In 2013, Lean It Up created a quiz comparing two popular protein bars to a Snickers® and, stripped of their protein content, the two "healthy" bars were equal or higher in calories, fat, saturated fat and sugar as the candy bar. With so many sneaky ingredients or unhealthy properties, it's important to know which nutrition bars you should or shouldn't reach for. We've compiled a simple list of seven smart options, as well as seven you shouldn't bother snacking on if you're looking to lose weight.
1. KIND Bar: As an afternoon snack, KIND Bars will keep you full longer as it packs five to seven grams of dietary fiber, depending on the flavor. A bar is around 200 calories with 6 grams of protein and only 5 grams of sugar. It's full of healthy fats and natural ingredients to satisfy your hunger, as well as your sweet or salty cravings. Sweet flavors like Caramel Almond and Sea Salt to savory snacks including Cashew and Ginger Spice are available, as well as higher protein or Strong and Kind options.
2. Health Warrior Chia Bar: You know chia seeds are a popular superfood and they're the main ingredient in these Health Warrior bars. Each snack is gluten-, dairy- and GMO-free, 100% vegan and seriously tasty. They're 100 calories each with 3 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber! For every craving, you'll be satisfied with these bars as they are available in 8 flavors, as well as 4 protein-packed options.
3. Oatmega: If you're looking for a pre-workout protein bar, try these Oatmega crisps. They're packed with 14 grams of protein and grass-fed whey, as well as omega-3s. The ingredients are mostly organic and all are gluten-free! Each bar contains 7 grams of fiber and less than 5 grams of sugar, and they've even got a delicious line of cookies!
4. Quest Bar: These bars by Quest Nutrition pack some serious protein (21 grams) while carrying only one gram of sugar, so this is a great option to stay full longer and build lean muscle. It also has 12 grams of fiber and around 200 calories, depending on the bar. These tasty snacks are available in 19 flavors, including pumpkin pie!
5. LÄRABAR: Especially if you’re working out, having a go-to protein bar is essential. This bar is available in 21 tasty flavors and contains about 200 calories with high fiber and protein. LÄRABAR is made with gluten-free blend of unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices and each flavor contains no more than nine ingredients, keeping them as close to their natural state as possible.
Go to the next page to find the worst-for-you protein bars.
1. Luna Bar: While this bar has 8 grams of proteins and 3 grams of fiber, its sugar content outweighs them both at 13 grams. Its main ingredient is ultra-processed "soy rice chips" which Well+Good notes is a GMO soy that is likely filled with pesticides. Their expert Ariane Hundt, MS, says that the problem here lies in the fact that “they’re just using really cheap ingredients." They may be made for women and they might taste yummy, but they aren't go-to snacks for weight loss.
2. Clif Bar: The slogan "nutrition for sustained energy" doesn't mean these bars are healthy for weight loss. At around 250 calories per bar, they also contain 22 grams of sugar and over 43 grams of carbs. These may be a wise snack for an active person looking to keep blood sugar levels under control during intense workouts or training sessions, but not for the dieting mama.
3. Balance Bar: This bar doesn't pack much of a nutritional punch at all other than its 15 grams of protein. It carries less than one gram of fiber and 14 grams of sugar as oils and sweeteners are main ingredients in various forms. It's filled with 23 vitamins (an impressive number) but many aren't as healthy or necessary as they'd lead you to believe, and you'll likely be hungry soon after eating it.
4. ThinkThin High Protein Bar: These bars may be the trickiest of them all. They pack 20 grams of protein and zero grams of sugar, but Well+Good and Hundt say there's more to the story. The protein is made from cheap, processed sources and is mixed with oils and 'natural' flavors that actually suppress your mineral absorption. Hundt also says that this bar is filled with sugar alcohols that lead to an unhealthy gut and could cause gas and diarrhea. Not something you want from your nutrition bars!