03.Protein products as snacks
As a snack, are protein bars and drinks OK?
- Because they’re shelf-stable, portable and ready to eat or drink, protein products can make convenient snacks when you’re exercising, if food protein sources — sandwiches or smoothies, for example — just aren’t practical.
- If you’re choosing between a protein bar and a regular chocolate bar such as a MARS bar, a protein bar can be a better option nutritionally.
Of the 26 bars in our sample, all but six (AUSSIE BODIES HPLC Bar, AUSSIE BODIES Protein Break Bar, ENDURA Protein Bar, FOODS OF THE WORLD High Protein Slice Amaranth, GNC ProPerformance Mega Whey Bar and MUSASHI P40 Protein Bar) have less fat and/or saturated fat than a MARS bar, and they all have less sugar.
However, a third of the bars have more kilojoules, and several of the drinks do too. That and their comparatively high price are good reasons for having protein products as an occasional snack only, or not at all.
If you’re on a low-carb, high-protein diet of the Atkins variety, the bars and drinks like the ones in our survey might appeal to you too. But don’t assume that high protein automatically equals low carb. Some products vie with MARS bars in the carbs stakes, while others can have fewer carbs per serve than ones that make a low-carb claim. It pays to read the label.
If you’re exercising, it’s preferable to have a combination of carbs and protein. Carbs have a protein sparing effect — that is, they provide the body with energy, saving protein for its normal function of maintenance, repair and synthesis of new muscle tissue.