Monday, November 5, 2018

Protein Bars? or Candy Bars?

The s**t has hit the fan. You have a bug out bag, you got out in time, and you're on your way to your bug out location. You've met up with one of the other people who bought into the bug out location and are hiking together. You decide to stop and rest on the side of the mountain you are hiking up, enjoying the crisp spring air mixed with the smell of burning cites, and you sit down to grab a protein bar from your pack. Your friend pulls out yellowed plastic-looking puck of something and bites into it with the joyful expression of someone who is eating what tastes like sawdust mixed with lard.

You pull out the packet with your snack in it, rip it open, and pour some in your mouth, crunching away cheerfully. Your friend looks over at you, an expression of deep desire on their face as they as “Is that chocolate?”

In a lot of ways, this is a sequel article to “The Argument For Chocolate”. I started looking into a post-workout snack, and as a control for the experiment I started looking at Snickers Bars to oppose my preferred brand of protein bar.

And then I started to look at most protein bars.

It turns out that for a 68 gram / 2.4  Clif Bar (I went for the oatmeal raisin walnut, since that looked like the healthiest flavor) , there are 10 grams of protein (decent), 0.5 grams of saturated fat (not great), and 43 grams of carbohydrates.

Wait, 43 grams? That's about as much as a can of Coke! For a protein bar, that is a lot of sugar. Okay, maybe it's not that big a deal if you're using this as food in a bug out bag; you're expecting to burn a lot of calories, and carbohydrates are quick energy. But fats, and especially saturated fats are much better for that situation: they're more energy dense to start out, and release that energy slower (which is part of the reason that excess fat in a non-survival situation may not be good -- you're taking in a lot of energy, and you may not be burning it.)

Protein is great if you're building muscle, but if you're just hiking around, moderate amounts of it are fine. 10 grams is a lot when you consider that, for people who aren't trying to build muscle or who have other medical problems, 1 gram of protein per 10 pounds of body weight is the RDA. So two Clif Bars are actually more protein than is needed for the majority of the population's RDA.

Well, at least Clif Bars must be a better value than candy, right?

So unless your only source of protein is these trail snacks, you're probably getting enough to satisfy your RDA, and both of the candy options have better sustained energy (saturated fat) and lower carbohydrate levels (but high enough to still give an instant boost).

Given that M&M candies originated as a way to keep chocolate from spoiling in the field, they are now my "protein bar" of choice.

In conclusion, unless you cannot eat peanuts I unreservedly recommend getting some sort of chocolate with peanuts instead of a Clif Bar for your bug out bag. It is superior in every way that I can figure out. Even if you're hitting the gym, eat a couple more eggs in the morning instead of a Clif Bar and you come out ahead, both in cost and nutrition.

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