Today at Elmwood Fitness, I’ve been doing all sorts of things. Right now, I’m set up at a table doing a promo of two different flavors of the ThinkThin protein bar: creamy peanut butter and brownie crunch. Both of these bars are sold at the cafe here at Elmwood.
The reason these two bars are a favorite of the RDs here is that they have 20g of protein and 0g of sugar in a tasty, gluten free, all-natural bar. I’ve always been interested by nutrition bars and supplements, and take any opportunity I can to sample one. I can assure you, these two (especially the peanut butter) are pretty darn tasty! The grittiness that sometimes comes with protein bars is not present, and the flavor is mild but tasty.
Here are the nutrition facts for the peanut butter bar:
There are a few notable things on here. First, the 0g sugar advertised on the bar leads people to believe that they are low-carb also. This is not true. The mild sweetness is given by maltitol, a sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols are carbohydrates but can’t be absorbed by the body the same way that sugars can. This has two main implications: 1.) less calories: 2-3 calories per gram versus the 4 calories per gram from regular carbohydrates; 2.) incomplete absorption results in gastrointestinal upset in some people. Sugar alcohols still affect blood sugar but to a lesser degree – they have a smaller glycemic response.
Secondly, there is a significant amount of fat. This is true of basically any protein bar that you come across, simply because you need it in order to create a bar that doesn’t taste like cardboard. Frequently, they are high in saturated fat, which is the kind of fat that will increase blood cholesterol and affect blood lipids in all the wrong ways. The saturated fat in this bar comes from cocoa, a plant, which I was told this morning will not affect blood cholesterol the same way animal-based saturated fats do. I had never heard that though, and I’m skeptical – currently googling like crazy and trying to remember my new Tulane account password so I can get on Pubmed.
Lastly, there is no fiver in here. Not that anyone ever advertised it as a fiber bar, and not that it’s needed for satiety given that there are 20g of protein (that’s a lot). Some people wanted to know, though, so I thought I would highlight that.
Overall, I always choose real food over bars, shakes, and smoothies. It’s simply better for you, less processed, and more delicious. However, if I were here pumpin’ iron at Elmwood Fitness for a couple hours and needed to run somewhere afterwards, it would be a great way to get a huge amount of recovery protein in a tiny little package.