Protein Bar Woes & Three Smart Snack Tips

Just so you know, I was not born a jerky lover. I wasn’t even the banana with almond butter type. You could find me, in common moments of low blood sugar, noshing on a Nature Valley granola bar every day around 3 p.m. Then, I became a wannabe protein bar person and started eating *shutter* Quest Bars for breakfast AND dessert. And guess what? These bars never did the trick. 

Now, as a nutrition expert, I mimic the helpful recommendations I give my patients. During my first Whole30 reset, I tried jerky. And let me tell you; I was missing out! This isn’t the same soy and sugar infused sticks I saw at the gas station as a child. These are high protein, quality dried meat, with just spice added. Now, I hide meat sticks in my gym bag, and my purse. Please don’t tell my husband. 

Use my tips to improve your snack habits. If I can do it; so can you!

Snack Tip 1: Know the difference between a granola bar and protein bar.

As a dietitian, I’m likely more aware of the fierce American food marketing out there than you are. But, here’s some insight.

How often is your grocery cart filled with attractive and sugar-laden protein bars you’ve seen on the news/magazine/sponsored add from your favorite Bachelorette contestant? It’s okay, that was me once, too. This isn’t a good measure of a product’s nutritious content or if it’s going to satisfy your body for awhile. We need protein to keep up satisfied. 

And, most protein bars don’t have a significant amount of protein. Meaning, they actually contain more carbohydrate or fat.

5 granola bars that have virtually no protein:

  • ClifBar
  • LunaBar
  • Nature Valley Bar
  • Kind Bars
  • GoMacro Bars

This realization of “Where is the protein?” is when my meat-stick obsession began. I was struggling to find a real-food bar that actually contained what the label touted. Plus, they are versatile for snack pairing. I would rather add my own source of sugar; an apple, some berries, a date, than have a company do it for me. Call me an elitist. 

protein bars

Snack Tip 2: Pick A Protein Bar with Actual Protein 

This may seem like an obvious recommendation, but it tends to be overlooked by many. Look for bars containing high-quality sources of protein, such as whey or pea protein, and steer clear of the soy-protein isolate blends. Added bonus if there is 2nd tier levels of protein, meaning they’re primarily fat but have some protein, like hemp seeds or nut butter in the mix! The best protein bars for blood sugar balance include:

  1. B.T.R. Nation: each bar has 8-10g of protein and has NO added sugar or sugar alcohols.
  2. Resist Protein Bars: each bar has 15g of protein and has a 1:4 ratio of protein to net carbohydrates. Use code WHIT15 for 15% off your 1st order
  3. Paleovalley Bars: each bar has 9g of protein and is made with a beef bone broth protein. 
  4. Healthy Eating on The Go: with 12g of protein per bar, these are the better for you Perfect bar option! Use my code whitness for 12% off!

Snack Tip 3: Real nourishment comes from real food.

Rotisserie Chicken + an apple? A great snack, but a little awkward and dangerous in this Texas heat. But, jerky + cashews? This nutritious travel option will keep you satiated better than a sugar-laden energy bar.

Feeling snacky while traveling? TSA doesn’t care about meat sticks! They stop me for everything, including my collagen that looks just like cocaine, apparently.

protein bars

But, these 50 calorie protein-rich snacks are easy to pack and I doubt anyone is going to steal your sticks. You’ll be a jet-setting trendsetter, expect conversations to arise. Otherwise, I suggest you bring silencing headphones.

My granola bars days are long gone. And, my palette has really diversified. Try my new favorite snack pairings below. These real food options can be eaten on or off of a reset. They work great in Food Freedom, too! What are a few of yours?

Snack Options and Ideas

  • Epic Chicken Sriracha bar & raw cashews 
  • The New Primal’s peppered turkey meat sticks with an iced coffee
  • Zucchini slices topped with guacamole and rotisserie chicken
  • Carrot sticks & spicy guacamole
  • Chia seed pudding with flaxseed and berries
  • Apple with almond butter and hemp seed sprinkles
  • A jerky stick with almonds and a cutie orange.
  • Celery sticks with cashew butter

Looking for the full snack run down? Find 60+ Dietitian Approved Diabetes Friendly snacks here!

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