Some people know how to read nutrition labels and know what to look for when choosing out food. However, there are those either getting started on making healthy choices and they think just because it may say something like “high protein” or it comes from a commercialized diet plan (i.e. Slim Fast, South Beach, Atkins, or even something at your health store for that matter) it could be worse than a candy bar in some cases. I’m going to show you what to look for when picking out a good and nutritious protein bar, which macros are going to help you throughout the day. So here are some good bars I recommend along with a lesson about bars so you don’t think your being healthy and depriving yourself from a milky way when in all reality you may have just …well… ate the Milky Way. lol…. IDK about you, but I’d rather have the candy bar if that was the case! =)
– carbs, protein, and fats.
Pure Organic Bars (My favs: Cranberry Orange, Wild Blueberry, Chocolate Brownie)
Nutritional Layout: (used Chocolate Brownie for this example)
- Fat: 7g
- Carb: 27g
- Fiber: 4g
- Protein: 6g
- Sugar: 16g
Upside and when to ideally eat: All organic with no artificial sweeteners, gluten free, non-GMO, minimal ingredients and made from all whole foods. Real food, nothing fake whatsoever.
Downside: I would not eat this bar at night that’s for sure, its more of a breakfast mid-afternoon bar. There is a high amount of sugar that could possibly spike your blood levels too soon before you head off to bed. Now, the sugar is coming from fruits, nuts and seeds so its good sugar but its still sugar. Eat it in the morning and keep a watch on other sugary things you consume throughout the day.
When looking at Calories: You ideally want to shoot for anything under 200 calories per bar. Whole food based bars can be a little tricky when it comes to this since they usually are a little higher because a high amount of fruit and nuts. (these are good calories and kinda rules out the fact with the high calories.) But usually anything more than 200 would almost be a meal. And there are those bars like that out there and sometimes say to eat the bar and drink 8oz water with it…
Quest Nutrition Bars (My favs: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Chip Cookie Chunk, White Chocolate Raspberry, Chocolate Peanut Butter … all of them lol. )
Nutritional Layout: (Used Apple Pie for Ex)
- Fat: 9
- Carb: 24
- Fiber: 18
- Protein: 20
- Sugar: 3
Upside and when to ideally eat: Any time. I love these bars! They are almost perfect… if they could make a plant based one I would be the happiest girl in the world because I have a hard time digesting any dairy (hint hint wink wink @QuestNutrition ) – but ive ironically gotten better at it through this contest prep Im in so that’s exciting!! I miss some dairy haha.
Downside: they use sugar alcohol which hasn’t shown anything bad as of yet, I wish they would start sweetening with stevia.. And only like 4 net carbs in most of them, some less. net carbs are the carbs you count because fiber technically is a carb, but you subtract the sugar alcohol and fiber from the carbohydrate and there you have your “net carbs”. <— little lesson right there! =)
When looking at Protein: Higher is ideally better since the protein will help keep you full. But you need to be aware where the protein is coming from too. Is it from nuts, whey isolate ect. ??
Power Crunch Bars
: (My fav: Mint Chocolate, French Vanilla Cream, Wild Berry Cream)
- Carb: 10
- Fiber: 1
- Protein: 13
- Sugar: 5
Upside and when to ideally eat: Another one that is pretty much ok to eat whenever. Since there is a bit more carbs in this one I wouldn’t ideally do them right before bed or anything. And the protein to carb ratio isn’t too huge compared to some other choices you can make. But these remind me of those wafer cookies I used to eat when I was a kid, I bet if you dipped it in almond milk it would be yummy…. hum ill have to try that.
Downside: lower protein. Higher carb. but still a good choice.
When looking at Carbohydrates: So let me clarify this, carbs aren’t “bad” … whether your trying to stay low or don’t care too much here is what you ideally look for in a bar when it comes to carbohydrates. Carbs can serve as immediate energy and sustained energy too. If your consuming the bar after your workout (which by the way, you should always have some protein and carbs right after your workout to fuel you muscles- this is called the anabolic window) I would shoot for 30g or less. And if there is more carbs in the bar than protein you might has well have a cereal bar…
Victory Bars (my favs – fudge brownie, cookies and cream, peanut butter)
Upside and when to ideally eat: Whenever. These are along the same line as the quest bars. They do have more of a “protein bar” type of feel to them with them being mostly a solid bar.
Downside: Higher in sugar but still not bad at all.
When looking at Fats: Keep saturated fats at a minimum but it is ideal to have some fats in your bar. The fats are basically going to either make up some calories in he bar or it wont if its a lower fat. But fats aren’t bad either… its usually from nuts in the bar the fats come from.
Kind Bars (my favs- Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond, Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate, Carmel Almond and Sea Salt …. all of them hahha)
Nutritional Layout: These have a wide range between carbs and sugars… they are all kind of different .. but yet all good.
Upside and when to ideally eat: Mornings or mid day. As you see they aren’t really a “protein” bar its more of a carb bar hahha or granola bar if you will. They have tons of flavors and different forms of kind bars now too. There is the Kind Strong, Mojo, Healthy Grains and they even have granola now! So you have lots of choices but like I said they are more of a breakfast bar.
Downside: Sugar is going to be higher in these since the sugar will be a natural form of sugar. I believe they are made with cane sugar but I might be wrong.
When looking at Sugar: This can go either way but .. lower the better. Some bars have natural sugars ( cane, stevia, tapioca syrup, ect) while some bars have sugar alcohols (xylitol, sorbitol ect. ) Now they haven’t shown any evidence saying that sugar alcohols are necessarily bad for you but some people have issues with them so try it out and be your own judge. I personally know if I eat too much sugar alcohols (also found in things that are labeled sugar free or chewing gum) I retain water. . . . With natural sugar try not to have it be too high..
Clif Bars (all if them. Blueberry Crisp, Mint Chocolate Chip, White Macadamia Nut )
Nutritional Layout: ( these range as well – used crunchy peanut butter for example)
Upside and when to ideally eat: Another morning bar!! Love these, these can ideally be used as a meal if you pair it with some protein say a shake or something because of their high calorie content. They have tons of flavors (I love the holiday season because that’s when they come out with pumpkin spice and gingerbread!!! YUM) They are a higher carb bar so it will give you some sustained energy for your day. these are more like a granola bar as well.
Downside: Very high in carbs (which is fine, as long as your not eating these bad boys before bed hahha) and usually higher in sugar.
Everything else: Look at the ingredients, if its a HUGE list of 11000 things your cant even pronounce … don’t buy it. If sugar is like the second ingredient, then just go buy a candy bar instead. Look at the protein, then carbs, then calories and of course the ingredients. =)
Luna bars ( all .. I like the peppermint stick a lot, along with Smores, Chocolate Fudge Brownie)
Upside and when to ideally eat: Morning, mid afternoon bar. By now I hope you can see the difference between breakfast bars and anytime bars. They have tons of fun flavors and even though they say a “woman’s bar” men can eat them too.. its just marketing and they have more vitamin B and folic acid in them.. whoooo what a difference right? hahha
Downside: lower in fats (which depending on your goals isn’t really a downside) and higher in sugar.
LOOOVVVEEE Quest bars they are probably my favorite when it comes to what they actually are. 20g protein low carb and a good amount of fat. That being said I don’t eat them all the time, they are not ment to be eaten as a meal replacement either so try to get your nutrition through actual food, your body will thank you for it!
Also love kind bars, kind bars are more of breakfast bar to me since they are more of a “granola” type of bar.
… I pretty much love all these bars hahha. I didn’t post any of the bad ones =)