Nutrition is a vast and confusing topic, and healthy nutrition can be even more so. With fad diets and an annually targeted “evil ingredient” (i.e., saturated fats, carbs or gluten) added into the mix, it is no wonder that so many of my clients and friends call upon me for advice and guidance about what to eat.
The first thing I can advise/remind you is that lean protein is an important tool to lowering body fat – assuming that you’re engaging in regular and effective resistance training. Secondly, you should already know by now that I NEVER recommend a carb-free diet! As I always point out “diet” implies temporary, and carbs are not our enemy. Processed carbs, and foods that have high levels of sugar, sodium, or saturated fats should definitely be avoided, but carbs themselves are quite necessary in keeping us balanced and healthy.
With all this stated, today I thought it helpful if I review my favorite high-protein go-to snacks/meal replacements, listing my top choice for each of the following food profiles: sweet, savory, salty, and drinkable.
SWEET: Chocolate Cake & Quinoa by Carve Bar (formerly DNA Life Bars)
While there are four fantastic flavors of these gluten free, dairy free, soy free, corn free and non-GMO bars, this flavor is the best hands down. With a moist consistency and a ganached exterior, their texture is reminiscent to Hostess Ding Dongs. The added perk is that these bars have only 2 grms of sugar, none of which comes from refined white sugar. They offer 14 grams of protein, and being under 300 calories (per pack), they make a great snack when your sweet tooth is calling in the middle of the afternoon, or after dinner.
SAVORY: Turkey, Sweet Potato, Cranberry and Pumpkin Seed Raw Bar by Bricks Bar
Despite the ridiculously long name, this gluten free, grain free, and antibiotic free option provides 10 grams of tasty protein in it’s 130 calorie bar, and only 11 grams of carbs. It reminds me of a pile of thanksgiving leftovers mushed together, and although that may not sound appetizing, I really do enjoy the taste of this bar when I’m craving something hearty and savory that can serve as a great snack/meal replacement on the go. When lightly microwaved the nuances of flavors come alive.
SALTY: Sea Salt Baked Protein Chips by Quest Nutrition
Made by the Quest Bar people, these sort-of “potato chips” are thin, crisp, and salty satisfying your need to munch on something like a chip or pop corn, while containing 21 grams of protein in one small bag (and only 5 grams of carbs). At only 120 calories per serving (a bag) this a great protein option to take to the movies or enjoy alongside a salad or sandwich.
DRINKABLE: Biochem 100% Whey Protein Powder (Vanilla)
As a personal trainer I’ve tried a lot of protein powder, and this product has won my loyalty for many years now. Two scoops provides 20 grams of protein, 0 fat, and 6 carbs in 110 calories. It has no chalky texture, mixes easily, and has no bitter aftertaste from the glycemic index-friendly stevia sweetener. While it is not a choice for Vegans, everyone else can enjoy this gluten-free protein powder. I choose the Vanilla flavor for it’s versatility as you can mix it into fruit or veggie juices (can’t do that with Chocolate flavor), or into milk-based shakes with peanut butter or chocolate chips, etc. I also recommend their “natural” flavor which is unsweetened.
Hopefully you’ll give these products a try as they really do help you always have a quick, healthy protein rich snack on hand, while taking some of the guess work out of your nutrition. All of them are available at affordable prices on-line through Amazon or Vitacost, or on their specific websites.