Protein bars to the rescue! Sometimes life just calls for an easy, filling, nutrient dense option. I love a snack that’s shelf stable and will keep well, for those times when hunger strikes and you don’t have other prepared food.
Patients ask me all the time about meal replacement bars, trying to figure out a good option for those unpredicted (or predicted) times when you just need something quick and satiating. I have been on the hunt for a descent store bought bar, but it’s darn hard to fill all my requirements! Usually, bars are disguised as being “healthful,” when they are more similar to a dressed up candy bar. Marketers would have you believe that their protein or nutrition bar is both “healthy” and tasty, of course. A win-win for their bottom line. To help cut through the marketing hype, I’ve listed a few key features I look for in a bar:
- Protein (at least 10 grams), but not from soy
- Adequate calories so you feel like you have eaten something
- Minimal sugar (even if it’s from dried fruit or honey)
- N0 artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, additives, trans fats, industrial seed oils, etc
- Taste- duh
- Availability. I looked for as many as I could find in a store, verses having to order online
Here are a few brands I’ve found the meet most, if not all the features above:
1. RX Bars:
- Pros: Available in most grocery stores, Target, Walmart and some convenience stores. Short ingredients list with whole food ingredients. Protein source is from egg white powder. They come is many flavors and I suggest you keep trying if you don’t like the taste. Target (Good and Gather brand) makes a knock off version that’s also good.
- Cons: Sticky texture. the texture is the same for all flavors I’ve tried. The Good and Gather brand is less sticky.
2. Rise Protein Bars:
- Pros: Nice texture and easy to eat (not messy at hot or warm temps). Ingredients list is nice and short. Uses Whey protein or pea protein for the vegan version, which is also very good. I liked the almond honey and carob flavors. Provides 20g protein (whey based ones)
- Cons: More sugar (from honey) than I would ideally like
3. No Cow Bars:
- Pros: Nice texture and easy to eat (not messy at hot or warm temps). 21 grams of pea and rice based protein
- Cons: I try to avoid using many rice based products, because of heavy metal contamination concerns. Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend using rice protein as a main protein source, daily. The sugar alcohol (xylitol) is safe, but can cause GI upset in some people.
4. Chomps Sticks
- Pros: 10 grams of protein from sustainably farmed, high quality meats. Many flavors and types available. I usually get the turkey. Available at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods
- Cons: Very low in calories, so in some cases wouldn’t be sufficient on it’s own
Do you have a bar that you really like, that meets these criteria? I would love to hear about it! Please share in the comments below!