The Best Snack Bars

by Tina Szybisty, R.D.

Protein bars have become a food choice for all walks of life.

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Snack bars have become a normal part of the grocery list. The term snack bar may include protein bars, energy bars, granola bars and cereal bars. Athletes, families-on-the-go and the frequent traveler keep snack bars handy to help stay nourished when a traditional meal is not possible. A healthy balance of nutrients in your bar helps slow digestion and prevent an energy crash.

Total, Saturated and Hydrogenated Fats.

Check the nutrition facts panel to see how many calories come from fat. Try to stick to the 30 percent or less range. Stay away from saturated fat which will be listed under total fat on the nutrition facts panel. Check the ingredients list to make sure there are no trans fats which will be labeled as a form of partially hydrogenated oil.


Protein content again depends on how the bar is being used in the diet. If it's in addition to other foods look for a bar that has around 5 g of protein. If it is used as a meal replacement you may go as high as 10 g depending on your height, weight and the rest of the day's consumption of protein..

Calories, Simple Sugars and Fiber

Not all bars are created equal when it comes to total calories. They are meant to pack a punch when it comes to calories because it is assumed they are being used as a meal replacement. If you are eating the bar in addition to other foods and calorie-containing beverages, look for bars that are under 150 calories. If the bar is being eaten as a meal replacement, you can afford a higher calorie content as long as the simple sugar content has less than 10 g of sugar. A diet low in fiber can lead to digestive and other health problems. Choose a bar with at least 3 g of fiber which will be listed under total carbohydrates on the nutrition facts panel of the bar's packaging.

Snack Bar Choices

There are many healthy choices you can make when it comes to purchasing snack bars as long as the basic nutrition rules are followed. Clif Bars have organic choices with real fruit and adequate fiber. The Alpsnack Bar also includes omega-3 fatty acids. Some bars such as the Solo Bar and certain Power Bars now list low-glycemic index on their label pointing out that the bar has a balance of nutrients to slow digestion and provide a balance of vitamins and minerals. Children, post-menopausal women and those with certain diseases should stay away from bars with an iron content that exceeds 100 percent. Consult with a health care team if following a medically specific diet.

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About the Author

A registered dietitian, Tina Szybisty specializes in health-related news and has more than 20 years of experience in the health-care industry. Her work has appeared in "Outdoor Athlete Magazine," among other publications and media outlets. She holds a Bachelor of Science in human nutrition from Eastern Michigan University.