Bite size, versatile, delicious, nutritious. They can be a snack on the go, a pre-workout energy boost, or a healthy treat. Protein balls are great for children and adults, they are fun to prepare, and they leave space for creativity while incorporating macro and micronutrients.
Healthy Snacks on the Go
- What are protein balls made of?
- What are the benefits of protein balls?
- How can I tell if protein balls are healthy?
- Can you get fat on protein balls?
- Do protein balls contain too much sugar?
- How long do protein balls last?
What are protein balls made of?
Protein balls contain a blend of all three of the macronutrients—carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Many recipes also include foods that are considered to be super healthy like coconut flakes and goji berry. The inclusion of such things as almonds, seeds, raisins, and other dried fruits provide a powerful source of vitamins and minerals.
What are the benefits of protein balls?
Protein balls provide an extremely nutritious snack idea on the go. When you are between meals and get that familiar hunger urge, reaching for a couple of these balls can be a lifesaver. It will deliver the carbs, protein, fiber, and fat that you need to re-energize yourself, staving off any thoughts of cream-filled muffins or cupcakes.
Protein balls also provide you with an excellent fuel source around your workouts. Before you head to the gym, your body’s main fuel requirement is carbohydrates. That is what will fuel your training session. Then, post-workout, you need both carbs and protein. The carbs will restore your glycogen levels, and the protein will provide the amino acids to start rebuilding and repairing damaged muscle tissue. Protein balls provide you with both carbs and protein. This makes them an ideal pre-workout option and a smart choice after you leave the gym.
When you eat them as a pre-workout snack, allow yourselves around forty-five to sixty minutes after eating before starting your training. This will allow your digestive system enough time to process the food, so it doesn’t interfere with your workout.
How can I tell if protein balls are healthy?
The best way to tell if protein balls are healthy is to make them yourself. The good news is that making your own version is quick, easy, and fun. If you choose to purchase them from a retailer, you need to take the time to check the ingredients label. Many commercial protein ball manufacturers include artificial ingredients in order to make the product taste better and have a longer shelf life. These chemical sweeteners and additives don’t deserve a place in your body.
If you see a number of ingredients on the label that are unfamiliar to you and/or you find hard to pronounce, put the product back on the shelf.
Can you get fat on protein balls?
Yes, you can get fat on this snack. Of course, you can get fat on any food, including quick healthy snacks, if you eat too much of it. Protein balls are no exception. These foods are designed as snacks between meals or to be taken pre- and post-workout as part of your training nutrition plan.
The average protein ball will provide you with about 125 calories. If you’re not careful, it’s very easy to down four or five of them in one sitting. That adds up to five hundred or more extra calories. So, really, you should limit yourself to no more than one or two at a time. If they don’t fill you up, add in a piece of fruit, like a mandarin or kiwifruit.
Do protein balls contain too much sugar?
No, they are usually not high in sugar. The total carb count on quality protein balls should not exceed twenty grams. The benefit of this snack is that the carbs go into your body in combination with proteins and fats. This slows down the process by which they are broken down into energy. As a result, your insulin levels are not spiked nearly as much as if you are taking carbs in isolation.
How long do protein balls last?
When kept in the fridge, they can last up to a week. If you freeze them, they can last up to three months.
Protein Ball Recipe
There are literally hundreds of recipes for this protein snack on the internet. Here is a favorite that I use every Sunday to whip up a few dozen. These provide me and my family with the energy boost we need to carry us through our busy week.
BASE: Mash a banana and add oats or any other grain or pseudo-grain (amaranth, buckwheat, shredded wheat). This is a source of low glycemic index carbs to provide you with sustained energy.
TRY THIS: If you would like to substitute banana (sometimes it tends to get soggy, and its taste could change, especially if frozen), swap it for dates to add some additional fiber and provide sweetness and energy. Dates are also rich in antioxidants to help protect from free radicals damage.
NUT BUTTER: Almond, peanut, and sunflower butter are all great options. These ingredients provide protein and healthy fats, plus palatability and smoothness.
SEEDS: Seeds are a powerhouse of micronutrients like vitamins and minerals that are necessary to life, as well as a source of additional protein. Some examples to pick from are hemp, chia, flax, and sunflower seeds. Seeds also provide omega 3 fatty acids which are heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory.
SWEETS and DRY FRUIT: Chocolate chips, cookie dough, craisins, raisins, coconut flakes, dried mango, and dried pineapple are all amazingly sweet options you can throw into your protein ball recipe. You can get creative and experiment here.
SPICE: Vanilla, cinnamon, lemon zest, and orange zest are just a few spices you should try.
What if I want to add some extra protein?
Add a scoop of your favorite protein powder to the batch!
Simply put all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until the mixture is combined. Scoop out a one-portion amount of dough onto a tray. Form each portion into a ball. Once you have formed all of your protein balls, place the tray in the fridge, and leave it to set.
Nutritious Snacks Wrap Up
Protein balls provide an extremely healthy snack idea. They are packed with health-giving nutrients, muscle-building protein, and digestion-enhancing fiber. Make them part of your daily nutrition program and you’ll have an anytime energy boost that tastes great whenever you feel the urge to snack.