Thankfully, protein bars aren't what they were 10 years ago. Gone are the days when you had to choose between one that tasted like cardboard and was dry as chalk, or another that had sugar content rivaling any candy bar. Today, you've got options.
But given the questionable bars of the past, you might still need a bit of convincing. Here are six reasons you should use bars to aid your eternal quest to take your diet from good to great.
1. They're Compact and Clean
What's that rotten smell coming from the bottom of your gym bag? Maybe it was once an apple? You honestly can't tell anymore. Whatever it was, it's nasty now.
While the food type and the level of decay may vary, the situation is one we've all experienced in the juggling act with job, friends, family, and fitness. Despite your best intentions, you won't always have every meal present, accounted for, and perfectly seasoned. And when it happens, a protein bar can easily sub in.
Why? They're tiny, sealed, and at around 200-250 calories a piece, they're the size of an average snack or a small meal and can fit into just about any diet plan. Need more calories? No problem. Have a nice fresh piece of fruit with one.
2. The Flavors Have Come a Long Way
In the early days of protein bars, your choices were chocolate that didn't taste like chocolate or peanut butter that didn't taste like peanut butter. The upshot was that they didn't satisfy your cravings or your macros. Thankfully, this has changed!
Take a look at the current flavors offered by FitJoy: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Mint Chocolate Crisp, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Frosted Cinnamon Roll, Chocolate Iced Brownie, and French Vanilla Almond—and yes, each tastes like its name. This makes them a dream for anyone with a sweet tooth.
Better yet, they'll prevent you from diving into something far less healthy that could tarnish a day of healthy eating.
3. They Stop Hunger Pains Before They Start
Along with protein, fiber is the best way to combat hunger. How? For one, it helps regulate blood sugar by slowing down your body's absorption of carbs. But it's also expansive and filling in your stomach, and provides more health benefits than you'd be willing to read here.
The one-word recommendation for fiber: Eatmoreofit. With 12 grams of dietary fiber per bar, protein bars will put you far ahead of the recommended 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories in your diet. For anyone on a low-calorie diet plan, this is good news.
Bonus: With only 4 grams of sugar per bar, you'll avoid that blood-sugar spike and midday crash.
4. They've Got All That Protein
If you're looking to build muscle, pile your plate with protein and keep chewing till you've got the jaw pump of your life. Sounds simple enough? It isn't always. Plenty of us simply don't like eating Dr. Bro's recommended daily allowance of chicken breasts—and why should we? There's a world of protein options out there.
If hitting a protein benchmark like 1 gram per pound of body weight or more is tough for you, protein bars are an easy solution without the mess and cleaning demands of protein powders. (Seriously—shaker bottles and hot cars don't mix.) Throw one in your bag to snack on between meals, on long car rides, or when you're craving a nibble.
At 20 grams of protein per serving, they'll give you a big boost toward whatever number you're trying to hit.
5. They've Got Good Stuff Beyond Just Protein and Fiber
How about calcium? Milk and leafy greens aren't the only supporters of strong bones in your diet. Bars can also be a great source of calcium, with each bar providing 15 percent of your daily intake.
The savvy label reader knows that what's not in a treat like this matters almost as much as what is in there. Look for bars that are free of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and even gluten.
6. Duh! They're Really, Really Convenient
Never underestimate convenience when you're trying to live a fitter life. When your body is busy burning calories and building muscle, you simply must give it enough fuel to do all that hard, important work. Eating better meals is a big part of that challenge, but so is giving yourself consistent access to better quality snacks.
Bars don't require prep, can be stored anywhere, and are an easy single-serving solution to your nutrition dilemma. They'll also last for months, so you don't have to keep replacing them day after day—except when you eat them all, of course! Stash a box in your desk at work or in your gym bag, and know that it's there when you need it. If you're struggling to balance a busy schedule, these can be a lifesaver.