Healthy Protein Bars

Some people know how to read nutrition labels and know what to look for when choosing out food. However, there are those either getting started on making healthy choices and they think just because it may say something like “high protein” or it comes from a commercialized diet plan (i.e. Slim Fast, South Beach, Atkins, or even something at your health store for that matter) it could be worse than a candy bar in some cases. I’m going to show you what to look for when picking out a good and nutritious protein bar, which macros are going to help you throughout the day. So here are some good bars I recommend along with a lesson about bars so you don’t think your being healthy and depriving yourself from a milky way when in all reality you may have just …well… ate the Milky Way. lol…. IDK about you, but I’d rather have the candy bar if that was the case! =)

*** macronutrients
                                 – carbs, protein, and fats.
Pure Organic
Pure Organic Bars (My favs: Cranberry Orange, Wild Blueberry, Chocolate Brownie)
Nutritional Layout: (used Chocolate Brownie for this example)
  • Calories: 190
  • Fat: 7g
  • Carb: 27g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 6g
  • Sugar: 16g
Upside and when to ideally eat: All organic with no artificial sweeteners, gluten free, non-GMO, minimal ingredients and made from all whole foods. Real food, nothing fake whatsoever.
Downside: I would not eat this bar at night that’s for sure, its more of a breakfast mid-afternoon bar. There is a high amount of sugar that could possibly spike your blood levels too soon before you head off to bed. Now, the sugar is coming from fruits, nuts and seeds so its good sugar but its still sugar. Eat it in the morning and keep a watch on other sugary things you consume throughout the day.
When looking at Calories:  You ideally want to shoot for anything under 200 calories per bar. Whole food based bars can be a little tricky when it comes to this since they usually are a little higher because a high amount of fruit and nuts. (these are good calories and kinda rules out the fact with the high calories.) But usually anything more than 200 would almost be a meal. And there are those bars like that out there and sometimes say to eat the bar and drink 8oz water with it…
quest
Quest Nutrition Bars (My favs: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Chip Cookie Chunk, White Chocolate Raspberry, Chocolate Peanut Butter … all of them lol. )
Nutritional Layout: (Used Apple Pie for Ex)
  • Calories: 170
  • Fat: 9
  • Carb: 24
  • Fiber: 18
  • Protein: 20
  • Sugar: 3
Upside and when to ideally eat: Any time. I love these bars! They are almost perfect… if they could make a plant based one I would be the happiest girl in the world because I have a hard time digesting any dairy (hint hint wink wink @QuestNutrition ) – but ive ironically gotten better at it through this contest prep Im in so that’s exciting!! I miss some dairy haha.
Downside: they use sugar alcohol which hasn’t shown anything bad as of yet, I wish they would start sweetening with stevia.. And only like 4 net carbs in most of them, some less. net carbs are the carbs you count because fiber technically is a carb, but you subtract the sugar alcohol and fiber from the carbohydrate and there you have your “net carbs”. <— little lesson right there! =)
When looking at Protein: Higher is ideally better since the protein will help keep you full. But you need to be aware where the protein is coming from too. Is it from nuts, whey isolate ect.  ??
power crunch
Power Crunch Bars: (My fav: Mint Chocolate, French Vanilla Cream, Wild Berry Cream)
Nutritional Layout:
  • Calories: 200
  • Fat:12
  • Carb: 10
  • Fiber: 1
  • Protein: 13
  • Sugar: 5
Upside and when to ideally eat: Another one that is pretty much ok to eat whenever. Since there is a bit more carbs in this one I wouldn’t ideally do them right before bed or anything. And the protein to carb ratio isn’t too huge compared to some other choices you can make. But these remind me of those wafer cookies I used to eat when I was a kid, I bet if you dipped it in almond milk it would be yummy…. hum ill have to try that.
Downside: lower protein. Higher carb. but still a good choice.
When looking at Carbohydrates: So let me clarify this, carbs aren’t “bad” … whether your trying to stay low or don’t care too much here is what you ideally look for in a bar when it comes to carbohydrates. Carbs can serve as immediate energy and sustained energy too. If your consuming the bar after your workout (which by the way, you should always have some protein and carbs right after your workout to fuel you muscles- this is called the anabolic window) I would shoot for 30g or less. And if there is more carbs in the bar than protein you might has well have a cereal bar…
victory
Victory Bars (my favs – fudge brownie, cookies and cream, peanut butter)
Nutritional Layout:
  • Calories:200
  • Fat:5
  • Carb:25
  • Fiber:20
  • Protein:21
  • Sugar:8
Upside and when to ideally eat: Whenever. These are along the same line as the quest bars. They do have more of a “protein bar” type of feel to them with them being mostly a solid bar.
Downside: Higher in sugar but still not bad at all.
 
When looking at Fats: Keep saturated fats at a minimum but it is ideal to have some fats in your bar. The fats are basically going to either make up some calories in he bar or it wont if its a lower fat. But fats aren’t bad either… its usually from nuts in the bar the fats come from.
kind
Kind Bars (my favs- Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond, Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate, Carmel Almond and Sea Salt …. all of them hahha)
Nutritional Layout: These have a wide range between carbs and sugars… they are all kind of different .. but yet all good.
  • Calories: 180
  • Fat:12
  • Carb:17
  • Fiber:7
  • Protein:7
  • Sugar:11
Upside and when to ideally eat: Mornings or mid day. As you see they aren’t really a “protein” bar its more of a carb bar hahha or granola bar if you will. They have tons of flavors and different forms of kind bars now too. There is the Kind Strong, Mojo, Healthy Grains and they even have granola now! So you have lots of choices but like I said they are more of a breakfast bar.
Downside: Sugar is going to be higher in these since the sugar will be a natural form of sugar. I believe they are made with cane sugar but I might be wrong.
 
When looking at Sugar: This can go either way but .. lower the better. Some bars have natural sugars ( cane, stevia, tapioca syrup, ect) while some bars have sugar alcohols (xylitol, sorbitol ect. ) Now they haven’t shown any evidence saying that sugar alcohols are necessarily bad for you but some people have issues with them so try it  out and be your own judge. I personally know if I eat too much sugar alcohols (also found in things that are labeled sugar free or chewing gum) I retain water. . . . With natural sugar try not to have it be too high..
cliff2 cliff1
Clif Bars (all if them. Blueberry Crisp, Mint Chocolate Chip, White Macadamia Nut )
Nutritional Layout: ( these range as well – used crunchy peanut butter for example)
  • Calories: 250
  • Fat:6
  • Carb:40
  • Fiber:5
  • Protein:12
  • Sugar:10
Upside and when to ideally eat: Another morning bar!! Love these, these can ideally be used as a meal if you pair it with some protein say a shake or something because of their high calorie content. They have tons of flavors (I love the holiday season because that’s when they come out with pumpkin spice and gingerbread!!! YUM) They are a higher carb bar so it will give you some sustained energy for your day. these are more like a granola bar as well.
Downside: Very high in carbs (which is fine, as long as your not eating these bad boys before bed hahha) and usually higher in sugar.
 
Everything else: Look at the ingredients, if its a HUGE list of 11000 things your cant even pronounce … don’t buy it. If sugar is like the second ingredient, then just go buy a candy bar instead. Look at the protein, then carbs, then calories and of course the ingredients. =)
luna
Luna bars ( all .. I like the peppermint stick a lot, along with Smores, Chocolate Fudge Brownie)
Nutritional Layout:
  • Calories:180
  • Fat:2
  • Carb:27
  • Fiber:3
  • Protein:9
  • Sugar:13
Upside and when to ideally eat: Morning, mid afternoon bar. By now I hope you can see the difference between breakfast bars and anytime bars. They have tons of fun flavors and even though they say a “woman’s bar” men can eat them too.. its just marketing and they have more vitamin B and folic acid in them.. whoooo what a difference right? hahha
Downside: lower in fats (which depending on your goals isn’t really a downside) and higher in sugar.
My favs:
 LOOOVVVEEE Quest bars they are probably my favorite when it comes to what they actually are. 20g protein low carb and a good amount of fat. That being said I don’t eat them all the time, they are not ment to be eaten as a meal replacement either so try to get your nutrition through actual food, your body will thank you for it!
Also love kind bars, kind bars are more of breakfast bar to me since they are more of a “granola” type of bar.
… I pretty much love all these bars hahha. I didn’t post any of the bad ones =)
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You think it’s an easy way to cut calories but……….

So cutting calories for weight loss is an ideal thing to do if your consuming too many (most Americans are), but here are some tricks and tips that may have you thinking your being healthy, when in reality they may be hurting you…. or helping you keep on the weight you want to drop.

chicken thigh fats fats good

  • Picking poultry instead of beef– So yes, lean chicken and turkey are about as clean as clean eating can be but things like the ground up turkey for turkey burgers and such, often have the skin and darker meat ground in as well (things they don’t tell you- those bitches!). Darker meat has more calories when it comes to poultry by the way, that’s why whenever you read most diets, the often revolve around the breast of the bird since its all white meat. Where in retrospect, beef (LEAN beef), can be only 155 calories with 6 grams of fat, as compared to the ground up turkey at 205 calories and 14 grams of fat. *So how to fix– Look for labels that say lean (90%) on either one, beef or turkey.
  • No fat at all! – I know they have had this on the news but there are still people out there that think all fat is bad, and that just isn’t the case. The way fat works is……… Monounsaturated fats  and polyunsaturated fats are known as the “good fats” because they are good for your heart, your cholesterol,  and your overall health.. It’s the trans fats, and saturated fats you have to avoid. Fat helps you stay fuller longer and it takes longer for your body to digest, therefore its a good thing because you wont be wanting food every hour on the hour. *So how to fix – Add good, satisfying fats to your food, think avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil. Plus good fats add loads of yummy flavors! – say no to boring food my lovely’s!
  • Think to yourself if your truly hungry – I have to do this sometimes because we get bored and out of habit, we eat. Its only human and natural to do that I think. But take a minute ( I like to drink a whole glass of water because sometimes your body is honestly just thirsty and wait about 10 minutes to figure out if I’m really hungry or not.) Take a deep breath and decide, if you are ..great eat a small healthy snack, if carrots and hummus or something along those lines doesn’t sound good, then you probably aren’t hungry and your bored. *So how to fix – find something else to take your mind off it. I like to pop some of that Deserts Extra brand gum in my mouth because it craved that sweet taste I’m looking for. They have all kind of flavors from root beer float to strawberry shortcake. I also go for a run, read a book, blog, play fetch with the dogs or even just watch a TV show… anything can help, you just have to find what works for you.

gluten sport real

  • Everything Gluten Free – Don’t get me wrong I personally love gluten free foods. But not all of them are good for you. Just because fruit roll ups say they are gluten free, doesn’t mean you should eat them – don’t, they are full of sugar hhahah. But a lot of gluten free products like take baking with a GF flour for example, its sometimes made with things such as white rice or potatoes.. or both (double whammy). – This kind of flour doesn’t have as much fiber and nutrients as a regular whole wheat flour with the same amount of calories and sometimes even more! *So how to fix- Look for products that are made with quinoa or brown rice, they are a much healthier option and still gluten free. I like Bob’s Red Mill brand personally.
  • Sweet Drinks and Energy Drinks – OK… seriously? Do you really think that double espresso Rockstar is a wise choice for your health? Its full of caffeine (which your probably addicted to if you “need” it or it “helps you wake up and get going” in the mornings), not to mention full of sugar and just plan crap for your body. Do you think our bodies were meant to consume that??? Not so much. Also, most of those sports drinks are virtually calorie free, meaning they are full of fake sugar, even worse, your body doesn’t know how to digest that fake shit.. quit it. *So how to fix- Just stick to water, add fruit to it to make it taste better if you have to.
  • Giving Fruits and Veggies a quick rinse – Yes you should wash them. And yes it does kill off the pesticides, but you have to wash them for long enough. Usually people just lightly dip it under the sink and call it good, and that isn’t enough. Most pesticides have shown to slow metabolism and even mess with your thyroid gland. So yea, you may be getting all your nutrients because you’ve added more produce, but it might be sabotaging your weight loss. *so what’s the fix – Wash for 30 seconds each time. Also you technically can buy organic (another reason why you want try to buy organic when you can…) but not have to worry about washing it because there are no pesticides used in growing it. I wash mine anyways just to be safe…and clean.
  • Store Bought Smoothies- Yes they are healthier, but they may have as many calories as a cheeseburger- depending on which ones you get. They can have as low as 200 to as high as 1000. They add tons of fruit veggies but unfortunately, a shit ton of sugar (which usually fake sugar or syrups.) *So how to fix– Make your own and take it with you. They make serving size smoothie machines that make it super easy as a quick breakfast in the morning.. so you don’t really have an excuse A. not to make breakfast (because so many people don’t eat breakfast) And B. if your trying to loose weight and get healthy.. you need to be eating breakfast. Its just as serious as working out.

banana granola wash

  • Ice cream vs. Frozen yogurt- You’d think so, but it actually have about the same amount of calories and sugars. So how to fix – Make your own yummy healthy “ice cream” I posted a link below about some healthy ice creams on Bodybuilding.com and I also posted an ice cream that’s made out of bananas.

Bodybuilding – http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/5-healthy-versions-of-famous-ice-cream-treats.html

Frozen Banana recipes – http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/1-ingredient-banana-ice-cream-10-flavor-twists/two-ingredient-banana-cookies-cream-ice-cream/

  • Granola – Yeah it may seem so great with the oats and grains, your getting some good carbs right?? Wrong. If they didn’t use so mush sugar for one, but a lot of those little oats have added fats too to make it “granola”. But good news is that all granola isn’t bad and its super easy to make your own “healthier” version too.  This goes for granola bars as well. Most granola bars are bonded together ..to make them a “bar” with all kinds of syrups and sugars. … And then some add chocolate into the mix too and then they almost become worse than some candy bars!! So… I’m sure you can make your own bars… (***OOO Striking a recipe challenge to post in future!) So how to fix –  make your own! I attached a link below on some fun recipes to try. Also, When picking out granolas in the supermarket try to make sure sugar isn’t in the first 3 ingredients.. and I know its hard, but try not to pic the ones with all the candies in it. . . . its supposed to be a healthy choice, not desert.

Make your on granola!- http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipes.asp?food=granola&a=#topresults

  • Anything with the word DIET- Just stop. You know what’s healthy, fruits, veggies and lean meats. Its really not that hard, so stop trying to “wiggle” your way around it and find ways to cheat. You either want to be healthy, or you don’t. Just because something says calorie free does NOT mean its healthy and you should consume it …much less all the time! Whether its soda, a “vitamin-enhanced” water, or even a diet drink (i.e.. Slim fast) if it had fake sugar… its not healthy. Just hear me out…. When fake sugar (sweet n low, aspartame. Just to name a few) enters your body it turns into formaldehyde, Formaldehyde is something scientists use to “preserve and protect”. …..  Ew. Think about it for a minute. Google it. Quit preserving your butt with diet soda ok. So the fix- Drink waters, add fruit to it to make it taste better of your getting boded, I think they do make carbonated waters now a days too if its the carbonation your craving …. but make sure there isn’t fake sugar in it.
  • Bread Galore- Sandwich making has become a “fit” and “healthier option” when your on the go or at work. Well lets take the fact that people love their meat, so you know we either add a bunch of meat (Usually lunch meats, pre-package, and FULL of sodium) Or we get the Meat-iest sandwich we can at Subway. “Cold-cut trio me please!” Then we pile on the mayo, or sugar-laden salad dressings (because you know that don’t buy Organic and Natural brands!) Pile on the smallest amount veggies and a lot of cheese ….on a foot long. So the fix is – So when you do make a sandwhich on some Eziekiel bread, or Udis. … Some OTHER form of Healthy Bread, (how to pick a healthy bread- **coming up in a post soon!) to put your sandwich on.        http://shop.udisglutenfree.com/ppcdo/search/google?gclid=CKuO-IbtlLgCFc1cMgodXUgAzA and please, make veggies the main part of it.

bread diet