Navigating the Bar Craze When the Whole Aisle is Consumed By Them

It seems like every day there is a new protein, health, or real food bar hitting the market, and honestly it can seem overwhelming. I walked into my local grocery store the other day and saw three new brands I had never heard of. Now, most bars have a particular purpose: snack, protein, energy, but how do we organize those and what’s best for our individual day-to-days? To be honest I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I hope this helps just a bit!

My biggest rule of thumb is, and we all know it, whole foods first! But what does that even mean in a culture of 50 bars to choose from all with claims on their label of being this or that? Hopefully this little break down will help you clarify just a bit!

Snack Bars:

  1. RxBar this one is my favorite because the sugar isn’t off the charts and its all natural, and there are so few ingredients – which are all listed on the front of the label. This bar gives you a well rounded option when you’re hungry in the middle of the day or on-the-go! This can ALSO fit into an adequate protein bar so win-win.
  2. Larabar – the sugar here is a little bit more substantial but again the ingredients are all whole foods that are pronounceable and generally good for you. Personally I’m a little fuller when I eat Larabars, they are richer on my stomach even though the calorie counts of RxBar and Larabar are similar, but Jon LOVES them and I know he’s eating a decent snack instead one of the super processed and sugared granola bars or Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.
  3. CLIF Whole Lotta – we all know this brand and the multiple lines of bars they make, however depending on which bar you are consuming the ingredient list can be a little lengthy and the sugar count high. HOWEVER, this option is short on ingredients and gives you just what you need to curb hunger, and from a reputable brand.

Biggest bar to avoid: standard CLIF. In my view CLIF stands in a unique place. If you are an endurance athlete and need a boost during long training sessions then a CLIF product is NO problem, however, for their standard bars their ingredient list is long and sugar high. So, if you need a boost of energy it’s so much better to find some whole foods that can give you something more well-rounded and nutritious.

Protein Bars:

  1. Quest – Quest came into my life a little over a year ago when I was still trying to put on weight. While they don’t have the simplest of ingredient lists they do supply a healthy dose of fats, protein, and fiber and very little sugar. They keep me full and balanced on long days of work and training. **NOTE: not every flavor is the same so check the ingredients before you indulge 
  2. Epic – while they don’t have an ample amount of protein I love these pars because they are whole animal, low ingredient, and low sugar, all while being filling and delicious.
  3. Health Warrior Protein Bar – plant based, real food, low sugar bar that I have come to really enjoy for a boost.

Biggest bar to avoid: ThinkThin. I actually used to love these as one of the first bars to burst on the scene of the bar-pandamonium , but their sodium and sugar alcohols are through the roof, and their list of ingredients is just not worth it!

Energy Bars:

  1. Picky Bars – Lauren Fleischman and Jesse Thomas are the brains behind this brand and being endurance athletes themselves I was intrigued by what they were creating. While the added sugars aren’t my favorite in the case of endurance athletics and a pronounceable ingredient list these bars are perfect and definitely rise to the top! Just make sure you are using them in the correct setting!
  2. ProBar – These can also be used as meal replacement so be careful of consuming too much. However, they have pronounceable and clean ingredients and can be a GREAT source of well rounded nutrition in a bind or after a long workout!
  3. Kind Protein – these are substantial, and while they don’t have a super fighting power sugar content they are well rounded with almost anything that your body requires when you are grinding through the week or pounding the pavement.

Biggest bar to avoid: PowerBar. One of the originals. But the first ingredient is cane invert syrup and Maltodextrin follows closely behind it, just not the whole food, well rounded nutrition that’s best.

Honorable Mentions:

*Goodness Knows – Snack

*Jimmy Bars – Protein

*Bonk Breaker – Energy

I hope this guide helps you breakdown some of this bar craze, and that it helps you find the best products for your activity level and overall health! Enjoy!

Summer Fueling + Fitness

Ya’ll we went for 40 to 90 degrees in a matter of days literally like 2 weeks and that two week period was rainy as mess. But here we are, I always remember the first few super hot and muggy runs of the season leave me feeling drained with head pounding as I adjust to the climate and my intake of electrolytes + water. So tidbit #1: this is okay for a day or two, but if the headaches continue you either need to adjust your fluids or hold back a bit. Heat exhaustion is a real thing yo.

But most importantly you can do more than you think you can, because you were created by the one who does immeasurably more always. Keep moving, stay healthy, you have so much purpose & potential

So a few of you wanted to know my favorite fueling products and nutrition habits, and also some fun summer activities (that are mostly free/low-cost). So here we go!

Favorite products for pre & mid-training and/or racing:

Nuun – I bet you could’ve guessed that one. I’m on year #2 of being an ambassador for #teamnuun and still wholeheartedly believe in the product.

Honey Stinger – This is year #1 as part of the #hshive and is always my go to pre race fuel! They have gluten free options and they sit lightly on your stomach. They also have gummy options if you are carrying while racing.

Favorite products for recovery:

Quest – A few years ago I tried their cereal bars and while they were good they didn’t beat out my go-to’s. However, at the Hotlanta Half Marathon (which is always amazing) they gave out ample amounts of free product and their Protein Bar with only 1g of Sugar was a huge hit for me. And yes it’s gluten-free !

Apple + PB Fit – And now you might be thinking what is with the powdered peanut butter? And isn’t it a pain? It’s a slight inconvenience, but all of us need a little bit more inconvenience in our life but for a good taste and super high protein with out feeling weighed down it’s a great option for being on the go!

Van’s Ancient Grains GF Waffles – Really I can actually sit and eat a whole box of these easily, but they are delicious and nutritious – it’s cliche but real. Add some PBFit on there and it’s quality recovery on the go

Disclaimer: None of these replaces an actual meal, and water is always the number one workout + recovery fuel! 

Other notables:

I like all the clean ingredients so a few other favorites are RxBar & Larabar – these are a little heavier and higher in sugar, but they are a great option for a quality snack.

Nutrition: What I’ve learned:

Over this past year nutrition has been a primary focus of mine. And one thing that always got me was how to add the fat + carbs without all the sugar. Now, I enjoy a cupcake, donut, or muffin just as much as the next person, but these should be an exception not a rule so here are a few ideas:

Limit your protein or snack bar intake: these are great for once a day or once every other day, but they are *typically* full of sugar and they don’t replace a meal.

Eat high protein: Jon and I go through eggs like it’s our job, but we also like to keep things like beans, nut butters, and regular nuts and seeds around that we have besides the familiar animal protein.

Healthy fats are friends: Not only do things like almonds contain protein and healthy fats, they are also great for keeping you satisfied, reducing cravings, and helping you sleep. Snacking on almonds and adding avocado/guac to everything are a great way to keep your fat level normal and healthy!

So let’s look at a normal day:

Breakfast –

a. Two egg scramble with veggies (tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and yes sometimes brussels b/c I love them), apple + nut butter, Vans Gluten-Free Ancient Grains waffle

b. Western Omelette with corn, black beans and salsa. Mixed fruit bowl w/ berries, honey, and lemon juice, and piece of toast.

Morning snack – 

a. Apple + Pb Fit and Low Sodium organic popcorn

c. Almonds + Carrots w/ hummus

Lunch –

a. Turkey Sandwich w/ Udi’s gluten free bread, tomato, mustard, and lettuce add some berries and/or dipping veggies for a complete meal!

b. Summer Salad – Lettuce, Pumpkin seeds, berries, grilled chicken, with a lemon vinigarette. Add some homemade Texas Toast, or a handful of chips and guac to get your carbohydrates covered. Just remember portions!

Afternoon snack – 

a. Any of the morning snacks

b. Snack bar with clean ingredients – see above for ideas!

Dinner – 

a. Tacos w/ shredded chicken spiced with red chili powder, garlic, salt, and pepper with roasted veggies, black beans and corn, and salsa on top! Don’t forget the chips and guac!

b. Chicken & Veggie Stir Fry with roasted chicken, veggies over brown rice

d. Burgers topped with all the fixings (go easy on the cheese if you please) and a summer salad (minus the chicken) and easy on the dressing.

Dessert/Snack – 

a. Trail Mix – My forever go to of almonds, popcorn, dried cranberries (low sugar), and chocolate

b. Anything dark chocolate – just take it easy 😉

If you want any of my specific recipe feel free to comment or reach out to me via social media! 

So now we play: Check Em Out this summer:

November Project Atlanta – FREE – Various workouts Wednesday & Fridays around Midtown – check out: https://www.facebook.com/novemberprojectatlanta/

Corepower Yoga on the Roof Series at Ponce City Market – $10 : https://www.facebook.com/events/2103039469985272/

Big Peach Running Co – Group Runs (all around the city) – FREE – https://www.bigpeachrunningco.com/group-runs/

Dekalb 4-miler (7/14) and The 680 The fan Tailage 5K (8/4) – FREE for ATC members and $10 for Non-members : https://www.atlantatrackclub.org/

Can’t wait to see you all out there this summer – if you have any questions let me know!

Jordan

February 2018

Jon and I were talking a few days ago in a moment I had just been overwhelmed by gratitude. The chance to get up every single day and do what I love: hit the pavement (or the treadmill) and go! SO many people in this world don’t have that luxury, either they physically or financially can’t or they live in an environment that doesn’t allow it. But not only does the opportunity to run continue to present itself, but the opportunity to partner with amazing people who help care for those that cannot.

The past couple weeks of training have been hard. Pushing my pace in general, but also for longer miles. Sprinting 5Ks and then doing that again the next weekend. But each time no matter how many hills I’ve battled it’s been an overwhelming and emotional moment crossing the finish line or even just finishing a run. And God allows me to continue…

February 10th – Hearts & Soles 5K

  • This was my second time at this event, and while Jon didn’t run this year it was a fun morning for us both. The rain held off and it was a comfortable low 50 degree, cloudy morning. The easiest thing about this race is that since having done it before, my expectations were already set. And after a long run the morning before, there were no time goals, just GO. The Atlanta Track Club really does a fantastic job with this event. It’s always very well supported, people show up and show out, and it’s run so smoothly.

February 17th – Atlanta Mission 5K

  • Also my second time at this race, although it has been a few years since the first go around. The best thing about this event is that it is SO much more than a 5K: it’s stories of hope, it’s coming together as a city to support people who don’t have what we have. It’s dancing, laughing, acting crazy, and listening to leaders who have huge, God-sized vision for this city, and its FUN. The course is one of the hardest 5K courses I’ve done, but every single step is worth it. Thanks Atlanta Mission for another incredible year.

February 24th & 25th – RunDisney Princess Weekend w/ Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

  • This whole month is clearly about doing things for the second time. As I head to Orlando this week in partnership with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals , in honor of my late grandfather, I want to say THANK YOU again for the generosity of people in my circle who helped give kids a chance at LIFE. You are heroes, and I’m so excited to not only race in honor of Pop, but in honor of you! And celebrate the chance to be here and breathing and living.

On Thursday, the treadmill was whirring beneath my feet as I watched the news on the screen. What would have normally been a run of the mill (literally) morning where they showed us the weather, the traffic, and whatever shooting and/or fire happened overnight in Atlanta, this morning was different: it was kids who would never see their teachers or friends again, friends and teachers that don’t get any more moments on this Earth. And while I’ve unfortunately seen these stories too many times now, this one struck me differently – I get another moment and I want to be bold in using it! So tearfully (which was challenging when I was clipping at faster pace) running changed. And it’s a beautiful journey, in the valleys and hills.

ENJOY IT!

Thanks to my Nike (Pegasus 34), Mizuno (Wave Rider 21), New Balance (Fresh Foam Zante), Nuun Hydration, and Larabar for keeping me going!