Hope you’re having an amazing weekend – thanks for stopping by! Today, I will talk about 7 benefits of protein, then share a review of one of my favorite on-the-go snacks … and of course, give some away to you!
- Protein aids in muscle recovery and repair. If you’re exercising or recovering from an injury, protein is essential to helping your muscles recover quickly. Did you know that the soreness you feel from exercising is often due to tiny micro-tears in your muscle fibers? This is a good thing – our muscles get stronger by breaking down slightly and then rebuilding, and protein helps speed this process along. After longer runs, I often crave a big egg and veggie scramble – a great source of protein to help me recover. Here’s the one I posted on Instagram after yesterday’s 14-miler!
- Protein keeps you full and satisfied. As you know, my MVP rule encourages a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates at each meal – not only is that what your body needs for optimal nutrition, but it’s also the best way to ensure you’re satiated!
- Protein is made of amino acids that your body needs. Amino acids are necessary for growth, immune function, tissue repair, making hormones, enzymes, and collagen, and several other critical functions.
- Protein can aid your weight loss efforts. Many articles and studies show an increase in weight loss when dieters are consuming a higher percentage of protein in their diets.
- Protein tastes great! So many foods I love and eat regularly are loaded with protein (Greek yogurt, eggs, chicken, quinoa, and many more!). Here’s a chart listing the protein content of several common foods: (picture source)
- Protein is not just about meat. I am not vegetarian or vegan, but I definitely think a vegetarian or vegan diet can be healthy if done right (you are not healthy because you’re eating French Fries at McDonald’s for lunch every day instead of a cheeseburger!). Good news- protein is found in a variety of plant-based sources, too. This Men’s Health link lists several vegetarian sources of protein.
- Protein helps you preserve lean muscle mass. No, eating protein alone will NOT make you “bulk up,” but it WILL help you preserve the lean muscle mass that you work so hard for in the gym!
Quest Nutrition Product Review
Now that we know we need protein, let’s get to the good stuff! I want to introduce you to Quest Nutrition. Quest sent me this package to review (but all opinions are 100% my own) – it includes a sample pack of 12 flavors of Quest Bars, 2 of the new White Chocolate Raspberry bars, 2 Quest Cravings, and 2 Quest pastas.
Quest Bars: These bars are high in protein, very low in sugar, and they taste great! I started buying them for my teamroom at work, and one of my colleagues says that he and his wife now go through 2 boxes per week at home!
- Each bar has about 20g of protein, coming from whey protein isolate. In a perfect world, I’d get all of my nutrition from whole, unprocessed foods, but most of us live very busy lives (and spend many hours a day in an office without a kitchen!), so that’s not always possible. Quest Bars are an easy way to get protein on the go.
- Quest Bars are high in fiber, which keeps you full and has many health benefits
- Quest Bars are low in sugar – most have around 1 gram!
- I prefer bars in the “Natural Line,” which are sweetened with Lo Han Guo, stevia, and erythritol, which are all naturally occurring ingredients. The bars in the “Original Line” also contain sucralose. Like I talked about in my post on artificial sweeteners, I try to avoid most non-naturally-occurring sweeteners (which is why I prefer the “Natural Line,”).
- Speaking of great taste – these bars are delicious! I have run into a few people who did not enjoy the taste of Quest Bars, but I personally love them. They have a great texture and density that really feels like you’re eating something substantial, and are great to fight that afternoon snacking urge. My favorite flavors for snacks are Cinnamon Roll and Coconut Cashew, and the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough heated up in the microwave or oven is a pretty amazing dessert!
- I have run into several people who experience digestive issues (like bloating) when eating too many Quest bars), likely due to the artificial sweeteners. If they cause this issue for you, please stay away! Your body is sending you a message!
Quest Pasta: I had not tried the Quest pasta before, and was excited to do so (you know I love my pasta substitutes from my “Ridiculously Healthy Spaghetti and Meatballs” recipe). Quest pasta is made of 100% soluble fiber (coming from Konjac root), and has just 20-40 calories per bag (which is 2 servings). Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, here’s my honest opinion – I liked the Quest pasta because it took on the flavor of whatever I included in the dish, and was super easy to make (just be sure to rinse it first because the initial smell is pretty off-putting!). It’s a low-calorie way to boost the volume of your meal and enjoy a comforting pasta dish, even if you’re trying to limit carbs or calories. However, it doesn’t really have any taste by itself, so if you’re looking for the strict taste and texture of plain pasta alone, I wouldn’t recommend it. I enjoyed 2 meals using the Quest pasta, which I would definitely eat again: my Thursday night tradition of an Ugly Secret with added Quest spaghetti, and a cod filet with roasted artichokes, cauliflower, and broccoli over Quest spinach fettucine with an olive oil, lemon, and herb sauce.
Quest Cravings: The last part of my gift package was Quest Cravings … peanut butter cups with 20g protein and no sugar added! They’re made from very similar ingredients as the Quest Bars, so nutritionally, they are definitely something I could get behind as a swap for sugary “regular” peanut butter cups. Sadly, I just didn’t enjoy the taste – while the Quest Bars are SO delicious, the Cravings tasted artificial to me. I really wanted to like them, but I won’t be buying them for myself in the future. (Side note: my mom was so nice to be at my house 30 minutes after I got the delivery confirmation on this package, since I was worried the products would melt and I was out of town. The bars and the pasta stayed perfectly intact, but these got pretty melty – I think mailing anything chocolate-based in the Texas summer is a recipe for disaster!) Edited to add: I gave the other package to my Dad today, and he liked them a lot!!
Quest Giveaway (GIVEAWAY IS OVER)
Now I want to give 2 of YOU the chance to try Quest Nutrition for yourself! Two winners will each receive a sample pack of 12 Quest Bars, 2 White Chocolate Raspberry bars, and 2 packages of Quest Cravings. This giveaway starts now and will end Friday 9/20/13 at 11:59pm CT. To enter, you must like or follow Quest on one or more of their social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest), and you have several more opportunities to win – just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter plug-in below! As always, let me know if you have trouble with this. Edited to add: giveaway is worldwide, so international readers can enter away! You must use the Rafflecopter plugin to enter!
So tell me in the comments … What’s your favorite way to get in protein?