As a Dietitian, I always recommend real food over meal replacements, shakes or bars. In a perfect world, we would sit down and eat a balanced meal three times a day. However, if you are in a time crunch, having a nutrition bar is better than skipping a meal. So that leads us to the big question – “how do I choose the right bar?” Choosing the right bar for you can be very challenging. Several bars on the shelves are full of sugar with similar nutrition content as a candy bar. Here are a few guidelines and things to look for when choosing a nutrition bar:
- Carbohydrates: Complex carbohydrates are a great source of sustainable energy, so look for bars that have fiber content. Also, look for bars that contain natural sources of sugar, like fruit. Try to limit added sugars.
Rule of thumb: 2 gm or more of fiber and 8-10 gm or less of total sugar content
- Protein: Protein is needed to help you feel full and keep you feeling full between meals, so this is an important one. Your body can only absorb a certain amount of protein in one sitting, so getting a bar with 30-40 gm protein is not helpful.
Rule of thumb: 8-20 gm protein content
- Fat: Look for a bar that contains healthy sources of fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) and avoid bars high in saturated or trans fats.
Rule of thumb: less than 3 gm saturated fat content
Here is a list of bars that meet the guidelines above:
- Kashi GOLEAN Plant Powered Bars: Salted Dark Chocolate and Nut; Crunchy Peanut Butter
- KIND Breakfast Protein Bars: Dark Chocolate Cocoa; Almond Bar; Maple Cinnamon; Peanut Butter Banana Dark Chocolate
- KIND Sweet and Spicy Bars: Roasted Jalapeno; Thai Sweet Chili; Sweet Cayenne BBQ
- CLIF Whey Protein Bars: Mint Chocolate Almond Flavor
- CLIF Mojo Bars: Honey Srirocka
- CLIF Luna Bars: Lemonzest; Chocolate Peppermint Stick; Sea Salt Caramel; Nutz Over Chocolate; White Chocolate Macadamia; S’mores; Chocolate Cupcake
- POWER Bar Plant Protein Bars: Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt
- EPIC Bars: Chicken Sesame BBQ; Turkey Almond Cranberry
- Nature Valley Protein Chewy Bar: Honey Peanut Almond
- Think Thin Protein + Fiber Bars: Pumpkin Spice
- KIZE Bars: Cocoa; Peanut Butter; Vanilla Almond; Cinnamon Roll; Pumpkin Seed; Peanut Butter Crunch with Pumpkin Seeds
Note: The above recommendations are for healthy adults. If you have a chronic disease, please talk to your Dietitian to see if there are any other specific recommendations for you to look at. The bars pictured were found at Crest Foods and Target.