In September 2017, Time magazine spoke to nutrition experts Andy Bellatrix (registered dietitian), Keith Anew (associate professor of pediatrics), and Erin Palinski-Wade (registered dietitian) about the relative healthiness of the granola bars we can buy today. Those three experts spelled out some ground rules to help health-conscious consumers like you and me evaluate what we see at the store to make better decisions.
Using their rules, I compiled key nutrition stats from several popular granola bars to figure out which ones are most healthy. She says that granola bars that do their job and keep you full contain at least 5 grams each of fiber, protein, and unsaturated fat.
I factored this information into my findings when companies provided it and simply wrote “N/A” otherwise. That shouldn't come as much of a surprise once you learn that Rebars use date paste instead of other sweeteners.
According to Rebars' nutritional data, all of these bars contain zero grams of added sugars. Coming in hot on REBAR's heels were two flavors of original KIND bars.
Some brands chose not to specify whether they contain added sugars in their nutritional facts. For these, I noted possible sources of sugar from the ingredients list, and ranked the following bars by grams of saturated fat, from least to greatest.
CLIFF, CORE, KIND, and Nature Valley rounded out the top 15. The bars on this list are both low in fiber and protein and high in saturated fats.
Ranked in order from the highest grams of saturated fat to lowest, here is the bottom of the original list of 230 bars. The MALABAR Original Bar in Coconut Cream Pie is number 230 in our rankings, due to a combination of low fiber and protein and high saturated fat content.
These bars are ranked from highest to lowest grams of saturated fat within each brand. There are bars that contained lower grams of both fiber and protein, but they also contained lower grams of saturated fat, so I didn't consider them to be as outright unhealthy as the bars above.
Finally, for comparison, here are the nutritional stats for a regular Snickers bar. If you can relate, I’ll give you fair warning now: after reading this article, things may never be the same again.
Whether you’re pondering quitting Cliff Bars like me or bringing them into your diet, I hope this post will help you make an informed decision. Before I start hating too much on Cliff Bars, I am going to attempt to be fair and balanced.
Free of health conditions that could be aggravated by gluten, grains, elections, soy, and preservatives Even if you can check off all the boxes above, don’t go eating Cliff Bars every day.
Cliff Bars have an additional 20+ grams of complex carbs, which brings their carbohydrate count even higher. Many flavors, such as White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, tip the scales at over 45g total carbs.
The trouble with the soy protein in Cliff Bars is that it has not been naturally fermented, making it difficult to digest. Traditional cultures who have eaten soy products for thousands of years have always fermented them before consumption.
Fermentation naturally breaks soy down into digestible compounds, making it much more nutritious. It’s important to note that just because non-fermented soy doesn’t give you a stomach ache does not mean your body is digesting it efficiently.
Whey protein is easily absorbed in the upper digestive tract, which means the Branch Chain Amino Acids it’s loaded with can get to your muscles fast, helping with recovery. What’s more, soy molecules can mimic the effects of estrogen, potentially causing hormonal imbalances (seriously, it sounds crazy, but it’s been documented).
Even if you’re not trying to look like The Rock, if you want to build and maintain muscle you don’t want soy protein. Even if you don’t get a stomach ache from Cliff Bars, the elections you’re consuming could be wreaking havoc.
That means they’ve got preservatives, which you want to avoid consuming with any kind of regularity. Managing High Potassium While on Dialysis From the WebMD Archives In today's on-the-run society, where sitting down for a meal is sometimes an impossible luxury, the emergence of nutrition bars may seem to be just what the doctor ordered.
Though these pocket-sized bars once found favor primarily with serious athletes looking for a competitive edge, now anyone who feels the need for a nutritional boost may keep a few stashed in a purse or a briefcase. And with so much to choose from, consumers hungering for a quick nutritional fix -- whether they're recreational athletes, workaholics tied to their desks, or over committed moms with barely a moment to spare -- may feel dizzy from all the product overkill and heavily hyped claims.
Without a doubt, grab-and-gobble nutrition bars are great for people who race nonstop from sunup to exhaustion. “They're a convenient alternative for someone who would otherwise be reaching for a doughnut or using the vending machines for snacks at the office,” says Liz Applegate, PhD, lecturer in nutrition at the University of California at Davis.
Steve Hitler, PhD, RD, assistant professor of medical dietetics at Ohio State University, conducted a study showing that endurance athletes may not get the sustained energy boost that they're expecting from certain bars. Continued Hitler found that the Iron man PR Bar provided increases in blood sugar levels that remained fairly steady, which could translate into enhanced performance for endurance athletes.
By contrast, the Powerboat produced a quick rush of blood sugar, but it was followed by a rapid decline -- not much different from occurs with a Snickers bar. The composition of the Iron man PR bar -- 40% carbohydrate, 30% fat, and 30% protein -- may have been responsible for its more sustained effect on blood glucose, says Hitler.
For endurance events, he says “research shows that consuming a little of carbohydrate every so often during a race is going to improve performance.” Nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD, points out that anything that provides calories will give you some energy.
Though nutrition bars are handy, Applegate says that you may be over relying on them if there's a growing pile of wrappers in your car. “Some people go to Costco and buy boxes of energy bars, and feel, 'I'm doing a good thing by eating them,'” she says.
Instead of a nutrition bar, Jackson says you can choose an alternative snack like a container of low-fat yogurt with high-fiber cereal sprinkled in it, or a fiber-rich bagel with a tomato and a small slice of low-fat Swiss cheese melted on it. “If you're shopping for a meal-replacement bar, choose one that has about 15 or more grams of protein, along with some fiber, and fortified with about 35% of the RDS for vitamins and minerals,” says Applegate, author of Eat Smart, Play Hard.
If you consume multiple bars per day, make sure you're not biting off more vitamins and minerals than you should chew. If you're eating several bars a day, plus a multivitamin/multi mineral pill and a bowl of fortified cereal like Total, you could be getting much more zinc than you need, she cautions, which might interfere with the absorption of other minerals, and even weaken your immune system.
In October 2001, when ConsumerLab.com announced the findings of its independent laboratory tests of 30 nutrition bars, 18 did not meet the claims of ingredient levels on the label. It seems as if protein bars are growing in popularity in today’s world, giving people the option of a healthy snack to take with them on the go.
Quest Bars in particular have gained fame as they are packed with protein and have been shared many times on social media, with people sharing favorite flavors and ways to use the bars in other recipes. If you are wondering, however, are Quest Bars good for you, then you will need to dig deeper and pay attention to the label.
Keep in mind that these numbers will vary depending on which flavor Quest Bar you choose. They are a great source for dietary fiber, which will keep you full and be easy on your gut without giving you a lot of calories.
Both of the main ingredients in Quest Bars are high-quality protein that can let you increase muscle mass when you pair them with the appropriate weight training. The bars also have magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and calcium and are low on the glycemic index.
Almost all the carbs in the bars are from fiber, helping you stay full and keep insulin levels low. Fiber can also prevent certain diseases, control hunger, and improve digestive health.
In some cases, it can lead to gastrointestinal upset like soft stool, bloating, flatulence, or occasional diarrhea. A Past Lawsuit: Some people may not trust the information regarding fiber content on Quest Bars.
There was a class action lawsuit against the company for understating calories and overstating dietary fiber. The company, however says that the plaintiff’s claims are without basis and that he doesn’t understand fiber science.
A test showed that they had an increase in blood sugar levels after eating the bars. It is the last of the bars ingredients, showing its small quantities, and it appears after other low-sugar sweeteners such as stevia and erythritol.
Although there is speculation about Sucrose (Spend) and its health complications, some studies have linked it to an increased risk of digestive disease or cancer. In studies on rats, it was suggested that it may lead to an increased pH balance and digestive upset.
Those concerned with holistic will say that you should avoid unnatural substances, but experts still feel that Spend may be found in small quantities.