It can be deceiving if you’re not sure about what ingredients for a protein bar to look for. Choosing the least refined option is best, but sometimes, being on the go can cause us to make some less than stellar choices. Protein bars, though refined, can be an easy grab and go item to lower your blood sugar and ward off hunger, when healthier options aren’t available. Here’s what ingredients for a protein bar you should look for, or that you can even use at home to make your own.
Almonds are a great source of protein, and are always an ingredient for a protein bar that I look for when purchasing one, or buying my own. Almonds contain 7 grams of protein in just one quarter cup. They also have essential vitamins and minerals that nourish the brain and metabolism, along with your heart. Look for raw protein bars if you can find them, like Larabars or Rise bars, but if you can’t find a raw variety, any bar that has almonds is a good choice. If you’re making your own, just soak almonds overnight and add your own to your mix in the food processor.
2. Hemp Protein
Another ingredient I use to make all my own bars with is hemp protein. It’s very high in omega 3 fatty acids, which stimulate metabolism and aid in healthy brain function. Hemp protein is also rich in chlorophyll, which helps your body alkalize and detox from daily toxins, along with aiding immune function. Furthermore, hemp protein is rich in all essential amino acids your metabolism needs to ward off sugar cravings. If you’re making your own use about 1 cup of hemp protein per batch of 12 bars, or look for varieties in the store that contain hemp protein, such as Vega bars, or Amazing Grass protein bars.
3. Brown Rice Protein
Another fabulous protein source used in many store bought protein bars is brown rice protein. It is rich in essential amino acids that aid in metabolism, repair of muscle tissue, and also help ward off sugar cravings. Brown rice protein also contains some antioxidants, and is overall low in carbohydrates. It is found in brands like Pure bars, Vega bars and Amazing Grass bars. You can find it in other brands as well, and or use brown rice protein powders such as those from Garden of LIfe, 22 Days, Vega or Sunwarrior, to make your own at home.
4. Pea Protein
Many people aren’t a fan of pea protein, but I happen to be for a few reasons. First, it contains all essential amino acids your body needs, along with all non-essential amino acids. Pea protein is usually very easy to digest for most people, even those that don’t tolerate beans and legumes. I like to use Sunwarrior Raw Warrior Blend protein to make my own protein bars at home, but you can also buy bars containing this protein powder too. One popular brand using this protein is Vega brand, and it’s pretty tasty if I do say so myself!
5. Whey Protein
I’m pretty big on avoiding highly processed dairy protein, like whey protein, but for most people, it is easy to digest ,and in a pinch, it can be a good way to ward off hunger, if you choose the right bar to buy it in. Many brands contain GMO ingredients, which I avoid, but some brands are actually pretty decent. Two of the best brands containing no artificial sweeteners or GMO ingredients that use whey protein include The Simply Bar and Quest bars in some varieties. Though I don’t buy this protein for myself to make my own bars with, it can be a useful ingredient in certain bars and with minimal choices. Just stick to blends without added sugars and artificial sweeteners.
Any form of coconut is great to use in a homemade protein bar, or to look for when buying one at the store. Whether it be coconut flour or shredded coconut, this food is excellent to ward off hunger, boost your mood and metabolism, and it is high in protein and energizing healthy fats. Many, many brands include coconut, and one of my favorites is Amazing Grass, along with Larabars. These do have some sugar from dates in them, but overall, they’re a good choice in a pinch.
7. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are fantastic when used in a protein bar! They add fiber, essential vitamins and minerals and will keep you going for hours and hours. Some of the best brands that use chia seeds in their bars are Vega bars, along with a few other vegan brands, but I like using chia seeds in my homemade protein bars at home.
I also use cinnamon and stevia to flavor mine with, along with a few cacao nibs for a special touch. What’s your favorite special ingredients to look for or use in protein bars?