This seems to be a common problem among my clients, family and friends. They want to make healthy food choices, but feel it’s not always realistic due to time constraints.
This problem usually leads to the question…
‘What can I eat when I’m on-the-go and don’t have time to prepare a healthy meal?’
Given that your life is hectic, with only a limited amount of time and willpower to put towards healthy eating, I decided to provide you with helpful solutions when you are in need of healthy fast-food.
For this particular post, I will focus on protein bars since they act as a decent meal replacement given that they contain protein and healthy fats as a main source of fuel (or at least the ones I recommend do). The combination of these macronutrients will create that sense of feeling full and satisfied unlike bars loaded with carbs and sugars.
Before heading out and loading 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. I know this for a fact because I’ve read the ingredients label on most of them. Food quality still matters even when eating on-the-go.
Here are a few problems I have found with most protein bars on the market and grocery store shelves:
- High in sugar. They are loaded with sugars, syrups, and/or dried fruit which can spike blood sugar levels.
- Gut irritating protein sources. Protein bars often use whey or plant-based protein which can be difficult to breakdown, in particular if you are dealing with gut issues already. In addition, whey protein can cause an inflammatory response in someone who has an intolerance or sensitivity to dairy and/or whey.
- Inflammatory oils/fats. Many bars contain fat sources that are not heat stable and/or nuts and seeds that have been heated/roasted at high temperatures therefore denaturing the nut/seed.
Here’s what I look for when shopping for a high quality, healthy protein bars:
- dairy-free (more important for individuals with a sensitive gut, dairy intolerance and/or an autoimmune condition)
- grain-free (important for individuals with a sensitive gut and/or an autoimmune condition)
- free of refined vegetable and seed oils
- low sugar (look for natural, low glycemic sweeteners like stevia, coconut palm sugar, some dried fruit and/or honey)
- some fiber (from prebiotic fiber which helps to support healthy gut bacteria and lower the glycemic load of the bar)
- quality protein; grass-fed beef, collagen or bone broth (I recommend these sources of protein since most people can easily breakdown and absorb them. For vegans/vegetarians, I have listed some options for you near the end.) The following may be ok if you do not have food sensitivities to the following and gut health is good – organic egg white, grass-fed whey, organic pea, rice or seed protein.
- mostly organic ingredients
I did some digging around and found some great brands that have put quality ingredients into their protein bars. It’s wonderful to see given all the crappy bars available today.
You can check out some of the protein bars I recommend here.
I always have these bars in my purse in case I’m in need of quick and easy fuel when on-the-go or traveling.
I hope this post was helpful. Happy to answer any questions you may have or help you locate other healthy products. Just leave me a message in the comment section below.
– Jennifer DiGregorio – Health Coach and creator of the Lifestyle Change Program