Decoding Protein Bars: How to Pick the Right One

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Watch out for hidden added sugars
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Watch out for hidden added sugars

While there is a time and place to eat pure sugar for fast energy (like squirting down a gel pouch during a 12-mile run), a meal replacement bar made mostly of sugar and scarfed down for lunch is not one of them. Instead, shoot for more fiber, protein, and good fats for sustained energy. Whole-fruit carbs like dates and date paste, raisins and raisin paste, dried apricots, and fig paste contain fiber, potassium, and antioxidants, while most added sugars do not.

These are some common added sugars found in protein bars: brown rice syrup, dried cane syrup, tapioca syrup, chicory fiber syrup, fructose syrup, beet syrup, corn syrup, molasses powder, glucose syrup, honey, and oat syrup solids. Remember: It’s still sugar, even if it’s organic. Bars need something to hold them together. Whether it’s sugary syrup, fruit, or flaxseed meal is the question.

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