Monday, February 04, 2008

Protein Power?

Last week, the LA Times offered up a taste test of four different protein bars. The article also talks briefly about why and when you might want to consume these things, though it doesn't mention alternatives. The Clif Builder's bar came out on top but it's a dubious distinction when the panel found that they all taste artificial, this one just slightly less so.

Clif bills the Builder's as the "only all natural protein bar" despite containing a lot of processed sugar ("evaporated cane juice" is marketing speak for table sugar), heavily processed soy (most likely from genetically modified plants), and unnecessary added vitamins and minerals (men should watch out for iron). Sure a Builder's Bar delivers more protein than normal candy bars but it's hardly natural.
By comparison, you can get the same amount of protein from eating three mozzarella sticks, a handful of nuts, half a can of tuna, or a few pieces of beef jerky. Real food. Not some amorphous blob designed by the marketing and chemistry departments. And there is no need to fear saturated fats; we'll look at that myth later.
As outdoor athletes, we need more protein than is normally recommended for desk jockies (0.36 g per pound of body weight). Particularly if you are trying to lose weight while building muscle, you should be consuming about double that (0.75 g to 1.0 g), which works out to 135 grams per day for a 180 lb. person. Besides building muscle and providing energy, a recent study showed that protein also helps curb the appetite better than fat or carbohydrate. So adding protein to your diet is a good thing. But you don't have to get it from a candy wrapper.

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