Health Bar Review

Health Bars, Protein Bars, Snack Bars are easy snacks to throw into your dance bag to give you fast easy fuel to dance. Dancers are constantly on the go and don’t always have time to home-make rehearsal snacks. But the long list of ingredients sometimes makes you wonder: is this actually healthy for me? Is this helping my body, giving me enough energy for my day? Or is it hurting?

We asked our dancers in The Whole Dancer Facebook Group (click here to join our Facebook Community) what bars they throw into their dance bags. From there, we made a list and researched the most popular bars. For each brand we picked two or three bars that are a fair example of the brand. For each bar we list the first four to six ingredients. The first few ingredients can be very telling about how healthy a bar really is.

In this post you’ll see The Whole Dancer Intern Jessie’s thoughts/questions about these different bars AND a nutrition take/assessment from The Whole dancer founder, Jess.

Clif Bar

Jessie’s Take:

Chocolate Chip

First Four ingredients: Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Rolled Oats, Soy Protein Isolate, Organic Cane Syrup

The rest of the ingredients include different syrups or have soy somewhere in the title.

Blueberry Almond Butter– part of the new Nut Butter collection

First Four Ingredients: Nut Butter Blend (almond butter, cashew butter), rolled oats, oat flour, pea protein

The first four ingredients are healthier than the chocolate chip bar, but after the first four ingredients there are two oils and three syrups. All of the ingredients are organic.

Strawberry Banana– part of the new smoothie filled collection

First Four ingredients: oat flour, nut and seed butter blend (cashew butter, sunflower seed butter), rolled oats, brown rice syrup

The ingredients for the smoothie part are not until later on the list which consists of banana powder, strawberry powder, dried cranberries, strawberries, and raspberries. It does use date paste as a sweetener, which is better than other sugars.

Jess’s Nutrition Insight:

Definitely not the best choice. Clif bars have a lot of sugar ingredients. It’s a clear example of the fact that just because something is “organic” it doesn’t make it healthy. Always consider the quality of the ingredients in something and ignore front of package marketing.

Luna Bar

Jessie’s Take:

Luna Bar– the cousin of Clif Bar. It’s created by the same company as Clif bar. All of their bars are gluten free and non-GMO.

Lemon Zest

First Four Ingredients: Protein Grain Blend (organic rolled oats, soy protein isolate, organic rice flour, organic roasted soybeans, organic soy flour), organic brown rice syrup, organic can sugar, chicory fiber syrup

What’s crazy is the lemon concentrate doesn’t appear until the bottom of the list and that’s the flavor of the bar! Yes everything is organic but everything in this bar is a sugar or a syrup.

Nuts Over Chocolate

First Four Ingredients: Protein Grain Blend (organic rolled oats, soy protein isolate, organic rice flour, organic roasted soybeans, organic soy flour), organic brown rice syrup, organic cane sugar, organic peanut butter.

Reading all of the nutrition labels of these bars makes we wonder if having the word organic in front of an ingredient actually makes the item healthy.

One of their other bars is called Chocolate Cupcake. How can a bar be healthy if it’s the flavor of a chocolate cupcake? If you want to eat a cupcake, just eat a cupcake as a fun treat and eat something more nutritious for a rehearsal snack.  

Jess’s Nutrition Insight:

Just like Clif Bars, these are mostly sugar. It’s important to be wary of protein powders contained within bars because in many cases you should assume that the company is using the cheapest form of protein they can find. Soy protein isolate is an ingredient you should be mindful of as it comes with the risk of metal contamination and pesticides.

Check out this related post :   Vegan Lori's "Peppermint Cinnamon Bars"

LARABAR

Jessie’s Take:

On all of their bars they advertise how many ingredients are in the bar, which ranges from two to six ingredients. It’s nice how simple and easy to understand their ingredients lists are.  

Peanut Butter & Jelly

All Ingredients: dates, peanuts, unsweetened cherries, sea salt

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip

All Ingredients: almonds, dates, semi-sweet chocolate chips, apples, cocoa powder, sea salt

Strawberry Spinach Cashew – Part of their fruits and green collection

All Ingredients: strawberries, spinach, cashews, apricot, unsweetened apple

Jess’s Nutrition Take:

I’m a fan of the Lara bar. They have minimal ingredients and are based in whole foods. The sugars from dates can provide good, quick energy that’s also slowed by the fat/protein content of these bars. I’d avoid the ones with chocolate chips except for an occasional treat!

 

RX Bar

Jessie’s Take:

They list the first four ingredients on the front of their bars. All of their bars have no added sugar, no gluten, no dairy, and no soy.

Blueberry

First Five Ingredients: Egg whites, almonds, cashews, dates, blueberries

Apple Cinnamon

First Six Ingredients: Egg Whites, almonds, cashews, dates, apples, cinnamon

Mint Chocolate

First Seven Ingredients: egg whites, almonds, cashews, dates, chocolate, cocoa, mint

All of the bars include natural flavors, which are never completely explained which raises some questions. It is good that the bar is sweetened with dates and fruit not unnatural sweeteners.

Jess’s Nutrition Take:

RX bars are very popular and I totally understand why dancers see them as a good option. You’re getting the protein that you might desire from a Larabar and it’s coming from a whole foods sources ingredient in egg whites. My concern with RX bars is the quality of the eggs used. Since RX doesn’t say anything about sourcing their eggs from pasture raised egg farms, you have to assume that the egg whites are coming from factory farmed, overproduced, antibiotic injected chickens. If ethically sourced animal products are something you prioritize, then this isn’t the best bar.

Kind Bars

Jessie’s Take:

Dark Cherry Chocolate Cashew & Almond

First Four Ingredients: cashews, cherries, chicory root fiber, sugar

You can recognize every ingredient in this bar, but it isn’t good that sugar is the fourth ingredient.

Crunch Peanut Butter- Protein Bar Collection

First Four Ingredients: peanuts, chicory root fiber, soy protein isolate, honey

The rest of the ingredient list is oils and syrups. This bar has literally zero nutritional value.

Almond Butter Protein- Breakfast Bar Collection

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First Four Ingredients: oats, cane sugar, canola oil, soy protein isolate

Later on in the ingredients there are more recognizable ingredients such a quinoa, buckwheat, and cinnamon. But it can’t be good that the first four ingredients have very little nutritional value.

Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt – Healthy Grains Collection

First Four Ingredients: oats, tapioca syrup, canola oil, cane sugar

The rest of the ingredients are random oats and different syrups and oils. The only remotely healthy item on the ingredient list is the pumpkin seeds.

Jess’s Nutrition Take:

Kind bars are delicious – I’m not going to deny that! However, with a lot of soy and sugar ingredients they’re not the best choice. In a pinch – ok…I’d suggest going with the traditional kind bars in a flavor that isn’t drizzled with chocolate or caramel.

Perfect Bar

Jessie’s Take:

The original refrigerated protein bar.

Peanut Butter

First Four Ingredients: Organic Peanut Butter, Organic Honey, Organic Nonfat Dry Milk, Organic Dried Whole Egg Powder

What is dried whole egg powder? Is that a dried out egg that can be put into bars to add protein/nutritional value?

Mocha Chip

First Four Ingredients: Organic Peanut Butter, Organic Almond Butter, Organic Honey, Organic Nonfat Dry Milk, Organic Dark Chocolate

Everything in these bars is organic, but they are mostly made of powders of real food. It makes me wonder if it’s a powder of the original food or if it just tastes like the original food.

Jess’s Nutrition Take:

With perfect bars, there are 2 – non dairy flavors : Almond Coconut and Chocolate Walnut Brownie. These flavors don’t include things like milk powder and egg powder and instead use healthy plant proteins (Pea and Hemp). I’d suggest going with one of those. Perfect bars, while delicious, do need to be refrigerated so they’re not always  the most convenient option!

Evo Hemp

Jessie’s Take:

Cashew Cocoa

Ingredients: Organic Dates, Organic Cashews, Organic Apricots, Organic Hemp Protein Powder, Organic Hemp Seeds, Organic Cacao Powder, Organic Coconut Nectar, Organic Blueberries

It took me a minute to track down the nutrition label for these bars. I like how everything is clear ingredients that you can pronounce, with no extra added sugars, syrups, and oils. Also, hemp is a nutrient dense food that will help fuel you through a long rehearsal day.

Cookie Dough

First Six Ingredients: Cashew Butter, Hemp Protein, Monk Fruit Blend, Chocolate Chips, Insulin Fiber, Pea Crisp Blend (Lentil, Chickpea, and Pea Flour and Pea Fiber)

What the heck in insulin fiber or this pea crisp blend? Are they a good thing or a bad thing?

Jess’s Nutrition Take:

To respond to Jessie’s questions – inulin fiber is a natural, soluble dietary fiber derived from chicory root and the pea crisp blend is just like puffed rice but instead crisps are made from lentil, chickpea and pea flour and fiber.

Evo hemp bars are a good option. I’d stick to the Apple Pecan, Mango Macadamia, Cherry Walnut, or Cashew Cacao flavors as they’re the ones with the fewest and cleanest ingredients.

Nakd bar

Jessie’s Take:

These bars are gluten, wheat, and dairy free.

Berry Delight

Check out this related post :   Amaranth Porridge from YouTube Dancer Kirsten Kemp

Ingredients: Dates (49%), Cashews (31%), Raisins (17%), Raspberries (3%), a hint of natural flavoring

The ingredient list is good, but I wonder what goes into the natural flavoring that their website purposely does not list.

Cocoa Orange

Ingredients: Dates (40%), Cashews (40%), Raisins (14%), Cocoa (5%), a hint of natural flavoring

The motto for this website is giving into your sweet tooth while still being healthy. All of the flavors are cake or dessert names. With that in mind, I’m not sure this would be good rehearsal fuel, but it’s fine for an occasional treat.

Jess’s Nutrition Take:

These look like a great rehearsal option – all the ingredients are recognizable and they have a good mix of natural sugar, healthy fat and protein. For all the activity you’re doing in a day a little extra energy intake from natural sugar (dates, raisins) is good.

Epic Performance Bar

Jessie’s Take:

Gluten Free, Paleo, Grass Fed Protein bars

Peanut Butter

Ingredients: dates, peanuts, cage free egg whites, peanut oil, sea salt

Lemon

Ingredients: dates, almonds, cage free egg whites, sea salt, lemon oil

These bars are definitely not vegan (especially their meat bars, a completely different thing from their performance bars), but still a good performance fuel. You can see and understand all of the ingredients.

Jess’s Nutrition Take:

I appreciate that they designate their egg whites as “cage free” (not as good as pasture raised, but a step in the right direction). It’s always important to question oils contained in bars. Peanut oil is high in pro – inflammatory Omega 6 oils so it’s best to be avoided.

NuttZo Bold Bites Bar

Jessie’s Take:

Peanut Butter + Collagen

First Four Ingredients: Peanut Butter, NuttZo ProBased Butter (Cashews, Almonds, Flaxseeds, Brazil nuts, Hazelnuts, Sunflower Seeds, Celtic Seasalt), Honey, Egg White Protein

Should/Can you eat collagen? I thought that was something they put in face creams that are constantly advertised on TV. This bar also has pea protein crisps in it. Is that good for you?

Jess’s Nutrition Take:

I always take issue (in case you haven’t noticed) with the random egg whites/egg white protein. I love NuttZo nut butter but the bars might have too much going on. Regarding Jessie’s question on collagen – the jury’s out. Some people are big advocates/supporters of collagen. The scientific research on collagen is in the early stages but some does show that it’s beneficial to improving the appearance of skin.

Summing up with Jess:

There are so many bar options! During crazy times of performance – Nutcracker or otherwise, they can be life savers. Bars can make your life easier and can indeed provide some good energy for you and your dancing. Always be sure to buffer bar consumption with lots of nutrient dense vegetables and well rounded meals.

When choosing a bar, the most important factor to consider are the ingredients. Read the ingredients and question them! Research the weird things and try to figure out if they’re going to support your dancing or not. Do you have a bar or bar recipe that you enjoy and would like to share with us?! Please comment below.

Protein + Health Bar Review
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