By: LIERIN EHMKE
Edited By: ARYA ROERIG
For a gym rat or fitness junkie, protein bars seem to be a diet staple, always in the grip of those ready to hit the treadmill or lift free weights. But to those new to the fitness and weight-loss scene, the wide selection of protein bars can make the proper selection a little overwhelming. Protein bars can be an extremely helpful aid in fueling workouts and aiding in weight loss, but it’s important to know how to spot ones that are nutritionally beneficial over the glorified candy bars.
Lori Calvert, an endocrinogy nurse practitioner for Riverview Hospital in Noblesville, Indiana, is a weight loss expert who has lost over 100 pounds and has kept it off for over a year. Calvert mentions that protein bars can be a great pre-workout snack for their equal balance of carbohydrates and protein.
“Both macronutrients are necessary to aid in endurance during the workout plus recovery for the muscles post workout,” Calvert said. “Carbohydrates are necessary to give the body fuel during the cardio events and to replace stored glycogen, but after the workout really depends on the type of exercise one is doing that determines if you need more or less protein in a bar.”
Protein bars generally have about 200 calories, 10 to 15 grams of protein and 10 to 20 grams of carbohydrates. Though Calvert states this is an excellent blend for working muscles, she notes that is not a sufficient replacement of meat since it lacks the critical supply of B vitamins that meat contains.
“People have to be careful not to become dependent on protein bars as a total replacement for their protein,” she said. “It doesn’t give enough nutrients to totally replace a meal, but are excellent pre and post-workout food items.”
And many are loaded with sugar instead of nutrients. According to livestrong.com, bars like PureFit seem to be beneficial for their added iron and calcium, but they don’t add up for their lack of vitamin A and C. As opposed to Detour Lean Muscle which has vitamin A, C, B12 and E, in addition to iron, calcium, magnesium and chromium. And dietsurf.com warns of the high saturated fat content some may have, stating that some contain as much as 50% of what one needs in a daily diet.
Calvert recommends Zone, Power Crunch, South Beach and Special K protein bars. She said that bars like these helped with her substantial weight loss.
“I didn’t like eating large meals so the protein bars were good snacks in between meals so I could have smaller meals and more frequent food,” Calvert said. “Plus with all the exercising I do it was easy to have pre and post-workout snacks.” Calvert still eats them on a daily basis before and after workouts.
Protein bars can also be made at home and can be a delicious alternative to the processed, and sometimes expensive, brands sold at the grocery store. An easy, no bake recipe:
Homemade Protein Bars
1 Cup Peanut Butter
1 Cup Rolled Oats
½ Cup Coffee Grounds (Optional)
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
¼ Cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Mix all ingredients in large bowl. Form to make five bars. Keep refrigerated.