Sometimes we just don’t have time to make or sit down for a full meal. In those moments, protein bars are a lifesaver, which is why always have a few on hand for when I’m in a rush. But not all protein bars are created equal – some are packed with sugar and other ingredients that can do more damage than good. That’s why I asked a few health experts for their recommendations.
First, it’s important to note that a protein bar isn’t a replacement for a full meal. Instead, they’re more of a snack or a small meal replacement. And even at that, there are still better snacks you should choose first.
“I still recommend whole foods first, like a banana and a handful of almonds, or an apple with some all-natural peanut butter,” says Los Angeles dietician Kim Denkhaus. “However, energy bars are an easy non-perishable convenient snack that can provide a good source of nourishment!”
BUT if a protein bar works best for you, it’s important to choose wisely. The main thing you should look for is a protein bar’s sugar content — from added sugar (cane sugar, brown rice syrup, agave, molasses, etc) to naturally occurring sugar from fruits. You want to aim for five grams of sugar or less per serving, says Denkhaus. (Note: It’s recommended that women should have no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day and men no more than 38 grams.)
With that, here are the healthiest protein bars that our favorite fitness and wellness experts recommend:
Christine Bullock, Fitness Expert
Bullock recommends Square Organics Squarebars. “They are free of common allergen foods like soy, gluten, dairy, and processed sugars. They are an optimal mix of healthy fats, protein and antioxidants for complete health.”
Kelly LeVeque, Holistic Nutritionist
LeVeque recommends Papa Steve’s No Junk Raw Protein Bars. You can find them at Whole Foods in the raw cold department or purchase them online. They contain all natural, real ingredients and NO junk.
Kim Denkhaus, Dietician
Denkhaus recommends Paleta Power Up Bars. The Crispy Sunflower bar has about five grams of sugar and eight grams of protein. You can use the core “KIMSHEALTHYLIFE20” to get 20 percent off your purchase.
One way to truly have control of the ingredients and sugar content of your protein bars is to make them yourself. Here’s a healthy recipe to try.