We all have these moments – you’re running around all day, you’ve finished up a workout between classes, or maybe you’ve overslept your alarm [again] + there just isn’t time for *real* food. You stop by the convenience store on campus + look for a snack bar to hold you over – but which one do you choose?
We’ve talked about protein powders before – but what about bars? With so many different options, they can be just as overwhelming – especially since I know a lot of us CHAARG girls tend to look for more natural products. The market right now is oversaturated with protein bars – all claiming to have something unique about them. I’ve broken down the most important things to look for [depending on your goals] so you can make that next run down the protein aisle with confidence.
Although I’m all for a real breakfast in the morning [like these Cocoberry Protein Pancakes *swoon*] – I know we don’t always have time. When looking for a bar that’s going to fill you up + keep you full until your next meal, look for one higher in calories [think > 200 cals] with a balance of all three macronutrients. The more protein the better – but in the case of replacing a whole meal, the carbs should be slightly higher than the protein. Look for bars containing 30-40 g carbs, > 6 g protein, + 6-10 g fat. Some great bars that can be used for meals: Vega Sport bars, Cliff bars, + one of our wonderful #CHAARGSBFP sponsors RxBar!
This is the most important time to really look for the right bar, as some bars won’t have enough protein + some bars might be too filled with overly processed ingredients that it’s just not worth it. A protein bar being used to refuel muscles should contain around 20 g protein, a moderate amount of carbohydrate, + a small amount of fat [to help get protein + carb into the bloodstream more quickly]. You want your protein + carb to match pretty closely [or protein to be higher] — commonly you’ll see 20 g protein paired with 15-25g of carbs. Also – it’s good to look at the calories of these bars. Depending on your fitness goals, you may need different calorie amounts. I would say for us CHAARG girls, it’s probably best to stay < 250 calories. Some great natural bars would be Quest, Rise Bar, or thinkThin.
Again, I’m all for real food snacks, but in a pinch a granola//protein bar works great! When snacking, I tend to pay more attention to the nutrient content + sugar. I want it to have vitamins + minerals [otherwise what’s the point right?] + be low in sugar. Protein in these situations is an added bonus [+ will be more satisfying! . Bars that are good to use as snacks: Good Greens [equivalent to 100% of F/V for the day!], any nut based bars [KIND Fruit + Nut Bars], LARABARs, + Luna Bars.
This is obviously the most important part of the bar ; ) + when choosing one, the amount of protein really depends on how you’re using it. Are you replacing a meal? Or just getting a little post workout snack? Maybe you’re just a little hungry between classes – these different scenarios may actually require different bars! My personal rule is to always opt for more protein, but sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got. Here are some tips on what to look for in a bar depending on when you need it.
SUGAR – LESS IS MORE
These bars, despite their redeeming qualities, can sometimes be overloaded with sugars – which is a good thing to look out for. In my opinion, a great bar will have ~5 g, a good bar will have < 10 g, + a suitable bar will have < 15 g. Anything more + you may want to watch out! These sugars aren’t offering any nutrients to your body + may be sabotaging your healthy diet. However, if the sugars are coming from real fruits [+ not just added sugars] I usually let them slide + adjust the rest of my day accordingly.
SUGAR ALCOHOLS – BE CAREFUL
Sugar alcohols are also used in many popular brands [including Quest] to lower sugar content, but sometimes these alcohols can affect digestion. Just be careful when trying a new brand – not everyone is as sensitive, but it can be a problem for some!
INGREDIENT LISTS – LESS THAN 20
The last thing to pay attention to depends on your personal preference. I choose to go for more natural bars, so ingredients lists are important to me! It’s good to look for bars with the least ingredients. Anything more than 20 + it probably isn’t very natural!
CHECK IN WITH US!
There are so many brands of protein bars out there — it’s hard to keep up! We want to know what your fav protein bar is! Also, if you want to know how your protein bar measures up, comment below + we’ll do some digging! Make sure to tag #CHAARGSBFP + @CHAARG in your posts!
// FEATURED BEACH BAG PRODUCT: RxBar in Blueberry + Apple + Peanut Butter — these bars are Whole30 approved which makes them a #CHAARGWhole30 girl’s best friend ; ) [but seriously, ask Kelsey!] Made with a small list of all natural ingredients, these bars taste great + offer a great amount of protein! Follow @rxbar on instagram + get inspired to eat your protein [#proteingainz]. We are so thankful to have this amazing company a part of the #CHAARGSBFP.