Upon starting my blog, I’ve had a few requests of things to post about (yay! keep them coming!). One of those things was protein bars. The general question was, “What is your favorite, best tasting, healthy protein bar?” I’m actually not a big protein/energy bar eater, as I opt for other snacks throughout the day, but protein bars are a great on-the-go snack if you’re constantly running from one place to the next. They’re portable, and CAN be much more healthy than a vending machine snack. And, for women, it could be a good protein booster, since we typically consume less protein than men. However, there are plenty of bars out there that might as well be a candy bar with their saturated fat and sugar content. And, some just plain don’t taste good. Also remember, these should be used in moderation (I love that word!). Don’t get too caught up in the name of protein bars — there are other good sources of proteins that don’t necessarily carry all of the unneeded fat. If you’re just looking for something to fill you up a bit before exercising, try a piece of fruit or some yogurt. If you’re looking to replenish energy and glucose levels, try a bagel or string cheese.
Back to protein bars. I decided to do a little taste test comparing eight different protein bar brands. I’ll give feedback on each, as well as track the calories, fat, protein, and all that fun stuff that we’d rather not look at on the labels 🙂 I tried to vary it as much as possible, so if you like fruity bars over chocolate-y bars, there are options for you, too. When looking for bars, I considered:
- Calories: Since I track my daily calories, this is a factor for me. If you’re not into calorie tracking, perhaps focus in on different aspects of the label, such as carbs, fiber, or sugars.
- Fat: Look for a bar low in fat (less than 5 grams is a good goal). If you go much more than that, you might as well grab a Snickers. It provides energy and protein, also, and probably tastes a whole lot better!
- Non-Meal Replacement Bar: Since we are using these bars for snack purposes, don’t opt for a meal-replacement bar. These typically have more calories, fat, and carbs and are meant to replace a full meal rather than give you some energy to push through a workout. And you’re better off eating an actual meal rather than substituting it for a bar…although fewer calories, bars often lack all the good nutrients you find in real food.
- Protein: It’s called a protein bar for a reason. Make sure it’s providing what it says!
Note, I chose these mostly at random. I was given a few suggestions, and otherwise, I tried to vary my pics as much as possible. Also, one thing that I noticed on almost all of the bars was that they claimed to be “All Natural,” but still had a laundry list of random ingredients. If you’re ever in doubt of what actually goes into your protein bars, try making some yourself! See below for a great link to some protein bar recipes. Alright, here it goes…My bars, counting down from worst to best:
8. Soyjoy – Fruit: I can only imagine that this is what fruitcake tastes like. Well, cardboard fruitcake. I chose the berry flavor, and I can see now why they gave such a vague flavor name…it didn’t taste like any sort of berry I’ve ever had. This bar was lacking in protein and high in sugar, and based on its taste alone, I wouldn’t recommend it for a preworkout snack unless you love fruitcake-flavor items.
4. Oh Yeah! – Almond Fudge Brownie: This bar is about as close to a candy bar as you can get. It has a great chocolatey flavor, but it comes at a price — the fat content. High in both fat calories and total fat, this bar is another one that should be used with caution. Here or there it’s a good choice, plus, you’ll enjoy eating it, but try not to overindulge on these ones…
Remember, this was completely based on personal opinion. You may love some of the bars I disliked, so the only way you’ll know is to try some yourself and see what works for you. And again, these don’t replace the vitamins and nutrients you find in real foods, so when possible, snack on things that provide ample nutrients. And when in doubt, make your own!
Homemade Protein Bars: There’s no better way of knowing what is actually in your protein bars than if you make them yourself! And this way, you can personalize them to your specific taste preferences. Check out Lift for Life for some fun protein bar recipes. I know I’ll be making some in the near future!
What is your favorite protein bar?