Sometimes the #fitspiration that pops up in your feed is spot-on. But other times it’s deceiving. A post-work out photo of someone chugging Vitamin Water? Little does that selfie-taker know that Vitamin Water is loaded with sugar. And some premade smoothies — that, granted, look delicious — can pack over 700 calories. That's more than a cheeseburger.
And what about the trendiest grab-and-go health bars? How do those measure up? Here, we break down seven trendy healthy snacks, exposing the health benefits of each. Plus, we see how it tastes. Because a healthy snack is useless if it tastes disgusting.
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$2 each, Whole Foods
As you can plainly see on the package, there’s nothing artificial in these protein bars. They come in eight different flavors, like Coffee Chocolate, Pumpkin Spice and Chocolate Sea Salt. All the bars have egg whites, dates and nuts, making them high in fiber and protein — and Paleo-friendly. So, health-wise RXBar holds up. As far as taste, the results were mixed when sampled by Metro staffers. Some thought they tasted great, others thought they were bland. The Chocolate Coconut and Peanut Butter flavors ranked the highest for taste.
$2 each, Whole Foods
With flavors like Black Olives & Walnuts and Kale & Pumpkin Seeds, Mediterra sets itself apart from the various chocolate-flavored grab-and-go health bars out there. Metro staffers were hesitant to try them, but once they did, the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. They really do taste like what is advertised on the package. The Mediterra bars are lower in protein than the other bars on this list, but they are high in fiber and low in sugar and carbs. At only 140 calories each, they’re a healthier alternative to trail mix, which is often high in sodium and sugar.
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$2 a bar, $5.95 for the jerky bites and nuts, Whole Foods
If you’re a city dweller with a pioneering Paleo heart, this one’s for you. Meat is one of the obvious forms of protein and with EPIC bars, you can bite into bison meat, caribou, beef, chicken or bacon while out and about. The nutritional information differs for each, but each bar is about 200 calories and packs 11 grams of protein and is low in carbs. Surprisingly, it’s low in sodium too. Most beef jerky has about 416 mg of sodium. The EPIC bars keep it around 300. Taste-wise, Metro staffers were into it — especially compared to regular beef jerky, liking that it tasted way less salty.
Not a meat eater? Well, it turns out crickets are a terrific source of protein. The little bugs — which are ground up into a flour in the Exo bars — have more protein than beef and eggs, and also more than twice the amount of iron that spinach has. The Exo bars are also high in fiber. But while it may only take you a minute to wolf down, the bars have 290 calories each — more than the others on this list. As for the taste, while you can’t taste the crickets, the overall response was eh. The bars come in flavors like banana bread and apple crisp and while you get a hint of that, overall, they taste like a bad, slightly sweet brownie.
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With flavors like Cookie Dough and Mint Chocolate, a Probar looks and tastes like a more satisfying candy bar. There’s a strong chocolate taste and you’ll definitely be full after eating it. As long as you are eating ProBar as a meal replacement and not a snack, it’s a healthy choice. It’s low in sugar and high in protein and healthy fats.
$1.50 each, Whole Foods
Health Warrior brands itself as the only health bar with chia as the main ingredient, and it’s true. They are packed with the nutrient-rich seed. Chia seeds are small but full of fiber, protein, healthy fats and magnesium. While the chia bar snacks are low in calories, sugar and sodium, they don’t pack as much punch on the health front in terms of protein and other vitamins. Taste-wise, if you are into chia seeds, you’ll like 'em. If not, you won’t. Health Warrior also has bigger Superfood Protein bars, which do have more calcium and protein, while still being low in sodium and saturated fat. They are also low in sugar, so don’t expect it to taste like a candy bar.
These gummies and flavored gum come in flavors like Birthday Cake, Rainbow Ice and S’mores. Unlike other gummies you see on the market, they don’t have artificial color or preservatives — instead they’re colored with fruits and veggies rich in Vitamin C like black carrot and radish. While these snacks aren’t going to give you what your body needs, like fiber and protein, it’s a healthier version of what you’ll find by the register. Taste-wise, the flavors do really taste like what’s advertised. And an added bonus: a portion of the money goes to help poverty-fighting non-profits both here and around the globe.
All photos by Lenyon Whitaker.
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence