The bar conundrum!
There are so many energy, nutrition and protein bars, it’s overwhelming to know which ones are truly healthy options.
At Healthy Nest Nutrition, it comes down to using them sparingly and watching the ingredient quality and quantity.
Many people buy bars based on label claims such as “gluten-free,” “vegan” and “all-natural” and ignore the actual ingredients. Others are attracted by the number of ingredients. Some bars can have as few as two ingredients (Lärabar) and others have more than 20 (Clif Bar). However, the quantity of ingredients is not always an accurate way to choose a bar as the quality and nutrition of ingredients vary widely.
We believe packaged bars are not really the best snack choice for your 10am regular snack or 3pm pick-me-up, but if you do find yourself in need of a portable, packaged, quick and easy snack, we think some bars are better than others.
ingredients to avoid
Soy can interfere with thyroid hormone and block the body’s absorption of key nutrients such as calcium and zinc. It can also promote inflammation in the body. Soy also causes digestive distress in many people. Soy is found in Clif Bars, Kind Bars, Oatmega, ProBar and ThinkThin bars.
In energy bars, the most popular ingredient behind sugar, salt and water is “natural flavors,” and they are anything but natural. Mostly, they are made in a lab from yeasts, plants and even animals and often contain MSG, a neurotoxin that can lead to allergic reactions and liver inflammation. Natural flavors can cause a myriad of physical problems for people including digestive distress. Natural flavors are found in Bobo’s Oat Bars, Clif Bars, Kind Bars, Oatmega, Quest bars, RXBar and ThinkThin bars.
Problematic oils include sunflower, safflower and soybean oils. Even if they’re organic, these oils are a big source of omega-6 fatty acids, which promote inflammation in the body. Processing of these fats yields some trans-fats, which can adversely affect cholesterol as well as promote aging, obesity, heart disease and other conditions. Bars that have inflammatory oils include: Clif Bars, Kind Bars, Oatmega, Perfect Bars and ThinkThin bars.
our top energy, nutrition & protein bar choices
Epic Meat Bars
Softer and cleaner than traditional jerky, these bars are made from minimal ingredients and can be a great way to get protein with minimal to no added sugar. Bonus: The beef, lamb and venison bars are grass-fed, meaning the fats are healthier and free of pesticides.
Made from dates, nuts and other dried fruits, most of these bars are paleo and Whole30-compliant, which means they are cleaner and better for you than the norm. Choose flavors that have the most protein such as Cashew Cookie or Peanut Butter Cookie, as the other flavors could raise blood sugar more than you’d like.
Although these do contain some processed oils, they are packed with protein and a variety of superfoods. Make sure you tolerate dairy and eggs before trying.
homemade bars (the best!)
since you have control over the ingredients. There are plenty of gluten-free, paleo and vegan recipes online. And, if you don’t feel like starting from scratch, there’s Unwrapp’d, a delicious nutrition bar dough that you can eat raw or bake into bars.
need more help with making healthy food choices?
Healthy Nest Nutrition is here to help! Schedule a free 20-minute phone consultation with a Healthy Nest holistic nutritionist. We’ll be happy to steer you toward your best diet — including some delicious snack foods (and maybe even a bar or two!)
Hi! I’m Robin, the founder of Healthy Nest Nutrition. I am a board-certified holistic nutritionist in Denver, Colorado. My passion is helping people find the right diet for their bodies and then showing them how to make healthy nutrition doable and delicious!