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  • Courtney Ustrzycki

Protein Bars: Digestion & Bloating

Working with clients from all over the world and with so many food preferences, I’ve learned a lot about different kinds of foods and ingredients. One thing I’ve really noticed with myself and with many of my clients, is how protein bars can mess with our digestion. With ingredients like “proprietary blends” and “thickening agents”, some of these ‘foods’ can be really hard to digest, which is why we get that full feeling after eating such small bars.

A really popular example are Quest bars (more so the older versions; I do believe they have improved their ingredients lately.) They had a binding gum called Isomaltooligosaccharide (say that three times fast!) or IMO for short. IMO can be naturally occurring in some foods, but for the most part it’s manufactured commercially for mass production. It has a digestion-resistant property, which basically means it’s very hard for your body to break it down (there's the full feeling I mentioned.) And again, a lot of protein bars have some kind of thickening agent or binding gum that can give similar effects.

If you eat protein bars fairly consistently (like every 1-2 days) then you may not notice any effects. If you are consuming them frequently and think you may be experiencing some digestion issues (bloating or lack of regular bowel movements), try taking these out for a little bit and see what happens. Nothing may happen, and that’s fine, but it’s just something to think about and to be mindful of. And just like with all of my clients, I do not tell them that they need to cut protein bars (or anything for that matter!) out of their diet, but as long as I am providing them with useful information like this, then how they want to use and apply that information is up to them.

Have you noticed any digestion issues with any other protein bars? If so, send me an email and please let me know! I would love to have a list of culprits (hehe.) Thanks!

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