Protein Ratios in Food Bars

Thursday, July 4, 2013 

I’ve always been annoyed by the way food nutritional content is reported. It isn’t hard to find a food item with 1,000 calories per serving that claims to be be “high” in iron because it has 5% of the US RDA. The ratio of the RDA of iron to calories would be 1:10. You couldn’t eat enough to get the full allowance of iron in a day and you’d become a human blimp trying.

In an age of obscene abundance, the trick is not so much getting the minimum nutritional value, but getting it at the minimum caloric cost. I looked through some reviews of “good” protein bars and popular ones on Amazon and tabulated the nutritional data in Excel and then computed the ratio of grams of protein to three bad things: kilo-calories, grams of saturated fat, and dollars of cost. Thus, higher values are better. It is interesting to see a huge range in all three values. Sadly, it is common to get closer to the maximum recommended value of saturated fat per day than calories, meaning that eating only enough calories of these “healthy” bars will result in increased risk of disease compared to normal, “unhealthy” food. That’s pretty inexcusable.

protein bars.PNG

I’d like to change the way nutritional labels are printed from hard to read tables presenting only favorable values to simple bar graphs of all basic, essential nutrients, all of which would always be included so that empty calories foods would have a big red block of bar graphs pointing to the left indicating a food that had better be a pleasure to eat to compensate for the lack of nutrition.

But back to food bars: the ratio of protein to calories is a good way to select a food bar for healthy people. Finding one with the best ratio of protein to saturated fat can be important for some people and avoiding the worst ratios is good for everyone. Finding the most protein for your dollar may have merit as well (though prices are just Amazon prices and may vary significantly by outlet).

Protein Bar content ratios

BarVendorP/calP/Sat FP/$
Protein Bar 2:1MetraGenix0.1206.012.88
NitroTech Hardcore ProteinMuscleTech0.1116.012.73
Pure Protein RevolutionPure Protein0.1115.07.09
Protein PlusMET-Rx0.1004.617.11
Myoplex Carb Control BarsEAS0.0964.214.29
Protein Plus VanillaPowerBar0.0916.715.35
Detour DeluxForward Foods0.0865.015.00
Protein Plus Dulce de LechePowerBar0.0836.713.85
Smart Protein BarMuscleTech0.0773.027.03
Meso-Tech CompleteMuscleTech0.0765.612.55
Big 100MET-Rx0.07611.213.53
Big 100 ColassalMET-Rx0.0764.417.82
BuildersBarClif Bar0.0744.09.09
Clif Shot RoksClif Bar0.07413.310.24
Oh Yeah!ISS0.0733.014.22
Luna Bar ProteinClif Bar0.0633.412.90
Luna BarClif Bar0.0504.510.34
Mojo BarClif Bar0.0456.07.08
Clif BarClif0.04210.09.26
The ratio of protein to calories, saturated fat, and cost. Higher values are always better.

The Excel table for your editing pleasure protein bars.xlsx

Posted at 11:55:41 GMT-0700

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