Indy Style

How to Choose the Best Protein Bar

Are you "choosy" when it comes to your protein bars in the morning? Do you read the list of ingredients? If not, you might want to start. Today on Indy Style, Registered Dietitian Michelle Dudash explains what might really be hiding in your favorite morning snack!

  1. Read the first few ingredients

Ingredients are listed in order by weight. Therefore, sugar should not be in the first few ingredients.

  1. Watch out for hidden sugars.

Otherwise you're basically eating a candy bar. Instead, look for ingredients that contain fiber, protein, and good fats for sustained energy.

Natural sugars with good nutrients: Whole-fruit carbs like dates and date paste, raisins and raisin paste, dried apricots, and fig paste contain fiber, potassium, and antioxidants, while most added sugars do not.

Added sugars: These are some common added sugars found in protein bars: brown rice syrup, dried cane syrup, tapioca syrup, chicory fiber syrup, fructose syrup, beet syrup, corn syrup, molasses powder, glucose syrup, honey, and oat syrup solids.

  1. Understand protein sources.

If your aim is to eat more natural, whole foods, look for at least a couple of these protein foods on the label: roasted soybeans, egg whites, almond butter, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, or almonds. Most of these provide good fats, too.

Sports nutritionists choose whey protein as the gold standard for protein powder for muscle growth.

Shoot for 5-10 grams protein for a snack bar or 10-20 or more grams for a meal replacement.

  1. All fibers aren't created equal.

Whole foods like fruits, oats, nuts, and seeds contain naturally occurring fiber. Rice flour is just refined white flour.

Aim for 3-6 grams fiber per bar, with 5 grams being considered an excellent source of fiber.

  1. Fats that aren't doing you any favors.

Avoid partially hydrogenated oils, which may put you at risk for heart disease. The FDA is even considering banning them.

Palm oil is a highly saturated fat.

In the bar category, it's better to get the majority of fat from the whole foods in the bar, like nuts and seeds.

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