by Lindsey Rosenblatt
photography courtesy of Amanda Willis
Sitting in the dark library, surrounded by stressed-out students and drowning in notebooks and class notes may sound all too familiar. Yes, it is midterm season. Unfortunately, spending hours in the library leaves no time to think about making a good meal. With winter vacation right around the corner, there is that struggle to eat healthy before feasting during the holiday season and to avoid post-finals, stress eating body.
When grabbing a healthy meal seems impossible, protein bars are often the perfect “mini meal” to store in your backpack and eat while working. Although all protein bars appear to be healthy due to their names, not all are truthful to their title.
In an interview with LiveStrong.com, Alissa Rumsey, a registered dietitian, said that the healthiest protein bars should have a calorie range of 150-250 calories, seven or more grams of protein, at least three grams of fiber and less than 13 grams of sugar.
A new but popular favorite are RX bars. This protein bar is around 200 calories with 12g of protein, 12g of sugar and four grams of fiber. Often a protein bar’s nutrition facts are a laundry list of ingredients that are not even pronounceable. However, for RXbars, the ingredients are listed on the face of the packaging, exposing there are just a few raw, healthy ingredients such as egg whites, dates and almonds.
Rumsey said that egg whites are a great source of protein and have less calories than an egg yolk.
Egg whites are also “less processed than some of the protein powders typically added [in protein bars],” said Rumsey.
RX bars are extremely filling and especially popular on BU’s campus.
“I love RX bars because I know exactly what’s in them […] there isn’t any word in the ingredients section that I don’t understand which is awesome," said Margo Ghertner (COM'20). "I always feel full and energized after I have one. They make a great substitute for breakfast and perfect snack to have throughout the day."
Another bar packed with wholesome ingredients, Larabars, typically only have four ingredients and are a healthy, filling pick-me-up to solve sugar cravings. A majority of the bar is made up of dates, which are a low-glycemic index food, meaning that they do not raise blood sugar, according to the The Daily Meal. Some of the best Larabar flavors are chocolate chip cookie dough and peanut butter chocolate chip.
Another healthy and tasty bar are KIND bars. KIND offers many flavors, but some unfortunately have a high sugar content. The flavor with the lowest amount of sugar is the Madagascar Vanilla bar. This bar is 210 calories with six grams of protein, six grams of fiber and four grams of sugar.
Although the ingredients are not as simple as RX, this bar still uses healthy, low-calorie ingredients and provides protein in a flavorful way.
For something that will keep one full for several hours, try Quest bars, especially the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor. These bars are low sugar and extremely high in protein, making them a perfect meal replacement. With 21g of protein and less than one gram of sugar, a Quest Bar contains only 190 calories.
“Quest bars are great for quick protein,” said Jordyn Block (COM ’18).
After discussing with many BU students on campus, other bars that are good-tasting are Zone Perfect bars and One bars.
Finding the best protein bar is often difficult when surrounded by so many options. If this list does not satisfy your appetite, a general rule of thumb when picking a protein bar is that you should be able to understand the ingredients listed on the protein bar; if the ingredients sound familiar, then it is a healthier option.
All of these protein bars are available in most grocery stores, CVS’s, and even City Convenience on BU’s campus. As midterm season approaches, stock up on these bars for a quick power-up.