As women, we lead busy lives - between work, school, picking up the kids, hitting the gym, studying, happy hours, and all of the other daily activities out there, it’s no surprise when we find our energy tanks getting dangerously close to empty. Throwing some strategic, easy snacks in our bag is a must, but with all of the options out there, figuring out what’s a healthy choice versus a glorified candy bar can be draining in and of itself.
So when taking on the ever-growing energy and protein bar aisle, knowing what’s in your snack-to-be matters. To help, we’ve put together a list of our favorite ingredients, each packed with the kind of nutrients that keep you going better, faster, and stronger - even in the face of the dreaded afternoon slump.
MAKE WHEY PROTEIN YOUR FRIEND
Despite what today’s gym-culture may have led you to believe, protein isn’t just for the bros of the world. Turns out, us ladies benefit just as much (if not more) by keeping our protein intake in check. From helping muscles recover after workouts and supporting healthy hair, skin, and nails, to keeping hunger at bay and even giving our metabolism a boost, packing a good punch of protein does the body good.
So, ‘why whey’, you ask?
For starters, whey protein is not only one of nature’s simplest foods, it’s also one of the highest sources of protein out there. As the most easily absorbed of any food protein and one of the most thermogenic food sources (burn, calories, burn), it’s also easy for our bodies to break down and use fast. On top of all that, whey protein helps boost lean muscle mass, the kind that promotes healthy bones and staves off osteoporosis (something us ladies are more prone to as we age).
It’s important to note that not all protein powders are created equal. Vegetable proteins, for example, are often coupled with refined sugars, syrups and additives to mask the taste (they’re not very tasty on their own, unless you prefer a protein bar that tastes like peas). Low quality whey protein can taste dry and chalky, so it’s often found in protein bars high in sugar as well. High quality forms of whey protein, on the other hand, are essentially tasteless, so there’s no need to add in extra artificial sweeteners or sugars. Be sure to take note of a protein bar’s sugar content and opt for a high-quality form of whey like whey protein isolate.
SUPER POWERFUL SUPERFOODS
What are these foods of super strength you might ask? Let’s break it down.
Simply put, superfoods are nutrient powerhouses. While there’s no official scientific definition, the foods that make it to superfood status pack extra-large doses of the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals our bodies thrive off of. Chowing down on them can help ward off chronic diseases, fight aging, and generally make your body feel all kinds of good. Here are a few of our favs:
Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia: Turns out every 90’s kid’s favorite little seed packs more than just a powerful punchline. Loaded with protein, fiber, Omega-3’s, calcium, vitamins, and minerals, the nutrients in chia seeds boast energy-boosting goodness that’s equally as great for your heart, digestive health, skin, bones, and noggin.
Flax: Another small but mighty seed, flax seeds lead the pack as the #1 source of lignans in the human diet. Lignans are the antioxidants responsible for things like anti-aging, hormone balance, soft skin, silky hair, and keeping cells healthy and happy. We’ll take it.
Cacao Nibs: Cacao is chock-full of two things we really love: health-boosting antioxidants and a deliciously, rich chocolatyflavor. Aside from satisfying your sweet tooth, cacao nibs are also super for improving mood, increasing focus, aging gracefully, and improving circulation (to name a few).
Coconut Oil: As the most nutrient dense part of the coconut, coconut oil helps your body be more efficient at digesting andabsorbing the vitamins responsible for things like glowing skin, strong bones, improved mood, and solid brain function.
There are plenty more superfoods we’re wild about, and they all share the same goal: keeping your body and mind in tip-top shape!
You’ve probably heard the expression, “Your body is a temple.” If so, you’ll realize how much healthier and full of energy you feel when you eat foods without synthetic sweeteners or ingredients. When browsing through the bar aisle, look for products that have real, whole food ingredients, rather than a list full of hard-to-read chemical imposters. Since your body does not recognize how to process these artificially-crafted foods, protein or energy bars that contain them could actually end up draining your natural energy (the irony speaks for itself), or leave you feeling sluggish and bloated.