After posting about the "4 Things We Look for In a Protein Bar" on Instagram, we got a ton of questions, so I figured, let's turn it into a blog post. Some of the questions we received were:
"How much sugar is in your protein bar?"
"What kind of plant protein is in your protein bar?"
"What's a good source of plant protein?"
The 4 things we look for in a protein bar (aka my non-negotiables) are:
1. A protein bar LOW in sugar
The way we see it is: protein bars were born out of a need. To offer a better-for-you snack in a moment's notice, packed with all the right macronutrients to keep you feeling full and satiated. Then why do so many protein bars on the market have 15, 20, or 25g of added sugar? Or added sugar at all? Wouldn't you rather eat a homemade chocolate chip cookie than a protein bar with brown rice syrup? We would too! So we like to keep all added sugar out of our protein bars. In addition, you'll never find sugar alcohols or stevia in our bars. We strive to use ingredients as close to the earth as possible, so you feel like you could essentially make them in your own kitchen.
B.T.R. Bars have 0g of added sugar and only 2-3g of total sugar from real food ingredients, like cashew butter and cherries. We use a touch of the highest quality monk fruit extract for natural sweetness.
2. A protein bar with NO "natural" flavors
This is tough to find. The majority of protein bars on the market are made with "natural" flavors. "Natural" flavors are cheap to use and offer a lot of manufactured flavor, but at the expense of using a TON of additional chemicals and solvents. As a result, "natural" flavors aren't so natural after all. We dive deeper into "natural" flavors and how they're made here.
Natural flavors aren't that different from their counterpart, artificial flavors. The only difference is that the base of the natural flavor has to be derived from an animal or plant. But once it's in the lab, it can be mixed with dozens of additional chemicals and solvents that are never disclosed on the Nutrition Fact panel. As a matter of fact, these "natural" flavors are sometimes so proprietary that brands don't even know what's in them. What?! Therefore, if you have any food intolerances or sensitivities or you're vegan or vegetarian, "natural" flavors just don't work. We're all about transparency, so "natural" flavors are a big no-no for us!
3. A protein bar with quality plant protein
There's so many reasons we look to plant protein for our protein bars. Plant-based protein sources are packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants. In addition, one of the most common food sensitivities and intolerances is to dairy. Protein sources like whey and dairy protein don't work for folks with these intolerances. B.T.R. Bars make use of a specific protein blend. We use the highest quality pea protein, almond protein, and pumpkin seed protein. Pea protein is a complete protein which means it contains all 9 essential amino acids, the building blocks of our bodies. We're excited to innovate with new sources of plant protein as well. We specifically do not use brown rice protein because brown rice commonly has very high levels of arsenic, so we'll never use this type of plant protein.
We recommend always choosing a bar with a source of complete protein, and we love protein that has functional benefits like pea protein for energy and pumpkin seed protein for its high levels of magnesium.
4. A protein bar with functional ingredients
If a protein bar is packed with functional ingredients like superfoods and adaptogens, we see that as a bonus! As someone who's been obsessed with the benefits of ingredients like reishi mushroom and cordyceps for the past 5 years, I was craving a protein bar that actually served a functional purpose. That's why all B.T.R. Bars are boosted with plant-based superfoods, purpose-driven adaptogens, and functional mushrooms, like Cinnamon Cookie Dough ENERGY, Dark Chocolate Brownie RECHARGE, and Cherry Chocolate Chip ZEN.
What other questions do you have about choosing the right protein bar for you? Not all protein bars are created equal, and we want to know what you look for in a protein bar. Let us know in the comments.