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!

Turning Point Power & Finding What’s Best for YOU!

Here is your disclaimer right off the bat: you know your body better than anyone else, you know what makes it come alive and what doesn’t (He has made you with specific passions), and if you are having trouble figuring any of that out or mental struggling with who YOU are message me jordan@creativekitchenrunner.blog I would love to chat! But here is a little bit about finding on-the-go snacks that helped change the conversation and fueled my body with what it needed:

5 weeks ago it finally clicked.

As a fighter of Mental Health when it comes to fitness & nutrition as well as a competitive athlete I couldn’t pull myself over the hump. After several months of trying this that and the other on the journey of getting back to healthy, gaining a good bit, and starting to shift my head to healthier thinking, I was in a rut. I knew I could physically continue by adding loads of carbs and sugar, but as a competitive athlete with low body fat that isn’t what I wanted to do to my body and knew it wasn’t the healthiest thing for my head. I wanted well rounded nutrition including fats and protein in unison with the carbohydrates that allowed me to feel confident and excited, not forced and exasperated.

Intro: Quest Nutrition., and lot’s of prayer…

I had heard about Quest before, and my General Manager at Big Peach Running Co, raved about them, but with an unhealthy mindset at the time I didn’t want another high calorie bar shoved in my face. HOWEVER, at the Hotlanta Half (go check it out – it’s one of my favorites) I decided to give it a shot after getting free samples at their tent. FIVE weeks later I’ve been able to put on more weight, and am competing at my best after two weeks ago breaking 20min in the first 5K of the Peachtree road race, and just being shy of breaking 40 minutes in the entirety of the race and placing better than I could have ever imagined.

BUT it’s not just the physical results that are encouraging and motivating, it’s the mental game that I no longer get anxious about eating protein bars, or that I’m going to feel terrible afterwards. The language is shifting in my story from anxious to confident, because of 1. Jesus first and 2. Brands that help you reach your specific goals towards getting back to healthy! It’s both a physical and mental journey that take time to relearn fueling yourself in order to make the most of the things that fill you with joy and passion – the uniqueness that He has made you so beautifully in! 

And I so want that for YOU. It’s not easy, it’s an every single day, but like I said in my last post find the people that will come alongside you and take that baby step TODAY!

SO how can YOU find the right fit? Here are 3 ways to start:

  1. Find out what your body needs and what makes it feel best! That means some experimenting.
    • We all know the diet trends > gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, Whole30, but EVERY BODY IS DIFFERENT, and there will never be a one size fits all. Maybe you do have celiacs and gluten is a big NO, maybe you are lactose intolerant or don’t eat meat, maybe you just want to try a few things to see if it makes you feel worse or better – DO THAT. Try things and take notes on how your body reacts
    • NEVER stop being a student of yourself.
  2. Write down your goals.
    • Maybe you eat cheese 6x a day and you want to cut back on dairy – check out supplements that accommodate that, but have healthy carbohydrates and protein. RXBar is a great example of this! Or maybe you just want all around more protein to help with muscle building – you can check out Quest or RxBar.
  3. Research!
    • While there is no one size fits all, there are several companies that I love because of the clean ingredients that they use. Larabar, Kind Snacks, and RxBar are great ideas for clean eating, but they also have sugar from the fruits and berries they use. So, just look around see what might be a good fit there are so many options for on-the-go snacks will give you what you specifically need.
    • Of course not ever replacing the nutrition of raw foods, keep those first and foremost.

So what do I love:

Question Nutrition of course! And there is still time to save during Prime Day here.

Nuun Hydration! This might be for hydration but I can never NOT talk about them for their clean ingredients and the way I always feel refreshed.

RxBar: my go to snacker on the run – mostly because you can find me at Sbux and they stock them there – snag the Prime Day goods here

I hope this is helpful to you! Take your time and let things come as they may. Take notes, and always always remember the truths about who the Father says you are!

Jordan