As more and more people look to limit their meat consumption for various reasons, there is always one pressing issue that people are faced with: how will I get my protein? While you can get protein from various non-meat sources such as nuts, seeds and beans (just to name a few), many people will also look to rely on alternative forms of protein such as protein powders or protein bars.
Let’s say — whether it’s due to convenience, lifestyle or that your taste buds just don’t tingle from the thought of the other aforementioned sources of proteins — you’ve decided to turn to alternative forms of protein, such as powders and bars. You’re excited to turn over a new leaf and start your new nutrition plan, so you head off to the local nutrition store.
Upon arriving, you head straight to the protein powder isle where you have a slight panic attack from the hundreds of choices. You resist the urge to run to the nearest drive-through to revert back to your old, burger-eating ways, take a deep breath and decide to forge ahead.
The protein powders you see staring back at you are made from numerous sources, the most popular and available being whey or soy protein, plus lesser-known options such as egg, plant, rice, pea or hemp protein. You can easily narrow your options if you have any allergies (such as gluten) or are trying to avoid animal products completely. But if these constraints don’t apply to you and no protein source is off limits, then it’s mostly about taste and texture at this point.
Let’s say you’ve decided vanilla rice protein is your choice. Even then, there are still a multitude of choices and things you may want to consider, such as: Do I want organic? How about GMOs? Or maybe you’ve heard that rice can have high levels of metals in it. These are all questions that may start popping into your head as you peruse the aisles and examine the labels.
One example of what seems to be a good protein powder choice is Growing Naturals. Its rice protein is USDA organic, Non-GMO verified, tested to have low metal content and has other healthy attributes, as described on its website. There are many other options as well.
Let’s say you’ve settled on the protein powder that best suits you. Now it’s on to the protein-on-the-go aisle, a.k.a. the protein bar aisle. If you were overwhelmed by the choices of protein powder, be prepared — there is no shortage of different protein bars!
As with the powders, protein bars provide you with numerous options, from the type of protein to high and low-calorie to sugar content. Again, depending on your needs, there is a bar out there for you. One thing that is a deal breaker for many people (and me) is the taste of protein bars. One brand that I feel takes the cake (literally, they have a strawberry cheesecake flavor) is Quest Nutrition. They offer a wide array of flavors, too, making it possible to easily switch things up. Cookies and cream or chocolate chip cookie dough anyone?
As a competitive, long-distance runner, I’ve definitely tried my fair share of protein bars, and I do find this brand tasty. It’s an added bonus that they are high in protein and low in sugar. If protein bars don’t do it for you, there are even protein chips available today. I mean, who doesn’t love chips?
So, if you are looking for a protein alternative to your weekly steak or baby back ribs (and I do love ribs), don’t be overwhelmed by all of the options out there. Just take a deep breath, slowly narrow down your options based on your needs and find something that tastes good!
Do you have a favorite protein substitute? We’d love to hear what your favorite powder or bar is.