With a tagline like “Eat Brownies, Get Muscles!”, Muscle Brownies sound too good to be true. The packaging boasts about “20g of protein” and flavors include Triple Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Cookies and Cream. Looking for the catch? There is one. And it’s a doozy.
First, let’s talk about protein. High protein products have proven to entice consumers. So, it’s no surprise that food manufacturers are adding it to everything form cereal to granola bars. But, most Americans consume well more than enough protein to meet their needs without even trying – in some instances close to twice the recommendations. Athletes do need more protein than their sedentary counterparts, but there is still a limit to how much their bodies can use. We don’t store protein. We use it and, just like carbohydrates, what we don’t need, we convert to fat.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the nutrition information for Muscle Brownies.
At first glance, the Nutrition Facts don’t look too terrible for a snack: 170 calories, 2 grams of saturated fat, and 12g of sugar (about 3 teaspoons). However, if you take a closer look, you’ll notice that the serving size is only 1/2 of one brownie – a true test of willpower for the average consumer. Even more interesting (and incredibly misleading), is that each serving only contains 10g of protein, so you would have to consume the whole brownie to get the 20g of protein that the company boasts about on the package. Which also means that you’ll be taking in 340 calories, 4 grams of saturated fat and 6 teaspoons of sugar. This brownie is starting to look more like a meal – and not a healthy one.
It also starts bearing resemblance to another well-known product:
Little Debbie’s Cosmic Brownies also contain 4 grams of saturated fat, and 24g (6 teaspoons) of sugar, but actually have fewer calories (280 kcal) since they haven’t been loaded with protein powder.
If you’re an athlete looking for a high protein snack, there are plenty of healthy, whole food options that will do the trick, such as nuts, Greek yogurt, or a homemade smoothie. Hyper-processed snacks like Muscle Brownies are just junk food with good marketing.