First For Women

Why do protein bars make me bloated?



I’m trying to cut back on unhealthy snacks, so I’ve started eating a protein bar when I get hungry after lunch. But it’s making me bloated and gassy. What gives? A:

The culprit is most likely sugar alcohols. These sweeteners are used in packaged foods like protein bars to add sweetness with fewer calories and have less of an impact on blood sugar than regular sugar does. The problem? They often cause digestive issues, including bloat and diarrhea.

To find out if a product contains these sweeteners, you need to read the packaging carefully. If the bar contains more than one “sugar alcohol,” you’ll see that term on the nutrition facts panel. But if the product has just one sugar alcohol, the nutrition facts may list it by name. Sugar alcohols typically end in -ol, so look there and in the ingredient­s list for words like glycerol, mannitol, sorbitol or xylitol.

For a bar that won’t cause GI upset, opt for one sweetened with honey, stevia or monk fruit. One we like: NuGo Protein Bar (available in most supermarke­ts).


I need to drop 10 more pounds before a New Year’s Eve party, but it’s so hard to diet right now. Is there anything else I can do?


Yes! Try keeping your fluid levels up. Studies have found that subjects who downed two 8-oz. glasses of water immediatel­y before meals ate 22% fewer calories than those who didn’t drink anything beforehand. Plus, the strategy has also been shown to increase metabolic rate by up to 30%, so you burn more calories. And research shows the practice may activate fat-burning (lipolysis), which can be impeded by even mild dehydratio­n. It’s estimated that 75% of us are chronicall­y dehydrated, and research at the University of New Hampshire found that we may be up to 40% less thirsty in colder weather, exacerbati­ng the problem.

Want to increase that burn even more? Add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to the water. Arizona State researcher­s found the citrus helps boost fat burn by up to 300%.

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