I was at the grocery store the other day (looking for a quick nutritional fix) and decided to get a protein bar to give me some fuel for my impending training session. As I eased around the sharp aisle's edge, I was smacked in the face by a WALL of what seemed like an infinite amount of choices (most of them terrible).
"Golly Gee!", I thought to myself, "How is anyone EVA supposed to make a decision on which protein bar to pick"?
No worries my friends. As always, we got you covered with a simple "Bite-Sized Breakdown", that'll make that next run in with the WALL of protein bars...much less daunting.
First things first, natural whole food should always be your preferred choice when it comes to nutrition. It's just plain better. However, there are certain situations when a protein bar can be a pretty solid option.
Top 5 Reasons to grab a protein bar (in my opinion):
With that in mind, it's important to remember that not all protein bars are created equal and certain bars may fit certain scenarios better.
Post Workout: In this scenario, you want to pick a bar that has at least 20 grams (or close to it) of protein to supply the body with the adequate amount of amino acids for recovery. This bar can also have more carbs and sugar, as they will both help to replenish glycogen stores and speed up nutrient delivery. Avoid bars that are higher in fat and fiber, as fat and fiber both slow down nutrient absorption.
Meal Replacement: In this scenario, you may want to opt for a bar that is slightly higher in calories, healthy fats, fiber and protein. Protein, healthy fats and fiber all have the added benefit of keeping you satiated (sensation of feeling full). This will help to keep those cravings at bay and in turn have you making better overall nutritional decisions.
Now...let's "Raise the Bar" and break this down into Bite-Sized form!
When picking a protein bar, think about whether or not it's helping you reach your health and fitness goals (some are just glorified candy bars). The fewer the ingredients it has, generally the better it is. Make sure you recognize the ingredients and that they are of high quality. Pick the bar with the macronutrient content, that fits your current needs most appropriately. Be sure you enjoy the taste. Boom! You're all set.
In all fairness, it may take some searching and label reading to find your perfect match. If you "raise the bar" though, better results will be sure to follow. Don't settle my friends.