Granola bars are a fan fav as far as snacking goes. They're convenient, compact, and often super yummy. But which granola bar is the right granola bar for you? Now before I get into this, I want to make a slight disclaimer. Granola bars are not thought of as the healthiest snack (as opposed to fruits and veggies) so many health-nuts avoid these yummy treats all together. BUT, if you're open to eating granola bars on a weekly or daily basis, I have some tips for you regarding how to choose the right one!
As I'm sure you've noticed, there are SO many different types of granola bars so choosing the right one can be overwhelming. To start, granola bars typically include several ingredients (as opposed to other types of bars), which can offer many nutritional benefits, such as protein, carbs, calcium, etc all in one serving! You may find that granola bars are often marketed as "high-energy foods" and are good for athletes, hikers, or kids on-the-go because of their high-calories and high-protein makeup.
I tend to think of granola bars in three different categories: "cereal bars," "snack bars" and "protein bars." Now, while the bars contain multiple ingredients, their name simply denotes their purpose.
Cereal bars contain mostly grains and they tend to be lower in calories and are less dense than most granola bars. They are "light" in terms of how they taste and how much they will fill you up, so these guys are good for breakfast or a mid-morning snack paired with some fruit or yogurt.
- Special K Breakfast Bar, Vanilla Crisp: 90 kcals, 2 grams protein, 0.5 grams fiber
- Nature Valley Granola Bar - Crunchy, Oats 'N Honey: 90 kcals, 2 grams protein, 1 gram fiber
- Kashi Diet Bar, Pumpkin Pie: 120 kcals, 4 grams protein, 4 grams fiber
Snack bars contain high fiber and are slightly higher in calories than cereal bars. These guys can be thought of as "in-between meals" snack bars and can be used to help curb appetite and thus promote weight loss. Just be careful that you don't eat a bunch of these snack bars and still have full servings of your main meals!
- Quaker's Chewy, 25% Less Sugar, Peanut Butter & Chocolate: 100 kcals, 1.5 grams protein, 3 grams fiber
- Powerbar Pria, Mint Chocolate Cookie: 110 kcals, 5 grams protein, 1 gram fiber
Protein bars contain high fiber and will likely be the some of the highest caloric bars you will find. Protein bars are generally used by athletes who aren't so focused on caloric intake and instead are looking to maintain or recover muscles. Protein bars may also be used as a meal replacement as they will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
- Luna Protein Bar: 180 kcals, 12 grams protein, 3 grams fiber
- Bear Naked Pure & Natural Granola Bar: 240 kcals, 4 grams protein, 4 grams fiber
- Clif Bar, Black Cherry Almond: 250 kcals, 10 grams protein, 5 grams fiber
- Powerbar Protein Plus, Chocolate Brownie: 360 kcals, 30 grams protein, <1 gram fiber
Bottom line? Choose the right granola bar for you based on your purpose for eating the bar. If you need something quick and light, go for one of the cereal bars. If you need something to hold you over in between meetings or before your next meal, go for a snack bar. If you need something more substantial to replace a meal or lost carbs, go for the protein bar. Ultimately, allow your personal taste and preference to guide your granola bar search, but be sure to read the nutrition labels to ensure you are getting the best bar for you! Don't forget, you can always make your own bars with your own ingredients (hint: stay turned to our blog for a "Make Your Own Granola Bar Recipe")!