My top five favorite healthy snack bars coming at you today!
What a simple idea for a post, right? Well, sometimes simple can be the most helpful. That’s why, today, I’m going to share with you my top five favorite packaged, yet healthy, snack bars, and why I like each. I bought all of these bars with my own money, by the way. Nothing gifted, nothing sponsored. I pick these out at the grocery store because I like them.
Let’s first talk about bars in general …
When snack bars first came out, people were all over them. Then, we started to realize that the original packaged snack bars weren’t all that much more nutritious than a candy bar. And when you ate one, you were often just hungry for another because of all the artificial additives included to make the bars shelf stable.
But I have some good news. These days, there are plenty of very healthy, yet tasty and nutritious bars on the market and in most grocery stores.
I’m not exactly a bar addict, and I don’t have one every single day, but probably about four a week, which I think is a very reasonable number. Of course, it’s always better to rely on whole, unprocessed foods for the majority of your meals, snacks and caloric intake. But, if you choose healthy bars, there’s nothing wrong with adding them into your routine regularly.
In fact, now that I’m about 75 percent done with my Precision Nutrition course, I can say with even more confidence and background knowledge that making “better choices” far beats trying to make “perfect choices.” And almost always, grabbing a packaged snack bar with good ingredients is a better option than a candy bar, than fast food French fries, or than letting yourself get so hungry you are angry and/or shaky.
My top five favorite healthy snack bars
And these are listed in the order of how often I eat them and buy them …
#1 The cleanest bar with the least ingredients (as well as the most cost-effective bar): Larabar, cashew cookie flavor
This is not a surprise, because you’ve seen me talk about Larabars for forever. Why do I love them? They are made from nothing but real fruit. And the cashew cookie flavor is one of the most simple versions, yet has the best cashew taste.
Dave, Brady and I are all over these cashew cookie Larabars. The only downside is that these aren’t organic, but there are only two ingredients: dates and cashews.
I buy them at Target by the box, where I can get them for about $1 each. These have been a staple in my diet for years and years. There are several good flavors, but cashew cookie is hands down the best and most simple.
What you should know: 220 calories, 5 grams of protein, gluten free, non-GMO, soy free, dairy free, vegan, but not organic.
#2 The tastiest bar with the most added vitamins and minerals (also the most filling of all the bars): Perfect Bar, peanut butter flavor
This one is SO SO good, but oftentimes a little pricey. While the Perfect Bar often retails for $3, I load up when I find them on sale, or when I’m at Trader Joe’s, where Perfect Bar is sold for $1.99 (that’s the best you’ll find). And the best flavor, in my opinion, is peanut butter.
Here’s what is different about Perfect Bar, which lets you know it has good ingredients — it’s in the refrigerated section, and you keep them in the fridge (although you can take them on the go for about a week, and they won’t go bad). And Perfect Bar has a bunch of added superfoods in it, to make it extra nutritious (with all sorts of additional vitamins and minerals), featuring things like spinach, kelp, dulse, alfalfa, flax seed, etc. That means the ingredients label is long, but everything is a real food item.
The best way to eat a Perfect Bar is after you’ve let it sit out of the fridge about 15 minutes, so it softens up a bit. This snack is on the heartier side, and I usually eat it before teaching a noon BODYPUMP class, knowing I’ll have a later lunch that day.
It’s a lot of calories, which can add up if you’re tracking that sort of thing, so keep that in mind when snacking.
What you should know: 330 calories, 17 grams of protein, gluten-free, organic, low glycemic index, but also contains milk and eggs.
#3 The best raw food vegan chewy bar (which is also organic): GoMacro bar, coconut, almond butter and chocolate chip flavor
I love the brand GoMacro, because it is all about spreading positivity with good food. Not only are all the names of the bars cute things like “everlasting joy,” but a portion of the proceeds from your bar purchase go toward feeding the homeless.
This bar is completely organic, raw, vegan, as well as low FODMAP (which is important for a small population of people with sensitive gut/digestive systems). The ingredients are all easy to pronounce and identify, which is a good thing.
I don’t buy these all that often, once again, because the bars are usually close to $3 when sold alone, but if there’s ever a sale, I grab a few. I like most of the flavors, to be honest, but choose the coconut, almond butter and chocolate chip flavor as a top choice.
There’s a decent amount of sugar in this bar, but there’s also 11 grams of protein, which is great for a vegan option. I’m a fan.
What you should know: 280 calories, 11 grams of protein, gluten free, vegan, raw, soy free, dairy free, non-GMO, and part of the proceeds of buying this bar go to charity.
#4 The most “dessert like” bar (that’s very hearty): Munk Pack cookie, coconut white chip macadamia flavor
This isn’t a bar, I guess, but it’s almost a bar. I love these Munk Pack cookies, and whenever they are on sale at Sprouts, I grab a bunch. And the coconut white chip macadamia is my favorite, for sure.
I wouldn’t say the ingredients are super clean, because there are a few that are hard to pronounce, but they aren’t too awful, and there are a lot of benefits to the Munk Pack cookie too.
First of all, it’s absolutely delicious. Second of all, it’s hearty. And the list of things not included is long. It’s hard to find a dairy-free option with a lot of protein, and this one nails it with plant protein.
I like the name and get excited to eat these, so they had to be on the list. Once again, I wouldn’t eat these every single day, but when you need a more filling snack that pleases the tastebuds, this is a good option.
What you should know: 360 calories, 18 grams of protein, gluten free, non-GMO, no sugar alcohols, soy free, no eggs, dairy free, no trans fat, no high fructose corn syrup and no artificial preservatives.
#5 The best “low-carb” macro-friendly bar (which is also very easy to find): Quest bar, oatmeal chocolate chip flavor
Who doesn’t love an oatmeal chocolate chip anything? Now this is a bar that I don’t eat all that often, but I sure do enjoy when I have one. The best way to eat a Quest is to put it in the microwave for like five seconds for a tiny bit of a nuke. (Not in the wrapper, obviously, but on a paper towel or something.)
Quest bars are not the cleanest in the land, but they work well for those in the macro-counting world, because they are pretty low carb, while still having a great taste, texture and protein content. If you’re into more “whole foods,” then I’d go with Larabar or Perfect Bar, but if you’re working on tracking your protein/carbs/fat intake daily and want something balanced in that, then Quest could be for you.
I wouldn’t choose this as my everyday snack, because of the additives. But if you look at protein bars as a whole, Quest is definitely not too shabby, and the oatmeal chocolate chip flavor is on point. There is whey protein and milk in these bars, so they are not dairy free, nor are they full of superfoods. But they get the job done with a great taste.
And they are very easy to find these days too, so that’s awesome.
What you should know: 190 calories, 20 grams of protein, only 5 grams of net carbs, gluten free and low in sugar, several additives, but good fiber and macro ratios.
I didn’t write this list in order to put down a bunch of bars that I don’t like. But here’s a short list of a few that I’m not a fan of: KIND bars (I find them too crunchy and hard to eat, and they have soy lecithin, which isn’t my favorite ingredient), No Cow bars (gross) and ThinkThin bars (soy protein) as a start.
A couple of housekeeping rules around eating bars …
- I wouldn’t replace meals with these bars. Instead, I’d use them as snacks to fill in the holes when you need something else to eat between real whole-food meals. Or eat them before workouts, which is usually what I do.
- It’s good to have an emergency snack bar or two in your bag at all times in case hunger strikes, but don’t store bars in your car, if you live in a hot climate. (And remember that Perfect Bars are supposed to be stored in the fridge.)
- You probably don’t want to eat more than one bar a day. But never feel bad for incorporating a healthier option like any of these into your eating routine, because even if some of these aren’t completely “clean,” they are certainly better than a lot of other junk you could be eating.
Okay, we’ll stop there!
I hope you enjoyed this very simple post about my favorite healthy snack bars. Please let me know if you have any questions or requests for other topics along these lines. Have a great start to your week, my friends. Happy snacking!
P.S. You may also like this post, which is all about my current grocery staples I can’t live without.
Questions of the day
Are you a snacker?
What’s your favorite current snack bar?
How was your weekend?