Have you ever found yourself out and about, hungry and just craving a quick snack? Sometimes, NutriBlasts just aren't available on hand when you're feeling hungry and need a lasting boost in your energy. This is usually when protein bars enter the scene and, while we may all think they're healthy, many options on the market today are no healthier than your average candy bar.
When hunger hits and you're faced with the countless options at the grocery store, it becomes challenging to make the healthiest choice. But fear not! We're here to help you navigate through the chaos!
Choosing a Protein Bar
Don’t get tricked by clever marketing techniques and pretty pictures. Words like Organic and All Natural can be decieving. Make sure you read ingredients and nutrition facts to fully understand what types of ingredients are in your bars. Go for the bars that are low in sugar and saturated fats and that are packed with whole food ingredients that you can read and identify.
A good rule of thumb is to look for the following when making a selection:
- At least 3g of fiber
- Less than 12g of sugar
- Less than 300mg of sodium
- Less than 3g of saturated fats
- 6 - 8g of protein for a snack bar, 10 - 15g of protein for a meal bar
- Should be able to read and identify all the ingredients as foods
Best Protein Bars
1. LaraBar Uber Roasted Nut Roll
Fourteen grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of protein and an ingredient list full of real foods makes this a go-to on my list. You can usually find these at most gas stations, Targets and Walmarts, which means you will always have a healthy option wherever you go.
2. Vega One, All-in-one Nutrition Bar
With 250 calories, 15 grams of protein, a greens blend and probiotics, this bar will not only give you a healthy dose of fuel, but will also make your GI tract smile! The addition of a probiotic helps balance the gut flora and regulate digestion. Probiotics are not only good for the GI tract, but can decrease inflammation and boost the immune system.
3. Health Warrior Chia Bars
With chia as a main ingredient, these bars are a great food to eat. Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids that decrease inflammation throughout the body and promote concentration and brain health, and with only 4 grams of sugar and 13 grams of carbohydrates, this bar is great to grab when you're out and about.
4. Raw Revolution Organic Live Food Bars, Raspberry Chocolate
While this bar is a little higher in sugar and carbohydrates, 13 grams and 23 grams, respectively, the ingredient list is spot on. There are no preservatives, chemicals or dyes added to this bar and it may be just what your body needs to hold you over until your next meal.
Common Bars Mistaken for Healthy
Packed with enough carbohydrates to fuel you through a 3+ hour workout, most of us would be better off not picking this bar up at all. Unless you're going on an all-day hiking extravaganza, make a different choice. Over 42 grams of carbs and more than 22 grams of sugar, this bar should be reserved for endurance athletes only. The first ingredient is brown rice syrup, not something we're looking for! The main sources of protein are soy protein isolates, which may have negative health implications when eaten over a long period of time.
Luna bars contain soy and vegetable glycerins that will be more likely to slow you down than boost you up. With a laundry list of ingredients, its best to put this bar down and pick another option.
3. ProBar Superfood Slam
With 46 grams of carbs and 30 grams of sugar, this bar is more of a candy bar than a health food. Did you know your average Snickers bar has 33 grams of carbohydrates and 27 grams of sugar? Looks like the Snickers bar may be a better option... This bar is a perfect example of how you can be tricked into thinking something is healthy - the fresh packaging and use of keywords like Superfood can quickly make you think you're making the right choice. Remember to always read nutrition facts and ingredients on prepackaged foods.
4. Balance Bars
The concept for these high protein bars is fantastic, but the ingredients leave more to be desired. Corn syrup is the second ingredient on the list, meaning that after their protein blend, it's one of the most prevalent ingredients in the mix. There is also high fructose corn syrup, Dextrose, Fractionated Vegetable Oil (Palm Kernel Oil = TRANS FATS) and soybean oil. Steer clear of these bars and choose a bar from the healthier options list above!
I am a big fan of choosing whole fruits and vegetables over prepacked goods, but sometimes reality is not on your side. When I have some free time, I like to make my own bars to stock pile at work or carry with me. Check out this recipe for making healthy bars at home!
Healthy Homemade Snack Bars
- 1/2 package of pitted dates
- 1 heaping Tbsp of peanut butter
- ¼ cup shredded coconut
- ¼ cup almond flour
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp cacao powder
- ¼ cup dried cranberries or raisins
***Add a scoop of your favorite protein powder for an added punch!
- Add all ingredients except cranberries to your Tall Cup.
- Extract - you may need to add a little water to get things moving.
- Add dried raisins or cranberries at the end and pulse for 5 seconds.
- Roll into balls and place in the freezer.
Do you have any recipes or bars that you like? Be sure to share your tips and tricks!