Looking to boost your protein intake or stay on track with your nutrition goals by choosing a healthy snack? Protein and snack bars can be a great option, but only if they meet certain criteria. Here’s what to look for in your bars.
A balanced diet is key when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, keeping your body in homeostasis, and seeing the physical results of your fitness routine. It’s important to get an adequate intake of healthy fats, lean protein, and complex carbs to build and maintain muscle, keep your energy levels high, and FEEL your best.
But eating healthy, homemade meals and snacks isn’t always feasible when you have a super busy schedule, are traveling, or are on the go in someway. That’s where protein or snack bars can be a great addition to your daily eats!
Let’s not get it twisted, protein and snack bars are a CONVENIENCE food. They shouldn’t be meal replacements or make up the bulk of your diet. But when eaten in moderation, they can be healthy additions as snacks or meet other fitness/nutritional goals.
The problem is, most bars on the market these days are glorified candy bars (looking at you Power Bar!). BUT there are some healthy options that not only taste good but have nourishing ingredients as well.
These are the things you should be keeping in mind when looking for a bar to snack on…
Whole Food Ingredients
Look for bars that are minimally processed…meaning their ingredients are in their most natural state possible. Raw nuts and seeds, unsweetened fruits, spices, etc.
5 Grams of Protein or More
It’s always better to get your daily protein needs from real, whole foods, but in a pinch a protein bar works! So try to find options with 5 grams of protein or more. This is especially important if you’re choosing a bar as a post-workout snack! Our bodies use protein to build and repair tissue. Protein is also used to make enzymes, hormones, and other important body chemicals. Protein is an essential building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Fiber is not only great for aiding digestion, but it also helps you stay fuller longer because it SLOWS your digestion. Bars with 5+ grams of fiber are best!
Fats are so important for satiety and for allowing certain vitamins and minerals to be absorbed. So don’t fear fat! But also try to get it from sources like nuts, seeds, nut butters, and coconut.
No Added Sugar or LOW Sugar
With all the sweetness that can some naturally from fruit, there is no need to choose bars that have added sugars. Look for bars that are sweetened with dates and other fresh fruits or unsweetened dried fruits. Second best would be to choose bars that have natural 0 calorie sweeteners like stevia or monkfruit. Stay away from artificial sweeteners like sucralose and malitol whenever possible as these are known to cause digestive upset.
And here are some of my TOP PICKS for bars…
Larabars – the OG raw fruit and nut bars, vegan + gluten-free + no added sugar
Nakd Bars – snack bars made from raw fruits, nuts, and spices, vegan + gluten-free + no added sugar
Thunderbird Bars – raw, vegan, grain-free, gluten-free, paleo-friendly bars made from raw nuts, seeds, and unsweetened fruit…Use code ‘healthyhelper’ for 15% off your order on the Thunderbird Bar website!
RXBars – CLEAN protein bars with NO BS ingredients…no added sugar, gluten-free, and paleo-approved! Favorite flavors: Chocolate Sea Salt, Peanut Butter, Maple Sea Salt, Chocolate Mint
Truth Bars – low sugar, high protein, probiotic bars that taste like candy bars!
Quest Bars (flavors without sucralose) – not the cleanest protein bars but still good if you find the flavors that are sweetened with stevia! I like baking these into cookies for a treat. Favorite flavors: Peanut Butter Chocolate, Lemon Cake, Double Chocolate
Lupii Bars – protein bars made with lupini beans, vegan + gluten-free + no added sugar…I love the Peanut Butter Cacao Nib flavor!
IQ Bars – vegan, KETO-friendly bars with clean, simple ingredients, contains 6 brain-boosting nutrients, 12g plant-based protein, and 6-8g prebiotic fiber
Orgain Peanut Butter Bars – organic plant-based protein bars, high fiber + vegan + gluten-free
Do you eat protein or snack bars?
What’s your favorite bar?
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