It’s simple! Follow the trail of what makes a bar a bar.
It’s a BAR!!! That means it has a shape and you can hold it in your hand. That is the #1 requirement bar manufacturers have when creating a new bar… It has to be a BAR! That means it has to stick together and hold it’s form. To do this the number one most important ingredient is by definition the “glue” that holds the bar together. Look at the first ingredient for most bars. What is it (“glue”) and why is it there (to hold the bar together). Sadly, the primary ingredient in bars is not focused on nourishing your body, but rather making the bar a bar!
It’s “shelf stable” - 99% of bars are made to be shelf stable which means they can last up to a year in their package at room temperature. What other food do you consume that can make that claim? Definitely not any fresh produce or most whole foods. The second most important requirement for a bar therefore is that the bar last in your car, gym bag, or cabinet for months on end. It again is NOT nourishing your body!
It taste good and has attractive “flavors” - Most of the bars today are designed with “flavors” of what?? The exact junk food you are eating the bar to avoid! “Cookies n Cream”, “Fudge Brownie”, “Birthday Cake”, yes even “S’mores”. Do you really think that the most effective natural foods for satisfying your bodies nutrient deficit tastes like birthday cake?? Not based on any sliver of science I’ve ever seen! Soooo, again… The #3 requirement that drives bar manufacturers is still not combining the most effective ingredients for nourishing your body.
It’s Profitable and Manufacturable - Yep! Bars are product just like a smartphone and the manufacturer has to make money and make A LOT of bars. That mean the cheapest ingredients that get the job done and not using ingredients that “clog up the works” and slow production. Is that the best superfood ingredient list meant to supercharge your body? Only if it makes a profit!
It’s “healthy” - Now after your bar is glued together, ready to survive a semester in your backpack, flavored like a cupcake, and 90% profit; the manufacturer has a final challenge! They have to make it SEEM healthy. How do they do this? With buzz words and tricks that take your focus away from the fact that health is the last thing on the list that make a bar a bar. Technically, it’s not a requirement at all and it shows in the fact that most “bars” are really just expense candy bars. But they’re healthy right? Well… Kinda. What are the top claims that define a “healthy” bar? 1. High Protein - Often times not satisfied by the “whole” ingredients in the bar, but by added protein concentrate (typically whey, rice or pea derived). 2. Low carb - What’s that even mean? Carbs are energy. If I need an energy boast why exactly are carbs bad. More important are the total calories and whether they meet or exceed your needs. 3. “No [added] sugar” - Also a trick because this is now a valid claim if cane sugar was not added, but the craving inducing sweetness of stevia, Sucralose, and monk fruit extract are just as powerful as sugar. So even the requirement to be “healthy” is often just on the surface. Does that leave us with a powerful superfood hunger fix all? Not in most cases!
So, does that mean we should never eat another bar? Not necessarily. But a meal of fresh whole foods should be the goal if possible. Bars do have a very useful quality and that is convenience. Everything that makes a bar a bar makes them great for when we are on the run and away from our kitchens. There are many other “better” portable whole foods like trail mix (not the one w high sodium and M&M's), fresh fruit (mandarins, apples, bananas), dry unsweetened cereal/granola, protein shakes (pre-made or just powder ready for water).
If you still need a bar to fill in the unplanned gaps and emergencies, get one with ingredients you can see and pronounce. I personally have eaten Probar Meal-on-the-go bars for 15 years. They have whole ingredients and satisfy your hunger. They are NOT low calorie as the whole point of my eating a bar is to fuel my body which requires calories.
There you have it. You choose. But I hope you’ll think for a second before you grab that next “healthy” bar.
If you do decide to toss a bar shaped energy boast in your bag, avoid the supermarket special and make sure they are organic and natural! Here are a few I recommend:
Probar - Meal bars💕 - Best pocket size hunger quencher on the market!!! I've used these for 15 YEARS!!! - Whole visible seeds & fruit 🥰 https://www.allstarhealth.com/f/pro_bar-whole_food_meal_bar.htm
Kate’s Real Food Organic Energy Bars - Non-GMO, All-Natural Ingredients, Gluten-Free and Soy-Free Healthy Snack https://amzn.to/3PwjU2x
Rise Pea Protein Bar - Sunflower Cinnamon, Soy Free, Paleo Breakfast & Snack Bar, 15g Protein, 5 Natural Whole Food Ingredients, Simplest Non-GMO, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Plant Based Protein https://amzn.to/3GmC8lf
Skout Organic Plant-Based Protein Bars - 10g Protein – Vegan Protein Bars – Only 7 Ingredients or Less – Easy Snack – Gluten, Dairy, Grain & Soy Free https://amzn.to/3dIi01A
Rise Whey Protein Bars - Almond Honey | Healthy Breakfast Bar & Protein Snacks, 20g Protein, 4g Fiber, Just 3 Whole Food Ingredients, Non-GMO Healthy Snacks, Gluten-Free, Soy Free Bar https://amzn.to/3CiPaPm