Have you ever wondered what makes a protein bar? Sure, you can see for yourself that some bars are coated in chocolate icing or that some contain nuts. But where exactly does the protein come from, and how do manufacturers make it taste so good? Let’s take a moment to find out.

The Protein

If you look at the nutrition facts on a food label, most bars will tell you that they have somewhere around 10 grams of protein per serving, maybe less. Most bars end up having around 20 grams of protein total. To find out what type of protein you’re consuming, look on the list of ingredients. Some may say whey isolate, others milk protein isolate, and still others hydrolyzed whey protein or soy concentrate. While of course you want to consider other health indicators like calories and sugar content, knowing the protein level and source can help you decide which bar to consume.

The Rest of the Bar

You may be only concerned about the delivery of protein in your bar, but they have to make them taste good somehow. Plus other ingredients in the bar can combine to boost your energy, making most protein bars energy rich as well as protein rich.

In a protein bar, you also have sweetener, fiber, and fat. When you have a granola-style protein bar, for example, your source of fiber may be oats and your source of fat, nuts. It all depends on the type of bar.

When it comes to sweeteners, these bars can run the gamut. Some manufacturers choose to sweeten with sugar alcohols to keep the bars sugar-free. Others may go the organic route and use beet juice and brown rice syrup, or just stick with plain old sugar. Other carbohydrates may be used, such as wheat and malted barley flours or milk and cocoa powders. Fiber may be added to to boost the digestive health of the bar.

The other important ingredient in any bar like this is the fat. Fats may be added individually in the form of palm oil, or it may be supplied to the bar in the form of add-ins like nuts and nut butters. To keep bars safe for those allergic to nuts, bars may use sunflower butter rather than almond butter. Other fat options include nut oils and cocoa butter.

There are so many options out there for protein bars. No two brands are going to give the same name to a bar, so the options are as diverse as the companies who make these bars. Now that you are empowered with the knowledge of what goes into these bars, go out and make the best choice for you. Just be sure to look at the ingredient list.