Smart Snacking: My New Favorite Snack

I have to share an amazing snack I tried today. I’ve raved about Quest Protein Bars in Protein Bars: The Good and the Bad and now I’m going to rave about another product from Quest that is equally satisfying and delicious; QUEST Protein Chips! Yes, these are HEALTHY potato chips AND they taste good!

My friend at GNC recommended Barbeque flavor, which I tried and loved, but there are also Sea Salt and Cheddar flavors available.

QUEST BBQ chips

Just take a look at the nutrition facts and see for yourself how good this product is.

Nutrition facts

These baked chips are Gluten free, contain no Soy, no trans or saturated fats, and the total net carbs are only 5 grams. But you know what my favorite thing about these chips is??? 21 GRAMS OF PROTEIN!!! HOW GREAT IS THAT?! Not only is it a delicious snack it has substantial nutrition! Okay, obviously I’m a little excited about these chips, but seriously they are amazing and I hope you give them a try.

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Protein Bars: The Good and the Bad

There are a gazillion different protein bars out there, some of the most popular include the Luna Bar, Cliff Bar, Think Thin, etc. The problem with many of the most popular protein bars is that they are lacking in the very purpose they are supposed to serve; PROTEIN! Look at the nutrition facts of your favorite protein bar. How many grams of protein does it actually have? Now look at how many grams of carbs there are? What about the fat content and don’t forget about sugar, how many grams of that does it have? In the most popular protein bars, you will often find that the number of grams of protein is LESS than the number of grams of carbs. If you’re about to run a marathon, then the extra carbs are fine. But it you are trying to ward off hunger with a protein bar in between meals, or if it is part of your regular diet as a protein supplement, then the extra carbs really aren’t working in your favor.

Here’s what you should be looking at when choosing a protein bar.

PROTEIN: 20 grams of protein is a good amount. Anything less than 20 grams of protein would make me reconsider eating a protein bar entirely. On the other hand, more than about 25-30 grams of protein is generally more protein than you need at one time and usually when the protein is that high, you can bet that the carbs are going to be just as high or higher.

CARBOHYDRATES: Look for two things, Total Carbs and Net Effective Carbs (or Net Carbs). These number should be quite different, the Total Carbohydrates should be less than 30 grams and ideally around 20 grams, whereas the Net Carbs should be around 3-7 grams. Net Carbs are the carbs that cause an increase in blood sugar so you want the number of grams for net carbs to be very low.

FAT: There are three different listings for fat on the nutrition facts; Total Fat, Saturated Fat and Trans Fat. The Total fat should be around 6-8 grams. If it’s higher than that, you might be holding a candy bar. Saturated fat- there’s been some recent debate as to whether or not saturated fat is healthy but it should be around 0-2 grams. Trans fat should be 0 grams. It’s very unhealthy fat and no good quality protein bar will ever have trans-fat.

SUGAR: The sugar should be very low, 3-6 grams at the most. There are also some options that are sugar free and use stevia instead to sweeten.

My current FAVORITE protein bar is a QUEST BAR. They generally contain 20-22 grams of protein, 3-4 grams of net carbs, 8 grams of total fat and most are sugar free. The fiber is also high, about 18 grams so that’s an added bonus. They come in so many flavors and they are just Awesome!!!

Another alternative when I get tired of quest bars is GNC PUREDGE COMPLETE PROTEIN. They have around 20 grams of protein, 6 grams of net carbs, 8 grams of total fat and about 3 grams of sugar. They are also high in fiber at around 15 grams.

ANSI NATURAL PROTEIN BAR is a third healthy option. They contain around 20 grams of protein, 7 grams of net carbs, 6 grams of total fat and about 6 grams of sugar. They are HIGH in fiber at around 20 grams!

 

Those are my current favorites. Look at the nutrition facts on your current favorite protein bar and  see how it compares. If the nutrition facts are no where near the numbers above, then definitely give one of these three a try. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

 

Greek Yogurt with Extra Protein

I like to alternate my breakfasts during the week between scrambled eggs (3-4 days a week) and yogurt (twice a week). In a serving of yogurt however, I find there is never quite enough protein to hold me over for more than a couple hours, so here is my tip for a little extra protein boost.

I like to use Tillamook Farmstyle Greek because it’s high in protein to begin with (13-14 g). In a small bowl beat one large egg white, add yogurt and whisk until smooth. The egg white gives it about 6 grams of additional protein, for a total of about 20 grams of protein. Perfect for breakfast (or desert!).

Tillamook Farmstyle Greek Yogurt_n

*There is a very slight chance of food poisoning from consuming raw eggs, however, the risk of salmonella bacteria infection is estimated to be 0.003% by the US Department of Agriculture. You can reduce this risk even further by only consuming organic eggs raw.

If you don’t feel comfortable using a raw egg white, you can add two tablespoons of peanut butter for an extra 8 – 10 grams of protein, or try stirring in a couple tablespoons of unflavored protein powder. Either of these ingredients will change the texture, which is why I prefer the egg white. There is no taste and when blended, you don’t even know the egg white is there.

Maintaining Muscle: Advice for Women

 

woman flexing bicep

Believe it or not, women start losing muscle mass as early as their twenties. By age 30, the average woman will lose 3-5% of her muscle over the next decade. Why should you as a woman be concerned about this? Well, Muscle is important for a lot of reason such as a fast metabolism, controlling weight gain, as well as power, endurance and strength to perform our daily activities. Additionally, muscle helps keep us looking toned, shapely and beautiful. If you’re trying to lose weight and you’re only doing cardio and you’re not doing anything that works the major muscles of your body, then your workouts are not going to be nearly as effective in terms of your weight loss goal. You HAVE to add some sort of strength training to build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more your body needs to use calories to feed your muscle, so even while you are at a resting state or sleeping, you will be burning calories! If you’re not trying to lose weight, you still need to build muscle or at least maintain muscle if you want to avoid a resting metabolism, bone deterioration, insulin resistance, and other health factors that are linked to illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

I think many women are apprehensive about “building muscle” for fear of turning into the Hulk! The reality is that, unless you are lifting weights for hours a day and consuming massive amounts of protein, as a woman, you will not get bulky like a man does. Men naturally have a higher muscle content, plus testosterone and even still, they have to work out for years to look like “The Rock.” So stop imagining yourself bulking up and start thinking about building muscle in order to maintain overall health and beauty.

Resistance training a few times a week in combination with a healthy diet can make a huge difference in women that are starting to lose muscle mass or that are trying to prevent muscle loss. Additionally, getting enough protein in your diet is essential to preventing muscle loss. On average, a woman should consume an average of .75 g – 1 g of protein per pound of her bodyweight per day (for a very overweight woman, the number of grams of protein should be measured by her ideal weight, not her current weight). So in other words, for myself personally, my weight it usually around 125 lbs, so I need to consume anywhere from 100-125 grams of protein per day, just to maintain my current muscle. Generally if I consume less than 100 grams of protein, I’m starving by the end of the day! Even on a day that I don’t exercise, my body still burns a significant amount of calories because I’m fairly toned and I need to eat about 100 grams, just to avoid hunger. On days where I’m working out, I need to eat 125 grams or more of protein. Where do I get that much protein in a day? There are numerous sources of protein that you can include in your diet. I will get into sources of protein more in another post. The most important things I hope you can away from this are that 1. you need to maintain muscle in order to maintain overall health, and 2. the ways you maintain muscle are through strength training (resistance training) and consuming enough protein on a daily basis.