Kids Sports News Network

Protein Bars: Fueling Youth Sports

Parents, you might want to think twice before stocking your pantry with those “healthy” protein bars.
Protein bars have become a staple food source for young athletes eating on the go. They’re pre-packaged, portable, and fit perfectly in backpacks and gym bags. Including “protein” in the name has led many to believe that these bars offer a healthy alternative to driving through the nearest fast food joint.
But not all protein bars are created equal.
While there are genuine protein bars that fulfill their purpose as a nutritional meal replacement, others hide behind deceitful claims on their label. High amounts of sugar and unnatural ingredients make these bars no better than a glorified candy bar.
So how do you know if the protein bar in your pantry is the right choice for your young athlete?
The answer can be found on the nutritional label on the back of the bar.
Containing high amounts of sugar should be an immediate red flag. Some bars contain upwards of 30-50 grams of sugar. At that rate you’re better off feeding your young athlete a couple of Snickers bars, which only contain 20 grams a pop. A good protein bar shouldn’t provide a sugar rush and a mouth full of cavities, instead it should focus on fueling a young athlete with well-balanced nutrition.
Health expert, Jillian Michaels, says consumers need to be aware of whether a protein bar’s purpose is to be a snack or a meal replacement. This can be determined by its calorie count. She suggests sticking to bars in the 150-220 calorie range for snacks, and ones between 300 and 400 calories for meal replacements.
Looking at the list of ingredients on the back of the bar is also vital. If the bar has a long list loaded with unnatural ingredients and unfamiliar words, then put it back on the shelf. The best protein bars keep it simple.
The fewer ingredients the better.
Picking the right bar for your young athlete is important, because a well-balanced and nutritional diet is necessary to optimize their performance and recovery.
Per the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, a diet consisting of the proper number of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) is key to success in young athletes. The proper sports nutrition enhances athletic performance by decreasing the risk of fatigue and energy, and allows athletes to recover faster. Nothing will hinder a young athlete’s success like a deceitful protein bar.
There are well-balanced and nutritional protein bars out there, you just have to know how to find them.
Per, Dr. Mary Gavin insists the most beneficial protein bars for children provide a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates, be vitamin and mineral fortified, low in sugar and provide at least 2.5 grams of dietary fiber.
A little bit of research can go a long way for the nutritional success of your young athlete.
Clif Organic Z Bars are a healthy option. They contain whole grains, natural ingredients, and lack preservatives and artificial flavors. One Clif Z Organic Bar 120 calories, 3 grams of protein, and only 10 grams of sugar. A perfect snack for youth-athletes on the go.
Kind Bars are another healthy bar that make a great alternative snack. They offer a wide variety of flavors that fall between the 150 and 200 calorie range. The Strong and Kind Honey Mustard bar offers 10 grams of protein and only 5 grams of sugar. Kind Bars are sold in most major stores, making them easy to locate.
For parents that really want to go the extra mile, getting creative in the kitchen is the best option to ensure your youth-athlete’s protein bars are fulfilling their purpose. Easy DIY recipes can be found online, and it gives you the power to personalize the recipe to your liking. It also gives you the ability to choose exactly what your young athlete is consuming, and eliminates the surprise of unnatural ingredients.
The right protein bar can offer a healthy alternative for young athletes on the go. Just be smart, do your research, and always read the label.

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