Following a vegan diet has become increasingly popular throughout the world over the past decade or so. Whether it be as a stand against animal cruelty or an attempt for a healthier life, following a meat free diet is very common these days.
However, many vegans find it difficult to get all the protein needed on a daily basis. This is where vegan protein bars can be helpful. But which are the best vegan protein bars? Let’s find out.
Who Can Benefit From Protein Bars?
We all know that protein is an important part of our diets. Ensuring we consume enough of this essential macronutrient to allow our bodies to function correctly is a must.
Not only does protein make up all the cells of our body, it’s also often referred to as “building blocks” of muscle. The immune system, digestive system and blood also all rely on proteins to function.
The recommended daily intake for protein depend on your age and gender, but is around 6 ounces per day for adults. This is simply to avoid deficiency and allow your body to get on with everyday tasks.
When you increase physical activity you could need up to a full gram of protein per kilo of bodyweight to sustain the additional effort. This can be a big ask, especially if you’re not eating meat. Therefore, some people may find additional supplementation helpful.
A protein bar could benefit you if you require more protein due to increased physical activity or perhaps your dietary habits are causing your intake to be insufficient.
So, How Do You Get Your Protein?
Protein can be found in both animal and plant based sources. Obviously for vegans and vegetarians, animal proteins are off limits. Even supplements like whey and casein protein are a no-no if you’re a vegan.
There are a number of natural plant-based protein sources which are suitable for vegans. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the best sources of protein for vegans and vegetarians include tofu, pulses, beans, nuts, leafy greens and even seaweed.
Natural whole food sources should always be your first choice when looking to increase protein intake. However, plant proteins tend to lack a complete amino acid profile and are often harder for your body to absorb than animal proteins. Therefore, additional supplementation can be beneficial for vegans.
Protein Bar Benefits
Although there are many protein supplements available in a number of forms, protein bars offer numerous benefits.
Studies prove that protein is more satiating than carbohydrate and fats in the short term. By consuming a protein bar after a workout or as a meal replacement, you could curb your appetite and feel fuller for longer.
This can decrease the urge to consume any unnecessary calories which can be a great help when it comes to weight loss.
Muscle Growth and Recovery
Recovery forms a big part of training. Your body needs time to replenish muscle fibers that have been broken down through exercise.
Protein is the predominant element in muscle, therefore, if you increase your protein intake after exercise, it could lead to faster recovery.
In a review of the effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power, the evidence suggested that protein supplementation may accelerate gains in both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Taking additional protein could be beneficial for muscle growth.
Let’s face it, in today’s society we all lead busy lives and that’s why protein bars are an appealing convenient option. You don’t have to worry about mixing up a shake, or preparing your protein-dense leafy greens before you rush out the door. Without a doubt, protein bars are beneficial for those who don’t have much spare time.
What to Look For In a Quality Protein Bar
It depends on your fitness goals, but the amount of protein to aim for can be anything from 10 gram to 20 grams per serving. The higher end of the scale could be beneficial to those trying to build muscle and bulk up. However, for those simply looking to fill gaps in their diet to maintain good health, up to 10 grams of protein per bar will suffice.
Sugar Content and Calories
Some protein bars contain high levels of sugar, making them more like overpriced candy bars. Other protein bars are designed for bodybuilders or as a meal replacement and have up to 300 calories per bar.
Of course, if you’re trying to gain weight and bulk up, high calorie content is not as much of an issue. However, if you are someone who is trying to decrease their waistline, these bars should be avoided.
Check the Ingredients
Always read the labels carefully, especially if you have any food allergies or intolerances. Many vegan protein bars contain sources of peanuts and particularly soy ( often is the main protein source).
Also, try to find a bar with natural ingredients if you can – without artificial flavors or sweeteners. Firstly, following a healthy diet means nothing if you’re consuming ingredients you can’t read let alone understand. Although high sugar content is not advisable, many artificial sweeteners are not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and are often addictive. This can leave you craving more sweets, according to Harvard Medical School.
The Best Vegan Protein Bars
I have taken a look at the protein bars on the market and chosen five top vegan protein bars to share with you today. I have listed pros and cons for each and left you with my overall favorite to help you make an informed buying decision.
So there you have it, our five contestants for the best vegan protein bars. For me, it has to be Garden of Life Organic Sport Protein Bar for sure.
Not only does this bar contain a generous dose of protein, (including BCAAs) a helping of fiber, and is soy free. If you’re looking to build muscle or use it as a meal replacement then it ticks all the boxes you could want. It’s also third party tested for quality, so you can be confident in what you are eating. All in all, a great choice for anyone.
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