There are just simply not enough hours in the day. Between crazy work schedules, social commitments, necessary family obligations, daily errands, rigid workout regimens, and then squeezing in a few hours to sleep, we often run out of time to plan our meals out the way we’d like to. In an ideal world, we’d all have time to prepare our breakfast, lunch & dinner ahead of time, ensuring highly nutritious plates and healthy snacks all day long. But the reality is, a lot of us end up having to grab-and-go when it comes to satisfying those mid-day hunger pains, or even settling for a quick lunch or dinner on the run. Enter the star of this post, keeping you from simply dying of hunger: the protein bar!
It’s important to remember as you chose your snack or meal replacement – not every protein bar is created equally. Some are more like glorified candy bars, or just big chunks of solid peanut butter. Which – yes – sounds amazing. But you aren’t doing yourself any favors by choosing these brands. Usually very high in sugars and low in nutrients, many protein and granola bars will do little to satisfy your cravings, and lead you to eating again a few hours later. So although you are on the go, take an extra minute or two and check out the ingredients. Here are are five tips on choosing the best protein bars for your snacks.
- Fiber: Shoot for bars that have a minimum of 3 grams of fiber. This will fill you up more and prevent you from snacking mindlessly later, and also helps with digestion. Bars with less than 3 grams just won’t do the job if you’re looking to replace a meal or even satiate hunger between meals.
- Protein: Aim to choose a bar with at least 5 grams protein, for obvious reasons. More protein in your snacks means you’ll have more control over your appetite later int he day. You always want to have a good balance of both protein and fiber in every snack.
- Number of Ingredients: Rule number one: “The less ingredients, the better.” Rule number two: “The more ingredients you can pronounce, the better.” Avoid heavily processed bars, as they have additives with little nutritional value. If you can’t read it, don’t eat it!
- Calorie Count: Try to stay around 150-200 calories for bars that are snacks, and around 250-300 for meal replacement bars. Some protein and granola bars can have upwards of 500 calories!! Save your calories for full meals that you can savor for longer, and with more nutritional value.
- Sugar: This is probably the hardest for me, with my peanut butter obsession. Look out for added sugar in the ingredients list. For a little extra help finding those artificial sugars, look for words that end in “-ose” and any “syrups.” Too many of those ingredient, and you should probably throw that bar back on the shelf. (*Note- bars with fruit in them will naturally have a higher sugar content. This is okay, but make sure there are no extra sugars added to these bars.)
So those are the golden rules of choosing a protein bar. Don’t even have time for that? Here are my three favorites for you grab and go if you only have a few seconds!
- Health Warrior Chia Bar – Dark Chocolate Coconut Sea Salt
- 200 Calories
- 10 grams protein
- 5 grams fiber
- QuestBar Protein Bar – S’mores (Although all flavors are delicious!)
- 180 Calories
- 20 grams protein
- 13 grams fiber
- Strong and KIND Bar – Thai Sweet Chili
- 230 Calories
- 10 grams protein
- 3 grams fiber
Snack smart and enjoy!
Originally written for Better Body Bootcamp Newsletter.