Do you eat protein bars? They can get addicting. Stash a bar at your desk, slip one into your purse, or have one handy in your gym bag for after your workout. Sometimes protein bars can be filled with filled with sugar and regret, while other times they are good in a pinch. But how to make sure your choice isn’t any better than that homemade chocolate chip cookie (cookies, let’s be real) you are craving?
How We Analyzed the Protein Bars
We looked a variety of nutrition and protein bars, channeling moms on the go that are trying to eat healthfully, maintain weight and avoid chemical additives. We looked for lasting options to bring sustained energy, sugar and sweeteners, the source of the protein, GMOs and hidden chemicals.
And chocolate- we looked at all the chocolate ones, because you deserve a little chocolate.
You know what we found – a large variety of choices based on YOUR priorities. We know in this market there’s a flavor for everyone, so use this list as a tool, but read the labels to see what else might be sneaking in from flavor to flavor to avoid.
What You Want to Look For in a Protein Bar
You want lasting energy and a full feeling? Look for low-glycemic carbs in the ingredients list such as whole grains, seeds, nuts and nut butters. They also give fiber, protein and fat. Whole food and superfood adds nutrition and benefits like omegas from chia seeds, fish oil, and antioxidants from dried fruit and berries. Protein from whey protein and isolate are better choices for anyone who is not vegan – but if you’re aiming for soy, make sure it’s non-GMO. And of course let it be just a little sweet – look for sweeteners like rice syrup, agave, honey and dates for sweeteners to help keep it naturally low glycemic.
What Ingredients to Avoid in a Protein Bar
Some of the nutrition bars list a combination of sugars for their special “energy blends” like sucralose, dextrose, corn syrup…but that just means a quick jolt then a hard crash. You want to avoid sugars and sugars labeled as corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose, xylitol… even though some are low on the glycemic index. Because added together they are producing most of the carbs you are consuming, producing a short energy burst. Manufacturers also put them under several names to hide them, so always look at the grams per serving – and remember adult women should be aiming for 24 grams .
Includes artificial and ‘natural’ flavors, energy blends and carbohydrates created from sugar products, non-GMO soy, and poor ratios of protein to carbohydrates.
Fit & Active (Aldi)
Oh Yeah!/ Oh Yeah! One
These guys aren’t too bad. They have organic ingredients but a lot of sugar, or maybe a great ratio of protein to complex carbs but have possibly GMO ingredients. So these are still decent options – just look at the back t make sure they are fulfilling your priorities.
Lenny & Larry’s
Exo (shellfish allergy- use with caution)
Fit Joy Nutrition
The cream of the nutrition bar crop includes whole nuts, chia seeds, organic ingredients, and add a touch of sweetness with dried fruit, agave or brown rice syrup. They have good protein to carbohydrates ratios and use whole foods for fiber to keep you full.
Vega Snack Bar
Two Moms In The Raw
Julian Bakery’s Paleo Protein
This Bar Saves Lives
No Cow Bar
Which of these protein bars are you favorites? Were you surprised with how they ranked? Let us know in the comments OR if you wanted us to check anything else out.
And for more investigations like this pick up a copy of Green Enough: Eat Better, Live Cleaner, Be Happier (All Without Driving Your Family Crazy!) on Amazon today!
header photo credit: On The Way