They’re billed as a quick and convenient way to get the protein you need after a strenuous workout, but are protein bars and shakes really the best nourishment for your body?
If you’re training to build muscles, you may think that these shelf-ready foods are great choices for bulking up. But do you really know what’s in them?
What’s In That Bar?
While the nutrition facts on protein bars and shakes are accurate, the protein quality is lower for the number of calories consumed than that found in lean meats, low-fat dairy, and whole vegetable protein.
The highly processed protein in these foods is usually derived from sources like genetically modified soy and may include harmful components like MSG.
In addition, preservatives, added sugar, or artificial sweeteners are abundant in these foods, adding empty calories and/or highly processed ingredients.
Whole Foods are Preferable
While you can bring a stash of pre-formulated bars with you to the gym, it’s a much better idea to finish off your workout by eating whole foods in a combination of protein and carbohydrates. If you’re concerned about how much time and energy it takes to assemble a healthy snack after your workout, never fear. Pairings like fruit and yogurt or hummus and wholegrain baked pita chips are nearly as quick as unwrapping a protein bar.
If you have no other choice, however, it’s better to eat something to help you replenish energy for your muscles. In this case, a protein bar or shake is better than nothing.
Read the labels of what you buy and try to go for more natural, whole food options. In many cases, a natural fruit and nut bar may be far better for you than a protein-enriched processed energy bar. Always consult with a medical professional about the nutrition you should be taking in.
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