When it comes to bars, I’m a bit picky. I want at least 10gms of protein, but I also don’t want that many calories. I also want it to taste good. I’m not going to eat cardboard just because it has protein in it. Sorry, I want to enjoy my food thank you very much. :) Ufortunately, many bars are extremely high in calories. Thank goodness, more bar companies are making smaller versions of the old 30gms-of-protein-and-a million-calories kind of bars. Even if it’s packed with protein, it normally tips the caloric scale for most calorie-conscience people. Then SMART enters the world.
Before I give you the scoop on SMART, I should tell you I have probably 5-6 types of bars in my pantry right now. I like chocolate ones, peanut butter ones, caramel ones, crunchy ones and gooey ones. Some are higher in calories and protein, some are lower in calories and protein. Some make great snacks, and some are more like a meal replacement when I’m in a bind. What I’m saying is, there are different bars for different people and different purposes. The SMART bar, however, is definitely one of my favorites for light snacks and breakfasts.
I could tell you how healthy it is, that’s gluten free, low in sugar, and all that jazz (and don’t worry, I will in a sec), but first I’m going to just tell you what my taste buds say about the bar – because honestly, if they don’t like it, it ain’t going to make it past them to my belly!
As a coffee lover (don’t hate! Everyone has their vise, and mine is coffee – LOVE IT!), I really enjoy having a bar with coffee when I don’t have time for a sit-down breakfast. However, some bars are too sweet for me and they upset my stomach. The SMART bar is an oatmeal bar that is mildly sweet, which makes for a great breakfast bar on the go. Unlike regular cereal bars, the SMART bar is low in sugar (only 4gms!), which is 50-80% less sugar than many of it’s competitors. It has 10gms of protein and 3gms of fiber so it is filling and stays with me. And the best part, is it’s SUPER low in calories – only costing me 130 calories to eat!
Not only is this bar low in calories and tastes good, this bar is sure easy to take on the go because it doesn’t melt or crumble like a lot of chocolate covered bars. This makes it a great bar to keep in your car, purse or gym bag in case of emergencies. It also makes it a great bar to grab for the car ride to work (like you see at the top of this blog). I actually took this on the way to work last week when I discovered I nearly forgot about an early morning appointment. Since this bar is a soft bar with a nice moist solid consistency, it makes eating and driving mess-free. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten out of my car only to discover a doo-doo brown chocolate smudge on the back of my pants because a bar crumbled in my lap with each bit! ha! (Please tell me I’m not the only one this happens too???!!!!) :P
After I read the label, I knew it would crush a lot of snack bars. Most low-calorie breakfast and snack bars are much lower in protein, but higher in carbs and sugar. Protein bars that have 10gms of protein or more are normally much higher in calories, carbs, sugar and fat. And, if you are going gluten-free or paleo, a lot of those bars are high in fat and/or carbs but lower in protein than I prefer – and normally way higher in calories. While I will still enjoy all these type bars too, (like I said, there is a place for all of that), I just love having a low-calorie healthy option.
It’s one thing for ME to tell you I like this bar, but it’s another thing for YOU to see how it compares for yourself. So, I did a little research. I picked a few different types of snack-like bars (from cereal bars to paleo bars) that were comparable to the SMART bar to compare nutritional information.
After doing the research and listing the information, it is clear that SMART bars are a SMART choice if you are looking for a bar low in calories, carbs, fats and sugars with a healthy dose of protein in it. Awesome snack bar! Check it out!
Smart Bar FAQs
- Low in Calories
- 50-80% less sugar
- Certified gluten free
- 9g of whole grains
- 3g fiber
- Certified gluten free, organic rolled oats
- Real organic or baked fruit
- 38% organically raised ingredients
- No hydrogenated oils
- Cocoa and palm kernel oil is certified by the Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, Fairtrade, and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil
- Minimal artificial sweetener (Stevia) because it relies mainly on the sweetness mainly from fruit
- Not Vegan or Kosher (however they do use a certified porcine free gelatin source.)
See all the FAQ information on their website.
WIN A BOX OF SMART BARS
What flavor would you like to try? Apple or Blueberry? Comment below for a chance to win a box of SMART bars to try out yourself! I’ll pick 3 winners HERE and 2 winners on Facebook when you share this comparison chart from my facebook page!
(Note: Cranberry coming soon)
Detour SMART bars are available online at www.detourbar.com and bodybuilding.com, and in select retailers including GNC, Vitamin Shoppe and Vitamin World, with the bars becoming more widely available over the coming months.
You know I don’t really do giveaways or push sweepstakes, but this contest is super easy – and well worth it!! We all know supplements can add up, so why not enter to win a WHOLE YEAR’s worth!! Right?! All you need to do is tattoo Designer Whey somewhere on your body. WHAAAAT?!?! hahaha Okayyyy, not really! Designer Whey is giving out free TEMPORARY tattoos for a chance to win killer prizes. :) Here’s the scoop…
20th Anniversary Tattoo Photo Contest (10 Chances to Win!)
Follow these three EASY steps (Must be a US resident 18 or older):
- Enter your contact info below so we can send you FREE temporary tattoos (don’t worry, we won’t spam you, just free tattoos for all!) Everyone needs a free tattoo, right?
- Snap a pic with your favorite tattoo.
- Upload your photo using the link on our Facebook page, or simply post on Twitter or Instagram using #DesignerWhey20.
FitFluential LLC compensated me for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
You have the power to sculpt your body with the foods you eat, as well as the type of exercises you do. Before I address how to sculpt your body with how you eat, let’s talk about how you train.
Sculpt Muscle by How You Train
“The more muscle your workout requires, the more muscle you will gain…”
While protein is very important for sculpting a fit body, supplementing without the proper training will not get you the results you want. How you train greatly determines what you store for energy and what you use for energy. With intense movements, your body will likely store more energy as muscle. Your body is smart. The more muscle your workout requires, the more muscle you will gain, or keep. - And don’t worry ladies, you won’t be a beef-cake bodybuilder, you will just look super fit. It takes a LOT of work to look like a man! ;)
On the contrary, if you are a marathon runner, you are more prone to burn both muscle and fat as energy, and store fat, because muscle is not needed as much for low to moderate intensity workouts. While running a marathon is quite grueling, it doesn’t require a lot of explosive power, it requires endurance. Of matter of fact, a runner’s body considers muscle as unnecessary added weight. However, fat is a good source of energy for long runs, so that is why your body is prone to storing fat. If a runner wants to maintain muscle, they need to pump up their muscles in the gym (and pump up protein) in addition to their running program to encourage their body to keep muscle.
Sculpt Muscle by How You Eat
Now that you understand the importance of how you train, let’s dive into your eating. As you’ve heard before, “you are what you eat”. Fat and carbs makes fat bodies. Protein make fit muscular bodies. That is why it is so important to get enough protein if you want to maintain, or add, more muscle mass. Your body is always burning calories from a combination of fats, carbs and protein. If you eat carbs and fats, but are low on protein, your body doesn’t just stop burning protein. It still burns protein, but it burns stored protein (muscle). The same goes for fat stores. If you are short on fat or carbs, your body will burn stored fat to turn it into the fuel it’s missing.
If you are like me, and don’t want your body to burn muscle, then you want to keep a steady stream of protein in your diet so your body can feed off that – and not feed off your precious hard-earned muscle. If you want to GAIN muscle, then you need to give your body more protein than it needs so it stores more protein (muscle). *Use the protein calculator, below, to learn how much protein you should get a day.
Just the same way our body stores fat and carbs as body fat when you eat too much of it, your body can store excess protein as well. However, you still have to watch overall calories if you don’t want to gain weight, because too many calories is still too many calories – and it can cause you to gain weight, whether it’s coming from muscle or fat. Understand, if you eat more calories than you burn, you WILL gain weight – whether it’s muscle weight or fat weight.
So, the trick to a lean muscular physique is to eat a low-calorie, low-fat, moderate-carb, high-protein diet. This will encourage your body to burn fat stores to reduce body fat, while storing (or maintaining) protein to sculpt muscle. :)
What’s Your Number?
Click HERE to use GNC’s Protein Calculator to help you decide how much protein should be in your diet.
As a gym owner I get a lot of questions, but there are 5 questions that stand out because they are the most common question every member has at one point or another. Since each of these questions are very good questions, everyone would benefit from knowing the answer.
So here it goes! Here’s my Top 5 best questions from fitness newbies!
1. What do I eat before a workout?
Steve addresses this in great detail in yesterday’s blog, What to Eat Before a Workout: Common Sense Tips. What you eat depends on what you are doing, which Steve explains well. Generally speaking though, a good balance of carbs, fat and protein will power most people through a moderate to vigorous strength workout. However, our body requires little to no food before cardio (I explain more in the next question). Also, it’s helpful to have an idea of how many calories you burn (energy required) during your strength workout. Since I burn 250-300 calories during weight training alone (not including cardio), I limit my calories to 250-300 calories prior to weight training so I give my body no more than it needs to make it through the workout. Here are some foods I like to eat before workouts:
- Chobani Greek yogurt with berries and 1 TBS of granola (what I eat 90% of the time).
- Egg sandwich (I like the 300-calorie Einstein Bagel Thin Eggwhite Sandwiches)
- Scrambled egg beaters with a little fat (olive oil or cheese) and veggies.
- Oatmeal with nuts and butter.
- 1/2 a whole grain bagel with peanut butter and honey
- Jimmy Dean D’Lights Turkey Sausage Bowl (for those rushed mornings)
- Total Lean Breakfast Bar (for eating on the run – whole foods are always best pre-workout)
Late Afternoon (before you hit the gym after work):
- The rest of my lunch (split up your lunch and eat half at lunch and half an hour before you leave work).
- Chobani Greek Yogurt Cup
- Designer Whey Protein Bar (or half a full protein bar, which are normally too high in calories)
- 300-calorie Einstein bagel thin sandwiches
- Banana and peanut butter (if I’m in a bind, I grab this from our smoothie bar for a quick calorie fix)
- Hand full of almonds and a green apple (or your favorite fruit)
2. What do I do first? Cardio or Weights?
To do any powerful workout, like weight training, plyometrics, sprinting, or other explosive movements that require instant strength, you need to eat prior to your workout to fuel you through it. However, your body doesn’t need food for cardio, like running, jogging, walking, elliptical, etc., and can use stored fat for energy (which is why we love to do it – BURN THAT FAT!). With that said, you should do weights before cardio if you are doing them at the same time. Eat a small meal, or healthy snack, 45 minutes or so before going to the gym. Hit weights first. By the time you finish your weight routine, you will likely be through all the calories so that, come cardio time, you will tap into fat stores for a good fat burning workout. If you do cardio first, your cardio will just burn off your food (instead of fat), and you won’t have the energy you need to lift at the ideal intensity. Get more suggestions and tips on ways to pump up your workout from my blog, 20 Gym Boo Boos.
3. Which is best, high reps or low reps?
Aside from power lifters, bodybuilders and athletes who are training specifically for a sport, most people can follow a pretty generic format and get great results. The fact is, high reps vs low reps are a bit relative. I’d recommend doing 12-15 reps for most beginners. These are high reps in comparison to bodybuilders, who may do only 8-12 reps, and powerlifters often do only 1-8 reps. I personally do 3 – 4 sets of 12-15 reps for upper body and 18-20 reps for lower body. However, doing the right number of repetitions is meaningless if you are not working out at the correct intensity. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) lays out how to determine the right intensity for you. For example, if all you can do is one rep using all your might to move that weight one time, you are working at 100%. So, in order to do more reps, you would need to reduce your weight until you can get the number of reps needed. Based on research, the following rep continuum has been established to help us know where our intensity should be.
60% relates to 16-20 reps
65% = 14-15 reps
70% = 12-13 reps
75% = 10-11 reps
80% = 8-9 reps
85% = 6-7 reps
90% = 4-5 reps
95% = 2-3 reps
100% = 1 rep
If you follow this intensity scale, 12-15 reps can feel a LOT different than just playing the guessing game. Unfortunately, many people are just going through the motions. And, while that can keep you healthy and active, it’s not going to give you the results you want.
Test yourself. If you are approaching 15 reps and you can do a few more, you likely need to increase your weight or decrease your rest time. The idea is to tear down the muscle so we can build it back up stronger. So, if you wait for your muscle to fully recover, you aren’t wearing it down like you should be. And, just because a weight is difficult, it doesn’t mean you can’t do more reps. In other words, your muscles can burn and you can be tired, but you still might be able to lift a few more reps.
If you are worried about bulking up, then it’s even more important to keep your rest time low and your reps on the higher side. Sadly, women use that as an excuse to lift too light. According to the rep continuum, you would have to reduce your weight a little to get more reps, but many women are reducing it a LOT – and working out at a much lower intensity than they are capable of. I go deeper into this topic in my blog, High Reps vs Low Reps.
4. How many days a week should I train?
This depends mostly on your schedule. You tell me – how many days CAN you train? Then you break it down from there. You want at least one day of rest after weight training. So, the fewer days you train, the more body parts I’d train each day. The more days you can train, the more I’d break up body parts so I am able to train every day without training the same body part 2 days in a row. For instance, if I only can train 3 times a week, I’d do 3 full body workouts every other day. Or, I’d do upper body one day, lower body the next and then a full-body that final day. But if I were to train 5 days a week, I’d break it up even more, where I did individual body parts every day. Ultimately, your training schedule depends on how much time you have to train, as well as what your goal is. Read How to Set an Effective Training Schedule for more tips.
5. What should I eat after a workout?
I think once you read Steve’s What to Eat Before a Workout blog, you’ll understand this even more. The short answer is protein, protein, protein! Basically, the focus needs to be on giving your body what it needs to start repairing the muscle that you just broke down in your workout. You can either have a protein shake immediately after your workout, or you can have a high-protein meal. If you are eating your meal at night, I recommend a low-carb, high-protein, moderate-fat meal like a white meat, green veggie and a healthy fat (like olive oil or avocado). Read Does Your Diet Need More Muscle? to learn more about how much protein you need and what to put in your shakes for best absorption.
Now you have the basics, it’s time to put it to the test! If you learned something new today, be sure to share this with your friends – because the more people who know, the faster they’ll get results! Knowledge really is quite powerful!
If you want to tone up, you need to put more muscle in your workouts – and in your kitchen. The problem is, most people don’t know how much protein they eat – or how much they need. Well, after you read today’s blog, you will not only know “your number”, but you’ll know how and when to take it too.
First, I want to hit some key pointers.
1. Budget your protein intake. Before you start gulping down protein, you want to make sure you realize you are also gulping down more calories. Many people who start a fitness program hoping to lose weight and tone up ADD protein to their diet, but forget to SUBTRACT calories from carbs and fat. Another words, they are increasing their protein AND calories. Then they wonder whey they GAINED weight trying to get healthy. If you need to lose weight or lean out, remember that adding protein to your diet is great, but you have to account for the extra calories – and protein shakes and bars can add up fast if you aren’t paying attention.
2. Know when to take it. Protein is not a good source of fuel. That’s why marathoners carb up, not protein up. Protein is best for repair. So, the 2 best times to take protein, besides getting it in whole foods throughout your day, is post workout and before you go to bed. Our body is most receptive to absorbing protein within 30-40 minutes of your workout, and it needs protein to help our body repair muscle while we sleep.
3. Know how to take it. If you are taking protein post workout, you want to pair it with simple sugars to help speed up absorption so you can use the protein in that 30-40 minute window. For instance, a protein shake with water and honey, or protein with orange juice would be a good post workout shake. Any other time, you want to slow digestion down so you can absorb as much nutrients as possible. The longer it’s in your stomach, the more protein you absorb, and the longer you’ll stay full. In this case, adding milk or peanut butter is helpful.
4. Know your number. GNC put together a cool calculator to help people know how many grams of protein they should take a day. Note that it also gives you a window – minimum to maximum. For example, my number is 95 – but my range is 78-111. For me, the only way I can get that much protein is to supplement. I can get about 60 or so grams of protein in whole foods (I’m not a big meat eater) and then I supplement with a couple of shakes or a shake and a bar to reach my daily goal. CLICK HERE to find YOUR number.
This is why many people can’t seem to shake the weight (pun intended). They add protein to their diet, forgetting it’s adding extra calories too. As a result, they gain weight or slow progress.
If you want to lose weight, those calories need to be shaved off somewhere else to make room for the calories coming from protein. Just because it’s protein doesn’t mean it’s “free calories”. Although they are good calories, they are still calories. So, in order to reach your goal, you need to set a budget for your shake matching your needs.
1. The Weight Gainer: Weight gainers can add protein to their diet without really worrying about the calories. If someone is a hard gainer, they probably need both fat and muscle weight in order to increase strength and size. So you are the lucky dog that can ignore this entire blog. :)
2. The Dieter: Dieters need to be in a caloric deficit. This means, they need to take in fewer calories than they are burning. In order to budget how many calories are coming from protein, simply multiple the number of grams of protein you are trying to get a day by 4. Since there are 4 calories in one gram of protein, this will give you the number of calories that are required to get your total grams of protein per day. But remember, that is just for the protein. That doesn’t include other ingredients you may add in a shake.
3. The Maintainer: This person wants to either preserve what they already have, or reshape their physique but still remain the same weight. This person will need to trade some fat and carb calories for protein calories so it evens out. In the end, they’ll still be eating the same amount of calories, but they will just be getting more protein.
FitStudio nutritionist Toby Amidor points out some of the worst offenders in smoothie land.
Smoothie King – NOT SO SMOOTH!
· Forty fluids ounces of “The Hulk Strawberry” weighs in at 1,928 calories, 64 grams of fat, and a whopping 250 grams of sugar.
Jamba Juice – IS JAMMING YOU WITH CALORIES!
· An original “Peanut Butter Moo’d” creamy treat has a staggering 770 calories and 109 grams of sugar.
CLICK HERE for fun and creative Designer Whey shake & protein recipes
When Chobani hit shelves here locally, the news quickly spread around the gym. This healthy snack was not only delicious, but it was higher in protein than regular yogurt. That’s why we literally have a whole drawer dedicated to it in our refrigerator. We actually eat so much of it, we have an overflow in our 2nd fridge in the garage.
There really aren’t a lot of snacks to choose from that are naturally high in protein. Before Chobani yogurt, the closest thing we could come to was cottage cheese. And, if you are like me, there is no way anyone is getting that lumpy mess down my throat. I just can’t get over the texture.
Then Chobani came and saved the day. Before Chobani I was eating regular yogurt, which can have double the carbs as greek yogurt, especially if you get the kind with fruit in it. It also had practically half the protein Chobani has. For a girl who’s not a big meat eater, the more protein I can get the better.
Why Eat Chobani? Well, for my fitness peeps, eating high-protein snacks, like Chobani (and Designer Whey bars, my other favorite high-protein snack), means preserving muscle and giving your body what it needs to repair muscle after hard workouts. For my non-workout folks, it means preventing muscle loss, which is even more important as we age.
This is why there was no surprise Chobani sponsored for the Olympics. What a perfect FIT! (pun intended!) They naturally power people every single day!
Way to go Chobani! Thank you for powering me – and Team USA!
- B -
I Am a Proud Chobaniac:
Today, I procrastinated and didn’t run until after 10am.
My punishment: The Sun.
There are always repercussions for poor decisions. I got what I deserved. Luckily, some of my neighbors’ sprinklers were on so I got to run throw them to cool me off.
My reward: My Shake.
There is nothing better than a crisp cold shake after a muggy hot run!
BERRY LEY LIME PIE
1 cup fat free milk
a nice long squeeze of Nellie & Joe’s Key West Key lime Juice*
1 cap of butter extract
1 cap of coconut extract (for a tropicalicious taste)
6+ black berries
1 scoop Designer Whey Vanilla Praline protein
1 cup ice
Optional: 1/4 sheet of graham cracker (add last so it doesn’t blend all the way)
*Amount of key lime juice depends on how tart you like it.
252 calories, 28gms of protein
Key West Here I Come!!! YUM!
If you are like me, you are always looking for a new healthy high-protein treat. So, after my shout out on twitter, I got some twitterific recipes which I’ll be sharing periodically right here!
Meet Natalie Christman
Natalie is a fitness instructor, hair stylist, licensed massage therapist, music, dance, art, wife, sister, family and motivator.
Natalie’s Protein Balls Recipe:
3tblsp- natural peanut butter
1/2c- Chocolate Protein
Mix ingredients. If too sticky add a little more protein powder until dry and clumpy. Roll into ping pong sized balls and place on wax paper. Freeze until firm.
I am SO trying these!!
It’s time to go beyond the protein shake straw and trade the blender for a mixer so we can cook up some protein treats!
As a sequel to my last protein supplement blog “Behind the Straw“, my blog on protein smoothies, I am calling all fit chefs to fess up and share your favorite and unique protein treats including protein waffles, muffins, bars and other creative treats made with protein powder.
After tweeting out a request to see what kind of response I would get, I realized there are many of you eating some really good high-protein grub so I am making it my mission to spread the love! Here’s a sneak peak of a couple of my favorite recipes so far.
Protein Waffles by Julianne Talley
Protein Muffins by Ozzie Elyashiv
“Proud dad! Into fitness, nutrition, technology & TV. I sell fitness supplements & develop mobile games & apps for iOS. Love the gym!”
- 1 1/2 cups whole grain flour or buckwheat flour
- 3/4 cup ground flax seed
- 3/4 cup oat bran
- 1/2 cup stevia
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup vanilla or plain almond milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (can also use coconut oil)
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 2 apples, peeled, shredded
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 cup chopped mixed nuts
- 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder
SHOW & TELL
To share your recipe, please give us your name, blog or website, twitter username, facebook URL and tell us what you do. Are you a mom, trainer, marathon runner or health nut. I will feature some of the best entries in a follow up blog.