Food industry takes into consideration the needs of weightlifters, who need to count proteins, fats and carbs as well as stick with tough sports diet. Protein supplements, muesli, gainers (protein powders for shakes) now also include protein bars. Nutritionists and sports coaches are still not sure whether sweet bar can be considered as a part of sports nutrition which can substitute chocolate. The question is: does protein bar have any health benefits or rather cause harm to weightlifters?
Chemistry of Sports Bar
Marketing experts call all the sports bars as protein bars, they sin against the truth. These bars contain carbohydrates and fats. 80g bar includes the following elements:
- 25 g of proteins;
- 10 – 12 g of fats;
- 20 – 28 g of carbs;
- Cocoa powder;
Protein bars provide the body with energy amounting to 100 kcal. Sweet bars are rich in carbs and they add up 500 kcal. Athletes should consume them to promote weight gain. Protein bars are designed to promote body shredding.
Sports cereal bars have a low nutritional value. They are suitable for those people who want to lose weight. Sports nutrition technology helped to create the products with pleasant taste, wherein the ratio of carbohydrates and proteins is 1:4. The energy value is in the “light” range and comprises 50 to 70 kcal per 100 grams of product.
Sports doctors advise to use bars enriched with L-carnitine when engaging into fitness and bodybuilding. This amino acid destroys the fat reserves providing the muscles with energy. Effectiveness of this food additive increases during strength training. Bars with carnitine are sold in the fitness centers and protein comprises a quarter of the bar nutrients.
The maximum amount of protein in such sports bars comprises 60%, but these bars do not taste nice. In this case, the athlete gets the protein, but cannot enjoy the taste of ready product. Therefore, the question is whether it is necessary to substitute the usual cocktail or gainer or protein mixture with the protein bar? Is there any use to favor usual candy bar instead of a sports bar?
Chocolate Bar vs. Protein Bar
Chocolate bar is like a protein bar in terms of ingredients. The only difference lies in qualitative features.
- Nutritionists note that chocolate bar is rich in sugar: standard 50 g chocolate bars like a “Snickers”, “Mars” or “Nuts” contain 27 grams of sugar. They contain ¼ of daily protein intake. Nutritionists also note that energy, which is released during intensive workouts, is used to restore body power. Sportsman needs glucose right after workout as it produces insulin – the anabolic hormone. If you consumed energy bar half an hour after completion of workout, then glucose won’t turn into fat deposits and muscle cells will feel comfortable. So, sweet bar should be consumed on your way back home from a gym.
- The chocolate bars are also rich in fat: they contain 13 to 15 grams of fat, which comprises one fifth of the daily intake of an athlete. These values are not so bad, but the chocolate bars can be also considered as so-called spenders. Medical laboratories conducted studies which have shown that consumption of these bars results in increase of L-reactive protein in the blood by 65 to 73%. Doctors called reactive protein a “protein typical for the acute phase of inflammation,” which increases the likelihood of a heart attack and development of an atherosclerosis. Workouts and consumption of fruit juices will help to normalize this negative effect. The correct way to consume the bars in the following order: fruit juice – workout – “Snickers”.
- Chocolate is the source of endorphins. If you want to improve your mood, have a piece of candy bar. Tyrosine is responsible for production of the dopamine, which can be found in bananas and avocado. Eat fruits if you want to have a positive attitude without a need to consume fatty and sugary foods.
- Nuts in chocolate bars contain 6 grams of pure protein, which is the one fourth of daily protein intake. Cooks use peanuts, which contain the amino acids such as cysteine and methionine which promote muscle gain and increase of stamina. This is a very useful product for bodybuilders. Sports bars also contain ovalbumin or whey protein.
- Soy lecithin endues bar with elasticity as it contains choline. The latter does not affect body power, but stimulates the brain activity.
- Skimmed milk is a source of protein, zinc and calcium. Micronutrients reinforce the skeleton; a protein synthesizes the muscle fibers.
- Caramel and nougat shape the taste of bars. The sports bars have gelatin and collagen – the protein sources instead.
- Nutritional value of a chocolate bar stands for 15% of the daily energy needs of the athlete, 50 grams of ready product contains 280 kcal. Consumption of bar helps to restore a balance after workout.
This list confirms that sports and chocolate bars are identical in terms of their ingredients. Both products will do good to bodybuilders after workout in case when there is no possibility to get gainer or lunch rich in proteins. Athlete can either have a piece of chocolate, «Snickers» or a protein bar. Price of sports bar is 2 to 3 times higher than that of a chocolate bar. So, why to pay more money then?
The Ways to Choose a Protein Bar
We should pick up a protein bar depending on a time it is going to be consumed, that is, before or after workout. You should have a bar rich in protein before workout. Ration between protein and carbs should be 2:1. Animal fats are good to have before workout. Once you completed your workout, have a chocolate bar with the opposite ratio of protein and carbs, that is, 1:2.
Choosing sports bars, mind their content, best before date and types of fats used. Stay away from the products with vegetable trans fats such as a palm oil. Remember about reactive protein! Favor the bars, which contain whey protein and soy instead of hydrolyzed gelatin. Sugar should serve as a source of carbs; corn syrup is a pure glucose and it won’t do any good to you.
Sports nutrition experts do not consume industrially manufactured protein bars, they favor handmade products.
Handmade Protein Bars
Make your own tasty and safe gainers or sports bars to be sure that they contain only healthy products and are good to go with in terms of nutritional value. Let’s make 10 servings at once.
- Protein source: organic peanut butter – 100 grams. Here we use twice less butter than whey protein with vanilla taste.
- Cocoa powder – 10 grams.
- Fat-free milk products: butter milk, yogurt, milk – 200 grams.
- Chopped nuts such as peanuts, almonds – 20 grams.
- Dark chocolate to glaze – 50 grams.
- Organic sweetener – stevia powder – 1 gram.
- Coconut butter to glaze: 15-20 grams.
Mix everything in blender except for the cocoa powder and chocolate. Form 10 bars. To prepare the glaze, melt the chocolate in coconut oil. Dip a protein bar in the warm glaze. Here you go! You’ve got a high-quality sports treat. Quantitative features per one serving:
- 100 kcal:
- 10 grams of protein;
- 2 grams of carbs;
- 6 grams of fats;
- 1 gram of fiber.
Glazed bars are one and a half time richer and contain twice as much fat and carbohydrates due to presence of coconut oil and chocolate.
The Ways to Use the Protein Bars
Nutritionists consider the sports bars as products of rare use, a peculiar delicacy the athletes treat the body with under tough physical conditions. One should not replace conventional food with the protein bars as they should only be used in extreme situations. The value of this variety of sports nutrition lies in the fact that a bar is always at hand: it can satisfy hunger, provide with energy to promote muscle recovery and endue with strength. In everyday life, protein bars come in handy in the following cases:
- Have a bar after sleep or when you don’t have a time to make a gainer in shaker or just when you feel lazy. This product will neutralize catabolic processes after night rest.
- Have a bar when you can’t have a full lunch, but consider its nutritional value in terms of recommended daily caloric intake.
- Have a bar when you need to satisfy a hunger before workout.
- Have a bar after workout, do it in a half an hour after it as protein bar will close «metabolic window».
Remember that sportsmen should eat 4 times per day. Protein shake should be consumed instead of a bar at home.
Now that you know the composition of the sports and candy bars, you can realize that you can have a usual chocolate bar or a piece of natural chocolate instead of the protein bars. Protein bars loses to gainers in terms of strength of the muscle recovery and low-quality protein content. No matter what the manufacturers say, there are no real carb bars. Industrial production implies using the sugar substitutes, sweeteners, colorants, taste enhancers and palm oil. And we are all aware of the dangers of these ingredients.