Many parents on the go rely on easy snack options so their kids are fed between school, sports and other activities. Since eating on the go has become fairly routine, protein bars offering a quick neatly wrapped all-in-one meal are extremely popular.
Like all other things, protein bars have both benefits and drawbacks. Generally, it’s okay to offer your athlete a nutrition bar, but as a parent, you should always keep in mind that although some bars contain a lot of nutrients, they will never be the same as a well-balanced meal or snack and most of them might not be a healthy alternative for kids. Understanding your choices helps you choose the healthiest on-the-go options for your athlete.
Protein Bars for Young Athletes - The Benefits
- They are a simple and mess-free option.
- They are healthier than fast food or vending machines snacks.
- They help your child avoid skipping meals.
Protein Bars for Young Athletes - The Drawbacks
- Most children don’t need extra protein and proteins from foods like meat, dairy, eggs, nuts, and seeds are healthier and easier to digest.
- Some bars may contain extra calories from added sugars, unhealthy fats, and extra carbohydrates.
- Protein bars usually come with a high price tag.
Better Alternatives to Protein Bars
Your athlete and your wallet will both win if you plan ahead and pack high-protein meals and snacks instead of pricey and unnecessary protein bars. Here are some great alternatives to protein bars, which your athlete can eat on the go - yummy, nutritious and healthy:
- Apple slices with peanut butter.
- A banana (it’s a perfect pre-workout snack!).
- Whole grain bread crisps with cheese
- Trail mix with dried fruits, berries, nuts and oats.
- Hard boiled eggs with fresh baby carrots.
- Seed crisps with yogurt tubes.
How to Choose Protein Bars for Young Athletes?
If you have to opt for a protein bar there are some things to keep in mind. Not all protein bars are good for kids. When it comes to children’s sports nutrition, it’s particularly important to read labels and analyze nutritional value of a bar. Here are some tips on choosing a protein bar for your child:
- Look for products that are low in sugar, free of partially hydrogenated oils
- Avoid protein bars with high carbohydrate levels, they are designed for adult athletes
- Look for bars prepared with kids in mind or choose those with lower protein content
For more information on young athletes’ nutrition check out the following articles: