Protein Bar Picks and Summer Vacation Tips!

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Hi Hungry Girl,

I'm on the go a lot, and I really like the convenience of having a protein bar between meals. However, there are so many different bars out there, and I know not all of them have impressive stats and great taste. I'm a bit overwhelmed. Which bars do you recommend?

Pondering Protein Bars

Hi Pondering,

This is a great question. Not all protein bars are created equal. Many of them have 300+ calories and are meant for body builders, marathon runners, and people looking for full-on meal replacements. Your best bet is to look for bars with 200 calories or less, about 4 grams of fiber, and at least 8 grams of protein. The combo of fiber and protein is super-filling. With that out of the way, here are some of my favorite picks...

If you want a protein bar that doesn't taste like one (as in no chalky texture), try new Nature Valley Protein Chewy Bars. They're basically soft granola bars with a LOT of protein (10g each!), and they come in delicious nutty flavors. Each bar has 190 calories (PointsPlus® value 5*).

Another great pick? LUNA Protein bars. These come in five chocolatey flavors, and the entire lineup rocks. With 170 - 190 calories and 12g protein each (PointsPlus® value 4 - 5*), they're a completely guilt-free way to satisfy hunger. They're also gluten-free, BTW.

My latest favorite protein bar is Nimble by Balance Bar. It has a light, nougat-like texture, and for the amount of protein (10g), the calorie count can't be beat -- just 120 calories (PointsPlus® value 3*). Plus, these bars are naturally sweetened with Truvia and have lots of good-for-you nutrients. The Peanut Butter one is so amazing, you might actually cry tears of joy when you try it... especially if you refrigerate it for a few hours first. YUM!

And here's a fun find... Rickland Orchards All Natural Greek Yogurt Bars. Greek yogurt is known for its protein-packed ways, and now the trendy food has made its way into bar form. These have a delicious layer of yogurt on the bottom and yogurt squiggles on top. And the flavors are amazing -- Toasted Coconut, Orchard Peach, Blueberri Acai, and more. Each one has 160 - 170 calories and 7g protein (PointsPlus® value 4 - 5*). Find them at Costco and select supermarkets or order online.

I also like KIND bars (look for ones with a lot of protein!) and Perfect Foods Bar Lite (in Cranberry Crunch; it comes refrigerated!). Hope you're not overwhelmed anymore and that you find a bar you love. Happy hunting! 

Hey Lisa,

I'm leaving for a weeklong cruise, and I have worked really hard to lose 20 pounds. (I still have 40 to go.) How can I avoid sabotaging my weight-loss efforts during this trip? I'm SO nervous.

Cruise Control

Hi Cruise Control,

I'm gonna be totally honest -- cruises can be difficult when it comes to dieting. From the never-ending buffets to the open bars to the poolside snack stands, so much of a cruise revolves around food and drinks. But that doesn't mean you have to take a step backward with your weight loss.

For starters, make your goal reasonable -- instead of trying to lose weight, you might want to aim for maintenance. And find non-food-focused activities to keep you busy and entertained. Instead of visiting the midnight ice-cream-sundae event, enter the karaoke contest. Instead of cocktails and bar bites before dinner, try an off-boat excursion into town. You get the idea...

As for the buffets, you can't completely avoid them, so I've got some tips and tricks to help. Start by doing a lap and checking out all the selections to find your best options. Then fill up most of your plate with things you know are safe -- fresh fruit, lots of veggies (ones that aren't coated in butter, creamy sauce, or oil), and lean protein (baked chicken breast, grilled fish, etc.). If there's something special you're truly craving, treat yourself to a small portion. And here's a little trick: Pretend there are no seconds. If you build your plate as if it's your entire meal and not just a starter plate, it'll be easier to keep tabs on how much you're really eating. If you do go back for seconds, stick with the guilt-free stuff. And if you hit up a late-night buffet, opt for a fruit plate instead of rich desserts. You'll feel better in the a.m.!

When it comes to low-calorie cocktail choices, a glass of wine or a bottle of light beer is a good way to go. If you're going to have a mixed drink, ask for a calorie-free mixer, like diet soda or club soda (NOT tonic water). Click here for more helpful happy hour info.

Bottom line? Just because there's food available all day long that doesn't mean you have to eat all day long! Stay active and make the best choices you can, but don't stress too much if you make a few questionable food decisions. It's a vacation, so enjoy it. Bon voyage!

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