Protein Bar Junkie

While running with some SRRC pals on Sunday a discussion started on keeping track of nutrition and calories and how apps like myfitnesspal can apparently tell you how many calories you burned doing a variety of activities…including sex. I don’t use myfitnesspal or any other such app but I’d be sure to turn off any facebook/twitter updates if I was keeping track of that kind of information…

So enthralling was this conversation that it spilled over into coffee time where I admitted that I don’t keep track of calories or percentages of fat, carbs, or protein. Shocking, I know. I can’t handle that kind of pressure and prefer to live in a constant state of denial. So it was no surprise when fellow runner Tim and I had slightly differing views on how much protein one should consume in a day. I said 30 grams, which was a number I just plucked out of the air, really, based on nothing more scientific than knowing a protein bar generally has about 10 grams of protein and I often eat three in a day. Tim said I was way off and it was more like 180 grams.

It bugged me for a couple of days that I didn’t know who was right. So I went to my trusty resource – google – and looked it up. According to the CDC, women need about 46 grams and men about 56. I figured that was a good starting point with 2 problems – it doesn’t factor in an individual’s weight, and it probably isn’t enough for endurance athletes. So I consulted Nutrition for the Endurance Athlete by Allegra Burton, RD, MPH. According to Burton, “Endurance athletes need up to 50% more protein than sedentary adults. Protein should contribute 12-15% of total calories per day. To figure out the amount for you, multiply your weight in kilograms by 1.3, or multiply your weight in pounds by 0.6 to calculate the number of grams of protein you should consume per day.”

According to this calculation, I need to consume 69 grams of protein per day, which is, amazingly, 50% more than the 46 recommended by the CDC! Plus, Tim was waaaay over with his guess of 180 grams and so, according to The Price is Right rules, I win!

Tim didn't realize this was a bet...


Granted, I eat proteins other than those that come packaged in a bar. I eat Greek yogurt every day which has a ton of protein, way more, as I discovered when I actually looked at the label, than regular yogurt. And of course chicken, fish, meat, beans, tofu, etc. all have plenty of protein. Here’s some more useful info if you’re looking for protein sources:

  • a 3 ounce serving of lean meat, poultry or fish, e.g. 1 medium pork chop, 1 small hamburger, 1/2 of a whole chicken breast, or a small fish fillet provides 21 grams of protein
  • a 1/2 cup of cooked beans, 1 ounce of cheese, 1 egg, 2 egg whites, 4 ounces of tofu or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter each provides 7 grams of protein
  • one cup of lowfat milk or yogurt provides 8 grams of protein
  • one serving of grain products (preferably whole grain) such as a slice of whole wheat bread provides 3 grams of protein

So I mentioned that I’m a protein bar junkie. I generally try to limit myself to one bar/day, but yesterday was a 3-bar day. I ate this bar after yoga:

You might need your binoculars to read the nutrition info there, but I’ll spare you the agony and tell ya that it’s got 8 grams of protein. I think that’s a bit measly for a bar with 12 grams of fat, but it was super delicious – almond and coconut are two of my favorite ingredients and of course add in some chocolate and it’s all good.

I was still hungry after lunch (salad and avocado are tasty but not so filling) so I had this:

The Balance Bar Gold is like a candy bar. It’s more addictive than a Girl Scout cookie and I think I could eat about 6 of these in a row, so I only buy one at a time. In fact, the only reason I bought one is because the sign at the store said 4 for $5 but I misread it as 5 for $4 and thought it was a bargain. No point putting it back once at checkout so I splurged… Anyhow, this bar packs 14g protein in only 7g fat so that’s pretty good in my book. Hmmm, 17g sugar…not so good.

I swam from 8 – 9pm last night and when I got home my arms hurt so much I couldn’t open the fridge door so I settled for this little gem:

Of the three, I think the Luna Protein Chocolate Cherry Almond was the winner. It had my favorites – almonds, chocolate, and a crispy texture. Also, a whopping 12g protein with only 6g fat.

Total for the three bars – Protein – 34g (half my daily goal!); Fat – 25g (probably not all that good but of course I have no idea…)

Do you eat protein bars? Which are your favorites? Did you know inulin (chicory) – often added for fiber – gives you gas? 



  1. I’ll have to try the Luna protein bar. Looks good! I am now a Powercrunch Bar fan- just bought 4 boxes (on sale) a couple of weeks ago on They’re not as heavy as the cliff bars. More of a wafer consistency. 🙂 trying to get back on my Muscle Milk regimen too.

  2. I try to stay away from bars — the less processed stuff, the less sodium, the less sugar, the less additives …

    Of course, they are great when I’m traveling or on race day, when it’s usually not in the cards to eat eggs and bacon away from home.
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