Snack bars, energy bars, and protein bars—some are wholesome snacks, while others are glorified candy bars. And cutting through the marketing and labels to disginguish what's what can be a challenge.
Start by knowing that the difference between a protein bar and a snack bar is mostly show. "There is no real definitive guideline that classifies one bar from another," explains dietitian and nutritionist Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, LD, founder of Capitol Nutrition Group. "It's more how the company decides to market their bar." However, the three types of bars do differ in terms of the amount of calories, protein, fiber, and carbohydrates, so in order to get to some general guidelines, it's important to look closely.
"In general, snack bars have the least amount of calories and protein, usually containing under 200 calories. Energy bars are more geared to deliver energy—that is, calories—so they'll likely contain more, but they're not necessarily geared towards protein," explains nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH, author of The One One One Diet. "Protein bars are marketed towards building muscle, so they'll likely contain more protein and fewer carbohydrates than energy bars. They're often fortified with whey or soy protein. If it's over 400 calories, it's essentially a meal replacement. Make sure it contains significant amounts of…healthy fats [as well]."
Next, move onto the ingredients label. If you need a chemistry degree to decipher the items on the ingredients list, that's a sign that a bar does not contain wholesome ingredients. Nutritionist Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, author of The New You and Improved Diet says, "If you can't pronounce it, do not consume it!"
Nutritionist Katie Cavuto Boyle, MS, RD, president of Healthy Bites, also warns consumers to look out for lots of added sugars and excessive amounts of protein (30 grams is practically a meal's worth).
We've rounded up some of our favorite bars that suit the bill whether you're between meals, need some workout fuel, or just feel like a snack.
Nature's Path Chunky Chocolate Peanut Bar Nature's Path Chunky Chocolate Peanut Bar is free of all synthetic preservative and additives. Instead, it's full of delicious ingredients like crunchy peanuts and fair-trade dark chocolate. Although it doesn’t have as much protein as some other options, the bar is packed with ancient grains like quinoa and amaranth and made with whole grains and gluten-free oats to make a delicious and healthy snack. These bars are gluten-free, non-GMO, wheat free, and certified organic.
Nutrition:140 calories, 3 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 9 g sugar
Simple Squares Organic Snack Bar Simple Squares Organic Snack Bars are made with five organic, non-GMO ingredients. What you won't find in these bars: Any wheat, gluten, dairy, corn, or soy. Plus, there are no refined sugars. They're also certified paleo.
Nutrition:230 calories, 6 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 10 g sugar
Simply Protein Lemon Coconut Bar Simply Protein's Lemon Coconut Bar is packed with protein and very little sugar and calories. Designed to promote a reduced feeling of hunger by increasing protein and fiber intake, Simply Protein's Lemon Coconut Bar is made with only eight ingredients and is gluten-free, kosher, non-GMO, vegan, and a good source of iron.
Nutrition:140 calories, 15 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 1 g sugar
Zing Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Bar Zing Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Bar is full of high-quality protein, low-burning carbohydrates, healthy fats, and dietary fiber. Coated in organic dark chocolate, this bar is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping you full. These bars are gluten-free, wheat free, non-GMO, and kosher.
Nutrition:220 calories, 10 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 13 g sugar
Kind Oats and Honey With Toasted Coconut Healthy Grains Bar Kind’s Oats and Honey with Toasted Coconut Healthy Grains Bar is packed from a foundation of five super grains and combined with real ingredients like gluten-free oats sweetened with honey and toasted coconut flakes. Nothing shady in the ingredients list, either. The bars are packed only with ingredients that are easy to pronounce, which is #kindawesome.Kind Bars are non-GMO and gluten free.
Nutrition:150 calories, 3 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 7 g sugar
Larabar Dark Chocolate Turtle Bar Larabar offers 19 delicious flavors, each made from just fruits, nuts, and spices. Dedicated to simplicity and minimal processing, the brand has expanded to include eight flavors of Larabar Über, our favorite being the Dark Chocolate Turtle Bar. It's a sweet and salty snack with added crunch that's bursting with flavor.Larabar's Dark Chocolate Turtle Bar is gluten-free, non-GMO, and kosher.
Nutrition:220 calories, 5 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 8 g sugar
If you are the only person using this device,
there’s no need to log out. Just exit this page
and you won’t have to sign in again. But if
you’re on a public or shared computer, log out
to keep your account secure.