My clients are always asking about bars, so I thought it was appropriate to make this my first blog topic! There are so many bars to choose from and A LOT of misleading marketing claims, that make it a bit overwhelming to find a legit snack bar. The claims are endless: gluten free, organic, high protein, added caffeine, vegan, dairy free, low glycemic, soy free, and so on…
Don’t get me wrong; I do think bars can be a good snack choice. They are convenient, portable, relatively affordable (some can get $$$), and can get you from one meal to the next with minimal planning. I keep bars stashed in my purse, car, and desk just in case of an emergency hanger situation. Ideally, I would regularly be making my bars from scratch using the many recipes I have pinned on my Pinterest page , but let’s get real!
The confusion is real folks even for an RD at times! I took a trip to my local Whole Foods to scope out the situation.
Confession: Luna bars were a staple during my college days, along with Lean Pockets and Yoplait Lights. Not going to lie, these bars taste pretty good, but now that I’m older and wiser I have found these bars to be far from real food. Red flag #1 is the laundry list of ingredients; the first ingredient being soy protein isolate (along with 3 other soy ingredients). The amount of soy products in this bar is a little concerning; as well as the 11 grams of sugar (that is almost 1 tablespoon!) I’m not all crazy “anti-soy”, but do feel it should be limited and mostly come from less processed sources such as organic tofu, edamame, and tempeh.
The verdict: OK if you’re in a pinch, but pass on buying these yourself.
Oh goodness…where do I begin?! This bar is very deceiving and whoever did their marketing deserves a raise! On paper this bar looks like a nutrition powerhouse…20 grams of protein, “no artificial sweetener,” “only 2 grams of sugar,” 18 grams of fiber. Err 18?! That is a lot of fiber my friends! Most women and men should aim for a daily intake of 25 and 38 grams respectively. The fiber in this bar comes from Isomalto-Oligosaccharides (IMO), which is what I like to call a “fake fiber.” IMO is basically a syrupy goop that tastes somewhat sweet but is not considered a sugar because it is a long chain molecule. High intakes of IMO can cause gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating, gas, soft stool, and in some cases diarrhea. Be nice to your tummy and get your fiber from fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Oh and that 20 grams of protein is from whey protein isolate and milk protein isolate; neither of which you can make at home or get off a farm. This product also contains Stevia, Lo Han Guo (Chinese equivalent of Stevia and other “natural flavors”.
The verdict: You’re paying almost $3.00 for a nutrition fraud! Did I mention they were sued over mislabeling? Enough said…
There are A LOT of Think Thin bar varieties to choose from…oh my. The name of the bar alone makes me want to toss it in the trash before even trying it! This bar touts itself as a “deliciously natural nutrition” and this alone makes me suspicious! The ingredient list is lengthy and anything but natural nutrition. The protein comes from soy and whey protein isolates (highly processed aka not natural) and is sweetened with sugar alcohols (malitol)…hello tummy troubles! Sugar alcohol can be found in most sugar-free products and taste much sweeter than table sugar. The problem is that sugar alcohols is not completely absorbed in the digestive system and can cause fermentation in the intestines (think gas, bloating, diarrhea…)
The verdict: I think NOT!
Clif bars were essential back in my soccer days! That being said, these bars are made more for endurance athletes who need a big dose of carbohydrates and sugar to power through a 90-minute soccer game, not a 60-minute Bar Method class. The ingredient list is a little lengthy and filled with added unnecessary ingredients.
The verdict: Unless you’re in a bind or hiking Mt. Shasta, you can do better.
This is a no-nonsense, minimal ingredient bar that is made with simple whole foods. Don’t let the 14 grams of fat scare you! If you know me, I praise fat as #brainfood, especially when it is coming from nuts! Alright, so some of the newer kind bars have added some protein using soy protein isolate, so like a I said before just be aware and minimize overall intake.
The verdict: I’m down with most of their bars; especially the original flavors.
Most of these bars have a total of 3-5 ingredients… yes please!! Lara bars are as close to homemade and minimally processed as it gets…doesn’t get much more real than this! My favorite flavors are chocolate chip cookie dough, peanut butter cookie, and cherry pie. You can find these bars at almost any grocery store and they are reasonably priced ($1.49/bar). The verdict: One of the best out there!
This is a great snack option for the times when you’re ranking a 4/10 on the hunger scale and you have dinner plans in an hour. The ingredient label is pretty simple and has a good dose of Omega 3 fatty acids. My only compliant is that there are a few different sources of sugar in the bar (brown rice syrup, agave syrup, and cane sugar) but overall the bar only contains 5 grams of sugar total. The verdict: Buy it! The coconut is my fav!
Honorable mentions include KIT’s Organic, Organic Food Bar, and Vega Snack Bars. These are also great choices!