Are protein bars healthy fast food? In short, they can be, but not all protein bars are created equal and most bars on the market are full of low-quality ingredients. In this article, you’ll discover the main issues with most protein bars and what to look for in a high-quality bar.
Do you want to make healthy food choices, but feel it’s not always realistic due to time constraints?
A common question I get asked is – “Jen, what can I eat when I’m on-the-go and don’t have time to prepare healthy food?”
As always, I encourage you to eat whole foods as often as possible, but I understand there are moments where whole food eating isn’t an option and you need to rely on foods that come in a package, box or container.
When these moments arise it’s important to remember that food quality still matters even when eating on-the-go.
In this article, I’ll provide you with some helpful information on sourcing out healthy protein bars.
Protein bars can serve as a dense snack (or meal replacement if need be) and are convenient to carry around in your purse or gym bag, store at the office or throw into a carry-on/suitcase when you travel.
A high-quality protein bar that contains healthy sources of protein, fat and fiber can leave you feeling satisfied and fueled, so you’re able to make it to your next meal without throwing a stapler at the copy machine or feeling the need to eat the sugar loaded chocolate bar whispering to you at the check-out counter.
BUT before you head out and load up on protein bars, it’s important to know that not all protein bars are created equal and most bars on the market are full of low-quality ingredients.
Here are the main issues with most protein bars
- High in sugar. Most bars are loaded with sugars, syrups, dried fruit and/or filler carbs which can spike blood sugar levels.
- Gut irritating and low-quality protein sources. Protein bars often contain low-quality whey or plant-based protein which can be difficult to breakdown, in particular if you’re dealing with gut issues already.
- Inflammatory oils and fats. Most bars contain refined vegetable and/or seed oils that are not heat stable and can cause an inflammatory response your body.
Here’s what to look for in a high-quality protein bar
- Gluten & grain free – important for individuals with a sensitive gut, gluten intolerance or an autoimmune condition.
- Dairy/whey free – important for individuals with a sensitive gut, dairy intolerance or an autoimmune condition.
- Soy & GMO free.
- Free of refined vegetable and seed oils – like canola, sunflower, soybean, etc.
- Low sugar – look for natural, low glycemic sweeteners like stevia, coconut palm sugar, sugar alcohols, some dried fruit and/or honey.
- Soluble fiber – helps to support healthy gut bacteria and lowers the glycemic load of the bar.
- Quality protein – grass-fed beef, collagen or bone broth (these are great low-allergen protein sources that are easy to breakdown). Some quality vegan protein sources are organic pea, rice or seed protein. Grass-fed dairy/whey is an option if you don’t have a dairy/whey intolerance or autoimmune condition.
- Quality fats – like cocoa powder or butter, coconut oil, seed or nut butters.
- Mostly organic and/or well sourced ingredients.
My go-to protein bar for taste, texture and ingredients is Pure PaleoBar.
Not only does this bar meet all my standards for a healthy, high-quality protein bar, but it also leaves me feeling satisfied and energized after eating it.
I don’t experience gas, bloating or an upset stomach with this protein bar, which is HUGE for me considering most bars I’ve tried in the past triggered these symptoms.
I always carry Pure PaleoBar in my purse in case I’m in need of quick and healthy fuel. I also throw a few bars in my suitcase/carry-on bag when I travel since finding healthy food in airports, on the road or in unfamiliar territory can be tricky.
If you’re searching for a vegan protein bar, check out ChocoMint DF bar.
Get Pure PaleoBar
Gluten + dairy free with anti-aging & gut friendly bone broth protein