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How to get the most out of protein bars and powders

Last Modified: April 27, 2016

Nutrition & Recipes


The market is saturated with carbohydrate-rich sports foods and beverages that promise to improve exercise performance. But Christine Sorg, RD, CD, Parkview Sports Medicine cautions these products aren’t all created equal, and should only be considered for exercise lasting longer than 1 hour. “The goal of sport foods and beverages is to maintain blood glucose levels, and promote hydration and electrolyte balance,” she said. Knowing the proper way to leverage these items to optimize your performance is essential. She shares more …  

Sports Bars

These generally contain somewhere around 40-60 g of carbohydrates and 6-20 g of protein. To get the most benefit out of a sports bar, select an option high in carbohydrates, moderate protein and low in fiber, and consume it 30-90 minutes before activity. A good example would be a Honey Stinger Bar, with 170-190 kcal, 27-30 g carbohydrates, 5 g protein and 4-5 g fat.

Sports bars during exercise should be high in carbohydrates, but lower in protein and fat.

After exercise, choose a brand that’s high in both protein and carbohydrates, and consume it within 15-60 minutes after the activity. Larabar has some great options that contain 200 kcal, 30 g carbohydrates and 5-8 g protein.  

Protein Powder

First, it must be said that food is always the ideal choice. But if you are short on time, a protein powder can be beneficial as a supplement to a balanced diet. Protein powders are most advantageous if consumed as 100% protein, such as EAS 100% whey protein, in 10-20 g portions. Consume post exercise and make sure to pair it with an adequate amount of carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits and/or dairy. Blend the protein powder into a smoothie for the perfect recovery fuel.

Another Option …

Chocolate milk is a great choice over protein powder. A 16-ounce glass of chocolate milk contains 315 kcal, 52 g carbohydrates, 16 g protein and 5 g fat. If you are lactose intolerant, check out Rockin’ Refuel by Shamrock Farms in the dairy aisle. It contains 260 kcal, 44 g carbs, 20 g protein, and 4 g fat.




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