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5 Best Protein Bar Choices and How They Support Fitness

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A protein bar delivers protein the body needs to function properly while also satisfying your cravings better than any snack you’ll find in the vending machine. Protein bars are also incredibly convenient. Carry them with you in your purse, gym bag, or even your pocket.

Protein powders work wonders too, but sometimes you don’t want to force yourself to drink a full shake, and lugging around a container with powder isn’t always ideal. So protein bars not only deliver the protein the body needs to support healthy muscle development and recovery, but also makes it easier to get your daily nutritional needs while avoid tempting sweets and fried starches.

Why Is Protein Important?

Protein makes up about 15 to 20 percent of the mass in the body. In total there are about 10,000 different proteins that form muscle, bone, skin, antibodies, and nearly every part of the body.

The amount of protein you need depends on a few factors. A healthy person that lives a sedentary lifestyle can determine their recommended daily allowance of protein by multiplying their current weight in pounds by 0.36, or they can use this online calculator that factors in height, weight, pregnancy status, and activity level.

How Much Protein is Enough?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) advises that 10 to 35 percent of your daily energy intake (calories) comes from protein. This means that for every 2,000 calories you consume you should look for between 200 to 700 calories of protein. There are 4 calories per gram of protein, so you should target 50 and 175 grams of protein in your daily diet.

To development muscle mass, net protein in the body must exceed muscle protein breakdown. After exercise, specifically resistance training, protein turnover can remain elevated for up to 48 hours. If you don’t replace these lost proteins, you may begin to lose muscle mass.

By the age of 50, protein requirements begin to increase to help maintain muscle mass. Older individuals that remain active are advised to increase their daily intake of protein.

Protein Before or After Your Workout?

Consume protein before and after a workout. According to the ACSM, pre-exercise protein intake may help to “improve body composition by increasing resting energy expenditure.” Research has found that the body will develop lean muscle more effectively and also reduce fat mass when consuming protein prior to exercise.

Post-workout protein intake is also linked to skeletal muscle hypertrophy, which is the increase of tissue size through the enlargement of cells; part of the reason you look more bulky after exercise. It also supports protein synthesis for up to three hours after training and contributes to the optimal development of lean muscle tissue.

Weight Management

Studies show that protein is more satiating than carbohydrates and fat. So instead of eating a bag of chips that may leave you wanting a second bag, a protein bar may help you to feel full until your next meal. Studies also show that people ate less food overall with meals containing larger amounts of protein, and that their metabolic rates were higher in the days that followed.

If replacing a snack or meal with protein, look for nutrition bars, as these often contain other macronutrients like vitamins and minerals to ensure there are not nutritional gaps in your diet. If you meet your nutritional needs during normal meals, products with larger amounts of protein may be ideal.

NHC’s Top Pick

Protein + Snack Bars from Vega are plant-based, whole food protein bars that satisfy your stomach and may help you to reach your fitness and wellness goals. With each serving giving you 11 grams of protein from pea and brown rice, and essential vitamins like vitamin A, C, D, E, K, and potassium, biotin, and much more, you’ll feel motivated at home, work, and at the gym. These bars contain no GMOs or gluten, and they’re ideal for vegans. Choose from caramel or peanut butter.

NHC’s Other Favorites

Ultra Protein Fitness Bar in Double Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Caramel Sea Salt, and Chocolate Coconut from Metagenics have an incredible 20 grams of protein in each bar, plus all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to maintain feelings of energy, motivation, and focus.

Ultralean Gluco-Support Whole Food Bar from Nutra BioGenesis with 9 grams of protein and only 11 grams of sugar helps you to maintain blood sugar already within the normal range and support an active lifestyle. It includes essential fats from almond and peanut butter, supports lean body mass, and provides essential B vitamins, minerals, calcium, and much more!

High Protein Weight Loss Bar in Caramel, Chocolate Fudge or Peanut Butter Chocolate from Garden of Life help to make your feel full with 15 grams of protein and 12 grams of dietary fiber, so you can support your muscles and a healthy gut all at once.

Sport Protein Bar in Chocolate Coconut or Chocolate Peanut Butter from Vega have 15 grams of protein, nearly equal to a whole serving of protein in many protein powders. Vega is a quality brand with trustworthy ingredients from whole food sources. Eat one bar for post-workout recovery and muscle development support.

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