Work, family, school -- you’re busy, and that doesn’t always mean you have time to cook protein-rich foods. When you are on the run or recovering from a tough workout, protein bars can be beneficial. However, not all protein bars are created equal. Knowing how to pick the right one can help you enjoy the greatest benefits. Always speak to your physician if you are uncertain of the amount of protein that you should take in via your daily diet.
When you put yourself through a tough workout, your body needs protein to rebuild damaged muscle fibers. Protein bars can provide these nutrients, plus they also have some added carbohydrates to provide energy to power you through your workout. Keri Gans, a nutritionist interviewed on “Shape” magazine, recommends eating a protein bar as a pre-workout snack to help fuel you through your workout and prevent blood sugar drops that could keep you from exercising at your best.
Replace a Meal
If you are working through lunch or simply don’t have time to grab something for breakfast, a protein bar can serve as a fast and convenient method to replace a meal. Choosing a protein bar over vending machine fare can help you meet your daily calorie needs and prevent blood sugar spikes that can have you feeling fatigued after eating vending machine food that is not nutrient-dense. Also, a protein bar as a meal replacement can help you control your calories while giving you the nutrients and energy you need.
Packable, Portable and Tasty
Protein bars are easy to slip into your purse or gym bag for a snack on the go. Because protein bars are portable and don’t require refrigeration or heating, you can eat them almost anywhere. As an added benefit, protein bars don’t have to taste like cardboard. From incorporating dried fruits and nuts to high-quality whey protein powders, protein bars come in a wide variety of choices to satisfy your tastes.
What to Look For
Just as protein bars can boost your health, they also may contain excess calories and fat. Your protein bar should contain at least 10 grams of protein per serving. While there is no maximum protein intake per serving, consuming at least 10 grams helps you meet the recommended 50 grams of protein per day. Your bar should have less than 3 grams of saturated fat and no trans fats or hydrogenated oils. You should not consume more than 44 to 78 grams of fat per day, so consider that when reading the nutrition facts label on a protein bar. Choose a bar that has 200 calories or less to avoid weight gain and empty calories, but the bar can be about 300 calories if you are using it as a meal replacement.
- Shape: What's Really In Your Nutrition Bar?
- Shape: What to Eat Before & After a Morning Sweat Session
- The Dr. Oz Show: Do You Know What's In Your Protein Bar?
- Shape: 20 Foods That Can Ruin Your Workout
- Health: The Best Energy Bar for You
- MayoClinic.com: Healthy Diet: End the Guesswork With These Nutrition Guidelines
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.