What do you do when you’re in need of a quick snack on-the-go?
We all reach for protein bars as a quick and travel friendly snack. But, not all protein bars are created equal. So today, we’re taking a close up look at some of the most popular bars and why we do (or don’t) choose them for fueling our busy lives.
Pros: These whole food based bars use egg whites as the protein source. With few ingredients and 12g protein, these bars are as unprocessed as you’re going to find on the protein bar shelf. Also, unlike some other bars, they’re dense enough to keep you full until your next meal.
Cons: If you’re watching your sugar, there is about 12-15g sugar per bar which might be high for some folks. However, this sugar is balanced by the fat and protein from the nuts, making this bar comparable to a mini-meal.
Molly’s Thoughts: These bars are my new favorite (I love the coffee flavor). They now sell them at Trader Joes, Whole Foods or Online.
Pros: The EPIC bar is a 100% grass fed animal based protein bar with flavors like Bison Cranberry and Beef Habanero Chili. Think jerky meets a protein bar. These bars offer a nutritional bang (12g protein and about 150 calories) without using any protein powders or products.
Cons: For those watching their sodium intake, these can add up quick. They’re also pretty small for their price at about $3 per bar.
Molly’s Thoughts: If you’re a jerky fan, these will be right up your alley.
Pros: A simple and short ingredient list and low sugar (only 5g in some flavors) landed these bars in the healthy choice section for many of us. They also can be found everywhere from gas stations to Starbucks, making them a go-to when your choices are limited.
Cons: Some flavors have some red flag ingredients such as soy lecithin, whey isolate, palm kern oil and sugar.
Molly’s Thoughts: The packing on these bars can be deceiving “high protein” “low sugar” “non GMO” are all printed on the front. But when you take a closer look at the ingredients and nutrition label, they’re not all they claim to be. However, they can be a lifesaver for road trips and traveling when they’re the best option around.
Pros: Similar to Rx Bars, these have an ingredient list under 5 items and all whole foods like nuts and dried fruit. They also have great flavors and are a winner in the taste department.
Cons: They can be heavy in the dried fruit, resulting in up to 24g of sugar per bar.
Molly’s Thoughts: Without the protein or fat to balance that out, these bars are better as a dessert or pre/post workout snack.
Pros: One of the pioneering protein bars on the market, Cliff Bars can be found anywhere from convenience to grocery stores. They’re hearty enough to be a meal replacement and taste pretty good.
Cons: The first ingredient in these bars is “brown rice syrup”, a type of sweetener. And with over 22g sugar per bar, these resemble more of candy bar than a protein bar. They also use soy protein isolate, a “not so friendly” source of protein.
Molly’s Thoughts: I’d leave these bars for emergency only situations. Or for long hikes or backpacking when extra sugar and calories aren’t a factor.
Pros: At a glance, these bars look high protein, low sugar and fewer calories. They usually contain 15-20g protein per bar, which could be enough to have as an on-the-go meal.
Cons: The protein in these bars comes from whey and soy protein isolate, the most processed and cheapest forms of protein powders. Add glycerin, maltitol (both alcohol sugars), canola oil and soy lecithin to the list and these bars have no real food ingredients to be found.
Molly’ Thoughts: With few (or no) real food ingredients, these bars are all claims and no nutrition. I’d leave these bars on the shelf.
It’s ok to feel like choosing a healthy snack is confusing. With all the options, packaging and nutrition claims, it can be! So as a general guideline, look for your snacks to have about 5-10g protein, less than 6g sugar (except for dairy products or fruit which have natural sugar) and about 100-300 calories (depending on your needs).
Now, we’d love to hear from you! What are your go-to protein bars and healthy snacks? Let us know, by commenting below or on Facebook.