If you’re wanting to build lean muscle, you need to have a plan – both in the gym and in the kitchen. To build lean muscle (and repair the muscle you already have after you have exercised), your body needs protein. Protein can be gained from many sources with the most common being chicken, eggs, fish, and a favourite with athletes and avid gym goers, protein bars. Protein bars are a convenient way to up your protein intake whilst on the go, however with so many different types and brands that claim to serve numerous different purposes, how do you know which protein bar to choose?
When you don’t have the time to cook a meal, a protein bar can stand in as a meal replacement, and these types of bars should have carbohydrates, dietary fiber and fats as well as a high content of protein. However, protein bars that are created to be consumed as an extra meal or snack during the day or to help build lean muscle, will have a different amounts of each nutrient. When looking for a protein bar to aid muscle growth, choose a bar that is high in (preferably whey) protein and carbohydrates, but is lower in fats and fiber – slowing down the absorption and uptake of protein into the body.
When choosing a shop bought protein bar, there are a couple of handy rules to follow that will ensure you choose the healthiest option:
1. There should be at least 20g of protein. This shows that the bar has been made with the purpose of upping someone’s protein intake and isn’t just a regular chocolate or snack bar that’s claiming to be ‘healthy’.
2. There should be less net carbs than grams of protein. The net carbs are the total number of carbohydrates minus the number of grams of fiber. Most popular brands will have a lower number of net carbs than protein in their bars, meaning you avoid unnecessary sugars.
If you want to make sure you are only getting the nutrients your body needs from your protein bar, without all the extra rubbish, why not try to make some healthy bars for yourself?
Homemade Protein Bars
Chocolate and Blueberry Protein Bar Bites
- 4tbsp of coconut flour
- 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
- 100ml of almond milk
- Fresh blueberries
- ¼ bar of dark chocolate
- Mix together the coconut flour, protein powder and almond milk until a dough like consistency forms. If the mixture is too wet add more flour, or if it is too dry add a little more milk.
- Add a large handful of blueberries into the mixture.
- Shape the dough into bars, or roll into balls, and place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
- Heat the oven to 180 degrees, and bake the bars for 15 – 20 minutes, turning them over half way through to brown the underneath. Take the bars out to cool when they have finished.
- Whilst the bars are cooling, melt a small amount of dark chocolate.
- Finally, drizzle the melted chocolate over the bars.