Finding healthy, tasty snacks can be a real challenge, especially if you want them to be as hard-working as you are. So when it comes to your pre- or post- workout snack, it pays to do your research.
Protein snacks can be a great healthy alternative to other packaged foods, as they are a low-sugar, low carb option and can provide a quick hit of protein that will keep you fuller for longer. However there’s a huge variety of protein snacks on the market, so how do you choose the best one?
Option #1: Protein Bars
When you think of a protein snack, chances are you think of a protein bar. In terms of protein, most bars contain whey, soy or pea protein as their protein source.
Each of these proteins has its drawbacks; whey is a dairy product so is inflammatory to many people and can upset the stomach. Soy is sometimes GMO and can negatively impact thyroid and the production of hormones. Pea doesn’t absorb as fast. Everyone has their protein of choice, though, depending on what they’re trying to achieve; for example, body builders love whey because it’s fast absorbing.
However, the problem with most protein bars isn’t the choice of protein; it’s everything else that goes into the bar. Most bars are filled with artificial thickeners, fillers, sweeteners and/or sugar alcohols. Some nutritionists call them “candy bars dressed up as being healthy”.
There are healthier versions, but most of these are filled with dried fruit (usually dates) and they can push the sugar content over 40%, which can affect your health if you are having a serve every day.
Option #2: Jerky and Biltong
In 2015 the World Health Organisation (WHO) released a report stating that red and processed meats are cancer causing (carcinogenic) agents. They reviewed over 800 research papers and concluded that eating processed meat such as jerky, biltong, bacon, deli meats and sausages is linked with colorectal cancer and that red meat is ‘probably’ carcinogenic.
The WHO report identified that if a person consumes a 50g portion of processed meat per day, he or she increases their risk of getting colon cancer by 18%. This needs to be put in context because this degree of risk increase is about the same as other colon cancer risk factors such as being physically sedentary, overweight, or having a low vegetable or grain intake.
But the reason processed meats are thought to be carcinogenic is due to the curing process which usually involves adding carcinogenic nitrates or nitrites. Smoking the meat can also lead to the formation of potentially carcinogenic chemicals. And when it comes to red meat that isn’t processed, is the cooking process, including cooking over a flame (e.g., pan-frying, grilling, barbecuing) because this can also produce carcinogenic chemicals.
Unfortunately for jerky and biltong lovers, most jerky and biltong is made using nitrates or nitrites to preserve them, and most jerky is also cooked or smoked rather than air-dried.
But unlike other processed meats, most jerky is usually pretty high in sugar. Some brands have over 25% sugar because of the sugary marinades they use. To put that into perspective, that’s like sitting down for a 150g steak on your plate and seeing 37.5g of it as sugar, picture 9 sugar cubes.
Added to that, the majority of jerky and biltong is made with grain-fed meat from highly industrialised farms. Grain-fed meat is not only less nutritious than grass-fed meat, it’s also more damaging to the environment.
So , what’s the best option then?
Well, to work out the answer to that, we chatted to the team from Chief Nutrition. They looked at all these issues and decided they needed to came up with an solution: reinventing an ancient curing method in the process.
Their slow dried beef bar has only 2g sugar and is free from preservatives like nitrates and nitrites. Because it’s slow dried with Australia’s top sources of grass-fed meat, in a similar process to biltong, it’s actually tender rather than tough, which makes it much easier to eat.
They chose grass-fed red meat over powdered proteins because it’s protein in its natural form. Plus, red meat has other health benefits, like the heart healthy oleic acid and valuable haem iron. It’s also high in Vitamin B, and because Chief Bars are dried rather than cooked, most of the Vitamin B is retained (Vitamin B is heat sensitive and degrades with cooking). And as for taste? Imagine a delicious roast dinner!
If you’d like to give Chief Bars a try, head to eatlikeachief.com to grab a sample pack of 3 bars and get free shipping on your first order using the code URBAN.
This article is part of an URBANSWEAT x Chief Bar collaboration. Want more stories like this one? Check out our WORKOUT REVIEWS section. While you’re here, why not sign up to our newsletter and be the first to receive gym and class discounts, access to exclusive workouts, competitions and a whole lot of fitness information for living a healthy life in Sydney!