In the past I have written about protein bars that I think are an acceptable part of your dietary intake from time to time. These would include JayBars, YouBars and VPX Zero Impact Bars. Well a client referred me to a new bar on the market that I tested myself and thought was quite good – Quest All-Natural Protein Bars.
They are higher in protein than either the JayBars or Youbars, contain no artificial sweeteners and is made from mostly real foods. Not to mention they taste pretty good to boot!
They are sweetened with stevia, Lo Han Guo and erythritol. Now some of you may have noticed that erythritol is a sugar alcohol, and that makes many people nervous. Fortunately erythritol is different from most sugar alcohols. Rather than the usual 2.4kcal/g of sugar alcohols it only supplies 0.2kcal/g. In addition 90% of it is absorbed by the small intestine and is excreted in the urine and feces, so the majority of it does not pass to the colon and cause GI upset (ie – diarrhea) like most sugar alcohols.
Lo Han Guo is another natural sweetener, actually a fruit from China, and is 300 times sweeter than sugar. Due to its high level of sweetness less is needed so it makes a lower-calorie option. It has been used for approximately 1000 years in China for a multitude of purposes.
In addition the bars contain 17g of fiber, mostly from isomalto-oligosaccharides (IMO), a prebiotic fiber. While those 17g may scare you away and think you will get a ton of gas, or the prebiotic fiber part may cause the same fear (as the prebiotic inulin is certainly known to cause gas in some people), fortunately for you this prebiotic is a different beast than inulin and is known to cause little gas. IMO naturally occurs in honey, miso and soy sauce and it also provides a level of sweetness for the bar as well. It is digestion resistant and passes into the colon where it is fermented by Bifidobacterium (healthy bacteria), producing short-chain fatty acids, decreasing luminal pH, and inhibiting the growth of dangerous bacteria.
Having said all of these wonderful things about these bars, and I didn’t even mention the benefits of its whey protein, I would not recommend consuming this bar or any other on a daily basis. In my mind protein bars should be used only when needed, not as an intentional part of your daily intake, as you are always better off with a completely real food meal. However they work great when you are caught in a pinch or have to eat on the road. They travel well, provide quality protein, healthy fats and are made from quality ingredients. Have a bar with a piece of fruit and some nuts and you have a very tasty and high-quality snack.
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