Protein bars are great because they provide a powerful source of energy in a convenient portable format. Whether you’re replacing a meal, or refueling yourself on a hike, protein bars can give you the fuel boost you need to conquer the day-to-day AND the great outdoors, alike. But do vegan energy bars provide you with the same amount of energy? The answer is yes — they do! In fact, they may even give you more energy.
What are vegan protein bars?
First of all, let’s clarify what we mean by vegan protein bars. These bars are made without milk and dairy products, and often without honey to be considered “truly vegan.” Most non-vegan bar brands use ingredients like honey, milk, whey protein, and/or eggs. Whey protein is a byproduct of the cheesemaking process that contains substantial amounts of amino acids. Brands use whey in their recipes because they provide protein, which many people look for when they’re shopping for an energy bar.
Since protein is a major source of energy, you might be wondering if a vegan protein bar contains as much protein as its non-vegan counterpart. Although vegan bars don’t contain animal derived protein, they are often packed with other plant-based ingredients that contain a comparable amount of protein, including nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Energy sources in vegan protein bars
Nuts and seeds are one of our favorite sources of energy. Packed with protein, healthy fats, and vitamins, you can eat a handful of nuts on their own, or enjoy them in a bar for a quick pick-me-up. On average, an ounce of nuts contains about 160 calories, according to Harvard Medical School.
Calories are defined as “one unit of energy”. To put it simply, the more calories you eat, the more energy you consume. Of course, you don’t want to eat too many calories in a day, and you also want to make sure you’re not consuming “empty calories.” The phrase empty calories describes food that contains little to no nutritional value—that food which only provides you with, well, calories left to burn during your daily physical activity.
Nuts and seeds not only provide you with a hearty source of “good” calories (i.e. energy), but they also contain protein, omega-3s, magnesium, and vitamins. According to the National Institute of Health, “protein from plant sources tends to be lower in saturated fat, contains no cholesterol, and provides fiber and other health-promoting nutrients.” Nuts and seeds also contain healthy fats, which are another source of energy. These fats help the body absorb nutrients and enable cells to perform their regular functions.
Whole grains and dried fruits
Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy, and you can find naturally occurring carbs in vegan energy bars made with whole grains and dried fruits. Although there are other sources of carbs in both vegan and non-vegan bars, including sugar, honey, or artificial sweeteners, these provide another source of “empty calories.” Instead, bars made with dried fruits provide natural sweetness, and are a great source of healthy carbs and fiber.
If you want to get the most bang for your buck, try to incorporate foods into your diets that contain plenty of vitamins and nutrients. Overprocessed grains, like refined flours, contain very little nutritional value. Refined grains are stripped of their outer layer (bran) and germ, which contain fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, phytochemicals, healthy fats, and other minerals. Unfortunately, some energy bars are made with refined flours, and ultimately aren’t much better for you than a candy bar.
Look for energy bars made with whole grains, like oats. If a bar is labeled as “gluten-free” (like Tahoe Trail Bars), more often than not the bar will incorporate healthy, whole grains, rather than refined flour at its base. Because grains like oats take longer to break down, they’ll sustain you and provide you with energy for a longer time.
Snacking keeps you energized throughout the day
It seems obvious that snacking keeps you energized, but a healthy snack can be even more effective than a cup of coffee to get you through the afternoon slump. Small meals and snacks that provide you with a combination of protein, fat, and fiber (which all slow digestion, keeping you fuller and more energized for longer) are the most effective.
Ideally, your afternoon snack should contain at least five grams of protein and three grams of fiber. Basing your snack choice on these parameters, a Tahoe Trail Bar is the perfect choice for keeping you fueled up until dinner. Plus, the bars are portable and easy to stash in your bag, car, or desk— you never know when you might need an extra boost of energy.
Plant based protein bars do give you energy, and you may even see significant increases in your overall energy levels by switching to an all plant based diet. However, not all plant based protein bars are created equal, and your best bet is to stick to those made with whole, unprocessed ingredients like those found in Tahoe Trail Bars. Make sure that the bar you choose is not entirely made up of carbs that will give you a sugar rush, but also contain healthy sources of protein and fat.
The bottom line: just because something is labeled “vegan” doesn’t mean it’s healthy. At Tahoe, we intentionally select quality ingredients to create the best tasting plant based protein bars. Whether you’re on the trail and are burning through calories fast, or are at work feeling fatigued, our plant based protein bars will give you the boost of energy you need so you can be the best version of yourself.