As a Dietitian, one of the things I regularly get asked about are protein/energy bars. Bars are a tasty way to quickly provide good nutrition in our constant, on-the-go lifestyles. There are a few considerations, however, to keep in mind to choose the right one for you.
Ingredients. The first thing you should know is that there is no set definition of what constitutes a protein or energy bar. I’ve seen “protein bars” at the store that have less protein in them than a handful of almonds (about 6 grams.) That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not providing a lot of protein to support muscle recovery. Pre-packaged bars are generally marketed as “healthy” foods but are also typically loaded with tons of added sugar and preservatives to help make them taste good and last on the shelf for two years or longer. That’s not really providing you optimal nutrients or real food. Therefore, I first recommend looking for a bar that is made up of whole food high-quality ingredients that you can understand. I also look for the bar to contain whey protein simply because it has been demonstrated repeatedly in research to be safe and effective at supporting muscle growth, recovery and aiding you to feel fuller longer. I also prefer whey isolate for its rapid and easier digestion properties when compared to whey concentrate.
Nutrition. Next, consider the ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and fat in the bar. If the ingredients are “clean” and recognizable, the next thing I look at is macronutrients. Like most people I might eat them for breakfast, a pre-workout snack, a post-workout snack or a healthier dessert option, sometimes they even become a quick on-the-go part of lunch. Since I eat them at all random times of the day and night to satisfy my hunger, I look for one with a good balance of carbohydrates, fat and protein. Whether it’s an “energy” bar (higher in carbohydrates for energy) or “protein” bar, I typically like for the bars I buy to contain at least 10 grams of protein. This helps ensure they will satisfy my hunger and help keep me full.
Calories. Another consideration is to be careful of extra calories, especially if you are trying to lose weight. If weight loss is the goal, it’s easy to quickly undo the calories you expended with just one bar (depending on the bar and workout of course.) If you are trying to promote fat loss, it’s usually a good idea to limit to 200 calories or less per bar.
Here is my 4-ingredient recipe to make them at home:
Usually the bars that are made from high-quality good ingredients are rather pricey so I started playing around with making my own bars with Formulx Natural Recovery Whey Protein. I like this recipe a lot because its whole food ingredients provides a strong punch of antioxidants and phytonutrients in a convenient form.
• 1 cup almonds
• 7-8 pitted medjool dates (about 1 cup)
• 1 cup frozen berries*
• 2 scoops Vanilla or Chocolate Formulx Natural Recovery Whey Protein
*Picture shown with blueberries, I’ve tried cranberries which was fantastic as well!
1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until just combined.
2. Line a freezer-safe 7×5 dish with parchment paper.
3. Flatten out mixture in dish and freeze for 12 to 24 hours.
4. Once mixture is frozen you can cut into desired amount of bars and wrap them individually in saran wrap for an on the go healthy energy bar. Keep extra stored in the freezer*.
*Note these bars won’t every freeze all the way, but they get solid enough to cut into bar form.
Provides 197 Calories, 8g Fat, 20g Carbohydrates, 11g Protein
Feel free to modify this recipe to fit your preferences, pick your own favorite combination of nuts, berries, and Formulx Protein Powder.