Snacks are an important part of a healthy diet, especially for the busy patients that fill my practice. And, if you’re reading this, I bet you have a snack in your office drawer. Is it a bag of pretzels, a ripe banana, a fiber-rich bar, or a bag of goldfish? Sure – these snacks can satisfy your palate but they don’t satiate your body. What is the dietitian-approved solution? A protein rich snack!
Protein is the key ingredient you need in every snack and meal. A bag of pretzels or a banana may satisfy your hunger for 45 minutes (the usual time it takes carbohydrates to digest), but won’t provide the long-lasting energy that every busy girl needs! Adding protein to these options would be a simple and effective way to achieve the most balanced blood sugar and satiety! Win-win.
Protein provides oxygen to our cells, regulates hormones, and helps build muscle. It is an essential part of every female diet. Protein needs vary by an individual’s activity level, age, and muscle mass. But, for a baseline, you can determine your own functional needs, such as skeletal-muscle protein accretion and physical strength, by a simple calculation. Just multiply your weight in KG by 1.0-1.6 to find the grams of protein you need per day.
Ex: A 140lb female would need 63-100g protein per day. This means ~20-33g of protein per meal. Whitness Nutrition patients opt for snacks, with no less than 10-15g of protein and avoid lonely carb snacks at all cost.
What to look for in a protein bar
The most frequently asked question I get is, “Is this protein bar good?” It’s true, protein bars are quick, accessible, and delicious, so they seem like an effective fueling tool! Unfortunately, many protein bars on the market are actually more of an energy bar. These energy bars have a great proportion of carbohydrates than protein. These bars are better utilized for highly active individuals and endurance athletes who need quick energy.
Busy gals, which is almost every single patient at Whitness Nutrition, need stable energy. Thus, they need a protein bar that sustains through low-glycemic fuel! UNiTE Foods is one of my favorite protein bars solutions because of their prevalence of protein and use of a complete protein. This is your sign to read the label of your “healthy” organic protein bar that uses an incomplete soy protein.
Use these four guiding recommendations when you’re looking for a protein bar! I’ve helped thousands of patients improve their dietary intake which leads to better health. Yes, it all starts by reading your labels and knowing WHAT to look for on those labels.
1. Protein rich ingredients
First, where does the source of protein fall in the ingredients list? Ingredients are listed in order of their prevalence in the recipe. If the protein content is listed after a concentrated sugar, oats, and fiber, nix it! Look for a protein bar where the protein source is either the first or second ingredient. UNiTE Foods‘ second ingredient is Whey Protein Concentrate, preceded only by almond butter – ironically, a healthy fat and additional source of protein!
2. Protein Rich Power
As I previously mentioned, we want to aim for 10-15g of protein per bar to qualify it as a protein rich snack. UNiTE Foods contain 11g of complete protein per bar. This will ensure you stay fueled through the midday window where slumps are likely to occur.
RD hot tip! Compare the net carb and protein grams on your label. If the protein content is higher than the net carbohydrates (total carb – total fiber), you’ve got a great blood-sugar balanced bar!
Example to Nix: A Luna Bar contains 3x the carbohydrates, 46g of carbohydrates to the 10g of protein in each bar. Meanwhile, UNiTE contains an appropriate 1:1:1 ratio of carbs to fat to protein. This means eating a UNiTE protein bar won’t leave your blood sugar out of whack nor will it leave you hungry 20 minutes later.
3. Protein Quality
Additionally, look for a protein bar that contains a complete source of protein. This means all 9 essential amino acids are present in adequate amounts. Complete proteins include your typical idea of protein, such as eggs, poultry, fish and even quinoa! Whey protein is the perfect example of a dairy-derived complete protein. This is the form of complete protein found in UNiTE Foods protein bars.
Whey protein has been shown to help increase strength and support lean muscle mass. It’s also more readily available and easier to absorb compared to other protein derivatives on the market. It is also rich in Leucine, a branch chain amino acid, that supports muscle protein synthesis. For that reason, a whey protein based snack, such as UNiTE Foods, is an excellent post-workout source of protein. An added bonus in UNiTE Foods bars are the addition of hemp seeds. Hemp seeds are not only a plant-based source of complete protein that also pack in heart healthy fats.
4. An overall healthy recipe
I must reiterate the importance of reading the label on any packaged food, especially your snacks! Reading the list of ingredients on your protein bar can make or break your snack time decision. Even if your bar might contain one or two sources of protein, what else is lurking in the background?
Prioritize real food ingredients that offer a variety of nutritional benefits! UNiTE Foods uses ingredients like dates, which are rich in fiber and cocoa powder, a powerful anti-inflammatory. Additionally, they use hemp seeds which are a cardio-protective heart-healthy fat. These ingredients are powerful additions to your diet that help minimize and decrease overall inflammation!
Ingredients to steer clear of include:
- Vegetable oils; canola, safflower, sunflower, soybean, peanut or palm oil
- Sugar alcohols such as sucralose or maltitol. These are both known to be gut disruptors that cause bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
- Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin. These are 100x sweeter than cane sugar and can actually drive your sweet cravings!
Save these three dietitian approved tips in mind next time you’re strolling through the protein-bar aisle!
As a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, I take protein bars quite seriously, both for myself and my patients. UNiTE Food bars are a staple in my pantry at all times, because they provide a convenient way to get satiating calories in a limited amount of time. They incorporate anti-inflammatory ingredients and are naturally gluten and soy free with a punch of 10-11g protein per bar.
And, for all of my readers located in Texas, we’ve got exciting news! UNiTE Foods is launching across Texas in HEB! Once you take your first bite, you’ll be craving more, go ahead and order in bulk with code WHIT20 to save! Also worth mentioning, you can already find UNiTE Food bars at Walmart, Sprouts and select retailers online.
Stressing about your protein needs? Ready to better understand your individual protein needs? Or are just looking for snack time guidance? Book a discovery call with me today!
This blog post was sponsored by UNiTE Foods through the creation of a thoughtful partnership with the intention of educating the masses on wholesome health concepts. Whitness Nutrition takes every partnership seriously and Whitney upholds her role of a #honestinfluencer to a high standard. Never hesitate to reach out with comments, questions, or concerns.