After the effort, the reward. You’ve just finished a tough session in the gym, now it’s time to refuel. If you’re after something quick and convenient – maybe you’re in a rush or want something desk-friendly – then a protein bar seems like the logical choice. But with so many options to choose from, what do you go for?
Dodgy marketing tactics – i.e. slapping a healthy label on sugar-laden bars – is incredibly frustrating when we’re trying to make the right choices. So, we’ve put together a quick guide to decode protein bars and make your life a little easier.
Protein plays a number of really important role in our bodies and is a building block for our tissues and organs. Getting in some post-workout protein is really important when it comes to helping your muscles recover and grow, so if you’re opting for a bar, you need to make sure it offers a decent helping of protein.
Be wary of bars with protein concentrates or soy “crisps” – these aren’t always the best option as they won’t be utilised as readily by the body as more complete sources of protein. Bars that contain pea protein are often a good bet!
It’s easy to be tricked into thinking something is healthy, when actually it’s packed with hidden sugar. Shockingly, one report (published by Food Navigator USA) found that over a third of nutrition bars contain more saturated fat than a glazed donut from Krispy Kreme. Whaaaaattt! And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, ten of these “healthy” bars actually had more sugar than the doughnuts.
So, have a quick scan of the ingredients. Is one of the main ones sugar or glucose syrup? Avoid! Any sugar in a bar should come in small amounts and be from natural sugars, like brown rice syrup, maple syrup or dates.
Protein bars are a convenient way of getting in a little dose of protein post-workout, or fuelling you with some energy to get through the day, but they shouldn’t be used as a meal replacement, as you’re unlikely to meet all your nutritional needs this way. A bar that contains between 150-250 calories can easily be worked into your daily calorie needs.
Choosing a bar with a decent serving of fibre will help to keep you feeling fuller for longer and promotes good gut health. Most adults in the UK don’t get enough fibre, so this is something to bear in mind not just when you’re buying a quick snack after the gym, but when you’re doing your weekly food shop!
A bar might look healthy on the shelf, but if you flip it over to see a loooong list of unpronounceable gibberish where you should be seeing ingredients… It may not be the best thing for you and your body. This is a common sense rule that can be applied whenever you’re shopping for food – try to opt for food with proper ingredients that will fuel your body in the best possible way.
We like TRIBE bars and have them at reception if you need a little protein boost after your hard work in your PT or group class. If you want some more recommendations or extra advice on post-workout nutrition, chat to one of our trainers today.
If you don’t already train with us and want to find out more, book in for a free initial consultation today by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help you reach your health and fitness goals.