A quick way to meet your daily protein needs is with a protein bar from your favourite brand. Protein bars provide you with instant energy. They are also calorically dense and aid in weight gain as well. Pregnant women who are unable to obtain enough protein from their diet can consume protein bars. These bars are travel-friendly and can be consumed at the gym, office or during travel as well! As Indians are becoming more and more health-conscious, the market value of protein bars is expected to grow. But how well do we know what goes inside these delicious bars and do they really help build muscles?

Why Do You Require Protein?

Protein is required for tissue repair. It also aids in building muscles, bones and cartilage. Protein is also involved in enzymatic production and hormonal regulation. Haemoglobin is the protein present in red blood cells that are involved in the transport of oxygen. Protein also aids in the growth of children and adolescents. 

Protein-Rich Foods

Now that you know why protein is essential, let us look at some protein-rich foods.

  • Lean meat and chicken
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dairy foods like milk, cheese, curd
  • Beans and lentils
  • Certain cereals 

Benefits Of Protein Bars

Protein bars are a powerhouse of nutrients. Some protein bars contain phosphorus, potassium, vitamin E and calcium apart from protein. Certain protein bars also contain fibre that can aid in curbing hunger pangs and promote satiety. This aids in weight management. It can also promote weight gain as some protein bars are calorically dense as well. It can also help in gaining muscle mass when coupled with a healthy diet and exercise.

Athletes and fitness fanatics need much more protein and energy than other people. Protein bars are a great way for them to get that much-needed boost of energy right before a workout or after one. Protein is an essential nutrient that keeps you going throughout the day. This is the reason it is highly preferred during hardcore workouts, travelling, and running. They can fill you with energy on a busy, dull, and strenuous day. Several protein bars consist of high amounts of both protein and fibre along with several essential minerals and vitamins so that you get well-balanced nutrition. Occasionally they can be used as a substitute for a meal when you’re in a hurry.

Myths About Protein Bars

Now that you know the benefits of consuming protein bars, let us look at some of the myths surrounding them.

1. Protein Bars Are Always Healthy

The healthiness of protein bars varies depending on the brands and the ingredients used for making the bars. Check the nutrition labels for sugar and calories. Also, check the ingredient labels to make sure the foods being used for protein are whole foods and not processed ones like soy isolates.

2. Protein Bars Are High In Fibre

Many bars claim to be high in fibre but it is usually quite the opposite. A food product has to have at least 5 grams of fibre per serving to be claimed as fibre-rich!

3. Protein Bars Can Act As Meal Replacers

Many protein bars contain good amounts of sugar, calories and sodium. It is good to eat these bars once in a while but bars cannot replace whole foods.

4. Consume Protein Bars Only After Workout

Protein bars can be consumed in your breakfast as well. It can also be munched on as a mid-afternoon snack.

5. All Protein Bars Are Processed

Look out for the ingredient list in this case. If the protein bar contains chemical agents used for binding or whey protein isolates, avoid it. Consume bars that use organic ingredients like nut butter or plant oils.

Nutritional Recipes

Now that you know the facts regarding protein bars, let us look at some delicious protein bar recipes that you could prepare at home!

1. Peanut Butter And Oats Protein Bars

This tasty protein bar is easy to prepare and does not require the use of an oven.

Cooking time:  20-25 mins

Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

Energy: 235 kcals

Carbohydrates: 24 gms

Protein: 8.5 gms

Fat: 12 gms

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup of peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon (ground)
  • ¼ cup of chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1 ½ cup of rolled oats
  • ½ cup of protein powder
  • Honey to taste

Method:

  1. In a baking tray, place parchment paper.
  2. Place a saucepan over the heat. Add a cup of water to the saucepan. Place a bowl with peanut butter, coconut oil and honey over the saucepan. Mix well. Do not boil the water and do not fill the water up to the brim of the saucepan.
  3. After the mixture in the bowl gets heated, remove the bowl from the saucepan and turn off the heat. 
  4. Add oats, cinnamon and protein powder to the peanut mixture. Stir well. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes. Add chocolate chips to the mixture. 
  5. Add the mixture onto the pan and refrigerate for more than an hour.
  6. Remove the mixture from the refrigerator and cut the pieces gently. Enjoy!

Tip: If you are looking for organic peanut butter, get one from a desi brand at the Red Dot Shop here and be #vocalforlocal!

2. Oats, Almond Butter And Chia Seeds Protein Bar

This nutritious bar is made without sugar and can be a treat for diabetics and vegans as well!

Cooking time:  20-25 mins

Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

Energy: 226 kcals

Carbohydrates: 26 gms

Protein: 10 gms

Fat: 11 gms

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of almond butter
  • 9-10 dates
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds
  • 1 ½ cup of rolled oats
  • ½ cup of protein powder
  • 3 tbsp of milk
  • ¼ cup of chocolate chips (optional)

Method:

  1. In a baking pan, place parchment paper.
  2. In a blender, add dates, oats, chia seeds, milk, protein powder and peanut butter. Blenderize the ingredients. The dough’s consistency should not be dry. Add a little more milk and blenderize again if it turns out to be dry. It should resemble dough.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add chocolate chips and mix well.
  4. In the baking pan with parchment paper, transfer the mixture. Press the mixture gently and spread it onto the paper. Place it in a freezer for more than an hour.
  5. Remove the freezer and gently cut the bar using a knife. Enjoy!

3. Mixed Nuts Protein Bar

This delicious protein bar helps in providing you with an instant boost of energy. You can also add jaggery or sugar syrup instead of honey.

Cooking time:  20-25 mins

Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

Energy: 275 kcals

Carbohydrates: 24 gms

Protein: 15 gms

Fat: 14 gms

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of pitted dates
  • ½ cup of almonds
  • ½ cup of cashews
  • ¼ cup of walnuts
  • ¼ cup of pistachios
  • ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp of sesame seeds (til)
  • ½ cup of coconut (grated)
  • ½ cup of rolled oats
  • Honey to taste
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • Coconut oil for roasting
  • Butter for greasing

Method:

  1. Soak dates at least for an hour. Blend it to a smooth paste and keep it aside.
  2. In a kadhai, roast rolled oats. After cooling, transfer it to a blender and blenderize it into powder.
  3. To the same kadhai, add coconut oil. Roast the nuts along with pumpkin and sesame seeds.
  4. Remove the nuts from the kadhai. To the same kadhai, add dates paste and saute for a few minutes. 
  5. Add honey, salt, cardamom powder and roasted nuts to the dates paste. Mix well.
  6. Switch off the flame. Add the oats powder to the dates and nuts mixture. Mix well.
  7. Over a baking tray, place parchment paper. Grease the paper with butter and spread the mixture onto the tray.
  8. Place the tray into the freezer for at least an hour.
  9. Remove from the freezer and cut the bar gently using a knife. Enjoy!

4. Chickpea And Almond Protein Bars

This bar is a perfect treat for vegetarians and it is gluten-free too!

Cooking time:  20-25 mins

Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

Energy: 275 kcals

Carbohydrates: 22 gms

Protein: 18 gms

Fat: 8 gms

Ingredients:

  • 200 gms of chickpeas
  • 1 banana (ripe)
  • ½ cup of almond butter
  • 1 tbsp of flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp of cinnamon powder

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350℃.
  2. Blenderize all the ingredients in a blender. 
  3. In a baking tray, place the parchment paper.
  4. Pour the blenderized mixture into the paper and spread evenly.
  5. Bake the mixture for 25 minutes.
  6. Remove the mixture from the oven and let it cool. Gently cut the pieces using a knife and serve. Enjoy!

5. Nut-Free Protein Bar

This protein bar can be consumed by individuals that are allergic to nuts and it is easy to prepare as well. 

Cooking time:  20-25 mins

Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

Energy:  240 kcals

Carbohydrates: 22 gms

Protein: 11 gms

Fat: 6 gms

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of oats
  • ¼ cup of protein powder
  • 1 tbsp of flax seeds
  • ¼ cup of whole wheat flour
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon powder (dalchini)
  • ½ cup of applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 2 tbsp of raisins
  • Honey to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350℃. Spread parchment paper into the baking tray.
  2. In a bowl, mix protein powder, flaxseeds, oats,  baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  3. In another bowl, mix apple sauce, and honey. Mix well. Add this mixture to the oats mixture and stir well.
  4. Add raisins to the mixture. 
  5. In the parchment paper, pour the mixture and spread it evenly. Bake for around 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the tray from the oven and let it cool. Slice into pieces gently using a knife. Enjoy!

Key Takeaways

  1. It is essential to look at the labels of protein bars for ingredients as many details are not disclosed in packaging.
  2. Many protein bars use High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) to increase sweetness. Consuming HFCS can increase the risk of developing obesity, fatty liver or diabetes.
  3. Avoid consuming excess protein as that can convert to fat in the body.
  4. Select protein bars that incorporate whole foods in ingredients than processed varieties.
  5. Avoid consuming protein bars that contain added sugars.
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