It’s only been a recent thing for me that I’ve really discovered protein bars – in the past I shied away from them, convinced that they were packed full of nasty ingredients and would turn me into a bodybuilder overnight. Although some protein bars are indeed packed full of nasties, many aren’t. My favourites are free from refined sugars and have a relatively low sugar content and GI. They’re an ideal post-workout reward, supplying your muscles with the carbohydrates and protein they need to repair after exercise.
The protein bars that I’ve picked contain the amount of protein that I am happy to consume as a snack. There are lots of protein bars containing as much as 20g (as much as a chicken breast) which are favoured by many fitness lovers, but I personally view this as too much protein for me to have as a snack. These sort of bars (I’m talking about bars such as Quest and Grenade Carb Killas) are also often packed full of artificial sweeteners to make them low-carb and to reduce the impact on blood sugar. However, I find that said artificial sweeteners, such as maltitol, make me bloat really badly (I mean, really badly) which gives me another reason to avoid these. I would rather consume real food, real sugar, than a load of artificial substitutes. Still, I doubt one every so often would hurt (unless you get the bloat too!)
That said, I don’t consume protein bars daily. Some might be described as ‘natural’ but they’re still processed and are definitely not as natural as, for example, a banana with peanut butter, which would also be perfect post-workout fuel.
If I have the time, I like to whizz up a quick creamy smoothie – try my Berry Good Smoothie or Choconutty Smoothie. However, if you don’t have much time or you need something small, portable and easy to munch on as you dash straight from the gym to work, healthy protein bars are ideal.
Here I’ve made a list of my top 5 favourite protein bars/balls and linked each one to their site for you.
Note: I’m not sponsored by any of these brands, this is just an honest review of some of my favourites.
1.) Bounce Cacao Mint
Ever since I was little I have loved the combination of mint and chocolate (mint choc chip ice cream every time), and this is just so delicious. Bounce has a huge rainbow-coloured range of different flavoured protein bombs, and this one offers 10g of protein. It’s super chewy and encrusted with crunchy cacao nibs for an extra chocolatey hit.
2.) Bounce Cacao Orange
Although this flavour will always be second to cacao mint for me, it’s also got a lovely flavour.
3.) Chocolate-coated Cherry Squarebar
I discovered these fairly recently and honestly, it’s like eating a chocolate bar. It kind of is a chocolate bar, actually. I have to be honest and say that it’s not the healthiest snack you can pick – with about 16g of sugar, I view this bar as a treat, as more of a healthier chocolate bar! I just love the combination of dark chocolate and slightly sour cherries. The actual bar itself is sweetened with coconut nectar, meaning it has no refined sugar, but the dark chocolate coating does contain some cane syrup. It’s also vegan as it contains plant protein rather than whey. It contains 12g protein to help boost your recovery. They have plenty of other flavours, and I intend to work my way through them!
Visit Squarebar.com for more info.
4.) Pulsin Vanilla Choc Chip
I personally much prefer the taste and texture of both Bounce Balls and Squarebars, but these are still tasty, and are also vegan. They contain 13g of plant protein.
5.) Nakd Cocoa Crunch
This is probably the least ‘protein bar’ type here, but it is the nicest healthy, raw chocolate brownie that I’ve ever had. It’s much less filling than the others on my list, as it’s smaller and less calorific than the others, also containing only 5.5g grams of protein. I tend to pair it with another snack or have it as a ‘dessert’ to satiate those sugar cravings, but it’s also made purely from nuts and dried fruit rather than added sweeteners, so if you’re looking for the healthiest or most natural option, this is probably it.
Photo: Natural Balance Foods