Energy Bars High in Protein, Low in Sugar & Carb

by Natalie Stein

About Natalie Stein

Natalie Stein specializes in weight loss and sports nutrition. She is based in Los Angeles and is an assistant professor with the Program for Public Health at Michigan State University. Stein holds a master of science degree in nutrition and a master of public health degree from Michigan State University.

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Your body gets energy from calories in food, and energy bars are a dense source of calories. You can use a high-protein energy bar that is low in sugar and carbohydrates as a dietary protein supplement or to help you control your weight. Use processed energy bars only as part of a balanced diet that emphasizes healthy foods.

Weight Loss

You can use an energy bar to help you lose weight if you have one as a meal replacement for your regular, higher-calorie meal. A high-protein, low-carbohydrate and low-sugar energy bar can suppress hunger -- protein is a filling nutrient, so you may be less hungry before the next meal. A bar that's also low in sugar may have a lower glycemic index, providing sustained energy instead of a quick spike in blood sugar levels followed by hunger pangs when blood sugar drops. A high-protein, low-sugar and low-carbohydrate bar provides calories, so if you are trying to lose weight, use the bar instead of your regular meal or snack, not in addition to it.

Protein/Carbohydrate Ratio

An energy bar can help you feel more awake during the day or prevent hunger while you are exercising, and a high-protein, low-carbohydrate and low-sugar energy bar is a convenient way to increase your protein intake without getting many empty calories from added sugars. Most Americans are already getting adequate protein from regular food and do not need a protein supplement, according to Iowa State University. A high-protein, low-sugar and low-carbohydrate bar may have about 20 to 30 g protein and only about 0 to 5 g sugars or carbohydrates.

Vitamins and Minerals

Some energy bars are fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, so choose a bar that helps you meet your requirements. While a balanced overall diet can provide sufficient nutrients for most individuals, you may need to supplement certain nutrients if your diet is restricted or if you have increased needs. For example, vegans, or strict vegetarians, may need to get vitamin B-12 from supplements or fortified foods because vitamin B-12 is found only in animal products, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Other nutrients to look for may include calcium, vitamin D and iron.

Other Information

Read the label to choose a bar that is low in saturated fat and trans fats, or fats from partially hydrogenated oils, because these fats increase levels of unhealthy low-density lipoprotein, LDL, cholesterol in the blood. You may also want a low-cholesterol or cholesterol-free bar, as well as one that is low in sodium. Check the calorie content of your bar -- it may be high in calories even if it is low in sugars and carbohydrates. The carbohydrates may include carbohydrates from dietary fiber, which does not result in spikes in blood sugar levels. If you are a strict vegetarian, choose a bar with soy protein, not whey protein, which comes from milk.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.