We’ve all been there. We go to the market with our trusty grocery list in hand, where on one line we’ve written, “protein bars.” We head to the health aisle to grab a high-protein snack that promises to give us all the energy we need to do the things we love to do, and then we stop dead in our tracks.
In attempt to find the right protein bar, we’re faced with hundreds of choices and left standing agape asking ourselves questions like, ‘How much protein is enough? What type of protein is best for me? How do I choose?’
Comparing nutrition labels for hours is one option. Another option is learning what type of protein is recommended by professional nutritionists and why.
How Much Protein is Enough?
You might think than an all-protein diet is the ticket for a long and healthy life. On the contrary. There is such a thing as too much protein! Our bodies need .8 grams of protein per kilogram of our body weight per day. Take a 150 pound (68kg) woman, for example – she would need approximately 54g of protein daily.
When considering a healthy snack, 10-15g of protein is a recommended amount, as the body can metabolize this quantity efficiently. If you see a protein bar that contains 25-30g of protein, you might want to put it back on the shelf. This represents over half our daily need and in combination with other protein we eat throughout the day, provides more than our body can readily use. The excess protein is converted to urea, putting extra strain on your kidneys and leaching calcium from your bones in an effort to buffer the added acidity. This extra protein in bars also creates a chalky taste. We like to enjoy our snacks as well as be nourished by them, so be wary of those high-protein bars.
Good vs Not-So-Good Protein
You’ve undoubtedly heard the “Good Carb, Bad Carb” argument from us, your doctors, friends, health bloggers, etc. However, most people aren’t talking as much about the different types of protein, which we think is an equally important narrative.
We know that our bodies need protein to build muscle. Protein also keeps us feeling full longer, helps us avoid overeating at meals and reaching for sugary or caffeinated pick-me-ups throughout the day.
So the million-dollar question is: what’s the best type of protein?
Fortunately, most types are excellent:
- Plant-based protein from lentils, peas, beans, hemp, nuts and seeds
- Whey protein with its muscle-building BCAAs (branched chain amino acids, the essential building blocks for muscle growth)
- Fish, especially cold-water fish like salmon, tuna and sardines that also contain heart-healthy omega 3 fats
- Lean meats like bison, turkey, chicken and even pork tenderloin, filet mignon, sirloin steak and 90% lean hamburger
However, there are a few types that aren’t as healthy: 1) animal proteins that contain higher amounts of saturated fat, and 2) soy proteins.
We suggest limiting intake of such animal proteins, which can raise LDL cholesterol, directly correlated to heart disease. Examples include:
- Hamburger with >20% fat
- Ribeye steaks
Equally as bad are soy protein isolates, often found in shakes and bars. We avoid it because it contains:
- Caustic solvent residues
- Anti-nutrients (which block protein digestion and mineral absorption)
- GMO by-products
- And only about 70% is actually usable, compared to 99% of whey protein
That’s why we steer clear of soy protein in Zing Bars. Instead we use a combination of plant-based proteins from rice, peas and nuts, which combined form a “complete protein” by providing all the essential amino acids. Read more about why we chose the protein we did here: “Why These Ingredients?”
We also have three flavors with whey protein which has a high Biologic Value (BV), meaning nearly all of it (99%) is utilized by the body.
Sources of Lean Protein
Examples of lean plant protein sources are easily found throughout your grocery store, and yes, also in your favorite Zing Bars (with 10-15 grams of protein per bar)!
- Nuts and Nut Butters, including peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts
- Beans and legumes
- Zing Bars with whey
- Vegan Zing Bars
Zing Bars were created by professional nutritionists who take the analysis paralysis out of your hunt for healthy, lean protein in the “protein bar” section of your grocery store. Experiment with lean protein sources in your diet – and spend more time doing what you love!