The 10 Best Paleo Bars
This wiki has been updated 32 times since it was first published in August of 2015. For those who believe it is smart to eat the same foods as our ancestors, these paleo bars are ideal as snacks or supplements to a diet. Our selection includes everything from quick, tasty bites to substantial meal replacements. But you don't have to be on a paleo diet to appreciate them for their nutritional benefits. We've ranked them here by flavor, quality of ingredients, and value. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
June 23, 2020:
There are two major dividing lines when considering paleo bars, one pertaining to preference and the other to health. Along preference lines, the big divide is between savory and sweet, with savory options almost always being built around a meat foundation. This will mostly come down to personal preference, but it's not a bad idea to have some of each kind in the house.
On the health side, we wanted to make sure that we offered as strict a list as possible while still maintaining plenty of good options. That's why we got rid of the Caveman Foods products we'd previously included. They contain agave nectar, which may be lower on the glycemic index than sugar or honey, but it's also more processed and provides the body with fewer nutrients than honey or maple syrup. We also found that the chocolate in the Raw Crunch Bars contained organic sugar, which is a pretty clear violation of paleo norms, and could pose a serious problem in individuals sticking to an autoimmune paleo approach.
Some people will be looking for a paleo bar that can supplement a keto diet, and this can be a little tricky, as paleo allows for unprocessed sugars like honey and maple syrup, but keto decidedly does not. Keto people should probably stick to meat-based bars, and to opt for meats that have a higher fat content than others, as you don't want to overload on the protein. There are some sweet offerings out there that are keto-friendly, but you should do all you can to ensure that the bar you choose is close to net carb neutral.
Origins Of The Paleo Diet
The digestive system of hunter gatherers behaves in much the same way as the modern digestive system.
For many people, a paleo bar looks like any other snack bar on the market. Yet paleo bars are specifically designed to adhere to the paleo diet; a rather recent diet plan with a rich history. The paleo diet is simple to understand once its origins are explained. Simply put, the paleo diet is the eating pattern humans followed throughout most of their existence. Humans spent thousands of years as hunter-gatherers before the introduction of agriculture. These hunter-gatherers foraged for foods like leafy greens, berries, and vegetables, and hunted wild game. They lived a very mobile lifestyle, following the migration patterns of game animals and seeking shelter in favorable climates. They had little time to plant food, let alone care for and harvest crops. It wasn’t until about 12,000 years ago that hunter-gatherer culture gave way to agricultural societies.
Since then, modern hunter-gatherer numbers have dwindled. There are still hunting and gathering groups of people around the world, and we have learned a vital concept from them. The human digestive system has not changed much since ancient times. The digestive system of hunter gatherers behaves in much the same way as the modern digestive system. This is extremely important to understand, as it provides a link into the risks of agricultural society.
Foraging societies experienced nearly none of the health issues that plague Western societies. Their caloric intake was determined by what was available, and even the act of getting food expended energy. Most people think it is our lack of exercise that makes Western society more obese than hunter-gatherers. Yet a recent study comparing the modern Hadza foragers to Westerners found that the total energy expenditure between these cultures is relatively the same. This means that it is not simply a lack of activity that causes the rampant obesity in Western cultures. Researchers are beginning to understand that diet is the largest determining factor in health-related disorders such as obesity and its complications. Returning to a diet that closely mimics that of our foraging ancestors may be what helps cure many of these modern ailments. Food items like paleo bars are designed to easily bring this diet to the modern world.
Are Paleo Bars Healthy?
It is easy to understand any hesitation around things like paleo bars, as they may be misconstrued as diet foods. Western society gets more and more inundated with diet trends as obesity rates rise. The National Institutes of Health estimates over 66 percent of American adults are overweight. Step counters, the catalog of low calorie snacks and meals on the market , and modern workout and diet programs are all examples of diet culture at work in Western society. So, when a new diet or product like a paleo bar comes about, most people look at it with skepticism.
Paleo bars will also typically provide the body with key nutrients, such as vitamin A, Iron, and B-vitamins.
The great news is that paleo bars are not only for people adhering to the paleo diet. A paleo bar is a healthy, energizing snack for anyone. Typical snacks cannot compare to the nutritional content offered by paleo bars. For instance, fried potato chips have become synonymous with light snacking to hold a person over between mealtimes. A one ounce bag of fried potato chips contains about 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 15 grams of carbohydrates, and over 150 milligrams of sodium. One ounce of potato chips will only contain one gram of dietary fiber and two grams of protein. The calorie- and carb-rich snack will provide a small boost of energy, though it is often short lived as the body quickly burns through this fuel.
On the other hand, paleo bars are created to provide the body with the long-lasting energy and nutrients it needs to thrive. The average paleo bar will contain around the same number of calories as a bag of chips, but it is what is in these calories that sets paleo bars apart. The average paleo bar will be very low in sodium, yet full of protein, healthy saturated and polyunsaturated fats, dietary fibers, and complex carbohydrates. Paleo bars will also typically provide the body with key nutrients, such as vitamin A, Iron, and B-vitamins. When compared to other snacks, paleo bars may be the healthiest option on the market.
What To Look For In A Paleo Bar
Advocates for the paleo diet believe humans would be better off if we stuck to the ingredients our ancestors lived on. As such, only certain ingredients make it into paleo bars. Luckily, these tend to be the most nutrient dense foods around, and many different ingredient combinations have appeared over the years. Choosing between them is in large part a matter of preference, though there is one thing to consider that may make the decision easier.
High protein options are meant to give the body slow, lasting energy and keep it satiated for longer than other bars.
It is important to consider the purpose of the paleo bar before deciding to eat it. If the bar will be used for a quick boost of energy, consider the many fruit-heavy options. Fruit provides the body with nectar, which is a natural combination of sugars, soluble fibers, and nutrients. Eating a whole fruit bar instead of drinking fruit juice can decrease caloric intake while increasing fiber content. Eating fruits instead of fruit juices may also help prevent some disorders like diabetes in some people.
If the paleo bar is designed to replace a meal or keep the body full until the next mealtime, reach for a high protein option. Paleo bars are known for supplying clean protein from sources like buffalo, sunflower seeds, and even nutrient rich cricket flour. High protein options are meant to give the body slow, lasting energy and keep it satiated for longer than other bars. Anyone looking to cure a craving for sweets will be delighted to know that there is a paleo bar for this, as well. Many sweet options include ingredients like paleo-friendly chocolate, coconut, and organic almonds. There is truly a paleo bar for every type of hunger.