Protein Bars & Meal Replacement Powders (MRP’S) – How To Choose The Right One
Protein bars are highly convenient and can be eaten in place of a whole food meal in order to support muscle growth. However, I don’t recommend that you start substituting whole food meals with protein-bars.
Eat a protein-bar only when you don’t have the time to sit down and eat a whole-food meal. Like protein powders, there are high quality protein-bars and low quality protein-bars.
Take a look at the example meal structure below for optimal ways to incorporate protein-bars and meal replacement powder into your daily muscle building diet:
Meal #1: 3 eggs, 3 egg whites, 2 slices whole-wheat bread or 1 cup cooked oatmeal, 1 cup cottage cheese.
Meal #2: Protein-bar, 1 apple or other piece of fruit, 1 oz mixed nuts
Meal #3: 10oz chicken breast, one large garden salad, 1 large sweet potato.
Meal #4: (Post-workout shake) Meal replacement powder + 50grams dextrose or other high-glycemic carbohydrate.
Meal #5: 8oz Top sirloin steak, mixed greens, 2 cups brown rice.
Meal #6: Protein-bar, 1 oz mixed nuts
Be aware that some manufacturers like to fill up their protein-bars with low-quality hydrolyzed collagen as the main protein source. Hydrolyzed collagen is made from animal skin and bones, is very cheap to produce and contains very low-quality protein which does not support muscle growth.
Read the ingredients label carefully when selecting protein-bars and avoid bars that contain hydrolyzed collagen. Look for bars that contain a good dose of whey protein from concentrate, isolate and even casein protein.
Casein protein is the other half of milk protein and is a very slow digesting but somewhat of a lower quality protein source than whey in terms of biological value.
Stay away from protein bars that contain excessive amounts of sugar, sugar alcohols, hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup as well as soy protein.
A high quality protein bar should contain protein mostly from whey, at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per bar, and a decent dose of vitamins and minerals plus healthy fats from omega-3’s.
Meal replacement powder or MRP’s, are also very convenient to use in-between meals and when you don’t have the time to eat a whole food meal. Unlike whey protein powder, meal replacement powders contain carbohydrates and fat along with various protein sources (casein, whey, milk, egg).
Meal replacements also contain vitamins and minerals along with complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber to keep you full until your next meal.
To sum up, I recommend that you only use protein bars and meal replacement powder when the situation calls for it (as in, when you don’t have the time or the place to cook a whole food meal) and not as a substitute for whole-foods.
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