Are You Eating the Right Snack Bar?

snack bar

photo credit: Chew, Chew!! via photopin (license)

Nutrition is one of the most confusing topics out there and it’s one of the most important things to consider when it comes to our health. Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about snacks… snack bars in particular. When it comes to having something healthy on the go snack/protein/energy bars are my go to. They’re portable. They keep well. They’re usually pretty tasty. The portion size is just right for the number of calories and bars are usually satisfying enough to get us safely to the next meal.

However, there are about a million choices out there. Which one is right for you? Are you trying to eat clean? Are you focused on bumping up your protein? Fiber? Avoiding sugar? Do you just want something that tastes good and keeps your calories in check?

My bias is definitely toward clean eating. It’s good to know the nutrition information (calories, grams of sugar, protein, and fiber), but that’s not the whole story. It’s important to check out the ingredients list as well. So many of the bars out there are loaded with chemicals and artificial sweeteners. Just glancing at a label and seeing a lengthy ingredient list is enough to know you should probably move on. I’m always looking for the bars that are the least processed, have the fewest ingredients and additives and contain mostly (if not all) real food ingredients.

All the bars listed can be found either in your local supermarket, supplement store, at Whole Foods or online. While these brands are generally good the nutrition values and ingredients will vary between flavors.

Clean Snacks to Curb Your Hunger

If you’re simply looking for a clean and tasty snack bar to keep you from getting too hungry between meals or being stuck with a lot of unhealthy choices when you’re out and about…  my top two snack bar choices are Lara Bars and Nature’s Promise bars (check out their Peanut Butter Honey Roasted bar). These bars are some of the cleanest (i.e. least chemicals and preservatives) that I’ve found. Their ingredient lists are short and contain real food. They may be a little high in sugar, but it’s usually from the fruit they contain or honey. They’re not necessarily high in protein or fiber. They’re just a good clean option, often low in calories, to get you some fuel and keep you going until meal time. Bonus: these bars are also relatively low in price.

Boost Your Protein

If you’re looking to your snack bar to boost your protein intake for the day, there are some good clean choices out there. Since I’m not usually focused on getting extra protein in my snack bars I have to admit that I’ve done the research here, but I haven’t actually tried them. So, I can’t speak from experience as to how they taste. Although I did check the reviews online and they were mostly favorable. With that said, the two high protein snack bars I’ll recommend are Rise Bar and Squarebar. The Rise Almond Honey bar has 20g of protein. The Square Bar Chocolate Coated Crunch has 12g of plant based protein.

Get More Fiber

Fiber is one of those things we often forget about in all the concern over calories, fat and sugar and many of us are not getting enough. Fiber is linked to heart, bowel and colon health. It can help control blood sugar levels and aid in weight loss.  Two good choice for getting a little more fiber in your diet are Kind Bars and Zing Bars. Specifically the Kind Bar Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt (7g fiber) and the Zing Bar Chocolate Coconut flavor (6g fiber). As with the protein bars, I haven’t tried these myself. Kind bars have a reputation for being tasty and the reviews on the Zing bars say the same for them.

Make Your Own

My final recommendation for clean, energy (and sometimes protein) packed snack bars are the DIY option. With a food processor and a good recipe book snack bars are not hard to make. You’ll know what ingredients are going into them and you can customize to your tastes. I’m sure there are a number of good recipe books and recipes online, but the book I’ve actually made a few recipes from is Power Hungry. This book has sections with recipes for different types of bars including protein bars and knock offs of some popular brands.

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