Food Court — Bringing Down The Lean Hammer On Kashi Snack Bars
*In ‘Food Court’ we examine one popular food/drink product and bring down the hammer on whether or not it deserves a place in a lean, nutritious diet.
Whether it’s Nature Valley, Clif, Special K, LARABAR, or one of a million different protein bars, chances are you frequently scarf down some form of snack bar. That puts Kashi’s line of uberpopular granola bars firmly in the spotlight.
I know, I know, Kashi is a reputable company that prides itself on producing HQ, natural, nutritious products. BUT, given the facade put forth by faux-healthy Subway and Special K, I’m naturally skeptical of anything in a wrapper and/or with a brand name. You should be, too.
Here’s the full, loaded arsenal of Kashi bars:
- Chewy Granola Bars — Almond Flax, Peanut Peanut Butter, Cherry Dark Chocolate, Trail Mix, Berry Lemonade w. Chia, Chocolate Almond & Sea Salt w. Chia, Dark Mocha Almond
- Crunch Granola Bars — Honey Toasted 7-Grain, Roasted Almond Crunch, Pumpkin Spice Flax
- Layered Granola Bars — Dark Chocolate Coconut, Peanutty Dark Chocolate
- Soft n’ Chewy Bars — Berry Muffin, Apple Cobbler, Banana Chocolate Chip
- Cereal Bars — Blackberry Graham, Ripe Strawberry, Cherry Vanilla
- GOLEAN CRISP! Bars — Chocolate Almond, Chocolate Peanut, Chocolate Caramel, Cinnamon Coffee Cake, Chocolate Pretzel
- GOLEAN DIPPED! Bars — Peanut Butter & Chocolate, Chocolate Malted Crisp
- Soft-Baked Squares — Almond, Chocolate
Kashi Bars — The Facts
With 27 different bars in total — across 8 separate lines — it’s impossible to generalize the “leanness” for Kashi bars as a whole.
We spliced Kashi’s portfolio 8-ways by product line, took an average across all flavors, and came up with a nutritional baseline. Here’s how it maps out:
And if you want a breakdown of each individual flavor, we’ve got a current table for that, too (click to enlarge) —
Kashi Bars — What I Like
An unbelievably simple shortcut to benchmark different packaged foods — with the exception of fruit & veggies — is the ratio of protein & fiber-to-sugar. For example, if a bar has 4g of fiber, 4g of protein, and 8g of sugar that’s (4+4)/8 = 1.
Higher ratios are leaner, and if that number is under 1, I typically ALWAYS steer clear. Live by that rule — it’s a powerfully potent Jedi mind trick.
- KILLER RATIOS — for a whole grain product, the majority of Kashi bars shockingly fall on the better half of 1; the only egregious offenders fall under the cereal bar veil (.54 average).
- Fiber Rich — nearly every bar has 4+ grams of fiber, which helps reduce hunger, maintain digestive health, and slows the digestion of food; reducing the likelihood of fat storage.
- Low Cal — no bar tops 200 calories; most fall under 150.
- Protein — for a family of bars that isn’t designed purely as a protein delivery mechanism, most lines have a hearty 4-11g. That’s enough to curb hunger and slow digestion, boost metabolism, and support lean muscle growth/recovery.
- All Natural Ingredients — most processed foods are a breeding ground for artificial ingredients and sweeteners, added sugars, fake dyes and coloring, trans fats, low-quality carbs, and unnecessary filler ingredients. While some Kashi lines contain added sugar — to varying degrees — at the very least it’s natural, courtesy of agave nectar, evaporated cane juice, fruit and others.
- Vitamins & Minerals — most bars pack 10-30% DV for iron, calcium, zinc, the B vitamins, and vitamin E.
- Whole Grains — Kashi bars are predominantly constructed from natural oats, wheat, rye, brown rice, barley, buckwheat, and fruit — NOT corn, refined white flour, white rice, or other LQ carbs. This boosts the fiber and protein content, contributes nutrients, and keeps fat storage in check.
- Omega-3s — the chewy granola bar and soft-baked square lines sport up to 300mg of ALA omega-3 per serving; not massive by any stretch, but more omega-3’s and healthy fats are always a nice plus.
Kashi Bars — What I Don’t Like
- GOLEAN DIPPED! Bars — 37% — repeat 37%! — of calories come from sugar. 18g per bar is WAY too high when it comes from added sweeteners like brown rice syrup, glycerine, and evaporated cane juice. Void.
- Cereal Bars — It’s hard to crucify something that only has 130 calories, but the .54 protein & fiber-to-sugar ratio is terrible. Stay away.
- Long Ingredient List — most of the added ingredients are natural, healthy, and wonderful; but a handful — like canola oil, chicory root, added sugars, soy protein, and soy lecithin — are less than desirable to shove down your throat on a recurring basis.
- Chicory Root — chicory root, a natural plant-based fiber, is notorious for causing massive gas, bloating, and GI discomfort. If your stomach is in pain post-Kashi bar, check the ingredients; a few flavors, like the Layered Dark Chocolate Coconut and Chewy Peanut Peanut Butter bars, have it front-and-center.
Kashi Bars — The Verdict
Best Bar(s): Honey Almond Flax Chewy Granola Bar, Peanut Peanut Butter Granola Bar
Best Bar Line: Chewy Granola Bars
Worst Bar(s): Any of the cereal bars; Peanut Butter & Chocolate GOLEAN DIPPED! Bar
Worst Bar Line: GOLEAN DIPPED! Bars, Cereal Bars
With an ample balance of protein, whole grains, fiber, healthy fats, and nutrients, most Kashi bars are a stellar snack that stomp all over the likes of Special K, Nature Valley, and CLIF.
Chewy, Layered, Crunchy, and GOLEAN CRISP! Bars all get the lean seal of approval — Chewy Granola Bars, in particular, are far-and-away the #1 option.
Skip the Cereal and GOLEAN DIPPED! Bars, though — they’re oozing with added sugar.
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ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto.
I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP
, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid
, and all-around fitness junkie.
I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine
When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses
and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.
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