The Rundown: What To Avoid In Nutrition And Food Bars
#1. Highly Processed, Artificial Ingredients and Fillers
Just because it claims to be natural or has a picture of fruit, nuts or a mountain climber on it doesnt mean that its healthy. A lot of food bars contain highly processed ingredients that are difficult to digest and can even be toxic to the body. For example, Balance bars contain an artificial flavor-enhancer, calcium caseinate, which is known to cause migraines and cognitive issues.
In addition to the processing and artificial ingredients, some bars even have added vitamins and minerals. So why is adding vitamins and minerals NOT the healthy choice? The forms of vitamins and minerals that are added into bars are synthetic and therefore difficult to absorb. In some cases synthetic forms of vitamins can even be toxic, acting as a pro-oxidant, damaging your very cells. Now, this is not what we want from a snack best to get the vitamins and minerals from whole foods.
Finally, I dare you to find more than 3 ingredients in each of these bars that resembles something that you could pick off a tree, pull out of the ground, or forage. Ya, I thought so. Do you not think its an issue that their ingredients are composed of things that can only be synthesized in a lab?
#2. Sugar, Sugar, and more Sugar
#3. High Calories Meal Replacement, not Snack
#3. Hexane Extracted Soy
Best For Women: Health Warrior Organic Pumpkin Seed Bars
“Pumpkin seeds are a great source of plant-based protein, essential fatty acids, and minerals like zinc, iron, and magnesium,” says King. And these nutrients are particularly important for women’s health. “Zinc plays a crucial role in hormone balance. It has anti-inflammatory properties that help ease period pain, it helps to balance excess androgen levels that are often seen in PCOS, it helps to clear the skin, plays a vital role in thyroid hormone synthesis, and helps ease the stress response. Magnesium plays a role in regulating blood sugar and insulin levels, in the production of hormones, supports the thyroid, and calms your nervous system to help ease the stress response.” Plus, as women are more prone to osteoporosis, adding magnesium-rich pumpkin seeds to your diet will help the formation and maintenance of healthy bones.
What Makes A Protein Bar Healthy
If you’re looking to further your better-body goals, you may consider eating high protein bars. While it might sound beneficial, unfortunately, most of the protein bars in the market are loaded with sugar alcohols or saturated fat and lack fiber.
Registered dietitian Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, and owner of Toby Amidor Nutrition tells Eat This, Not That! that they key in selecting a clean and healthy protein bar is to “look for a nice balance of healthy fat, protein, and fiber to help keep you satisfied. Choose a protein bar with between 200 to 400 calories and up to 20 grams of protein per serving.”
It’s not just macronutrients that matter when it comes to determining the best protein bar. Rachel Fine, MS, RD, CSSD, CDN, of To The Pointe Nutrition says ingredients are equally important. “Look at the ingredient list and identify transparent foods like nuts, whole grains, and fruit.”
Angie Asche, MS, RD, CSSD owner of Eleat Sports Nutrition adds that she looks for good sources of protein, “like whey protein isolate, pea protein, brown rice protein, and eggs.”
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Are Luna Bars Good For Weight Loss
Many people wonder if Luna Bars are good for weight loss.
To lose weight, all you need to do is burn more calories than you consume. So technically, you could eat Luna Bars and lose weight.
However, since there is a lot of added sugar in Luna Bars, theyre not a great choice for losing weight. When losing weight, its best to consume nutrient-rich foods.
Foods high in added sugars are often referred to as empty calories since they offer no nutritional value for the amount of calories that you consume.
Additionally, since Luna Bars are small, they may not be filling for all women. When losing weight, its best to eat foods that dont leave you hungry.
For example, a 140-gram chicken breast has around 230 calories and 26 grams of protein. A typical Luna Bar is just under 200 calories and has around 9 grams of protein. If you are keeping track of your caloric intake, you get way more out of a chicken breast than you do a Luna Bar.
Healthiest Larabar Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
220 calories6 grams protein3 grams fiber
By looking at the sugar content, you may think that one of the ingredients is pure sugar. This bar only has four ingredients : dates, peanuts, chocolate chips, and sea salt. Most of the sugar from this bar is from the dates, which contain 4.5 grams of sugar each. In a study by the Nutrition Journal, researchers found that dates happen to be a low-glycemic index food, meaning that they did not raise the test subjects blood sugar levels after they ate them. Larabars come in many different flavors so if you are trying to watch your sugar intake , you can try the blueberry muffin Larabar, which only contains 17 grams of sugar and 190 calories. Keeping the calories between 150 and 250 for a snack and consuming your sugar from natural sources is a good way to give into your sweet tooth without overindulging.
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Best For Fiber: Exo Bar Chocolate Fudge Brownie
It might remind you of Fear Factor, but eating insects is the next big thing. And did we mention that they pack a nutritional wallop? In terms of high-protein snacks, crickets have about as much protein as chicken breast but with three times the calcium. And in this bar, they provide a big chunk of the protein in this bar.
The Nutritional Criteria For The Best Protein Bars
Not just any protein bar landed a spot on our list of best protein bars. We compiled a list of over 100 protein bars so we could compare their nutrition and ingredient information. With the help of dietitians, we came up with specifical nutritional and ingredient criteria we had to follow to select the best protein bars:
- 8 grams protein minimum: To qualify as a “protein bar,” each bar had to have no less than 8 grams of protein. Hillary Cecere, RDN of Eat Clean Bro, a meal delivery service, recommends aiming for 15-20 grams of protein if you’re looking to gain muscle and 7-12 grams of protein for a satiating snack.
- 13 grams sugar maximum: The best protein bars have no more than 13 grams of sugar.
- 3 grams fiber minimum: When it comes to fiber, Fine recommends opting for a protein bar with 3 or more grams per bar or serving. “However, caution with those boasting more than 10 grams of fiber as these are likely loaded with isolated fibers that can cause stomach discomfort,” says Fine.
What Users Are Saying
Hands down BUY THEM. Seriously BUY THEM. They are low in sugar, flavorful, & have prebiotics. Did I mention to BUY them. I eat one for a midday snack or sometimes its my breakfast with yogurt. Sometimes I sneak in two every day because they are that good! I literally have to contain myself. I am so happy I found them & gave them a shot because I had been eating other ones that were way to high in sugar & were killing my diet game then these pups came along & gave me back what I was missing. Go BUY THEM. Even better that they put them on subscribe & save now because I was literally ordering 3 times a week OR going in Target like 4 days a week buying multiple boxes praying they were on sale so this is an absolute lifesaver.
Protein Puck Bar Dark Chocolate Almond
Whats cooler than a protein shaped like a puck? Nothing!
Each nutrition-packed puck has quality sources of almond butter, agave , flax, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds, dark chocolate, and gluten-free oats.
Dark chocolate contains cocoa which is rich in plant chemicals called flavanols. The flavanols show potential for improving heart health, nitric oxide, and insulin sensitivity.
Try this tasty protein puck and satisfy your protein needs.
Nutrition facts: 230 calories, 6g of protein, 20g of carbs, 14g of fat, 0mg of cholesterol, 4g of fiber, and 9g of natural sugar.
Protein Puck Bar
Protein Puck Bar is certified gluten-free, vegan, protein pack bar. It’s loaded with fiber, iron, and vitamins. It’s free of GMO, dairy, cholesterol and trans-fat.
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The Best Indulgent Protein Bar For Teens
One of the most important things you can do for your teens is to make sure that they get enough protein each day. This is because not only is protein good for adults but it is also vital for teens to grow and be strong and healthy.1 There are a lot of things that teens need to have when it comes to nutrition and one of those is protein. It can come in many different forms, such as shakes, protein bars, or whey powder. No matter which one you choose, protein is something that everyone needs, and teens should be getting at least a gram a day.
For teens to get the best benefit from protein, it should be in its highest concentration possible. That way, it will work the best and can give them the best results possible. Many experts believe that the importance of protein is very important because without protein, teens can become thin and brittle and without protein, they can also suffer from serious illnesses. So it is very important to provide them with a nutritious diet.
Best Overall: Rxbar Chocolate Sea Salt
If you want to feel like you’re eating a decadent salted brownie while meeting all your protein needs, you’ve met your match with an RXBAR. Dubbed a favorite by many of the experts we spoke to, Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, an NYC-based Registered Dietitian, particularly likes the simplicity of ingredients: “RXBAR does a nice job of making bars out of recognizable ingredients. They are very straightforward on their packaging and tell you that each bar contains dates, nuts, egg whites, and flavors. My personal favorite is the Chocolate Sea Salt, and I find that the 12 grams of protein really keeps me full.”
What Is Luna Bar
Theyve been around since 1999 and can be bought on their official website, through online retailers, or in local grocery stores. Youll find some natural ingredients and vitamins in the bars, which is great. However, some ingredients can cause some concern.
Does Luna Bar work?
- Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness Whey protein supplementation did not differentially influence performance, cardiorespiratory fitness, upper and lower body strength, immune or hormonal adaptations following 6 weeks of concurrent training.
- Nutrients Resistance-trained individuals may benefit from protein supplementation after an evening bout of resistance exercise as well as the following morning to attenuate overnight fasted-state protein losses and enhance exercise performance recovery.
- International Journal of Toxicology Soybeans are rich in such factors thought to help prevent certain chronic diseases.
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Not The Worst Definitely Not The Best
The next couple are better than the chosen worst, but I would not recommend them either. They still contain ingredients such as soy, caseinate, natural flavors and unhealthy fats that I believe are harmful to your health, and are not suitable for a nutritious snack. So please only eat the ones in the GOOD section, capish?
No Artificial Sweeteners And No Sugar Alcohols
On top of everything, you must double-check and make sure that the best breakfast protein bar you consume shouldnt contain artificial sweeteners. These artificial sweeteners are in a position to add lots of sugar and calories into the body.
Hence, you will be kept away from achieving the results that you wanted to receive. On the other hand, you need to ensure that the rise protein bars you consume dont contain any sugar alcohols as well. It should only offer protein in its purest form to you and provide you with the chance to experience the benefits that come along with them.
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Is Luna Bar A Meal Replacement
Bonus: Luna Bars may be geared toward women, but theyre a great option for men, too! Good for: This is truly a meal replacement or recovery bar , Alspaugh says. With 375 to 400 calories, 40 to 45 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, and 12 grams of protein, Pro Bars are ideal for endurance athletes.
What Makes A Healthy Protein Bar
There are many different areas I looked at while looking into protein bars. After evaluating over 40 different brands, I found there were a few things that made a bar worthy of my approval. Here are some of the factors I considered:
Protein Content. Protein tends to be the hardest macronutrient for us to get in our diet because it requires preparation. For that reason I included bars that had a minimum of 12g of protein or more.
Ingredient Quality. This meant that the bar wasnt just a load of fillers but also had some nutrient dense foods like nuts, seeds, whey protein, etc. I tried to avoid bars with any artificial sugar or ingredients.
Added Sugar. This one is a bit tricky as sugar can be a really easy way for athletes to fuel their workout and isnt always a bad thing. For this, I tried to be mindful of overall health and not just the athlete in mind so we are looking at bars with 15g or less. I also did not intentionally exclude any bars that contained sugar alcohols but just know some people cannot tolerate these well as they may lead to digestive distress.
Taste & Available Flavors. Just because something is healthy doesnt mean it tastes good and vice versa. I narrowed down the bars that had decent nutrition content but then ALSO tasted good. Remember taste is relative so you may need to dig into a few options to figure out which ones taste best to you.
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Can Luna Bars Be A Meal Replacement
Technically, yes. But if youre hoping to feel full and consume more nutrients, Luna Bars may not be a suitable meal replacement.
You should aim to consume as many different nutrients per day as possible. A meal of lean protein and leafy greens consists of more nutrients than a Luna Bar.
If youre simply looking to fill up and arent as concerned about rounding out your diet, Luna Bars can technically replace a meal.
Raw Organic Food Bars
Ingredients: Organic Cashew Butter, Organic Dates, Organic Tapioca, Organic Protein Blend , Organic Dark Chocolate Chips Non-Dairy , Organic Bio Sprouts Quinoa, Organic Bio SproutsTM
* These bars have a bit more sugar, so you may even consider their kids line that offers flavors such as apple cinnamon and cherry pie that have less calories and sugar.
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Are Protein Bars Really Just Candy Bars In Disguise
- By Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
I was traveling by air recently and eating my usual lunch on the goa protein bar and an apple. Across the aisle, I noticed another passenger eating a candy bar. It made me think about recent studies documenting the deplorable state of the average American diet, and the rising rates of obesity.
Yet, at first glance, the snack he was enjoying and my quick lunch seemed similar. We were both eating a rectangular bar coated with chocolate icing. I wondered: is my protein bar really a healthier option or is it a lot more like a candy bar than Id care to admit?
So, I carefully compared the nutritional contents of a Snickers Bar, a Luna Bar and, for good measure, a Nature Valley Oats n Honey granola bar. Heres what I found.