The number of energy and protein bars on the market is astounding. Only a handful, however, should be promoted as satisfying, healthy snacks. The rest? Glorified candy bars. For example, most Clif Bars contain as much sugar as a TWIX Caramel Cookie Bar! Shocked? Me too.
Don’t fall prey to marketing mumbo jumbo. Study nutrition labels and navigate the options with these simple tips:
- If you’re looking for an on-the-go snack, choose bars with less than 200 calories. Any more than that and the bar becomes a meal replacement.
- To keep hunger at bay the longest, opt for a bar with at least 5 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein.
- Select bars with less than 4-5 grams of sugar to avoid a post-snack drop in blood sugar that could zap your energy.
KIND and LÄRABAR rank among the most natural snack bars, made with the fewest and most recognizable ingredients. But what these brands lost in processing, they unfortunately gained in sugar. On the flip side, many low-sugar products use sugar alcohols (e.g. maltitol, mannitol) to boost flavor without adding calories. Many CarbRite Diet bars contain a whopping 20 grams! Sugar alcohols are not completely absorbed, however, so they may cause bloating, gas and even diarrhea when consumed in large amounts. You should experiment to know what your body can handle.
My top picks?
- Quest Bar
- HealthSmart Foods: Chocolite Protein Bar
- Atkins Advantage (choose flavors with less saturated fat)
- NuGo Slim
- ThinkThin Crunch Bars
Next time you’re on the hunt for a pocket-friendly snack, remember the rules! More fiber. More protein. Less sugar.