How to Pick a Filling Snack Bar
Of all the nutrition questions I’m asked, how to choose a filling snack/granola/protein bar is hands down the most common. It’s also the question I have the hardest time answering. Because I’m all about easy, realistic and convenient nutrition, I totally understand the appeal of the snack bar. At the same time though, while hundreds of options exist, I’ve only found a few bars that actually do the trick.
Like any snack, when it comes to bars, look for ones that will keep you feeling both physically full and mentally satisfied. As a morning or afternoon snack, bars need to give you energy for the rest of the day and keep you full until your next meal. That’s a lot of pressure on a little bar! Here’s what I look for in a bar and some of the amazing options I’ve found.
Fiber is a crucial component in food to help you to feel full. Fiber adds that satiety factor – without it, meals and snacks simply just aren’t that filling. For this reason, it’s one of the first things to look for when creating a snack, and specifically, in any snack bar. In general, look for bars with about 4-5 grams of fiber in them. This amount is ideal to keep you full until your next meal and give you the little boost you need.
I might be late to the game, but I recently discovered Health Warrior’s Chia Bars and they instantly became a favorite. These bars are small, but are each packed with about 5 grams of fiber. Because they have so much fiber, they’re pretty filling on their own, or you can also pair them with something like Greek yogurt or almond butter to add a little dose of protein too. The Strawberry Shortcake flavor just came out and is insane! Chocolate Peanut Butter, Banana Nut and Vanilla Almond are also favorites.
Just like fiber, protein is super important. Together with fiber, protein helps to add maximum satiety to a snack. That protein + fiber combo is key. Similar to fiber also, look for about 4-5 grams of protein per bar. A lot of bars will have more, which definitely can’t hurt. Often, if I find a bar I love that has protein but not fiber (or vice versa), I recommend simply pairing it with the other component that it’s missing. For example, if you find a protein bar that doesn’t have much fiber, you can simply add a piece of fruit with it. Or, for a bar higher in fiber and lower in protein, try adding some peanut or almond butter with it for a little added protein (I mean, yum).
One of my favorites is Health Warrior’s Pumpkin Seed Protein Bar. They’re packed with 8 grams of naturally occurring protein and only 6 grams of sugar. The protein comes from foods like quinoa and pumpkin seeds, without any weird protein powders added. These usually keep me full on their own, or sometimes I might even add a cup of berries with them for a little added fiber. My favorite flavor right now is the Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond Pumpkin Seed Bar. It just came out last October and is delicious.
Sugar Content + Ingredient List
Looking at the sugar content in a bar can be tough. On one hand, a lot of bars are made with things like dried fruit that naturally contain sugar. For this reason, I try not to put a hard number on the grams of sugar in a bar. You definitely wouldn’t avoid dates or apples because they’re contain sugar, so there’s also no reason to avoid date- and apple-filled snack bars that also have sugar. At the same time, I do recommend looking out for is addedsugar. While there is nothing wrong with some added sugar in your life, for an afternoon snack, an ideal snack is one that will keep your blood sugar stable to keep your energy level up. Looking at both the ingredient list and the amount of sugar together can be a helpful way to determine if a snack has staying power.
Speaking of: the ingredient list. In the spirit of keeping things realistic, I don’t think it’s necessary go nuts over the ingredient list. Pouring over nutrition labels to find only “acceptable” ingredients can be daunting and a massive time suck. At the same time however, it can be helpful finding bars with mostly well-known ingredients. For example, where is the fiber coming from? Is it from grains and seeds, or for chicory root fiber? Is the protein from legumes and nuts, or isolates? While everyone is different, often times, bars with an excessive amount of added protein or fiber from artificial sources can be harder to digest and potentially upset the stomach.
My last favorite hits the nail on the head in every category. These aren’t a bar, but they’re as just as easy. I can’t even tell you excited I was by Health Warrior Mug Muffins - 12 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, only 6 grams of sugar and to make them, all you have to do is add water into the container and microwave for about a minute. As far as ingredients go, those nutrients come from foods like pumpkin seed protein and fava bean flour. And, they legit taste like warm, bakery muffins. What could be better? Seriously, nothing. Try the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip flavor and thank me later.
This blog post is sponsored by Health Warrior. All thoughts and opinions are my own.