Hi friends, how are you doing?
So. With all the bike riding and other outdoorsy activities going on, I started looking into snack options that were light to pack yet nutritious and efficient. This led me to check out what my local supermarket had to offer in that department and I quickly ended up at the huuuuuuge (really) energy and protein bar aisle. Now, hear me out. I know that they’re a bit controversial, so let’s dig a little deeper to understand better, especially if you’re into trying out energy or protein bars yourself (Disclaimer if you didn’t know already: I’m not a nutritionist that’s just what I found when doing a bit of research online. Also, some of the mentioned brand are also available in Europe, such as the Clif bars for example. And yes, I took my bars to a park for a shooting, in case you’re wondering).
Some of The Things You Want to Look For In A Bar:
- At least 5 grams of protein
- <10 grams of sugar
What Not to Look For:
- Ingredients you don’t understand
- High in sugar, non-natural sugars
- Artificial flavors or preservatives
The good and the bad
Rxbars has a “No B.S.” claim on the front packaging that pretty much says it all in regards to the ingredients. What I also like about it is the different product packaging (I’m such a sucker for nice packaging, I know). But let me tell you, they’re delicious, too. Only downside, they come with 14 grams of sugar, I assume, however that this is mostly due to the dates. So we’re good?
I discovered the Bearded Brothers bars when I was on the hunt for vegan snacks. While they keep things simple and understandable on the ingredients front, they don’t do too well in regards of sugar count (17g) and protein (3g). And this is something I quickly realized: The majority of protein bars share one thing in common: extra sugar. Lots of it. Considering protein bars are frequently seen as a health-friendly snack or post-workout bite, this came a bit as a shock.
Let’s move on to the famous Clif bars. I first got to know Clif bars at volunteering on the Rose Kennedy Greenway as they are a sponsor there. So far so good. What I’ve also found out quickly is that as they have SO SO many different bars and types of bars, they are quite different when it comes to nutrients etc. Take the Nuts & Seeds bar for example that does kind of good with 11g of protein. However, it is quite high in sugar (17g) and calories overall. As another example: The Clif Bar, Chocolate Hazelnut Butter only has 10g of sugar.
Hugely famous are the Lärabars. They vary according to the flavour you’ll pick, good ingredients though.
Lastly, the Thunderbird Bars seems to be a reasonable choice on light activity days, when you’re looking for a snack. They do pretty well with 9g sugars, 5g protein, 148 calories overall.
Ok, so quick excursus here: We know now to try and avoid high-sugar protein bars but what about the protein? Most bars range from 3 to 20 grams of protein. Generally, the amount of protein you need depends on what you’re looking for and your activity levels. If you’re sitting at home all day, you don’t need 20g of protein in a bar, but if you don’t have time to eat lunch that might be a good choice. Likewise, if you’re into an afternoon snack on a walk with your dog, a bar with 6g of protein could be perfect. It is up to you, so use common sense based on your goal for the bar itself.
If you’re not into bars, eat real food instead
Instead of eating lots of protein or energy bars all the time, most experts will say “eat real food” instead. High-protein foods are quinoa, hummus, cottage cheese, lentils, brown rice, natural nut butter, oatmeal, turkey or edamame for example. Or dates as an all natural energy booster.
Are you into energy or protein bars yourself? What are your favorites? I’d love to know!
Have a great Thursday!