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Our lives are constantly on the go, so that means that sometimes our food has to be on the go as well. Reaching for a snack bar seems like an easy solution to needing a snack while on the move, but if you aren’t sure of what is inside of that small snack, you might actually be causing more harm to your body than good.

Although processed food should always take the backseat to natural snacks like a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts, sometimes snack bars are the only option in the moment. So when that is the case, knowledge is power. Choosing a snack bar that will actually put a damper on your hunger and keep you going for a little while longer rather than giving you a sudden boost and then a crash is the goal. The grocery store aisle is filled with different snack bar options, and the rows and rows of boxes can be overwhelming, especially when they all claim to be healthy alternatives to cookies and chips. So what should you look for when making a decision?

The Ingredient List

Put calorie counting on the backburner for a moment and dig deeper into the actual ingredients list. This is the most important thing you can do when deciding on a processed snack. The ingredients listed first on the list are the ones that make up the most of the product. So if those ingredients include sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial flavorings, it’s probably not as nutritious of a snack as the box claims.

You may be surprised to find that some of your favorite brands of snack bars really aren’t as good for you as you maybe thought. Some of the most popular varieties that are granola or protein based are actually full of ingredients that you can’t pronounce and probably shouldn’t be putting into your body.

The good news is that as health and clean eating becomes more popular in America, brands are developing healthier options to the old school protein and granola snack bars that will probably always be around due to convenience. Read the ingredients label and if the majority of the list includes natural fruits, nuts, and oats, then it is definitely the better option.

Sugar Levels

This is by far the most important ingredient to take a look at on the list and sometimes the trickiest to understand. Snack bars generally come in sweet flavors like chocolate chunk, oats n honey, cranberry almond, etc. So if something with such a sweet flavor claims to contain a very low amount of sugar, that is when you should look closer.

The high levels of sugar in snack bars are what typically give you an energy boost and then have you crashing hard sooner than you would probably like. While sugar is sugar no matter where it comes from, being aware of where the sugar in your snack bar comes from could be an interesting way of knowing if you are getting a natural sugar kick or a chemically processed boost.

Check the ingredients label to see if there is any added sugar. It could be that an all natural snack bar containing only fruit and nuts has a high sugar content. While the higher sugar levels should be frowned upon, it is always a better option to choose the sugar that comes from fruit rather than added processed sugar.

Serving Size

These quick and easy snack bars are meant to be just that, a snack. So check the label and make sure that the entire bar is in fact just one serving, and then stick to that one serving. It may be tempting to reach for another bar if they are in distance, but if this is not a satisfying enough snack for you then maybe that is a sign that you need more than just a snack. Listen to your body and give it what it needs in moderation. If you are actually hungry and not just needing something to hold you until the next meal, eat something with enough protein, fat, and complex carbs that will actually provide your body with the nourishment it needs.

woman eating chocolate bar