We don’t shy away from convenience products here at Feel Fresh Nutrition. We get that not everyone has the time - or desire - to get all Martha Stewart and prepare everything they eat from scratch (us, definitely included!). Also, convenience doesn’t have to equate to subpar nutrition.
When it comes to snack bars in particular, our supermarket shelves are lined with *endless* options to pick from. They’re a popular snack; being tasty, portioned controlled, compact enough to fit in a bag/desk draw/glovebox, and easy to eat with just one hand (and so totally fit the snack criteria!).
But many options are also overly processed, high in sugar, and low in nutrients; like protein and fibre which otherwise help keep us feeling full for longer. Arguably, they might even belong in the confectionary or treat aisle.
Us, as consumers, are getting smarter and savvier about our buying habits though. We want to have the best of all worlds; where our food is tasty, nutritious, and often convenient - and many companies are answering the call, merging together good nutrition with convenience in the most perfect of 21st century marriages.
Below are tips to keep in mind when buying healthier snack bars at the supermarket, and our top purchasing picks that we love at Feel Fresh Nutrition!
WHEN PICKING HEALTHIER SNACK BARS ZIP THROUGH THIS QUICK CHECK LIST:
What is the sugar content? Many snack bars are high in added sugars. Aim for a snack bar with 10g or less of sugar per bar.
A flashback to our Westpac NZ nutritional seminar - you can easily figure out the sugar content in a product by dividing the grams of sugar per serving by 4 to get the number of teaspoons! We want to aim not to exceed 6 tsp of added sugars per day.
Flip over the ingredients list to see what types of sugars were used to sweeten the product. A good pick is dried fruit, as this will help bind the bar (rather than more common stickier sugar syrups), but also provide beneficial fibre.
When picking a muesli bars, check that at least 50% of the ingredients are either seeds, nuts or whole grains (e.g. oats). This will help provide fibre, protein and fats; which will keep you feeling full for longer, and also provide valuable nutrients to your diet.
What is the energy vaule? If you’re watching your weight, aim for a snack bar with 600kJ or less.
Is it a source of fibre? Aim for a snack or muesli bar with 1.5g or more of fibre. Fibre is the indigestible part of carbohydrates and rich in whole unprocessed food. It is key for gut health, and most of us can do with eating more! A good amount to aim for each day is 30g.
Typically the more processed an item is, often the less fibre it contains. Snack bars with whole foods featuring at the top of their ingredient list - like seeds, nuts, dried fruit and grains - will naturally be higher in fibre.
Is it a source of protein? Aim for a bar with more than 4-5g of protein per serving. Protein is a fabulous nutrient at snack time, as it helps to satiate hunger and appetite between main meals.
SOME OF OUR FAVOURITE SNACK BAR OPTIONS AT THE SUPERMARKET
Below are some options that we reckon tick (almost) all the boxes! They’re all easily accessible at your local supermarket, with these option taken specifically from the Countdown website.
NICE & NATURAL PROTEIN NUT BAR WITH 3 SUPERSEEDS - SALTED CARAMEL FLAVOUR
A sweet caramel flavoured bar with a hint of sea salt, combined with crunchy whole nuts & seeds. It may taste indulgent, but with less than 2g sugar per bar (or 1/2 tsp sugar) this is a pretty great snack option!
Other reason we like it:
It has 3.8g dietary fibre per bar, exceeding the recommended minimum of 1.5g per bar.
It contains over 50% peanuts!
It has 8.6 grams of protein per bar, which will help keep you feeling satisfied between meals.
MOTHER EARTH NUTS ABOUT MUESLI BARS ALMOND
A delicious crunchy nut bar made with almonds, peanuts and cashews; with a yummy nutty flavour and the added bonus of being a source of protein and suitable for those who cannot eat gluten.
Other reason we like it:
A shorter ingredients compared to many snack bars, which includes over 59% peanuts, puffed rich, psyllium husk and honey.
It has 4.6 grams of sugar per bar (1.15 tsp of sugar) per bar.
It has 5.9 grams of protein per bar.
QUEST BAR DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHUNK PROTEIN BAR
What’s better than chocolate? Twice the chocolate! Satisfy chocolate cravings with the delectable double chocolate chunk questbar. Other reason we like it:
With a whooping 20g protein per serve, this is ideal for those needing to increase their protein intake or are focusing on building lean muscle mass.
It’s lower carbohydrate, suitable for those on a low-carb diet; and has less than 1g of sugar (or less than 1/4 tsp sugar per bar!)
NICE & NATURAL PROTEIN WHOLE SEED BAR - CRANBERRY & RASPBERRY FLAVOUR
Another one from the team at Nice & Natural. This is a delicious combination of pumpkin and sunflower seeds, soy protein crisps and cranberry pieces. This is a nut-free option, making it good for kiddies lunch boxes. Other reason we like it:
It has less than 3.2g sugar per serve!
It’s a good source of protein with 7.2g per bar.
This blog was written especially for our friends at Westpac NZ, who we’re excited to be assisting with their workplace wellbeing this year. It’s thrilling to see a company go the extra mile for their staff!