Sometimes those healthy meals we are trying oh-so-hard to eat just aren’t as easy to stick in our purse on the way out the door. Nutrition bars are often much more travel friendly and can be a money saver as well. Not to mention that they are a lot healthier than many of the other grab-and-go options.
But you don’t want to grab just ANY bar. For example that Clif Bar (including the Coconut Chocolate Chip flavor that I happen to love) has more sugar than six Chips Ahoy cookies, while providing only about as much protein as 1-1/2 ounces of meat. So, yeah…not the best combination for long-lasting energy.
When it comes to choosing a nutrition bar that will keep you feeling satisfied longer, there is one basic rule that you should try to follow: Pick one with more protein than sugar!
Ideally – a minimum of 8 to 10 grams of protein and no more than 4 or 5 grams of sugar.
Just FYI: A lot of low-sugar bars (the ones that have very little sugar and are usually lower in calories) contain either artificial sweeteners (i.e. sucralose, aspartame, or acesulfame potassium) or sugar alcohols (i.e. maltitol, mannitol, or erythritol). What are sugare alcohols? Good question. Sugar alcohols are carbohydrates that are absorbed more slowly than sugar and are not completely digested. This means they provide fewer calories than other types of carbohydrates, but they can also have a laxative effect and may cause gas or bloating if consumed in large amounts.
Once you’ve established that the nutrition bar you’re choosing isn’t packed full of sugar, be sure the calories are appropriate for your needs. Some bars can be as low as 90 calories, while some reach up to 400 calories or more. While it does vary a lot depending on your exercise regime, etc a lot of women should probably aim for about 100 to 250-calorie bars, while some men can lean more towards the 200 to 400-calorie bars because men often need more calories than women (lucky guys!)
For me, I don’t pay too much attention to the total fat in a nutrition bar as long as the calories are appropriate. This is because many bars contain nuts and seeds, which contribute to a higher amount of heart-healthy fats (mono- and polyunsaturated fats). The saturated fat of high protein , low-sugar bars can be as high as 2 to 5 grams per bar, partially due to the palm oil, milk fat or cocoa butter they often contain.
Consider any extras like vitamins, minerals or omega-3s as a bonus They’re not really the primary reason to buy any particular bar, and there’s usually not enough of these add-ins to make a significant impact.
And don’t worry, there’s NO NEED to go to a specialty vitamin or supplement store to find a good-for-you nutrition bar; they’re easy to find. You can usually find great nutrition bars in the supplement section or near the breakfast foods (aka the cereal aisle).
Some good choices (Recommended by Dietitian Molly Kimball) are:
Think Thin Protein bar
Think Thin Bite and Think Thin Crunch
Power Crunch bar
Oh Yeah Protein Wafer bars
Supreme Protein, Pure Protein
Myoplex Carb Control bar
- Snackwell’s Cereal bar (any flavor)
- Kashi’s TLC bar (specifically in Peanut Peanut Butter and Honey Almond Flax).