Alright, my friends. The time has come to share some healthier packaged snack bars. I often get asked what my go-to packaged protein bars are or what ingredients I look for when going for store-bought versus homemade. So I rounded up allll the goods. I explored some new ones that I thought I’d try for you, as well as included my tried and trues.
The variety of healthier packaged snack bars available now compared to only a few years ago seems to have at least quadrupled. So many brands out there offering bars that are made with real ingredients AND they actually taste good? HOLLA.
However it wasn’t too long ago I was all about homemade protein and snack bars. But that was also during a time in my life where I was obsessive about ingredients in packaged food. I wanted to be in control of everything I put in my body which meant a lot of packaged bars were off limits.
Obviously my approach to food now is much different. I’m no longer worried about every single ingredient and have a much more balanced approach when it comes to what I eat. And like I said, there is quite a variety of awesome packaged healthier snack bars out there these days.
What I look for in packaged snack bars
Mainly I’m looking for three things when I go to purchase packaged snack bars:
Balance of macronutrients
Personally I like to have *somewhat* of a balance of protein, carbs and fats in bars. I say “somewhat” because not all of the bars I am going to share have what most would consider an equal balance. But overall I like a packaged bar to have a good amount of healthy fats and carbs and at least 5 grams of protein to actually help sustain me. Which leads me too…
When opting to eat a packaged snack bar I typically choose ones that I can have as a hearty snack on it’s own. I don’t ever look at packaged bars as a meal replacement, but depending on the bar and how hungry I feel that day (intuitive eating) sometimes a bar will often hold me over for 3-4 hours – especially if I’ve chosen a bar higher in fat. Again, that isn’t every day and I’m not saying any of these bars are used to replace real meals.
ingredients I recognize
Looking at the nutrition label has become second nature for me when grocery shopping. While I am no longer obsessive about it and don’t swear off too many particular ingredients, I still like to know what is in the bars I am buying. Packaged protein and snack bars can be packed with loads of ingredients – some are necessary while others are fillers. I love when packaged bars keep their ingredients list to a minimum but that doesn’t mean long labels are bad. i.e. RXBAR versus Perfect Bar.
I look for ingredients I recognize but don’t say it’s off limits if I see something new (to me) or it’s a word I can’t pronounce. If there is an ingredient I spot that is unfamiliar, I’ll usually do a little bit of research to see what the ingredient is before making my decision. Again, this behavior for me isn’t obsessive I just like to educate myself on ingredients and what their purpose is in a packaged bar.
Disclaimer: I’ve shared example nutrition labels for some of the bars for comparison purposes. I personally do not put too much weight on the label because the ingredients in the bars are mainly whole-food based.
My Absolute Favorites
Perfect Bar falls into my top favorites because I can’t get enough of the taste and texture of these bars. Most flavors have a soft cookie dough texture but in bar form (once they get to room temperature). And they’re a bar loaded with so many good things – i.e. 20+ organic super foods.
Nutrition label from Peanut Butter flavor – Calories: 330 Fat: 18g Carbs: 26g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 18g Protein: 17g
- dairy-free options
Side note: you’ll find these in the refrigerated section!
Go Macro “High Protein” bars are another favorite because they actually keep me full. The texture is chewy and they have loads of flavor combinations. My personal favorites are their Blueberry + Cashew Butter and Mocha Chocolate Chip.
Nutrition label from Blueberry + Cashew Butter – Calories: 270 Fat: 10 Carbs: 36g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 11g Protein: 10g
RXBAR I like because they’re nice and simple with a small list of ingredients – and “No B.S.” 🙂 These bars are super chewy as well, and may take some getting used to but I’ve come to love them. They have loads of flavors. Some of my personal favorites are the coffee chocolate, chocolate sea salt and the mixed berry tastes like an adult “fruit rollup” 😀
Nutrition Label from Chocolate Sea Salt – Calories: 210 Fat: 10g Carbs: 22g Fiber: 5g Sugar:12g Protein: 12g
- whole30 friendly (not all flavors)
More Awesome Options
Oatmega is a whey-based protein bar that is another one I’ll stock up on for road trips and travel. They have these little crisp pieces in them that give a nice little crunch to them. Also low in sugar and packed with omega-3s.
Nutrition label from Vanilla Almond: Calories: 200 Fat: 7g Carbs: 22g Fiber: 7g Sugar: 5g Protein: 14g
Larabar is a classic that I can never say no to. Their bars are made with just a few simple ingredients – usually just dates, nuts and fruits (or veggies) of some sort. They are soft and oh-so-delicious. Plus they have loads of flavors to choose from.
Nutrition label from Carrot Cake – Calories: 190 Fat: 8g Carbs: 26g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 19g Protein: 3g
- whole30 friendly (not all flavors)
Raw Rev Organic is newer to me but after spotting them in the bar aisle and checking out the nutrition label I thought I’d give them a try. And they were really good! They are date and nut-based which reminds me of larabar but these bars have some additional ingredients in them like sunflower seed kernels and sprouted flaxseed.
Nutrition label from Golden Cashew – Calories: 260 Fat: 18g Carbs: 22g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 11g Protein: 7g
The Gluten Free Bar (GFB)
The GFB is another balanced option and great for travel. Made with ingredients like oats, nuts, plant based protein, brown rice crisps and more natural ingredients.
Nutrition label from Coconut Cashew Crunch – Calories: 250 Fat: 11g Carbs: 28g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 12g Protein: 11g
Other contenders that may be peak your interest
Natural Delights – Another classic date-nut energy bar made with minimal ingredients. Some of the bars have added plant protein.
Simple Square – These are a great chewy kind of nut-based bar with simple ingredients. All organic, paleo-friendly and sweetened with honey. I just wish they had more flavors!
Kuli Kuli – A new-to-me bar that I spotted and thought it was worth trying. While I liked the flavors of these bars it may not be for everyone’s taste buds – it’s a little “green” tasting. But I like the little superfood boost and the ingredients are kept to a minimum with nuts, fruit, moringa, tapioca syrup and sunflower oil. They’re a little higher in sugar compared to most of the bars and they have the added tapioca syrup. But overall I did like these.
Health Warrior – A great option if you like chia seeds and are looking for something simple.
Rise – A fairly simple bar with some nut-free and plant-based options. I tried both their whey and plant-based bars. It was my first time trying them and while they weren’t my favorite texture, the ingredients list and balanced nutrition label were spot on. I would try them again though! Sometimes it takes a couple tries to get into bars.
Pure Organic – Another date and nut based bar but I thought worth including because they are quite tasty!
Grow Protein Bars (Go Raw) – made with sprouted watermelon seeds, dates and other simple ingredients. These are nut-free.