We can all agree that granola bars are a convenient way to keep quick grab and go snacks on hand. Individually wrapped? Check! Can easy throw them in a bag, desk drawer, glove compartment? Check! Decent shelf life? Check! Relatively inexpensive? Check! Unfortunately, the rustic brown packaging and claims like “whole grain” and “natural” can lead you towards a false sense of their health factor. Heck the word “granola” itself makes me personally think of hiking!
Grocery store aisles are overwhelming enough as it is and now we have very “creative” marketing teams capitalizing on our desire to be healthier. What the front of these packages will never advertise is “It’s basically a candy bar!” “I’m packed with way more added sugar than you would ever guess!” and other similar claims! Now don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some decent choices for granola bars. Andrea, AHB’s lead dietitian, recommends the following, but also cautions you to choose wisely. Even within these brands there are good and some not so good choices!
Lara Bar: About as natural a granola bar as you get. Higher in calories and fat, but most are made with nuts and dried fruit, which are more calorie dense than grains and cereals most granola bars are made from. They are a raw food bar, meaning the ingredients are in their natural state, and are all gluten and soy free.
Kashi TLC Bars: They have little saturated fat, and few added ingredients. You won’t see sugar on the label here because it’s added as “Cane Juice Crystals”. This is a healthier alternative to many of the other chocolate coated granola bars.
Kind Bars: Kind bars are packed with nuts and dried fruit. They contain few other ingredients, and are all natural. They are high in fat, over 50% of the calories coming from fat, but contain few grams of saturated fat, as the fat source is the nuts the bar contains.
In general try to follow these guidelines when picking grab and go granola bars
- 200 calories or less
- Less than 3 sat grams fat
- Greater than 3 grams protein
- Less than 10 grams sugar
- Less than 5 ingredients and/or no preservatives
If you are feeling ambitious and want to make your own granola bars, check out this recipe on our Pinterest page! (I usually omit the protein powder, unless I am in a really high volume training cycle)
Be Healthy. Be Balanced.