How to Find The Yummiest and Healthiest Snack Bars

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH

You can help supplement a meal with the healthiest snack bars on any anti-aging dietMost people think that the yummiest and healthiest snack bars can’t be the same ones. Unhealthy snack bars, filled with sugar and artificial flavors, often taste delicious, while stereotypically healthy snack bars just… don’t. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. More and more companies are producing delicious snack bars that are healthy too. Here are six ways to find the healthiest snack bars to delight your taste buds.

Plan for When You’ll Need a Snack

Everyone has been there at some time in their lifetime. Hunger pains and skipped meals may have you reaching for junk food, but this is a great time to reach for the healthiest snack bars instead. While skipping meals isn’t recommended, nor is always relying on snack bars, if you aren’t able to eat lunch, then opt for something healthy instead. Avoid candy bars and hamburgers, and bring a snack bar filled with healthy ingredients and proteins so you’re ready when hunger strikes.

Find a Snack Bar with Low-glycemic Carbs

Carbohydrates are often misunderstood and considered bad. But it is helpful to remember that not all carbs are equal. The healthiest snack bars have carbs that are low on the glycemic index. Low-glycemic foods like whole grains break down slowly in your body so you don’t get a big spike, followed by a crash, in your blood sugar levels. Choose a snack bar that is made from whole foods and is lightly sweetened with natural sugars such as pure maple syrup, honey, or agave syrup. Try to avoid those which are made with high-fructose corn syrup.

High-glycemic foods make your blood sugar increase very quickly; this is problematic over time because the body has to respond by putting more insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin resistance and increased blood sugar can occur if this is not controlled.

Avoid the Wrong Types of Fat

Like sugars, oils can be good for you or terrible for you. Two of the worst oils that you can eat, unfortunately, are in many snack bars. Make sure you avoid hydrogenated oils and trans fatty acids. Many companies have removed trans fats from most of their foods, but some may still put it in there. If there is partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredients list, just know that this product does contain some trans fat. According to the Food and Drug Administration, a product containing less than 0.5 mg of trans fat in it per serving, can be listed as trans-fat-free.

Hydrogenated oils are often used because they are so cheap and help increase the shelf life of products. Margarine and vegetable shortening are just some of the oils that are bad for you.

Some healthy oils include avocado oil, olive oil, and coconut oil. These oils can help reduce blood sugar levels and help with decreasing inflammation in the body.

Get a Good Amount of Protein

Essential fatty acids in the healthiest snack barsProteins are made up of amino acids that help repair muscles and improve your immune function.

One way to measure the amount of protein within the healthiest snack bars that you are eating is through the Biological Value (BV) scale. This measures how much of the protein can be used by the body. The higher that the BV percentage is, the better that the food is for you. Hydrolyzed whey protein, for example, is higher than most proteins such as beef or peanuts.

Don’t Short Yourself on Nutrition When Under Stress

Life is all about growing, healing, repairing, and changing. Though it is seen more easily in children, your body is continuing to grow and repair itself behind the scenes. One important way it does this is through the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response. This system keeps diligent watch over the need to face any stressors that may arise.

Stress can be seen in the body when you suddenly come down with a cold or the stomach flu. Stress, too, can be seen after a hard day’s work or a frightening medical diagnosis. The body responds to all of these stressors via the NEM stress response. Through six specialized circuits, it sends signals to create hormones to fight against foreign bacterial invaders, produce dopamine and serotonin to help you feel good again, and increase and decrease hunger as needed.

The body needs the right amount of nutrition to make the NEM stress response work at the optimal level. One of the ways to do this is by eating the healthiest snack bars possible. Without the right nutrition, the body can begin to run out of the supplies that it needs to create the hormones to deal with the stressors that it faces.

The adrenal glands are one of the prime organs responsible for creating the hormones that manage stress. The adrenal glands are located on top of the kidneys, and they are one of the body’s main powerhouses to make and signal the hormones to work as they should. The thyroid gland and the reproductive organs are also part of the triad of hormone regulators.

If a woman has already difficulties with her thyroid, the ovaries and adrenal glands try to make up for it. Over time, however, they too suffer. Some of the symptoms of hormonal disruptions include:

  • Infertility
  • Feeling cold
  • Lethargic
  • Thinning hair
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Increased weight around the stomach area
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Lengthy or painful menstrual cycles

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) can ultimately be the result of prolonged stress and adrenal exhaustion.

AFS is not just one symptom, but it can only be seen when looking at multiple symptoms at a time. It can begin in ways that go almost unnoticed. You may feel more tired than usual or need a third cup of coffee to get moving. These symptoms can come and go over time. They exist in a continuum of symptoms and severity. Stressful events that keep coming without time for your body to recover worsen the symptoms that you may experience. What was once just tiredness can turn into complete exhaustion that no amount of caffeine can help.

In the advanced stages of AFS, the symptoms become very confusing as the body is spiraling out of control and the symptoms become more severe. That is why it is best to address the problems as they occur with a healthcare provider that is trained in recognizing conditions involving the adrenal glands.

And this is why it is important to support your body with the nutrition it needs, especially if you are going through a stressful time.

Learn How to Make the Healthiest Snack Bars Yourself

The convenience of a prepackaged snack bar is nice, but the freshness and the deliciousness of a homemade snack bar totally outweigh the store-bought ones. Plus, making it yourself ensures that you know exactly what is in your snack bar and that you are only using the best ingredients for your body. Snack bars are not difficult to make like some complicated meals; they can be completed quickly and easily.

Here is one simple recipe:

No-Bake Maple-Cacao Snack Bars


  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup raw nut butter (almond or sunflower works well)
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cacao nibs
  • 1/8 teaspoon (pinch) of salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries (optional)


  1. Combine maple syrup and nut butter into a medium bowl and thoroughly mix.
  2. Add in oat flour and continue to mix until it is very sticky.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and gently stir. The sticky mixture should be evenly coating the oats, seeds, and nibs.
  4. Place in a 9×9 baking tin that has been lined with parchment paper, firmly press down the mixture, and let the snack bars sit for 15-20 minutes as the oats absorb the moisture.
  5. Cut the bars in the pan and carefully remove them. Store in a sealed container, at room temperature, for 6 days. Refrigerate up to 10 days, or freeze for up to several months.

Tips for Success:

  • Grind up oats in a food processor for 2 minutes if you do not have oat flour handy.
  • Agave or coconut nectar may be used instead of the maple syrup.
  • Individually wrap the bars and freeze them to make them easy to grab when you’re on the go.

Enjoy this recipe for the healthiest snack bars, and find more yourself. Planning to bring one along on your busy day packs the nutrition to support your health goals and gives you plenty of energy for getting things done.

© Copyright 2012 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

The healthiest snack bars can be found at natural food stores, purchased online, or made at home (in less than an hour!). Just make sure they are filled with the right ingredients.

Healthiest snack bars
5 - "Hello Dr. Lam,"
Hello Dr. Lam,

First of all, thank you for such a useful website. I purchased the Adrenal Yoga DVD Kit from Amazon. It is really good and I can see some results just after 10 days of following it.