[Disclosure: At the time of this writing, I am not affiliated directly with Quest Nutrition, I am merely a loyal user of their products. Everything you read is my objective advice. There may be affiliate marketing links in a later update to this post, I will say so if this is the case. Even so, I only talk about and link to products I personally use and believe in on this blog. Any advice in this blog does not constitute legal or medical advice and is provided as is with no liability to #FrugalCongressLife or the author. Consult your doctor before starting any dietary or exercise regimen or changing your current dietary or exercise regimen.]
For this new series on #FrugalCongressLife, I will be profiling a specific food that I bring to congresses as a staple food item for daily eating on a budget outside of my one restaurant meal.
Since I promised y’all a Quest bar profile in this post, my first #FrugalCongressFood profile will be on Quest bars.
When we think of food we buy beforehand to be frugal and bring to a dance congress where time to eat may be limited if you are trying to do a lot, portability and non-perishability are two very important qualities we look for. We want food that won’t spoil and that we can eat on the go. Nutrition bars and protein bars fit this bill perfectly, but the problem with this is, from an actual nutritional standpoint, most nutrition bars and protein bars are terrible. The vast majority of protein bars on the market are basically candy bars with a little bit of low-grade soy protein sprinkled on to up the protein content. So are there any good nutritionally sound protein or nutrition bars?
Now, I lift weights, as most of you should for a multitude of reasons, but that’s a different post probably for a different blog. But since I lift weights, I aim for a daily protein intake of at least 1 gram of protein per pound of lean mass (muscle and tissue minus body fat) in order to grow and maintain lean mass. I have a lean mass of about 175 pounds, so I go for about 175 grams of protein daily.
Obviously, it’s hard to get all of this protein from what we traditionally think of as “real” food without eating every second of every day, so I have been eating protein powders and bars in addition to my regular meals to hit my necessary daily protein numbers for years now. Obviously, protein powder is not the most portable food ever and takes some preparation to make into a drinkable protein shake, and sometimes a more portable and on-the-go protein solution is called for. Enter Quest Nutrition‘s flagship product, Quest bars. I was eating Quest bars long before dance and dance congresses came into the picture, but they make perfect sense as portable and non-perishable dance congress food too.
Quest bars are available in various flavors including but not limited to chocolate chip cookie dough, s’mores, mint chocolate, double chocolate brownie, white chocolate raspberry, apple pie, and, more recently, birthday cake.
What sets Quest bars apart from the legions of other protein bars is their ingredients. I often say Quest bars are the realest protein bars out there, and the ingredients are why. The protein used in Quest bars is high quality whey protein isolate. Whey protein isolate is a processed form of whey protein, a fast-digesting protein favored by weightlifters, bodybuilders, and athletes for its fast delivery of protein to the muscles and originating from whey, a liquid material created from milk as a byproduct of cheese production. Whey protein isolate is processed to remove the fat and cholesterol and is 90% protein by weight.
Quest bars also contain soluble corn fiber, which is a form of prebiotic fiber that helps digestion, as well as giving the bars their trademark pleasing chewy texture. They are also low in sugar and are sweetened with sucralose, and stevia, two of the best types of artificial sweeteners. Various natural ingredients and flavors (such as unsweetened chocolate and sea salt) form the basis of each bar’s individual flavor. The fiber and the sugar alcohols work in tandem to give Quest bars an average of only 4-6 grams of net carbohydrates per bar, making them an ideal portable food choice for those on low-carb diets as well.
To sum it up, unlike the “candy bars with protein” out there, Quest bars are essentially huge chunks of whey protein and fiber that are made pleasing to the palate by natural sweeteners and ingredients.
Quest bars are available at 7-Eleven and CVS, but are very expensive there at close to $3 per bar. The best place to get Quest bars offline is Wal-Mart, where they sell for $1.77 per bar or $7 for a box of six bars. Online, they sell on Amazon for $22.37 for a 12 count box or on Bodybuilding.com for $24.99 per 12 count box. Yes this is still a lot and foods you have to prepare are much less expensive, but this is portable on-the-go food we’re looking at here and that always comes at some sort of premium cost-wise.
Now, obviously, you don’t want to eat nothing but Quest bars. Protein and fiber are the only daily nutrients they cover, and a balanced diet that does not make. You still need to eat some fat and at least a small amount of carbs, and you’ll need to get fruits and vegetables in your diet too. However, as a filling and nutritionally sound portable food item to eat on the go in between workshops and provide some of your daily protein and fiber on the fly, you would do very well indeed to pack a handful of these bars into your dance bag.