Many of my clients ask me about Energy/Protein Bars and wonder if they are a good choice. Well, that depends……..is it a meal replacement? Is it an “after workout snack”? Is it a “sugar craving” fix?
Often times we ARE in a hurry and reaching for a Protein Bar is the best choice we have (especially if it stops you from the fast food drive-thru!) I always keep one in my glove-box along with a baggie full of raw almonds for those days when the errands run longer than my stomach.
So here are some guidlines on picking a good Protein Bar.
1. Leave the “chocolate” covered ones on the shelf (except for one mentioned below). The majority of those are not going to have your “good” 70% cacao chocolate on them just a sad substitute that “looks” like the good stuff and makes you feel like your getting a candy bar fix.
2. The “natural” label means nothing (lead is natural!), learn to read the label on the back. AVOID this as a first ingredient “Soy Protein Isolates”, this is a waste product from the soy industry and is more than likely genetically modified since 90% of the soy is.
3. Look for protein sources from ingredients like nuts. “Kind” Cranberry Almond + Antioxidants and Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein and Almond +Coconut are three good options.
4. You are going to have to compromise with some of these bars but “good, better, best” is what you will want to do. An example is CVS’s “Abound” bar, mostly “real” ingredients with the “not so good” Canola oil listed further down on the label, but an OK choice.
5. “Raw Revolution” is another bar that comes pretty close to a “best” choice. They have many organic ingredients and the protein is from sources other than soy.
6. “Cliff” organic, dark chocolate peanut butter bar is a “good” choice but the “nuts” are not nuts but peanuts (a legume) and a cheap way to increase the protein.
Ok, so do you see how “labels” can lead you to believe it’s a “Healthy” option?
I do not worry about the fat content (but avoid partially- hydrogenated) I look at the protein source and the carbohydrates. Sugar is the bad guy, not fat. Look at the “total” carbohydrates then below that it will list the “sugar” content. Keep the sugar content to around 15 grams per bar and you should be good. Having a protein content of 7+ is what you want to shoot for but don’t get sucked into the “20 grams” of protein bars as most are coming for soy isolates.
The realty is we all live busy lives and we are on the go and often get hungry but don’t have time to stop and eat. Carrying a “protein bar” in the car or purse is a good idea so you dont’ give in to that every present fast food restaurant that’s calling your name!
Better yet………carry an organic apple and a baggie full of raw almonds with you, now that would be BEST!!
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