Anyone who knows me well knows that I do not travel anywhere without protein bars, regardless of how far away I am going. I am not sure how I would have survived nursing school without these energizing, satisfying snacks. Nursing school is known for its long hours of clinical rotations, laboratory sessions, and lectures, not to mention the time outside of the classroom for consistent studying and assignments. Food is the fuel that got me through those four years of college and that will get me through the next few years working and taking graduate courses. I often lacked the time in my schedule to enjoy a sit-down meal three times a day and relied on snacks on-the-go to keep up with my metabolism. Protein bars became my fuel for my hungry moments as they rapidly provided my body with the nutrients it needed to hold me over until my next meal. I am thrilled to share why my favorite kinds of protein bars have been my sidekicks during nursing school.

Quest Nutrition Protein Bars

Quest has been one of my favorite brands of protein bars since high school. In fact, Quest bars were the first type of protein bar I had ever heard of and soon became the kind I ate most often. Quest emphasizes developing products that are high in protein, low in calories, and low in net carbohydrates and sugar. These bars are also very high in fiber, a crucial dietary component with significant health benefits

Quest bars were the snacks that pushed me through the hungriest points of my morning during clinical rotations when I knew I wouldn't be able to make it until lunch. During clinical days, I was encouraged to take a short break in the morning for a snack or water, and I happily did so when my body needed it. A quick, five-minute snack was all I needed to refuel after being on my feet all morning. I also enjoyed Quest bars as a dessert whenever my dinner was not filling enough. On nights where I wasn't busy with nursing school responsibilities, I would love to heat one of these bars up in the microwave and embrace its soft, gooey, melted texture with some Halo Top ice cream on the side.

think! High Protein Bars

I remember seeing think! bars in grocery stores before and during the beginning of nursing school. At this time, the brand was known as thinkThin. I ate so many of these protein bars when I first became fascinated by them that I actually needed a break. During my last year of nursing school, I realized how much I missed them as I was persevering through the job search and studying for the NCLEX. These protein bars are sweetened with ingredients including stevia, real fruits, cane sugar, monk fruit, and maltitol.

I typically ate the think! High Protein Bars and Protein+ 150 Calorie Bars as an afternoon snack when I was running around campus from class to class. Their sweet coating and smooth texture reminded me of arriving home from school as a child and enjoying a pleasant after-school snack. I would also eat them on my walk to the hospital for a clinical day when I realized that the small breakfast I ate at home was not large enough for all of the physical activity I would be doing that day. 

ONE Bars

I actually cannot remember when I became exposed to ONE bars, but I do recall that it was towards the beginning of nursing school. I had tried these bars a few times but was hesitant to commit myself to another brand when I was already so loyal to others. Upon moving into my own on-campus living space with a kitchen, my frequent visits to Trader Joe's led me to spot these bars and take advantage of the assortment that the store displayed. ONE focuses on creating tasteful flavors that are high in protein and low in sugar

I ate ONE bars when I was craving something sweet first thing in the morning on my way to a clinical rotation. I would typically eat a quick breakfast around 6:00 am consisting of eggs and yogurt but would realize upon leaving my room that I would soon be hungry in a few hours, long before my lunch break at noon. These bars also came in handy when I was studying for the NCLEX. Sometimes, I would munch on these bars when I had a bit of an appetite left after dinner while in a library or study center. 

RX Bars

A few years ago, I noticed RX Bar advertisements throughout my social media feeds. The list of the main ingredients in bold, white text on the individual packaging caught my eye immediately. Soon after, I was dying to get a hold of these bars. The aspect of a simple protein bar containing primarily egg whites, fruits, and nuts with no added sugar strongly appealed to me. 

My favorite time to eat RX bars was right before or after exercising. After finishing a clinical day, I would find myself hungry but not hungry enough for a large meal before my workout. If I exercised before a morning lecture, I would eat an RX bar upon arrival for a quick source of protein and carbohydrates. These bars contained the optimal amount of nutrients to keep me satisfied for a few hours without feeling extremely bloated. 

GoMacro Protein Bars

I discovered GoMacro bars while pursuing an internet search for low FODMAP protein bar options. I had never heard of this brand before, so my curiosity led me to willingly give it a try. I bought a few bars and loved them especially because they were so easy on my stomach. They were mildly sweet and very smooth.  All of GoMacro's products are plant-based, not to mention compatible with various other dietary restrictions. 

The optimal time for me to have a GoMacro bar was right after a long-distance run, which could last up to 90 minutes, where I barely had enough time to eat, shower, and walk fifteen minutes to my morning nursing lecture. I made sure I had enough time though to grab one of these bars and take it on-the-go. GoMacro bars helped keep me awake and alert in class while also keeping my stomach calm and content

These five brands all share a common value of providing a nutritious addition to your diet in a variety of flavors and styles. I encourage you to explore their websites and learn about their mission and values. See which ones appeal to you, and perhaps you too, will fall in love with a protein bar brand that helps you get through long and tiring days. An incredible element of these brands is that many of them create other products besides bars that are also high in protein. From protein pizza to protein cakes, there is something for everyone.

Don't get me wrong, nursing school is tough. Your body and mind will feel exhausted at the end of each day and will require additional calories and nutrients to compensate for the energy expended. However, nursing school is not an excuse to skip meals and only eat snacks instead. Although I firmly believe that it is important to listen to your body and eat when you are hungry, I encourage you to eat protein bars in moderation and savor a sit-down meal whenever you can. These snacks are a meal supplement, rather than a replacement. They can provide you with the additional energy and satisfaction you need to nourish your body and feel invigorated to conquer your day.