Do you eat protein bars and think that they’re a great protein source? Sure, they are. But is there a healthier way to get that protein into your diet?
In Table 1 I compared the macronutrient composition and, dietary fiber, sodium and potassium content of 2 popular protein bars, Met-Rx and Pure Protein with broccoli. That’s right, I said broccoli.
|Size||1 Bar (85g)||1 Bar (78g)||2 lbs (900g)|
One 3 oz. bar contains approximately 300 calories. In contrast, to get the same amount of calories, you can eat ~11x more food, 32 oz. (2 pounds) of broccoli!. One can make the counterargument that it’s difficult to eat 2 lbs. of broccoli. It’s not, and I eat a 2 pound broccoli meal 1-2x/week. What’s easier to do is eat a protein bar, not be full, and overeat! It’s much harder to overeat, in contrast, eating that much broccoli.
Next, eating that broccoli meal yields 8-11x more dietary fiber, for the same amount of calories. Dietary fiber feeds your gut bacteria, which may be involved in mechanisms underlying lifespan. Separately, broccoli’s potassium/sodum ratio is ~9.5, in comparison with less than 1 for both protein bars. An elevated potassium/sodium ratio is associated with reduced blood pressure (Zhang et al. 2013), which is a known risk factor for stroke and heart disease (Lawes et al. 2008).
Sure, it’s 2 lbs of broccoli, but are you really full after a 5-bite protein bar?
Broccoli nutrition info from http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2920?
Lawes CM, Vander Hoorn S, Ronders A; International Society of Hypertension (2008) Global burden of blood-pressure-related disease, 2001. Lancet 371: 1513- 1518.
Zhang Z, Cogswell ME, Gillespie C, Fang J, Loustalot F, Dai S, Carriquiry AL, Kuklina EV, Hong Y, Merritt R, Yang Q. Association between usual sodium and potassium intake and blood pressure and hypertension among U.S. adults: NHANES 2005-2010. PLoS One. 2013 Oct 10;8(10).