Though I always recommend gravitating toward whole foods, sometimes you need fast and easy fuel to throw into your system after a workout as you rush off to your next activity.
Busy clients like the latter often ask me what are the best bars—protein bars, energy bars, granola bars etc—on the market.
The answer: The ones made with the most real foods and that are the least processed. In other words, this (generally speaking) means the ones with the least amount of ingredients.
People have this idea that Cliff Bars (http://www.clifbar.com) are pretty good for you because they’re allegedly organic, and because they have marketed themselves as a healthy meal replacement. Let’s take a look at the Chocolate Chip Cliff bar:
Ingredients: Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Rolled Oats, Soy Protein Isolate, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Roasted Soybeans, Rice Flour, Dried Cane Syrup, Unsweetened Chocolate, Organic Soy Flour, Organic Oat Fiber, Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Cocoa Butter, Barley Malt Extract, Sea Salt, Natural Flavors, Soy Lecithin, Organic Cinnamon.
Count them: That’s a total of 17 ingredients, many of them being things I have never even heard of before like barley malt extract. Not to mention cane syrup and soybeans and rice flour…Not ideal, right?
So what are the better bar options?
Here are 5:
5. The Perfect Bar
Although the Perfect Bar (https://perfectbar.com/) still has too many ingredients for my liking, it is gluten-free and soy-free and needs to be kept refrigerated in order to stay fresh and chewy, which speaks to the freshness of its ingredients. (They can be kept out of the fridge for a day or two, but a week at room temperature turns them hard and stale).
And I would argue they taste pretty darn good, and are very filling, too.
4. Elevate Me:
Elevate Me bars are based mostly on six ingredients (https://www.prosnack.com/pages/nutrition-info): Cranberries, apples, dates, raisins, almonds and whey protein isolate, so I consider them a step above the Perfect Bar in terms of their ingredient list.
They’re not as filling as a Perfect Bar, but when your body needs fuel after a workout and you’re feeling like something light, they’re great for pumping some dried fruit into your system to avoid a post-workout crash.
Larabars (https://www.larabar.com/our-products/larabar) are more filling than Elevate Me bars, and are even better in terms of their ingredients.
While it depends on the flavour, some of their bars have as few as two ingredients. The cashew cookie bar is one of them: Cashews and dates. That’s it!
Meanwhile, their banana bread bar has just three: Almonds, dates and bananas.
2. Kosuma Bars
When it comes to taste, these ones take the cake! I like their pecan energy bar the best.
Kosuma bars (http://www.kosuma.com/) are wheat-free, soy-free and have no preservatives at all. And they have a decent amount of fibre and protein.
1. Homemade bars!
Before you get all stressed out about the thought of making your own bars, I promise it won’t take you more than 20 minutes. 30 if you’re slow. 45 if you consider yourself inept in the kitchen. And you’ll have bars for a month and you’ll know exactly what’s in them.
•1/4 coconut oil
•2 cups almond butter
•4 cups chopped pecans, almonds, walnuts, cashews (or whatever nut or nuts you enjoy)
•1 cup finely chopped dates
•1 cup pumpkin seeds
•1 cup rolled oats or muesli (optional)
•3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
•1/2 tsp. sea salt
•1 tsp. cinnamon
•2 Tbsp. honey
- Put almond butter, coconut oil and dates on the stove at a medium heat and let it melt until smooth
- Mix dry ingredients with the almond butter mixture in a big bowl until it sticks together into a ball. If you’re adding chocolate chips, let it cool in the fridge for 20 minutes before adding chocolate chips. If it seems too sticky, add some more nuts or oats. If it’s not sticking together enough, add a bit more coconut oil or almond butter until you get the right consistency.
- Press into a pan until it’s a couple inches thick.
- 4. Refrigerate until hard enough (approximately 2 hours) to cut into squares or bars.