How many protein bars can I eat in a day?
Protein Bars: To know this you should understand what protein bars are and what are the common ingredients. Knowing the ingredients will answer this question. Protein bars are nutrition supplements which are prepared in such a way that they contain high Protein and low amount of Carbohydrates and Fats making them high protein source at a given calories. Ingredients of Protein Bars and how much is too much for a day: Protein bars typically consist of a Protein source, Fats, Fiber source and Sweetener. I will take an example of one protein bar from Indian market. Check the attached picture for the Nutrition Facts. I have underlined the facts which can have upper limit of consumption. 1) Protein Source This is usually Whey protein and Soy protein isolate. There is no such consumption limit to both of them. Remember always prefer whole foods for your protein intake and use supplements when needed. 2) Fats Source This can be any vegetable oil and there is no such consumption limit to it. Fats help in binding process. 3) Fiber Source Most commonly used Fiber source in protein bars is inulin, a.ka. Fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS). Over of 20g of FOS may led to bloating, flatulence, cramping, constipation [https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/72/6/1570/4729600]. For given protein bar, consuming above 4 Protein bars at a time can cause digestive issues by the Fiber source. Other commonly used fiber source is soluble corn fiber and upper limit to it is 40g-60g before it can cause intolerance. 4) Sweetener Source of this can be Honey, Jaggery and Sugar Alcohols. Most of the protein bars are low in Carbs or are sugar free so widely used source of Sweetener in protein bars are Sugar Alcohols a.k.a Polyols(Sugar Alcohols) and most commonly used is Mannitol. Sugar Alcohols can cause Laxative effect and can lead to Bloating and constipation issues, this warming you will see in almost all protein bars. Mannitol acts as an osmotic laxative in oral doses larger than 20g[https://www.jbc.org/content/141/1/147.citation]. So, if we talk about above protein bar than more than two can cause digestive issues. I will conclude the answer on how many Protein bars are safe to consume in a day by listing pointers you should keep in mind before consuming a protein bar: 1. Check for Fiber source and check the upper limit of consumption 2. Check if it has Sugar Alcohol and accordingly check the upper limit of consumption. 3. Try not to consume more than 2 sugar free protein bars at a go. 4. If you are consuming above 2 sugar free protein bars in a day try to consume them as far apart in 24 hours interval. 5. Make it a choice of daily protein source only if you are not able to complete protein requirements from whole foods.