Tanya Constantine

Many popular varieties have more saturated fat and sugar than a doughnut.

Zee Krstic
January 11, 2018

You might believe if it says "protein bar" it's a healthy snack—I mean, the word “protein” is right there in the name, and protein is important to a healthy diet, right? So when you’re looking for something not terrible in the aisles of a convenience store (hey, it happens), you might be tempted to grab one.

But you may want to take a beat. A recent report from Food Navigator highlights just how bad some of the nation’s leading protein bars can be.

The site shared a sweeping list of popular protein bars compiled by the Protectivity insurance company, which shows how much saturated fat, calories, sugar, (and, yes, protein) there are in more than 50 different bars on the market. (Here’s a spreadsheet of the data they compiled.)

It turns out that more than a third of the products contain more saturated fat than a glazed donut from Krispy Kreme. Ten of the bars surpassed the popular junk food’s sugar levels, too.

New Year. New Food. Healthy eating starts here, with the Cooking Light Diet.

Actually, many of the protein bars on this list contain more saturated fat and sugar than some of the most notoriously unhealthy snacks on the market. Just to drive the point home, we’ve taken a look at five of the most unhealthy bars you could possibly pick up—and found their equivalent junk foods.

1) Nutramino Coconut Protein Bar = A McDonald’s Big Mac

Photo courtesy of Nutramino, McDonalds

This bar has a whopping 9.9g of saturated fat—or half the recommended value in one little bar. You could plow through a McDonald’s Big Mac for the same amount of saturated fat—and nearly as much unsaturated fat.

2) Quest Protein Cookie = 12 Chips Ahoy Cookies

Photo Courtesy of Quest, Nabisco

Yeah, we know what you’re thinking: when is a cookie ever really healthy? But if there’s one cookie that’s really unhealthy, it’s this one—each of these products has 10g of saturated fat. That’s about the same amount you would consume if you ate 25 Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies.

3) OhYeah! Chocolate and Caramel Protein Bar = Two Whole Avocados

Photo Courtesy of OhYeah!, Food & Wine

This popular option is a sneaky offender if you aren’t reading the nutrition label. You’ll encounter 7g of saturated fat and nearly 9g of sugar in a single bar. You could eat two whole avocados or about 30 M&Ms for the same effect.

4) Nature Valley Coconut Almond Protein Bar = A Slice of Pizza

Photo courtesy of Nature Valley, TIME

The packaging on this seemingly harmless option touts 10g of protein and a gluten-free makeup; but don’t be fooled: These bars pack 5g of saturated fat in each bar, and upwards of 7g of sugar. You’d get about the same amount of saturated fat eating a slice of pepperoni pan pizza from Pizza Hut.

5) PowerBar Chocolate Brownie Protein Plus Bar = Six Oreo Cookies

Photo courtesy of PowerBar, Wikimedia

There’s a common thread with many popular protein bars—a lot of sugar. But we simply cannot comprehend how this one bar packs an astonishing 27g of sugar in just a few bites. You could have about six Oreos instead, which is two snack packs.

6) The One You Should Try

Photo: Amazon

If you’re really looking for a redeeming protein bar that can help you power up after a hard workout, there’s the RXBar. The blueberry variety is just 210 calories, has 1g of saturated fat, and no added sugars. They’re a wholesome choice that you don’t need to worry about ruining the rest of your daily intake.