Snack Bar Nutrition Facts

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How to Choose a Healthy Snack Bar

Snack bars for weight loss
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In a perfect world, healthy eaters would snack on crisp, green vegetables, fresh berries and small servings of lean protein. But let's face it, your life isn't always perfect. Your life is filled with hectic days when you need to grab a snack bar to keep yourself satisfied between meals. But which snack bar should you choose?

The best snack bars for weight loss or for healthy eating aren't always the snack bars that have the healthiest looking package or the most trendy nutritional phrases on the label.  In fact, many of those are poor choices if you're trying to lose weight. For weight loss, you want to find bars that provide plenty of satisfaction without too many calories. 

So, when you're choosing a diet-friendly snack bar, avoid the front of the package. Find the snack bar nutrition facts and scan it for important data. Here's what to look for:

Bar size. Snack bars can range in size from 20 grams to over 70 grams.  The larger bars will be more than filling, but may contain more fat and calories than you need at snack time. But the smaller bars may not satisfy your hunger and you may end up eating more than one. You'll probably find that a mid-sized bar, roughly 40-50 grams, will fill you up between meals.

Macronutrients. Check to see how many grams of protein, carbohydrates and fat the bar contains.

  • Carbohydrates. Dieters following a low carb meal plan will want a bar with fewer carbs and less sugar. If possible, try to find a bar that has less than 10 grams of sugar.
  • Fat. Look for a bar with less fat. Most snack bars contain 3 to 11 grams (or more) of fat. As a basis for comparison, a 52-gram Snickers bar contains 12 grams of fat. It's reasonable to find a diet-friendly snack bar with four or five grams of fat.
  • Protein. More protein is usually better, but not always. Eating protein helps to build muscle and helps you to feel full, but high protein bars tend to contain more fat and calories. If you eat the right amount of protein at mealtime, you may not need the extra calories from protein between meals.

Calories. Calories matter most when you are trying to lose weight. But many healthy snack bars have more calories than you need between meals.  

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Snack Bars to Avoid If You're Trying to Lose Weight

Many popular snack bars are developed for runners, hikers and other athletes. If you are trying to lose weight those are the snack bars to avoid. Why? Because they are designed to provide quick energy to athletes who need it to perform well during a race or training event. They are not necessarily designed to help you lose weight.

So if your goal is weight loss, avoid snack bars that contain too many calories—even if the bar contains healthy ingredients, has a healthy looking label and pictures of healthy athletes on the front. Many sporty-looking high protein bars are great for athletes and body builders, but have too much fat and too many calories for people trying to lose weight.

You should be able to find a snack bar that has 200 calories or less. Keep in mind that a Snickers bar has 250 calories and you probably wouldn't eat the candy bar as part of your weight loss plan. So if you see a bar that looks good but contains too many calories, skip it and look for a lower calorie option. 

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Healthy Peanut Butter Snack Bars

If you love peanut butter and you love chocolate, then you might want to try Simply Protein Peanut Butter. Maple Pecan and Cocoa Coffee are also popular flavors. This 40-gram bar is big enough to satisfy your hunger but small enough to fit in your briefcase or handbag. It's filling, delicious and easy to find in your local store.

  • Calories: 150
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Protein: 15 g
  • Carbohydrates: 16 g
  • Sugar: 1 g

Simply Protein also makes a variety of other snacks including Protein Chips and Protein Crunch ( a mix of whey protein puffs, fruits and nuts) to satisfy your hunger.  So if you're looking for something crunchy at snack time, those are good low-calorie, high protein options to consider as well. 

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Kind Snack Bar Nutrition

If you are a dieter who prefers a more traditional, granola-style snack bar. A great low-calorie snack bar for you would be the Kind Healthy Grains Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate bar.  You'll get less protein in this 35-gram bar, but plenty of whole grains to fill you up and keep you satisfied. 

  • Calories: 150
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Carbohydrate: 23 g
  • Sugars: 8 g

There are many other popular peanut flavored snack bars. Nature Valley Peanut Butter Crunchy Granola bars for example are relatively low in calories (190 calories per two-bar serving). They also provide four grams of protein.  And you might see any of these choices in your local market:

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Snack Bars with More Protein

Of course, there will be some days when you need your snack bar to replace a meal. In those situations, you'll find plenty of snack bars with more protein, more calories and more fat.  Premier Protein Dark Chocolate Mint is a smart choice.

  • Snack bar size: 72g
  • Calories: 280
  • Fat: 7g
  • Protein: 30g
  • Carbohydrate: 26g
  • Sugars: 10g

This bar does have more calories than a Snickers bar, but less fat. And the calories come from muscle-building protein. If you include a high protein snack bar like this one in a well-balanced, calorie controlled meal plan, you'll be able to keep your diet on track—even with the extra calories.

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Less Expensive Snack Bars with Protein

Finally, one of my favorite snack bars is also one of the least expensive and the easiest to find.  Market Pantry Protein Bars are filling, tasty and don't cost as much as many high protein bars on the market.  And you don't have to go to a specialty store or pharmacy to find them.  You'll find the bars in 6 count boxes at Target stores in your area. Each 50-gram Chocolate Deluxe Protein Bar contains:

  • Calories: 190
  • Fat: 5g
  • Protein: 20g
  • Carbohydrate: 18g
  • Sugars: 2g

Market Pantry also makes a Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bar for nut lovers.

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The Best Snacks for Dieters

Of course, the best healthy snacks for dieters are usually the snacks you make yourself.  Why? Because before you plan and prepare your snacks, you generally plan and prepare your meals. And dieters who plan meals (and workouts!) in advance are usually the dieters who find success.

If you can sit down once each week and plan healthy meals and portion-controlled snacks, you'll be able to enjoy the foods you love and stay satisfied throughout the day. 

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