By blog team member, Kiran. To learn more about Kiran, check out our team page!
Walk through any grocery store and you’ll notice the increasing amount of shelf space committed to snack bars. They’ve even invaded places like gas stations and have a decent retail presentation in stores such as Target and Walmart.
No one can argue that snack bars are not convenient. They are the perfect size for tossing into your purse, throwing into a lunch box, or taking with you when traveling. But if you buy those bars and pat yourself on the back for selecting a “smart snack” that’s nutrient dense, you may be confused like so many others. Because let’s face it, breaking down all the different bars can be just that – confusing. Laundry lists of ingredients that are hard to pronounce may make you falter, but when combined with a food label that shows lots of vitamins and minerals, it makes you second guess things. They’re healthy, right? Not so fast.
Pros and Cons of Popular Snack Bars
- LÄRABARs have long been a favorite bar of ours. They contain minimal ingredients and no added sugars. They are readily available in many stores and are the perfect pick-me-up for adults and kids alike, offering sound, real nutrition.
- Quest Bars have been touted as the #1 bar for athletes and others, and with claims of packing 20 grams of protein and 17 grams of fiber into a super sweet bar, I can see how they try to make that claim! But look a little closer at the ingredient list, and you’ll see very little that resembles anything found in your kitchen.
- Raw Crunch Bars are made by a couple based in our beloved hometown of Charlotte, NC. The bars offer a tasty blend of seeds and nuts with just a touch of honey to bind the bar together. Growing in popularity, you can now find them easily at many health food stores.
- Clif Bars were forever the choice of sustained nutrition for outdoor enthusiasts, but a closer look at their ingredient list may have you less enthusiastic. Beginning with organic brown rice syrup (aka refined sugar!), the list, unfortunately, goes downhill from there.
- Created by Clif’s co-CEO, Kit’s Organic Bars are the world’s “better than their brother” bar (i.e., Clif) and are a far superior choice in my opinion. All ingredients are also organic – bonus!
- Recently slammed by the FDA, Kind Bars give the appearance of being a better bar, boasting nuts and dried fruit, but don’t be fooled. The addition of other additives makes it a no-go in our book.
Snack Bar Comparison Chart
|LÄRABAR||Quest Bar||Raw Crunch||Clif Bar||Kit’s Organic||Kind|
|Cost Per Bar (prices will vary)||$0.92||$2.39||$2.50||$0.99+||$2.08+||$1.19+|
|# of Ingredients||2 – 9||8||10||17*||No more than 8||13+|
|Added Sugar?||No||Yes (sucralose)||Yes (honey)||Yes (brown rice syrup, cane sugar)||No||Yes (glucose, apple juice)|
|What We Like||Minimal, non-processed ingredients||Not much unfortunately||Handmade in small batches, organic, non-processed ingredients||Contains rolled oats, walnuts, & bananas*||Minimal, organic ingredients||Contains dried fruits and nuts|
|What We Don’t Like||Nada!||Added protein & fiber, non-nutritive sweetener||Nada!||Too many processed ingredients, added protein & fiber, natural flavors, refined sugar||Nada!||Added fiber, soy lecithin, vegetable glycerine, refined sugar|
|Extra Info||Gluten, Dairy & Soy Free, non-GMO||N/A||Raw (contains living enzymes), paleo||N/A||N/A||N/A|
*We looked at the Banana Nut Bread Bar
Ingredients to look for when seeking a healthy bar:
- Whole grains
- Dried fruits (without added refined sugar)
Put down that bar if it contains these ingredients:
- Refined sugars – Including (but not be limited to) sugar, cane sugar, cane juice, brown sugar, barley malt, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin, agave, and more. Basically anything that includes the word “malt,” “syrup,” or ends in an “-ose.” We give a nod to those products with naturally occurring sugars from dried fruit or more natural added sugars used in moderation (such as honey and maple syrup).
- Highly processed additives you would not cook with in your own kitchen.
- Added protein, fiber, or caffeine.
What’s your favorite real food snack bar? Or, if you can’t make up your mind, you could always make your own! :)