I’m on a Quest…

I heard about these protein bars by Quest Nutrition from Blogilates.com and finally decided to try them out. I bought a box of the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavor for $24.99 from Vitacost.com.

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My primary goal was to find a protein bar that will also serve as a meal replacement bar.  Basically, I think I don’t get enough protein but I’m also trying to lose weight, so I’d like to eat a protein bar for breakfast or lunch.  In the past I had been eating CLIF Builder’s bars, so I’ll compare the Quest Bars to those.

These bars claim to be all natural (i.e., clean) and low carb. The Cooke Dough bars contain 190 calories each and 70 of those from fat, with 8g total, 3g saturated.  There are 21g carbs, with 17g listed as dietary fiber.  Note that there’s some controversy over the fiber source because its made in a factory rather than being plant-derived, and because the body treats it like sugar. Check out this article from Me and My Diabetes for more information about that issue. Quest Nutrition is very up front about the ingredients in their bars – here’s the ingredient list from their website.  The ingredient list is short, but the proteins are from whey/milk proteins so these bars may not work for people who are lactose intolerant.

The best part is the taste – the bars I have tried are really yummy!  Honestly, the Cookie Dough flavor could be your dessert, they’re so good! I ate one for lunch yesterday, and I didn’t get hungry again for about 3-4 hours.  These could definitely serve as a meal replacement bar for breakfast or lunch, as long as the sweetness isn’t overwhelming for you.

Depending on where you buy them, they’re about $2 per bar.  You can find them on Vitacost.com, or at GNC stores or site.

I also LOVED the box!  How motivational is this?

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So how do these compare to my old standby, Builder’s Bars? In comparing them to the Cookies ‘N Cream flavor from CLIF, they are smaller in size (only 60g vs. 68 g in CLIF) and lower in calories (190 in the Quest vs. 270 in CLIF) but have the same number of calories in fat. Total fat content is the same in both bars, but the Quest bars only have 3g saturated fat whereas the CLIF bars have 5g.  Quest bars claim 21g of protein vs. 20g in the Builder’s bar.  Finally, the total carbs are significantly less in the Quest bars, at only 21g, versus 30g in the CLIF bar.

My final verdict is that I’ll definitely buy them again. They taste great and I am OK with the ingredients.  If you are comfortable with the ingredients, I’d recommend these to you, too.  To meet my current health goals, I would choose these over the Builder’s bars because they have less calories, fat, etc., but they also kept me satisfied for the amount of time I needed.

Have you tried Quest Nutrition Protein bars? What do you think of them?

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Fitness trends for 2014

Some of these you may have already been participating in, but some might be a new thing for you to try.  Health and fitness is a popular new year’s resolution for many people, so here are some fitness trends that I think will be popular for this year:

  1. HIIT
  2. Functional Fitness
  3. CrossFit
  4. Yoga
  5. Wearable fitness technologies

Let’s start with #5.  This arena is just exploding right now!!  I guess manufacturers were trying to get their devices on the market before the big shopping holidays and just in time for the new year’s resolution surge. You have probably already seen the Nike+ Fuelband and the FitBit but what about the Misfit Shine, the Jawbone or the Garmin Viviofit?  There are so many options with various features, it could be hard to choose.  Shape magazine recommends that you “…be sure to do your homework before you buy—some pricier devices might offer more features than you really need to reach your goals so to save money, skip the ones with tools you’ll never use.

#4 is yoga, which is increasing in popularity as it has in years past.  This one’s a no-brainer – it’s an excellent way to stretch and strengthen your body.  If you have never taken a yoga class you may think it looks easy, but take a power yoga class and then see how you feel!

#3, Cross Fit, became wildly popular in 2013 and I think 2014 holds much of the same.  If you are planning to try it out this year, get the OK from your doctor then find a local class.  I’m emphasizing that you should make sure you get the OK from your physician because CrossFit is known to be quite hard on the body. And, be careful, because CrossFit and other boot camp-type classes are addictive!

I’ve listed functional fitness as #2 because this is a growing trend I’ve heard a lot about lately, and I think it’s the awesome sauce. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, functional fitness, or functional training, is working out so you can be stronger for real life situations.  According to the MayoClinic, “Functional fitness exercises are designed to train and develop your muscles to make it easier and safer to perform everyday activities…” This might include picking up or carrying your small children or carrying multiple bags of groceries.  The idea is to strengthen your core plus major muscles in the upper and lower body.  You’ll work these various muscles and their corresponding joints in conjunction so that you’re prepared for them to function optimally in common, everyday situations.  This program has its roots in rehabilitation, but I think it can work well for everyone regardless of their age or current fitness level.  It will make everyday activities easier and reduce your risk of being injured.

And #1, HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training, is another trend that began gaining popularity months ago but I think will garner more attention in 2014.  The principle behind HIIT is that you’ll reap more benefits from quick, intense bursts of exercise followed by a short rest period (which is barely enough to catch your breath), before beginning the next burst.  Do that for 8 sessions of 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off and you have done Tabata.  If you can do HIIT 3 to 4 days a week for a few weeks, you’ll see significant gains in your aerobic and anaerobic systems.  I have done various versions of HIIT from 2 rounds of Tabata during a boot camp class to a full 45 minute HIIT-specific class, and they were all really intense but the feeling of accomplishment afterwards was very rewarding.  The great thing about HIIT is the variety of exercises you can include – you could do all cardiovascular exercises, or mix it up with weight-bearing exercises.

That’s my list! What new fitness trend will you be trying this year?