So you’ve decided to take the plunge. Maybe you’re sick of fad diets claiming to help you lose weight but never truly delivering on their promises. Or perhaps you’ve decided to check out the health benefits of cutting out gluten and refined sugars in your diet. No matter your reasoning, the Paleolithic (or Paleo) Diet is an increasingly popular option for health nuts everywhere.
Fortunately, following a Paleo diet doesn’t mean you have to eliminate protein bars altogether. You may be surprised how many protein bars are actually Paleo friendly.
This is article serves to:
- Give recommendations for the best Paleo protein bars available
- Provide a high-level description of the Paleo diet
- Highlight some of the Paleo friendly foods and the dietary restrictions
Since most of you will already be pretty familiar with what the Paleo diet is and the science behind it, we’ll start by giving our picks of the best Paleo bars and then dive into all of the extra information. If you’re newer to the Paleo diet scroll down past our Paleo bar recommendations before reading about the protein bars themselves.
Our Picks: The 3 Best Paleo Bars
Protein bars are a quick, convenient snack regardless of whether or not you’re on a specific diet, and since a fast-paced life often leads to fewer home-cooked meals, protein bars help bridge the gap, allowing you to stick to your eating plan even when you’re constantly on the go. Since Paleo cuts out grains, trying to find Paleo friendly protein bars can be daunting. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular brands, and what each brings to the proverbial table.
RxBar Real Food Paleo Protein bars definitely are as advertised. A Paleo bar made with REAL FOOD!
Not only do these Paleo protein bars use egg white protein and raw almonds, but they do not include any grains, added sugars, gluten, soy, or any artificial ingredients. In fact, each bar will never include any more than 8 ingredients that are not 100% natural.
Starting with egg whites for protein, nuts for texture, and dates to bind everything together, the ingredients for RXBARS are printed in bold text right on the wrappers, so there’s no guessing involved.
Each paleo bar contains 12 grams of protein and is only 200 calories!
I recommend trying out the variety pack so you can get a taste of all seven delicious flavors including coconut cacao, blueberry, coffee cacao, peanut butter, apple cinnamon, and pumpkin spice.
Although a relatively new kid on the block, this list would not be complete without a mention of Health Warrior products.
Now in addition to their chia bar, they offer a chia Paleo protein bar!
These Paleo diet bars use primarily organic whole foods and plant proteins and are non-GMO, gluten free, dairy free, and vegan-friendly! In addition to containing 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per protein bar, the chia-based bar will keep you full for hours.
I am a personal consumer of Health Warrior products and I can say personally that their taste is second to none.
Now time for something a little different, how about an all natural, 100% grass fed beef Paleo bar! It’s not every day that you can have fresh meat in bar form and EPIC has created just that.
This is the only worthy option on that market right now to get that savory taste of buffalo or even bacon as a snack and is 100% guilt free! In addition to getting a hearty 11 grams of protein, this Paleo friendly bar also has plenty of B vitamins to give you that energy on the go.
EPIC prides themselves on “doing more with less” and “honoring nature”. Their “whole animal project” is definitely worth investigating.
Move over jerky, there’s a new kid in town.
Here are a few other notable options for awesome Paleo friendly protein bars:
Larabars Paleo Protein Bars. As one of the most popular and affordable options on the market for an energy boost, Larabars are made with a variety of nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables — and that’s usually it. However, many of these protein bars contain peanuts, so if you’re sticking to a strict Paleo diet, be sure to double-check ingredients before buying.
Julian Bakery’s Paleo Bars. Though only available online, Julian Bakery offers over 20 different flavors of Paleo bars, ranging from Orange to Coconut Cream to Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, with 20 grams of protein in each protein bar. To satisfy your sweet tooth, each bar is also sweetened naturally, with either monk fruit or organic stevia leaf. This is especially awesome when considering all of the cons of artificial sweeteners.
Exo Paleo Bars. This bar is unique because of its unusual protein source: crickets. The insects are powdered and combined with other natural ingredients like dates to make a thoroughly nutritious snack.
What Is Paleo Dieting?
The paleo diet, often referred to as the “caveman diet”, is more than just a diet for some and a lifestyle for most.
The idea behind Paleo is that the human body operates at its best when nourished by only natural foods that our early ancestors would’ve eaten, without processed and refined sugars. The motto is simple: If our early ancestors didn’t eat it, neither should you. Simple carbs are off-limits in favor of complex carbs — which is why the Paleo diet allows virtually unlimited consumption of fruits and vegetables. And there’s no need to restrict calories or resist the urge to snack, as is typical with most diets. The focus is on the quality of the food you’re eating rather than the quantity. The fact that snacking isn’t frowned upon makes Paleo bars an even better option. You can enjoy them without the guilt.
In his book The Paleo Diet, Loren Cordain, Ph.D., makes the claim that you can have a much healthier life by eating like our prehistoric ancestors.
What is the Science Behind Paleo Dieting?
Robb Wolf has stated that “The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility.”
There are many people who have adopted a lifestyle around paleo which can easily seep its way into many different factors of their lives as well as many different products that they will or will not use.
For the sake of brevity, this article will focus solely on the Paleo diet, its restrictions and allowances and how that specifically relates to Paleo friendly protein bars.
If you would like to read another take on paleo dieting, check out this article.
What Are the Dietary Restrictions with Paleo Friendly Dieting?
Paleo dieting puts a strong emphasis on consuming many all-natural, non-processed foods like those our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have consumed.
The diet will be rich with lean meats that are some (if not all) of the following:
- hormone free
- humanely raised
High protein and healthy fats are the keys to Paleo, so your choices will include grass-fed meat, eggs, seafood, nuts (excluding peanuts), fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy oils like olive oil and flaxseed oil.
You’ll be avoiding grains, dairy (with the exception of eggs), legumes, refined sugars and oils, potatoes, salt, and other processed foods. To learn more specifically about gluten and its effects, click here.
One of the difficult parts of adopting a paleo lifestyle is avoiding many of the additives that are all too common in food today including:
- Corn Syrup
- Seed Oils
- Nitrites and Nitrates
If you want to learn more about artificial sweeteners and their role in protein supplements, click here.
Challenges to Going Paleo — And How to Overcome Them
One of the biggest challenges to going Paleo is the absence of simplicity. The drive-thru at McDonald’s may be convenient, but it isn’t exactly friendly to those looking for natural options. The good news is, a growing number of food chains (including fast food) are adding paleo friendly and gluten-free options to their menus. Taco Bell, for example, now features a Power Menu with customizable meals. In a pinch, you can order a chicken bowl with just added lettuce and guacamole — a perfectly acceptable (and delicious) Paleo choice.
When it comes to cooking at home, going Paleo doesn’t have to limit your options. A quick trip to Google will show countless recipes — and many of them are simple to make. Some popular favorites like bacon-wrapped chicken are Paleo-approved, so going natural doesn’t have to mean giving up the foods you love. There are even online forums and magazine subscriptions specifically designed with you in mind, and they’re there to help and provide support at a moment’s notice. In fact, most people on the Paleo diet say the supportive community is one of the best things about it.
But isn’t going Paleo expensive? Budgeting issues are among the top challenges cited by people trying Paleo for the first time. Skipping the boxed macaroni and cheese in favor of Atlantic salmon isn’t cheap, and could pose problems for those trying to stick to a budget. Try these tips for choosing healthy options that won’t break the bank:
- Rather than looking for the best cut of meat, look for what’s on sale. Pick up a bag of chicken breasts for dinner rather than filet mignon.
- Head to the freezer section rather than grabbing veggies from the produce section. Same great taste, same nutritional value, but you’ll get a lot more for your money.
- Buy ingredients to make your meals rather than packaged dinners. While it may be tempting to grab some Paleo friendly TV dinners, buying ingredients and preparing your meals at home will be much more cost-effective in the long run. For busy schedules and snacks when you’re not home, go for Paleo protein bars.
Paleo As a Lifestyle
Food consumption is only one component to the Paleo diet. Exercise is just as important to a natural lifestyle, and here’s the good news you’ve been waiting for: You don’t need to spend hours on the treadmill to attain the results you want. Exercise on the Paleo diet is often high-intensity strength training, with or without weights.
And of course, as is the case with any diet, water consumption is critical. Most doctors recommend drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day, and Paleo makes it easy to reach this goal. Without the heavy feeling in your stomach that often accompanies the consumption of grains and processed sugars, your body will register thirst much more readily.
Need to change the rules a bit? You can always modify Paleo to fit your dietary needs. For example, one of the main concerns about the diet is whether it’s vegetarian-friendly. Can vegetarians still get the nutrients they need if they skip the meat and seafood? In order to ensure they’re getting enough protein, some vegetarians elect to keep dairy in their diets. Specific eating plans can be helpful in this case, because you have the option of choosing how strict your diet will be.
Paleo is often confused with the Ketogenic (or Keto) diet, which operates under similar guidelines, but focuses heavily on tracking macronutrient quantities (high fat, adequate protein, and low carbohydrate). With Paleo, you can adjust the macros to fit your needs.
Long-Term Health Benefits
Paleo is more than just a diet, or an exercise plan to shed pounds quickly. It’s a lifestyle, a decision to make small improvements that offer health benefits for the long-term. In fact, a 2014 study published by Lipids in Health and Disease found that patients who kept to a Paleo diet for two weeks had significantly improved the overall strength of their cardiovascular systems, along with decreased symptoms of metabolic syndrome (which eventually results in diabetes if lifestyle changes aren’t implemented). A second group of patients, who were given a diet based on standard guidelines for diabetics, showed little to no improvement in the same amount of time.
Behavioral disorders in children have also been linked to gluten and dairy sensitivities. While scientific research is divided on the issue, the evidence speaks for itself: Countless families have discovered that switching to a strict Paleo diet has dramatically improved behavior in children who suffer from disorders like ADD, anxiety, and OCD.
So What Next?
Now that you have the information you need about the Paleo diet and our picks for the best Paleo bars, where do you go from here? A great place to start is writing down your goals, and creating an eating plan that aligns with those goals. You may need to ease into the diet slowly (cutting out gluten for a few weeks, then cutting out dairy, for example). Join an online forum and find recipe ideas and support through like-minded people. Use it to create lasting lifestyle changes, because that’s exactly what Paleo is: not just a diet, but a lifestyle.
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