When hunger hits and it’s not meal time, I go for a protein bar. Since I follow a low carb diet, I only buy bars but there are many very healthy bars that are not so low carb but are all natural, made from raw ingredients which include nuts and seeds, dates etc. For the purpose of this article, I am going to stick with the low carb protein bars. So here is a list of things to look for in a low carb, low sugar bar:
- Protein content: This is the first thing I look at. I look for a minimum of 20 grams of protein. The higher the protein the more filling it will be and will keep you fuller for a longer time which ultimately reduces your cravings as well. Protein has a high thermic effect which means it requires a lot of energy to break it down. This means that up to 30% of the calories you consume from protein are used in the digestive process. Most proteins come from milk and whey so they are not good for anyone who has a lactose intolerance. For those of you with this issue, you would have to choose a vegan or vegetarian protein bar
- Low sugar/Low carb: This is the 2nd thing I look for. You would be surprised how much sugar are in some bars. Most of the vegan bars are high carb but they are good carbs. So to get a low carb bar you will most likely have to get one made from dairy/whey. It is important to understand the difference between total carbs and NET carbs. Most low carb bars use sugar alcohol (xylitol, sorbitol, erythritol) etc. Sugar alcohols always end with “itol” where sugars end with “ose” such as sucrose, fructose etc. Sugar alcohols cannot be absorbed so they pass through the system and do not have a glycemic response, meaning that they do not require insulin to be metabolized. Also, many low carb bars contain a high amount of fiber which like sugar alcohols, are not absorbed by the human body. They pass right through, so…we can subtract them since neither of them have a glycemic response. As an example: Let’s say the bar has 28g protein, 17g fiber and 10g sugar alcohol. 28-17-10=1 NET carb. This one carb left over has a glycemic response and is the only carb you count for your daily carb amounts.
- High fiber: As mentioned above, the higher the fiber content the lower the total carbs. Also, fiber is great for blood sugar balance
- When you’re choosing a protein bar that is quite low in total carb count, then they often will contain sugar alcohols. While many people will have no problem tolerating these, some people experience bloating, diarrhea, cramps, and bad gas as sugar alcohols draw water into the bowel. You will have to try them out for yourself to see if you react this way, but if you don’t these can be a very helpful fat loss aid. If you suffer from chronic constipation, they may be helpful for you
There are many high protein bars that are low carb and low sugar. You have to learn how to read the labels to know. Some of the low carb/sugar bars would include the Quest bars, B-Up bars and Oh Yeah ONE bars but there are many, many more to choose from. Enjoy a guilt free snack that provides great protein and fiber without the guilt of carbs!