The spectrum of snack bars available on the market continues to widen. From dried fruits and nuts to oats and chocolate to cricket protein, there are countless options available. The fact is that many of them could be considered healthy, depending on what you need that snack to fuel. Food scientists know that we’re a society on the go, trying to recover from workouts, and generally looking to avoid the “hangry.”
Snack bars have become a daily go-to for many because they’re so convenient to have anytime, anywhere. But when you’re famished and want to satisfy that hunger right away, it’s harder to rely on your brain to make the “healthiest” choice. Scanning numerous shelves and boxes of bar options while your brain just wants food now doesn’t always result in healthy decisions. Instead, go in with a plan and reach for my top picks below.
Of note: All of the bars below have my dietitian stamp of approval because they use high-quality ingredients without a lot of (or, in some cases, any) added sugars or preservatives.
What's good here: While whey usually holds the top spot for sought-after protein powder, food scientists have gotten creative, and there are now plenty of other options for muscle recovery. Here I've listed proteins to suit any dietary preference: vegan, lactose-intolerant, gluten-free, etc. I also included some bars with a higher "sugar" (dried fruit) content for endurance athletes looking to replace glycogen and protein.
What's good here: Gone are the days of Quaker Chewy bars as the only option! Now we see plenty of granola bar options with a wide variety of flavors and higher-quality ingredients.
What's good here: These do have added sugars, which is why they've landed in this category. So, they're not the "healthiest" options, but they're better than grabbing a Snickers!
What's good here: Look for bars with minimal ingredients listed (for example, LARABAR goes with only dried fruits, nuts, and spices) and few or no added sugars. You can get plenty of natural fiber from these dried fruit–based bars.
In general, when you’re shopping for a snack bar to satisfy any particular need, always look at the ingredient list to see what’s really in there! Be mindful of additives if you have any food allergies or sensitivities (e.g. soy, dairy, nuts, peanuts, etc.) and choose what’s best for you.
Are you a fan of any of these bars?