All protein bars are not created equal. Not even close.
My personal goal for when I eat protein bars is to put the least amount of trash in my body as possible without spending a fortune.
There are lots of different reasons people use protein bars, similar to protein shakes. The 2 classic reasons are either to increase your protein consumption easily without having to cook & eat a whole chicken breast or steak. Or it's a meal replacement to lower caloric intake. If you're consuming these for enjoyment or a snack...it's more of a granola bar or smoothie. (If you disagree with me - I don't care, don't bother with your corrective, keyboard warrior stuff. Or wait, go ahead - comments help my SEO. Bring on the hate mail!)
I have often fallen prey to the delicious candy bar labeled as a protein bar. The ones below have been my attempt at a (falsely) guilt-free fat-kid snack due to being one of the few gluten free options on the market.
But if you were to read the ingredients on either of these protein bars, they announce a long list of extra junk like palm kernel oil, some syrups & of course, Natural Flavor, which is a chemical.
When I'm on my game, training & nutrition wise, I'm not consuming protein bars at all. I use them as a convenience when traveling through airports or when my plans have suddenly changed so I don't have an actual meal packed with me. That's the best case scenario. What also happens is I hit the grocery store for a few things after a gym session & cruise the 'health foods' section, grab 2 of my favorite Rx Blueberry or Vanilla Almond bars when they are on for 2/$5.00 and inhale them both in the car before I leave the parking lot. I also did the math that buying them at 2/$5.00 is more cost effective than a whole box of 12 at $32.99.
Which leads me to the favorite. Although this brand has a few things to look sideways at, it fits my requirements for what I'm willing to put in my body while I'm training but in a place of restricted options or low impulse control. It's worth mentioning that I'm aware of the law suit this company faced for minimalist ingredient labeling, which you can read here.
The other downfall for this bar is how sticky it is in your teeth. If you have braces - don't even bother with this guy - you're doomed. The other benefit, again, has to do with ingredients - it's not soy protein or casein & whey powder which is derived from dairy. I don't like that.
But because of this, it makes it much more difficult to get a high protein level in this bar as it sits at only 12g in comparison to other bars that typically offer 20g for the same caloric intake. So I'm eating 2 of these bars in one sitting for 420 calories (a normal meal) & getting 24g of protein - but maybe 10% of the garbage chemical & artificial sugar content of the other bars. I feel like its a bit of a cop-out that every time a person wants so quick protein, they get to have it wrapped in a layer of milk chocolate.
The availability of this bar is pretty great, though I sometimes have trouble finding the Blueberry, which was the only one I liked. Then there has been the recent addition of the Vanilla Almond, which has an odd aromatic to it I'm not crazy about & is on the slightly too sweet side for me, but makes a good second option. Health food stores, grocery stores, gas stations, corner stores almost always have these bars; all across Canada & the USA, plus in most airports I've been in.
So now the runner up:
This bar is my favorite for multiday alpine hiking. This bar is made & packaged locally on Vancouver Island in Comox, just north of where I was living for 9 years. These suckers are a bit on the expensive side for me at over $3.50 a bar, but there are a few places that have them on sale ALL the time for 2/$5.00.
The problem is - this isn't a 'protein' bar, its way more of an energy bar with extremely simple, non-garbage ingredients. I use this for hiking because I could use it as easy meal replacement so I could keep moving, not to lower my calorie count.
Sitting at 11g of protein it's actually comparable to the Rx bar - but I would never eat 2 Hornby bars in one sitting due to the sugar, carb & calorie numbers. What I love is the dedication to organic ingredients, the low number of ingredients & knowing what each & every ingredient 'is' without having to look it up.
The difficulty is finding this bar anywhere except the west coast. Even in health food specialty shops out here in Ontario, I haven't spotted them. But...I'm also not doing any Alpine hiking out here....so....
The point I want to reiterate is that protein bars & energy bars have a use & purpose. If you haven't defined 'why' you're using them - you probably shouldn't be. If you DO have a purpose for using them, make sure the design of your bar is contributing to the results you want. You could be massively sabotaging your goals by falling prey to the 'quick' fix or the savagely well executed marketing of the packaged food industry.
Whole foods (and sometimes pure supplementation) are always best.
You're probably better off seasoning 5 chicken breasts, baking them in the oven, cutting them into strips & then portioning them out for a daily protein snack to dip in guacamole or hummus. If you shop at Costco - its cheaper too.
If you loved this blog, sign up for my Pretty Aggressive Weekly Newsletter!
to sign up & receive blogs on physical health, mental health, nutrition, great podcasts, book reviews, building resiliency, bio-hacking products & more!
If you would like to start building your Core Resiliency Skills contact Coach Julia today. You will learn how to Thrive beyond your damage, become a Transitional Character, break abuse cycles in your family cycle & build the core resiliency skills most often missed when being raised in a low nurture environment.
Julia is a Holistic Health Consultant, holding a Double Diploma in Community Support & Addictions Work, is a Certified Transformation Specialist, Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach & a Lvl 2 Reiki Practitioner. She specializes in Trauma Informed Practice & Resiliency Coaching and Holistic Pregnancy & Postpartum Health Coaching. PrettyAggressiveRecovery@gmail.com