Bars are EASY...but which ones are BEST?
Aug 21, 2015
We've all experience the stress of trying to eat healthy while on-the-go. This also means that we've all probably fallen into the same trap of grabbing what ever we can get our hands on (i.e. a bar of some sort), thinking that we are making a healthy choice if it comes in the shape of a bar. When it comes to what we refer to as "protein bars," the questions arises as to whether or not we're getting all that we think we are when it comes to nutrition. Chances are NO.
Although bars tend to be very convenient and marketed as a healthy option, there's a lot of just that--marketing--that goes into it. Simply calling it a "protein bar" simply because it offers some degree of "protein" makes us as consumers automatically assume we're getting a boost of protein that will aid in muscle building and calming our appetites.
When choosing a bar, there are a few things you need to consider before hitting the check-out line...
- Nutritional value: What is the ratio of protein, fats and carbohydrates? Are you buying the bar to have as a snack, a post-workout recovery or a complete meal replacement? Unless you are using a bar to replenish glycogen stores after a vigorous workout session, you need to find one that keeps the carbohydrates on the low end (as little as possible) and focuses on protein and healthy fats. If using as a complete meal replacement, don't skimp on the calories by buying the 100-calorie options. Your body needs fuel, so give it fuel--make sure the macronutrients are balanced!
- Sustainability: Is the bar made of organic, non-GMO, fair-trade ingredients? Often times to more recognizable the brand, the less sustainable the production of the product--which means a poorer quality product with more harm done to the environment during production.
- Simplicity of ingredients: Can you recognize each of the items in the list of ingredients? How many ingredients are in the list? As with any other food category, the lesser the list of items in the ingredients the better! Whole food ingredients are best with any form of sugar being a less than optimal ingredient.
- Taste and texture: Is the bar chewy or crunchy? Is the flavor profile favorable? Aside from the above mentioned things to keep in mind, you must be able to eat the bar and enjoy it. It doesn't matter how good of an option it is if you won't eat it due to a bland taste or a cardboard-esque texture.
Now that we've covered that, how about some actual brands that you can look for next time you're stocking up?
- Epic bar is a 100% grass-fed animal based, gluten-free protein bar designed as nature intended. The animals are sustainably raised on a diet that is natural to them--which makes their meat high-quality and it's impact on the environment minimal. It's high in protein with 11g per serving in their Bison bar--being made similar to jerky. These are great for snacks or breakfast on-the-go.
- Rise bars are great as post-workout options or as meal replacements. They are a little higher in calories from a good bit of protein and healthy fat, so they will keep you fueled for longer. They are gluten-free and non-GMO as well.
- Larabar is a great choice particularly for a post-workout recovery bar. The reason for this is they tend to be higher in carbohydrates--which is great right after a tough workout session when you need to replenish depleted glycogen stores. These also generally have less than 5 ingredients, based solely in nuts, dried fruits and spices.
These, of course, aren't the only options out there, but are enough to get you started. If you have any questions about a particular bar, I'd love to help!