the ingredients and ensure that proteins such as hydrolyzed whey, whey isolates and micellar casein are high up on the ingredients list. Everything else is going to be suboptimal, and as a result, should not be listed high up on the ingredients.
Look at sugar
Bottom line: Too much sugar in your diet will make you fat. And ironically enough, many protein bars are loaded with sugar. So avoid protein bars that contain refined sugars, such as sucrose, corn syrup, and high-fructose corn syrup in the ingredients. These types of ingredients will make your protein bar no better than a candy bar.
Next let’s talk a bit about artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols. To make a protein taste good (because plain protein actually tastes pretty nasty), manufacturers often add things like artificial sweeteners (i.e. Sucralose) and sugar alcohols (i.e. xylitol, maltitol and sorbitol, also found in gum). Sugar alcohols will be listed along with sugars and dietary fiber under the Total Carbohydrate section on the nutrition label. Sugar alcohols have gained popularity as sweeteners because they have fewer calories, don’t affect blood sugar as much as sugar, and also don’t cause tooth decay. However sugar alcohols do have a downside because they may cause bloating and intestinal discomfort in some people. Also, because sugar alcohols do contribute calories and affect blood-sugar levels to variable degrees, they will need to be accounted for by the low-carb dieter.
Here’s my stance when it comes to sugar (artificial, alcohol or otherwise): If you have a lot of weight to lose, I’d stick to protein bars with no more than 6g net carbs per serving. Net carbs are your total carbs minus fiber. The only exception to this is if you’re using the bar immediately after a workout. In this case you can allow more carbs since your muscles will be more primed to absorb and burn those carbs quickly.
Look at fat
It’s a good idea to find a bar that does contain some fat since this will slow digestion and the release of the carbs into the blood stream. However you want to avoid any bar that contains trans-fat, and watch out for bars with palm oil and palm kernel oil- which are types of saturated fats. Note: Not all saturated fats are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, but palm oil is.
Look at fiber
Look for bars that contain at least 6 grams of fiber. Fiber will help promote regularity, control blood sugar spikes, and help you feel full longer.
Look at total calories relative to the size of the bar
Last but not least, if you’re restricting daily calorie intake as a means to lose weight, downing a tiny sized, high calorie calorie protein bar isn’t exactly going to make fat loss easy. Think about it, you could be consuming a chunk of your total daily calories in just 1 protein bar that may not even fill you up for a few hours. So pay attention to the total calories of your bar, as well as the overall size of your protein bar.
The choices that coachabc uses are Kind Bars, and Power Crunch bars (chocolate mint is her favorite)