Granola bars are the Swiss Army knife of snacks: they’re small, portable, napkin-free eats that can tackle a variety of situations. But not all bars are created equal, and unfortunately these tasty bites can be loaded with more sugar than a Pumpkin Spice Latté and so low in fiber and protein that hunger will come knocking before you’ve even tossed the wrapper.

So when faced with the ever-growing granola bar selection, how do you pick a smart snack over a smartly marketed candy bar? Here's what dietitian Jessica Garay Redmond says are the top three things to check before you chow down:

  1. Keep sugar in check. When you're looking for a snack, choose a bar with less than eight grams of sugar. Need to replace a meal? Opt for versions that have a similar amount of sugar and protein gram for gram. And don’t forget that “natural” sugars (brown rice syrup, tapioca syrup, honey, maple syrup) can still contribute to sugar crashes and lead to weight gain and a host of other health issues Consumption of added sugars and indicators of cardiovascular disease risk among US adolescents. Welsh J.A., Sharma A., Cunningham S.A.,et. al., Nutrition and Health Science Program, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta, GA, Circulation. 2011 Jan 25;123(3):249-57. High-fructose corn syrup: everything you wanted to know, but were afraid to ask. Fulgoni V 3rd, Nutrition Impact, LLC, Battle Creek, MI, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008 Dec;88(6):1715S. .
  2. Make fiber and protein your friends. They’ll keep you feeling fuller longer Dietary fiber and body weight. Slavin, J.L. Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota. Nutrition, 2005 Mar;21(3):411-8. Effects of a high protein diet on body weight and comorbidities associated with obesity. Clifton, P. Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia. The British Journal of Nutrition, 2012 Aug;108 Suppl 2:S122-9. and ensure you don’t chow down on everything in sight later.
  3. Investigate the ingredients list: Look for ingredients you recognize. (What are you, soy protein isolate?) And a good rule of thumb is to hold the ingredient list to fewer than 10 items—but less is always more.

Ready to grab a bar and go? Check out our lineup of 15 bars that are actually healthy below. Every snack bar clocks in at or below 200 calories and seven grams of sugar, packs at least three grams of fiber, and is made with totally pronounceable ingredients. And when you need a more substantial bar, our top meal-replacement picks are all between 200 and 300 calories and have at least three grams of fiber. Since they're replacing a meal, these guys are slightly higher in sugar than their snacky counterparts, but we hold them at 14 grams or below and—important—keep the protein around that same number to prevent sugar crashes.

Raise the Bar

Health Warrior Chia Bar
Photo: Health Warrior

This 100-calorie bar packs a lot of punch in a small package. It's vegan friendly, gluten-free, and has a base of antioxidant-packed chia seeds. Plus, the flavor comes from real apples and cinnamon.

Bar type: snack
Calories: 100
Fiber: 4g
Protein: 3g
Sugar: 5g

Annie's Gluten-Free Double Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
Photo: Annie's

These little bars are packed with enough chocolate chips to satisfy a major sweets craving—without the sugar crash. Made with whole-grain oats, they’re like a guilt-free chocolate chip cookie. Pair it with a yogurt to up the protein count.

Bar type: snack
Calories: 110
Fiber: 3g
Protein: 1g
Sugar: 7g

KIND Cashew and Ginger Spice
Photo: KIND

A little sweet, a little spicy—no, we’re not describing your ideal OKCupid date. This bar hits all the right flavor notes, includes oft-ignored cashews, and throws in inflammation-reducing ginger for an extra immunity boost.

Bar type: snack
Calories: 200
Fiber: 5g
Protein: 6g
Sugar: 4g

Ginnybakes Karma, Love, and Apricot Ginnybar
Photo: Ginnybakes

This bar has more going for it than its name. Luscious apricots and nuts blend with a dash of sea salt and vanilla for a gluten-free/vegan/Paleo bar that’s nothing but good karma.

Bar type: snack
Calories: 190
Fiber: 4g
Protein: 4g
Sugar: 7g

KIND Dark Chocolate Chili Almond
Photo: KIND

This sassy little bar is full of kick. Three types of chilis (oh hey, habanero) are mixed with chocolatey nuts for a bar that’ll leave you wanting more—but later in the day, because it’s got enough fiber and protein to keep you satisfied for hours.

Bar type: snack
Calories: 200
Fiber: 7g
Protein: 6g
Sugar: 5g

Annie’s Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cookie Granola Bars
Photo: Annie's

Who can resist an oatmeal cookie? Annie’s version includes organic cinnamon and raisins to give this bar an authentic cookie taste without weird preservatives, colors, or even gluten. The calories are low enough to make it the perfect companion to a handful of almonds to bump up the protein and feel fuller longer.

Bar type: snack
Calories: 110
Fiber: 3g
Protein: 1g
Sugar: 7g

Larabar Renola Cocoa Coconut
Photo: Larabar

Dreaming of a beachy locale while parked at your desk? Larabar’s Cocoa Coconut might add a little reality to that head trip. A variety of nuts—almonds, pecans, and cashews, to be exact—get tossed with cocoa nibs, pumpkin seeds, and toasted coconut for a sweet taste with the right amount of crunch.

Bar type: snack
Calories: 200
Fiber: 3g
Protein: 5g
Sugar: 5g

KIND Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt
Photo: KIND

Nuts for nuts? This is the bar for you. A blend of almonds, peanuts, and walnuts are drizzled with chocolate and topped with sea salt for a snack that feels like dessert. But it’s low in calories and high in fiber—and satisfaction.

Bar type: snack
Calories: 200
Fiber: 7g
Protein: 6g
Sugar: 5g

Zing Chocolate Coconut Single Bar
Photo: Zing Bars

Almond butter, dark chocolate, and coconut—three of nature’s best ingredients (and arguably three of the best things in life) meet in this high-protein, gluten-free bar. Big fiber and protein counts truly make this a pocket-sized meal.

Bar type: meal replacement
Calories: 210
Fiber: 6g
Protein: 10g
Sugar: 13g

Larabar Uber Dark Chocolate Turtle
Photo: Larabar

If you’re the type to go straight for the caramel turtles in any chocolate sampler, meet your favorite new bar. Pecans are smothered in dark chocolate for a sweet-and-nutty granola bar version of the classic confection.

Bar type: meal replacement
Calories: 220
Fiber: 3g
Protein: 5g
Sugar: 8g

Simple Squares Coffee

Why should your morning mug get all the fun? Coffee beans meet and mingle with cashews, almonds, and coconut in this winning bar. And the seven whole-food ingredients are raw and Paleo friendly.

Bar type: meal replacement
Calories: 230
Fiber: 3g
Protein: 6g
Sugar: 9g

22 Days Nutrition Nut Butter Buddha
Photo: 22 Days Nutrition

Nut-butter fiends, take note: This bar gives you a super dose of sunflower seed and cashew butters. Walnuts, hemp protein, and almonds also join the party with a thin veil of chocolate covering the whole shebang.

Bar type: meal replacement
Calories: 230
Fiber: 5g
Protein: 10g
Sugar: 11g

Larabar ALT Lemon Pound Cake
Photo: Larabar

Nibbling on a lemon pound cake—oh, you fancy, huh? Make your high tea a high protein one by adding this bar. A grand 10 grams of protein will help you flex those biceps while also curling your pinky.

Bar type: meal replacement
Calories: 210
Fiber: 3g
Protein: 10g
Sugar: 14g

22 Days Nutrition Enlightened Pumpkin Seed
Photo: 22 Days Nutrition

No need to carve a jack-o’-lantern to get your pumpkin seed fix. This bar has you covered. And there’s enough protein and fiber here to keep you full and satisfied, even if Halloween candy is calling your name.

Bar type: meal replacement
Calories: 250
Fiber: 5g
Protein: 11g
Sugar: 9g

Rise Almond Honey Protein Bar

Despite having just three ingredients, this bar is no slacker. It’s got a whopping 20 grams of protein to keep you trucking through a long workout, and the almond-honey combo has just the right amount of sweetness.

Bar type: meal replacement
Calories: 280
Fiber: 4g
Protein: 20g
Sugar: 13g

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