Banned: Protein Bars After Bariatric Surgery

Banned:Banned:Protein Bars After Bariatric SurgeryProtein Bars After Bariatric Surgery

By: Susan Epstein, MS, RD, CDN

Protein shakes are recommended to assist patients after Bariatric Surgery to achieve optimal nutrition. People often wonder, if protein shakes are recommended, why aren’t protein bars? Some bars provide 15-25 grams of protein making their protein content very similar to protein shakes. As you may have guessed, the problem with protein bars is not the amount of protein. However, other factors make them a poor choice.

Many bars are touted as “energy bars” or “fitness bars” which imply that they are great choices for maintaining good health. A study in the Journal of Marketing Research shows that when people who were weight conscious were offered either “trail mix” or “fitness trail mix”, the one labeled “fitness” was more often selected because it implies that it’s a healthier choice. This can be described as the “health halo” that causes the consumer to associate good health of the product just because of the wording on the label. What exactly is a health halo? The health halo refers to the act of overestimating the overall healthfulness of a food based one single claim. As a result, this leads to the overconsumption of this food. For example, a person will eat 2 cookies instead of 1 because they are labeled as organic, low fat, or made with whole grains.

Secondly, just because the bars are the size of a candy bar, it doesn’t mean, they are meant to be a snack. People often underestimate the calorie content of energy bars. Protein bars may contain from 300-400 calories. The main problem is that they are eaten so easily and quickly that they may not register satiety.

Thirdly and perhaps most importantly, protein bars all contain carbohydrates. Protein bars can contain 20-30 grams of carbohydrates. This is too many carbohydrates and it will likely hinder your weight loss efforts. Even if the bar contains wholesome, ingredients such as honey, dates, organic brown rice, coconut sugar or nectar, apple juice concentrate, almonds, cranberries, these all contain sugar and will slow or prevent weight loss.

Look carefully at the ingredients listed on the label of the protein bars. Some list as many as 50 ingredients. High Fructose Corn Syrup is often 1 of the first few ingredients. Many of the other ingredients are probably unfamiliar words. If you can’t pronounce it, you probably want to avoid it.

To keep the total carbohydrate count lower in some bars, some manufacturers add sugar alcohols. Although sugar alcohols can lower total carbohydrates, they can cause bloating, diarrhea, cramping, and gas in some people.

In conclusion, protein bars are not as healthy a choice as they appear. Whether it’s due to the calorie content or carbohydrate content, they may prevent you from reaching your weight loss goals.

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