Finding the Right Breakfast Bars

by in Healthy Recipes, Healthy Tips, June 17, 2009

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We’ve already filled you in on the best choices for snack bars and energy bars. Now we’ve scoped out the most popular breakfast bar brands to find out which are the healthiest breakfast choice.

What Is a Breakfast Bar?
These types of food bars are often referred to as “cereal bars.” Instead of being packed with nuts, granola, or oodles of protein like snack or energy bars, they typically have a softer texture and may try to replicate some common American breakfast foods like pastries and cereal. Some varieties have fruit fillings or icing on top, which might be a sign of high amounts of sugar.

Any kind of food bar provides grab-and-go convenience and portion control; this definitely makes them handy for a fast breakfast or a between-meal snack. Just walk through your grocery store, and you’ll see that there’s an astounding range of choices — some healthy and some not so much!

What to Look For
Most breakfast bars range from 90 to 150 calories. This isn’t really enough calories for breakfast, so if you do choose a bar like this, eat it with some fresh fruit, non-fat or low-fat yogurt or a glass of milk to complete the meal.

When it comes to the ingredients, look for products that include items you can pronounce. I found a lot of these packaged bars are loaded with sweeteners and preservatives.

    What you DO want:
  • Whole grains for nutrients and fiber
  • Real fruit

I did some research to find the highest quality bars out there; here are a few that I like:

Make Your Own
When you do make them yourself, you get to control the quality of the ingredients (no high fructose corn syrup in these recipes!) and pick and choose your favorite flavors. You probably don’t have time to whip up a batch of these in the morning before you head out to work, so cook them ahead of time. Wrap them individually and store in the pantry, fridge or freezer. Or pop a few in a plastic baggie and keep them in your desk at work.

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  9. August says:

    180 calories – A bit too high. I guess no one buys the South Beach breakfast bars.

  10. Linda G says:

    l also like the Luna bars. My current favorite is the vanilla almond (used to be the Toasted Nuts'n Cranberry). I have tried many breakfast bars and the Luna bars are the only ones that satisfy me until lunch and do not cause a spike and fall in my sugar. I actually have a monthly reoccurring order from Amazon.

  11. Nancy Golomb says:

    We love the oats and choc especially my 19 year old son! They are filling and hig in fiber.

  12. taunymara says:

    I have found chocolate peanut nougat bars from adkins. They have about 5 g. of fiber, 10 g. of protein, and 170 calories each. Great for on the go!!

  13. Kim says:

    I love them and really like the new flavors – Strawberry and almond in particular. For me they fit the bill – they are filling, high fiber, low fat and when I have them with a piece of fruit I feel satisfied until lunch time.

  14. Ginny says:

    where do you purchase these bars? Your favorite grocery?
    What is the sugar content? Thanks

  15. tamidor says:

    Hi Ginny,
    Your local Trader Joe's have these bars (check http://www.traderjoes.com to find one near you). They contains 13 grams of sugar per bar.

  16. m_davidson says:

    I definitely plan to try the Lara Bars. I looked them up and they sound phenomenal! Thanks!

  17. Sharon says:

    Lara Bars are high in fat, sugar and carbs. Not good for diabetics. Also have some saturated fats.

  18. tamidor says:

    Hi Nancy,
    The Special K Bars contain 90 calories per bar (which is decent)–but as Dana mentioned should be supplemented with a fruit if you plan on having them for breakfast. Problem I find is the tremendous amount of processed ingredients, many of them different types of sugars and the "Partially Hydrogenated Oils" which is a source of trans fats. These bars also contain 1 grams of fiber, which is not significant. Some of the bars Dana mentioned contain more fiber, more wholesome ingredients, and no trans fat. Let us know if you try any.

  19. Cecelia says:

    My grocery store has them – Kroger – in with all their other bars like Clif & Power Bars etc.

  20. tamidor says:

    Hi Alyson,
    My local Trader Joe's and Whole Foods have them too. Like Cecelia mentioned, they're next to all the bars like Clif, Luna, Power, etc..

  21. La Teeda says:

    Guaranteed everyone on this site reads the nutritional facts.

  22. danawhite says:

    Hi Macmkaz –
    Thanks for your question. We checked out the ingredient list on the Fiber Plus bars and found they contained processed ingredients including sweeteners and hydrogenated oils (the bars that made our top picks did not). Stay tuned for an upcoming article on fiber and fiber products coming soon!

  23. MyTwoBeauties says:

    Also, you can get them at the Vitamin Shoppe!

  24. Deb says:

    I love the Odawalla Banana nut bar..I haven't tried the super protein..

  25. Marci says:

    My spouse is pre-diabetes and my 8 year old has high cholesterol. The dietician suggested Luna/Cliff bars. As with any product, even organic, you have to look at the grams of sugar.

  26. Anna says:

    i agree, the HFCS and artificial sweeteners can have a negative effect on your body's metabolism, and your body knows it is getting "foreign substances." This is why the kashi bars are such a good pick, ans still higher in fiber and protein. I think cliff "z bars" (the ones for kids) are great also.

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