Are Protein Bars Good For You?

Benjamin J Marshall

**Edit: I posted this in 2016 before I went vegan in 2017, I have left this up for accountability but I do not promote the use of any animal products for any reason especially in health.

 

When it comes to the question of protein bars and protein intake in general there are lots of opinions which get thrown around, so let me join the debate and give you my take on protein bars.

Are they a good source of protein?

When should you have them?

Are they useful?

Are they worth the money?

 

Benjamin J Marshall

Firstly let’s define what we are talking about:

There are two types of “Protein bars” the first is a aptly named Protein bar that is because for all intents and  purposes it is a bar made out of a block of protein (usually whey protein), these bars can range from 14g-40g of protein dependent upon size and ingredient make up.

The other type of “Protein bars” are what should be called Meal Replacement bars and these are intended as a convenient substitute for a meal. The problem with these is that sometimes the protein really isn’t that high, ranging between 4g-14g of protein and they tend to have higher carbs and fats than actual Protein bars totalling the same or more calories.

As a general rule you can classify it as a Protein bar if its protein content is the highest macronutrient content. Whereas if it contains comparatively more carbs or high fats and lower protein it is more likely to be a Meal Replacement bar. As the name suggests a meal replacement should be a ….meal replacement and therefore contain the macronutrients you can expect in a small meal, hence the higher fat and carb content, whereas a protein bar should not contain the same high fats and carbs. The best comparison to make is:  if you were to eat only a protein source such as a can of tuna or a chicken breast you would expect a high protein content and a lower fat and carb content. However if you were to eat a small meal such as a chicken sandwich, you would expect the additional fats and carbs and a lower protein content comparatively.

Benjamin J Marshall

Here we have a Meal Replacement bar and a Protein bar both by Profirst: the protein bar has 21g of protein for 199kcal whereas the Meal Replacement contains 14g protein for 210kcal. How does the Meal Replacement bar have more calories if the protein is lower? This is because the carbohydrates are higher with 45g per 100g of bar vs only 31g per bar in the Protein bar. However both these bars are actually very low in calories  and fat only 8-9g respectively whereas some so called “Protein bars” can total over 500 calories with 25- 30g of fat!

The real thing to address here is HOW protein bars are used. What I mean by this is- if you have a sweet tooth and you want to get your “fix” then having a protein bar is probably a much better choice for you than a normal chocolate bar as it will allow you to adhere to your diet.

There is nothing wrong with eating a normal chocolate bar if you can fit it into your diet , the problem only occurs when you then have a craving for another and another and the decision to have one bar can then lead to over consumption of calories.

Benjamin J Marshall

Are they a good source of protein?

Yes and No – Dependent upon what kind of “Protein Bar” you get – some bars “boast” 9g of protein which for a bar of over 300 Calories isn’t very good. You of course can have these but be aware that there will more than likely be other bars which can contain up to 40g of protein.

When should you have them?

There is no time you “should” have a protein bar, they are no better for you than any other source of protein so having a protein bar after a work out will not be better for you than eating a meal with the same amount of protein (and you would probably get more protein from an actual meal). However they are useful if you are busy and traveling as they are small and convenient to carry and don’t go off (although if it’s hot they can melt and get very messy).

Are they Useful?

In short – Yes they are, protein bars and meal replacement bars can be a very effective way to cure hunger pains and tide you over. However as they are small I would not recommend trying to replace your lunch completely with one bar as you will be hungry later on, leading you to need to eat something else and potentially binge snacking and throwing your diet out the window. However if you have a little wait before your next meal then they can be a great and convenient little protein hit.

Are they worth the money?

No -If you are looking for a sweet fix then they probably aren’t worth the money, as most protein bars are around the £2.80 -£4 mark if bought individually in store. Compared to a normal chocolate bar of 65p(ish) for a sugar fix, I would probably say save some money have a little chocolate bar and fit it into your diet. If you are low on protein and need boost your total for the day and a wholesome meal isn’t available then it is an expensive way of getting a 20g of protein but the necessity is up to you.

Yes-However if you can buy them in bulk then you can pick them up for around 75p-£1 mark then yes I would recommend them as they will help get your protein in.

Over all do I recommend them?

If you want to have them and they work into your diet without breaking the bank then go for it, they can be tasty and convenient. But they are not the be-all and end-all of protein source and they tend to be expensive for what they are. If you are going to buy them I would suggest shopping around and ordering them online from places such as – http://www.discount-supplements.co.uk/ as they tend to have good sales and offers which work out cheaper.

But the key here is to enjoy your food which allows you to progress towards your goals and if protein bars can do that then they are worth it to you.

Ben

WearWolf Clothing Review

I was recently sent out a number of items of clothing from the brand WearWolf to shoot with so I thought I would do a short review on the clothing.

I would like to clarify that I am not sponsored by this company, they were extremely generous and sent me a bunch of stuff and this is my honest opinion of their clothing.

 

Ben Marshall

Stringers

The stringers come in a number of colours and I have to say all are visually stunning. The material is soft but slightly elasticated due to the spandex in the weave allowing a soft but versatile top.

I really liked the material however the only fault I can find is the fit. I wouldn’t say it is really a “stringer” style, the cut is more of a vest, being much tighter fitting and less baggy than I had been expecting. I am 6’3 and received an XL, this fits me but it is a shame they do not make a XXL as I think I would choose to go up in one size.

Ben Marshall

Shorts

These shorts are amazing, they come with a compression inner legging which means they fit incredibly well, I would normally choose a 32” waist which would be a Medium, however I received a Large size and they fit incredibly well. A nice length that comes up just above the knee, with a back cycling style zip pocket for keys or an ipod. These are fantastic and I would highly recommend them if you are looking for some new athletic shorts.

IMG_4105 (3)

T-shirts

The t-shirts by WearWolf are on par with some of the best athletic to lifestyle cross over t-shirts I have seen. Light and comfortable whilst also stylish the AirTech T-shirt really combines everything you need in a top. A super fit the shirt hugs your body it in a very comfortable way without being restrictive. I would honestly say these are some of the nicest sports/ lifestyle t-shirts I have come across, they have a long fit and feel incredible on your back. I would happy wear this for exercise as well as day to day lifestyle.

Ben Marshall

Jumper

Sadly for me the jumper does not follow the success of the t-shirts as it comes in a much wider fit than it is long. The material is really nice but the actual fit is boxy. I received an XL which would be my normal size in most jumpers but for me I would choose to have either a Large or a Medium giving me a tight but better fit. There was a lot of loose material at the back as the size obviously caters for wearers looking at the XL size to be wider than tall. It is a real shame as this could be a lovely top but sadly I do not see myself wearing it very much due to the fit.

Conclusion

As with any clothing products size is always tough when ordering on line but my suggestion would maybe aim for a size bigger than you normally would. When talking about the actual products themselves WearWolf have some of the nicest products out there with extremely high quality. Whether looking for casual clothes or something to wear in the gym I would recommend WearWolf products.

Ben

Why Cardio Isn’t as Effective as Weight Training for Losing Fat

 Benjamin J Marshall

 

Why cardio isn’t as effective as weight training for losing fat

If you are newish to fitness and want to lose some weight the go to answer is start running yes?

NO! Let me talk you through why cardio will not help you lose weight.

Cardio burns more calories?

So there is an idea that cardio burns more calories than weight training however this is not the case. The theory is that LISS (low intensity steady state) training such as going for a run for an hour will burn a constant amount of calories for that hour, whereas weight training is broken down into sets where rest is included between each set, therefore in a hour spent in the gym weight training around half of it will actually not be lifting weights. Therefore you burn more calories doing cardio? …..No not so.

Think about the energy required when taking 20 paces jogging, and then compare that to the energy needed to do 20 squats with resistance weight. The squats will require a lot more energy to be used and you will find that you can easily match your energy output over the hour even including the rests. Another point is that cardio burns calories only whilst you are doing it where as weight training requires your body to use energy to repair and grow the muscles that you have broken down which continues after you finish your exercise.

Ben Marshall

Running or Cycling are the same as working out your legs

No sadly they are not and there are three reasons for this:

Firstly: the range of motion and targeted muscles- when running your range of motion is actually very small, you are not performing a lunge every step. So the muscles do not have to engage as much as they are not working through a whole range of motion. When a muscle is put through a whole range of motion the entire muscle is stretched and then contracted requiring a lot more energy, when a muscle is not required to perform an entire range of motion the contraction is not as great and less energy is required.

Secondly: Targeted muscles used- You are doing the same motion over and over and over again when performing cardio, think about an elliptical or sep machine where you literally cannot change your range of motion. This means that some muscles are not being worked in the same way as other muscles, cycling is far more inclusive as the range of motion is bigger but you cannot change which muscle group you are targeting. This can lead to muscle imbalance in the legs and is not effective as a whole leg workout even if you really “feel” it.

Thirdly: the muscle fibres engaged – with cardio work you are targeting your slow twitch muscle fibres as they are responsible for muscle endurance. And you then neglect the fast twitch muscle fibres which are used for resistance explosive training and are also bigger.

The exception here is sprinting which uses your fast twitch muscle fibres but although that might fall underneath the umbrella term of “running or cycling” sprint training is actually not cardio and is actually more plyometric and explosive resistance training,

“You can target your fat in a Fat Burning Zone in cardio ….”

This is an out dated term which has been exploited and blown way out of proportion. The theory behind it is that lower intensity exercise burns a higher percentage of calories from your fat stores rather than you glycogen stores. This however does not mean you burn more calories!

Yes you might burn a larger percentage of fat calories but your overall calorific burn will be much, much lower. You may burn 200 calories and 60% coming from fat in a “fat burning zone”, but you will burn 400 calories with only 40% coming from fat outside of this so called “zone”. The ideal is that you burn glycogen calories when working out because it is stored locally in the muscle and is used as energy when that muscle is use. People get confused thinking that they only want to burn calories from fat when working out. However don’t worry about this. Focus on your total energy balance for the day and as long as you are in a deficit you will lose weight.  It is much better to use your glycogen as energy when you are exercising and your fat stores for the rest of the day, because that is what they are designed to do, slow release energy!

But you can count how many calories you burn doing cardio?  

No quite, you can measure an output which can be consistent for you as an individual but this does not actually equate to calories necessarily.

In a number of studies by the University of California it was concluded that cardio machines over-estimate calorific expenditure, and sometimes it is by a lot! Treadmills can give you up to 42% extra calories burnt, even those that take into account your weight can only give you an average covering the distance over time and does not take into account the actual effort.

So you can not equate burning 800 calories an hour on a treadmill to put you into an 800 calorie deficit.

Now this doesn’t mean they are useless, but you have to take it as a non value measurement. For example if a someone burns what the treadmill says is 400 calories it does not actually matter what this represents , but as long as the they continue to hit this number they will continue to burn this same unknown calorie number.

If they want to increase weight lose they just need to increase this number so if the treadmill now reads 800 calories although they might not be actually burning 800 calories as they have doubled this unknown number therefore doubling calories burnt.

And the final nail in the coffin…Comparison 

Consider two people one of whom loses 10 pounds via cardio and the other loses 10lb via weight training, you think that they will look the same? No they won’t. The person only using only cardio will lose 10lbs of body fat as well as muscle. The person using weight training will actually lose considerably more body fat as although their weight will have dropped 10lbs they will have also gained muscle which adds weight so to lose 10lb they will potentially lose more like 15lbs of body fat as well as building a more athletic body.

Conclusion 

I am not saying you shouldn’t do cardio, it definitely has its place in a healthy lifestyle but what I am saying is please do not jump into the idea that cardio is the only way forward in losing weight. Too many people fall into this trap and are then disappointed and disheartened with their results. If you want to look like a long distance runner then train like one, however if this isn’t your goal then this isn’t how you should be focusing on training.

Take your goal and find the best way to achieve it and in the case of fat loss this is not by doing endless hours of cardio.

Ben