Do you sometimes forget to pack a lunch, run out of time, and get caught feeling hangry and eyeing a drive thru? Our quick and easy solution is a protein bar. We keep a box of low-carb protein bars in our cars and in our desk drawers at work. But, because it can be tempting to eat thru them out of boredom…. we keep them in our trunks. That way we can’t just grab one for a snack, but have to make an intentional trip to the trunk.
Just like any snack or meal, we try to stick to low-carb and high-protein options. If it contains some fiber, even better. These are the key to feeling full and not ending up with high blood sugar. The other day, I had skipped lunch and was in the grocery store (buying one of everything), and dashed down the protein bar isle. I grabbed a package that was marked low sugar, high protein. It was so disgusting, I still can’t get the taste out of my mouth 3 days later. It was just gross. Sadly, I’ve concluded you can’t get a helping of veggies in your protein bar without it tasting like the earth.
So, which are the “best” for a diabetic?
Unless you are running a marathon, steer clear of Cliff Bars. With 11 grams of protein, and 40 carbs, these are designed for hikes or athletic events, not a meal replacement in the car. I also used to really enjoy the taste of Luna Bars, which come in delicious dessert flavors. But with only 8 grams of protein, 190 calories and 28 grams of carbs, these aren’t ideal either.
So what should you look for? We suggest staying under 200 calories, getting 10 or more grams of protein, and staying under 25 grams of carbs. If you aren’t getting the satisfaction of eating a meal, why eat an entire meal’s worth of carbs?
The Quest Bars boast 20 grams of protein, only 190 calories and 23 grams of carb. Sounds ideal. The downside is they are sweetened with an artificial sweetener called Erythritol and the common side effect is bloating and gas. So these you have to try. If it doesn’t bother your system, you have a winner.
We like the Rx Bars (they advertise minimal ingredients, just egg, nuts and dried fruit). The chocolate sea salt is yummy. About 210 calories and 12 grams of protein, and between 22-24 grams of carbs. In my opinion, these are a good choice, but really have to replace a meal rather than serve as a snack.
For those of you who aren’t faint of heart, and are willing to go “all in” healthy, this 3rd choice is a protein drink rather than a bar and is better for colder months when it stays chilled in the car. I also keep a couple in the fridge at work. Vega Protein Nutrition Shakes are everywhere now– Target, Wegmans, and Amazon. 170 calories, 14 grams of carbs, 20 grams of protein. Win, win. Definitely go with chocolate — in our opinion the Vanilla tastes a little too healthy. And, shake it like crazy before you drink. It’s a little gritty, but if it really contains all the vitamins, minerals, and Omega 3s advertised. It is practically like eating a vitamin in chocolate shake form. Yes, please!
In short, you may have to buy and sample a few option to find the right fit and taste for you. But if you stay within these parameters, you cant go wrong– 200 calories or less, 10 grams of protein or more, and 25 grams of carb or less. Give yourself something to grab in lieu of a meal, and steer clear of the fast food, then get home and have a satisfying and healthy dinner!