A This or That Special ft. Candy Bars vs Protein Bars

Are candy bars and protein bars really all that different?

Written by Peighton Stone, Divison One Lacrosse Player

Ever walk down the snack section of a grocery store or even at a gas station and notice all the different types of protein bars? Most of them resembling candy bars with the same chocolate peanut caramel ingredients. But what makes it different? Why is the bar that has chocolate, cookie crumbles, peanuts, and caramel considered healthy compared to the snickers or payday that lay a few rows down? The slightly obvious truth is that they are pretty much the same besides the packaging and marketing. 

According to the 2015 dietary guidelines for Americans we should limit added sugars to no more than 10 percent of our daily calorie needs. This equates to about 12 teaspoons (48 grams of added sugar) on a 2,000-calorie diet (so could be less or more depending on your energy needs). Now when deciding whether or not to eat a candy bar vs a protein bar to maintain a healthy diet, many of us would choose the protein bar because it’s considered  “healthier.” BUT – what if I told you that most protein bars have just as many if not more grams of sugars, carbs, and saturated fats compared to candy bars.

Take a look at a Cliff bar, for example. These are are often used when comparing protein bars that are considered “healthy” to a candy bar, because the results are shocking. In a peanut butter Cliff bar there are 260 calories, 19 grams of sugar, and 40 grams of carbs. While carbs are good for you (especially if you are looking for quick energy) – the amount packed inside this bar on top of the number of added sugars is unreal. Just to put things in perspective – a snickers bar, Americas favorite candy bar (in my opinion 😉 ), contains 280 calories, 29 grams of sugar, and 35 total grams of carbs. Now look at a Gatorade bar, a brand that’s meant to fuel athletes, packs their bars with 30 grams of sugar, 9 grams of fat, 43 grams of carbs, and 20 grams of protein.

As a division one athlete I know the importance of refueling with carbs, fats, and sugars. But, there is a healthier way to go about it than reaching for the protein filled candy bar. Be sure to check the labels on the bars you eat. Try to avoid bars that have a lot of added sugars, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial coloring & flavors. I tend to gravitate toward bars that I can see each ingredient just by looking at it. Some of my favorites are RX, EPIC and KIND bars to name a few.

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