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What to look for in a protein bar

Hi friends! How are you? I hope you’re having a great morning! I have a couple of client calls this morning and am heading out on a fun work trip.

Since I’ll be traveling with a bag of food, I thought I’d chat about protein bars since they’re a staple for on-the-go snacks.

Choosing a protein bar can be overwhelming with the plethora of options available in the market. Whether you’re looking for a quick post-workout snack or a convenient meal replacement, it’s important to know what to look for—and what to avoid.

Today, I want to highlight brands that use certified organic ingredients, and share a simple recipe on how to make your own healthy bars at home.

What to look for in a protein bar

Ingredients to Avoid in Protein Bars

Artificial Sweeteners:

Ingredients like sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, and erythritol can cause digestive issues and may negatively affect your gut microbiome. Opt for natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or dates.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup:

This sweetener is linked to obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders. It’s best to avoid any bar that lists high-fructose corn syrup among its ingredients.

Hydrogenated Oils:

These trans fats can raise bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower good cholesterol (HDL), increasing the risk of heart disease. Look for bars that use healthy fats like coconut oil or nuts.

Artificial Flavors and Colors:

These additives can cause allergic reactions and may have other adverse health effects. Choose bars with natural flavors and colors derived from whole food ingredients.

Soy Protein Isolate:

This commonly used protein source is often genetically modified and highly processed. It can disrupt hormone balance due to its phytoestrogen content. Consider bars with protein sources like whey, pea, or brown rice protein instead.

Brands That Use Certified Organic Ingredients

Urban Remedy: Known for their simple ingredient lists, Urban Remedy uses almond flour, coconut butter, nuts and fruit, and are organic. They are difficult to find and I’ve only found them at Whole Foods.

GoMacro: These bars are made with certified organic, non-GMO ingredients. They offer a variety of flavors and are plant-based.

RXBAR: With no added sugar, gluten, soy, or dairy, RXBARs list most of their ingredients on the front of the package. I don’t love the texture as much; they’re a bit hard and chewy, but have pretty decent ingredients.

Orgain: Orgain protein bars use organic ingredients and are free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. They are also high in plant-based protein.

Aloha: Aloha bars are made with organic, non-GMO ingredients and are free from gluten, soy, and dairy. They offer plant-based protein options with simple and clean ingredients. These taste like a candy bar and they have so many great flavors.

EquiLife: EquiLife bars focus on using high-quality, organic ingredients and provide balanced nutrition. They are designed to support overall wellness and are free from artificial additives. These are simple, so tasty, and the chocolate brownie is my fave (use code FITNESSISTA10).

Truvani: Truvani bars are made with organic, non-GMO ingredients and prioritize transparency in their ingredient sourcing. They are free from artificial sweeteners and preservatives. I also love the taste and texture of these.

Perfect Bar: Perfect Bars are made with organic, non-GMO ingredients and are packed with whole food nutrition. They use honey as a natural sweetener and offer a variety of flavors to suit different tastes. These taste SO delicious, too — you can get them at Costco.

How to Make Your Own Protein Bars at Home

Making your own protein bars is a great way to ensure you’re consuming healthy ingredients without any unwanted additives.

Here’s a simple recipe to get you started:


1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup almond butter or peanut butter

1/2 cup protein powder (whey, pea, or brown rice)

1/4 cup honey or maple syrup

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

1/4 cup chia seeds or flaxseeds

1/4 cup dried fruit (optional)

Pinch of sea salt


Step 1: Mix all the dry ingredients (oats, protein powder, seeds, and dried fruit) in a large bowl.

Step 2: In a separate bowl, combine the almond butter and honey/maple syrup. Microwave for 30 seconds to make it easier to mix.

Step 3: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. If the mixture is too dry, add a tablespoon of water or milk (dairy or plant-based) until it reaches the desired consistency.

Step 4: Line a baking dish with parchment paper and press the mixture evenly into the dish.

Step 5: Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and gently press them into the mixture.

Step 6: Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting into bars.

Step 7: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Why Soy Protein Isolate is Not a Good Choice

Soy protein isolate is a highly processed form of soy protein. It’s often found in protein bars and shakes, but there are several reasons to avoid it:

Processing: Soy protein isolate undergoes heavy processing, which often involves the use of hexane, a chemical solvent.

GMO Concerns: A large percentage of soy crops are genetically modified, which may carry potential health risks.

Phytoestrogens: Soy contains compounds called phytoestrogens that can mimic estrogen in the body. This can disrupt hormonal balance and potentially lead to health issues, especially for those with thyroid problems or hormone-sensitive conditions.

Allergies and Sensitivities: Soy is a common allergen and can cause digestive issues or allergic reactions in some people.

When choosing a protein bar, it’s essential to read the labels and select options that prioritize whole, organic ingredients. Avoid artificial additives and highly processed ingredients like soy protein isolate. Better yet, try making your own protein bars at home for a healthy, customized snack that meets all your nutritional needs.

By paying attention to what’s in your protein bar, you can make informed choices that support your health and wellness goals.

So, tell me, friends: what’s your favorite brand of protein bars? What on-the-go snacks do you love?



More protein recipes:

Homemade peanut butter protein bars

Crispy chocolate coconut protein bars

Chocolate protein bars with sweet potato

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