‘Healthy’ protein bars make you fat because they don’t fill you up, research shows
- Arizona State University researchers asked people to eat one protein bar a day
- It led to an increase in their daily calorie consumption to 220 calories, they said
- And in a week they gained 0.5 kilos of fat, according to body scans
They are often thought of as a healthy snack, but protein bars can make you fat.
One study found that people who ate one every day were more likely to gain weight within a week compared to people who didn’t.
Researchers believe that while protein bars are often nutritious, they aren’t filling enough to keep someone from eating more later.
Most popular brands — such as Quest bars — have about 200 calories, which is about the same as two apples or three medium-sized eggs.
The protein industry in the US is booming, with sales of $6.5 billion this year – double the amount in just 2014.
High-protein diets can aid weight loss by lowering levels of hunger hormones while increasing satiety levels.
But many protein bars are high in calories, making it easy to add calories without having to eat a lot of extra food.
Protein bars can make you fat, study has suggested (file photo)
The above is the size of the US supplements market and its expected growth. This prediction was published on Statista in 2021
Researchers at Arizona State University followed 21 people who were mostly in their 20s.
During the first two weeks of the trial, participants were encouraged to follow their normal diet while tracking their daily calorie consumption.
Each was then instructed to eat a protein bar every morning within an hour of waking up for another two weeks.
Total daily calorie consumption increased by up to 220 calories during the protein bar regimen, while fat mass increased by 1.1 pounds (0.5 kilograms) in the first week.
dr. Carol Johnston, a health expert at Arizona State University, and others said in the study, “Nutrition bar sales are showing rapid growth year over year in the US.
‘These bars can be an efficient source of specific nutrients.
“However, dietary bar intake may increase total daily energy intake and the risk of gaining fat mass and ultimately body mass over time.”
Eating a high-protein diet can reduce appetite because it lowers levels of the ‘hunger hormone’ ghrelin — and raises levels of Peptide YY, behind a feeling of fullness.
But many protein bars today are considered nothing more than “candy bars in disguise.”
This is because they contain added sugars and high fructose corn syrup, which: studies associated with a higher risk of obesity and weight gain.
The study was presented at the Obesity Week 2022 conference in San Diego, California.
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 servings of different fruits and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables count
• Basic meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, preferably whole grain
• 30 grams of fiber per day: This is equivalent to eating all of the following: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 whole-grain cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of whole-wheat bread and large baked potato with skin
• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks) and choose options with less fat and less sugar
• Eat some beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 servings of fish per week, one of which is fatty)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume in small amounts
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day
• Adults should have less than 6 g of salt and 20 g of saturated fat for women or 30 g for men per day
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide