Nutri-Grain Bars are known for having “whole grain oats on the outside” and “real fruit on the inside.” Sounds pretty healthy, right? But today, let’s take a closer look. Are Nutri-Grain Bars actually good for you?
Nutri-Grain Bars have some healthy ingredients, like whole grain oats, whole wheat flour, and fruit. But each bar has 12g of added sugar, with low fiber (1g) and low protein (2g). They also have carrageenan, which may cause gut issues for some. Overall, Nutri-Grain Bars are not very healthy.
Below, we’ll look at Nutri-Grain Bar nutrition in detail. We’ll analyze the sugar, protein, fiber, sodium, ingredients, and more. We’ll see how Nutri-Grain Bars compare to Clif Bars, Nature Valley Bars, and other popular brands. And I’ll suggest some good alternatives, too!
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Are Nutri-Grain Bars Good for You?
Below are 7 questions I’ve answered about Nutri-Grain Bar nutrition. Click to skip to any section, or keep reading for the full analysis:
- What Are Nutri-Grain Bars Made Of?
- Are Nutri-Grain Bars High in Sugar?
- Are Nutri-Grain Bars High in Protein?
- Are Nutri-Grain Bars High in Fiber?
- Are Nutri-Grain Bars High in Sodium?
- Are Nutri-Grain Bars Good For Weight Loss?
- Are Nutri-Grain Bars Vegan?
1. What Are Nutri-Grain Bars Made Of?
Let’s start by looking at the ingredients. There are several flavors of Nutri-Grain Bars, but the ingredients list is almost exactly the same for the popular flavors I checked.
Below are the ingredients for the Apple Cinnamon flavor. I’ll share my takeaways after the ingredients list:
Crust: Whole grain oats, enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, vitamin B1 [thiamin mononitrate], vitamin B2 [riboflavin], folic acid), soybean oil, whole wheat flour, sugar, dextrose, fructose, calcium carbonate, vegetable glycerin, invert sugar, whey, soluble corn fiber, salt, cellulose, natural flavor, potassium bicarbonate, cinnamon, vitamin and mineral blend (salt, niacinamide, reduced iron, zinc oxide, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin B1 [thiamin hydrochloride], vitamin B6 [pyridoxine hydrochloride], vitamin B2 [riboflavin]), wheat bran, mono- and diglycerides, soy lecithin, wheat gluten, carrageenan, guar gum.
Filling: Invert sugar, corn syrup, apple puree concentrate, vegetable glycerin, sugar, modified food starch, sodium alginate, malic acid, sodium citrate, methylcellulose, dicalcium phosphate, cinnamon, citric acid.
Here’s what I notice about these ingredients:
- Nutri-Grain Bars are made with whole grains and refined flour. Nutri-Grain bars have whole grain oats and whole wheat flour in the crust. However, these healthy whole grains are mixed with “enriched flour,” which is more processed. So, the crust is a mix of good and bad.
- Nutri-Grain Bars have added sugar and other sweeteners. These include sugar, fructose, invert sugar, and corn syrup. In fact, the filling is mostly invert sugar and corn syrup, not real fruit. Nutri-Grain Bars also have other high-glycemic index ingredients like fruit concentrate and enriched flour. This could potentially cause blood-sugar spikes.
- Nutri-Grain Bars do have a little real fruit. Although most of the sweetness in Nutri-Grain Bars come from added sugar, there is some real fruit concentrate, fruit juices, or vegetable juices in Nutri-Grain bars. (The exact ingredients depend on the flavor.)
- Nutri-Grain Bars contain soybean oil. Vegetable oil in general is highly processed, high in calories, and relatively low in nutrients. And soybean oil is no exception. In fact, soybean oil is high in omega-6 fats, which may increase inflammation when consumed in excess. However, this is an ongoing nutrition debate.
- Nutri-Grain Bars contain carrageenan. Some research suggests carrageenan may cause damage to the GI tract. Some people worry it could cause issues like leaky gut. This is not a well-proven issue, but some consumers avoid carrageenan to be on the safe side.
Overall, Nutri-Grain Bars have mostly unhealthy ingredients. They do have some healthy whole grains, but they also have processed sugars, processed flour, and oil. The top two ingredients in the filling are sugar and corn syrup—not real fruit.
- Do Nutri-Grain bars contain red dye? Nutri-Grain bars do not contain artificial colors. However, some flavors do contain vegetable juice for color and/or beta-carotene for color.
- Do Nutri-Grain bars have high fructose corn syrup? Nutri-Grain bars do not contain high fructose corn syrup. However, they do contain fructose, corn syrup, sugar, and invert sugar. So there are still several kinds of processed sugar in Nutri-Grain bars.
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2. Are Nutri-Grain Bars High in Sugar?
Nutri-Grain bars have around 12 to 13 grams of sugar per bar, which is moderately high for bars of their type and size. Most of that is added sugar, not fruit sugar. Each bar has around 1 gram of real fruit sugar or less.
Here is a table showing the “total sugar” in 3 Nutri-Grain Bar flavors:
|Nutri-Grain Bar Flavor||Total Sugar (Per Bar)|
Again, most of the sugar in Nutri-Grain Bars is added sugar—not from fruit or whole foods. But how does this sugar content compare to other popular bars?
Nutri-Grain Bars have:
- Less total sugar than Clif Bars (17 to 21g per bar)
- Less or similar total sugar than Larabars (13 to 20g per bar)
- Less or similar total sugar than RXBARs (13 to 18g per bar)
- Similar total sugar as GoMacro Bars (10 to 15g per bar)
- Similar or more total sugar as Nature Valley Bars (6 to 12g per serving)
- Similar or more total sugar as Kashi Bars (5 to 11g per serving)
- More total sugar than Quaker Chewy Bars (5 to 7g per bar)
- More total sugar than Kind Bars (5g in many bars)
This may look like Nutri-Grain bars are average for sugar content. But the truth is actually a bit worse. Most of the bars with more sugar than Nutri-Grain are energy/protein bars with more like 200 calories per bar. So it’s expected they might have more sugar, too.
But Nutri-Grain Bars have 12 to 13g of sugar despite only providing 130 calories per bar. That’s quite a lot of added sugar in only 130 calories of food.
I was recently reviewing some breakfast bars from Kashi. They are a similar style as Nutri-Grain bars, but they only have 9 to 11 grams of sugar per bar—so that’s a bit less than Nutri-Grain.
Disclaimer: All these numbers may vary depending on the specific products, countries, and other variations. Also, the source of sugar may differ (fruit vs processed sugar). Do your own research to confirm the sugar content you’re happy with.
Overall, I consider Nutri-Grain Bars to have moderately high sugar for a bar. But what about protein?
3. Are Nutri-Grain Bars High in Protein?
Most Nutri-Grain bars only have 2 grams of protein per bar. That is quite low compared to actual protein bars, which often have 10 to 20 grams per bar.
By far, most of the calories in Nutri-Grain Bars come from carbs, with the second-most coming from fat. Protein is a relatively minor component. There are no ingredients in Nutri-Grain Bars that are particularly high in protein.
Here is a table showing the protein in various Nutri-Grain bar flavors:
|Nutri-Grain Bar Flavor||Protein (Per Bar)|
If you’re trying to eat a high-protein diet, you’ll find other bars with far more protein. Here are two vegan options I like with 20 grams of protein in each bar:
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4. Are Nutri-Grain Bars High in Fiber?
Most Nutri-Grain bars have only 1 gram of dietary fiber per bar. This is low fiber content when compared to many other kinds of energy bars or granola bars.
Fiber is really one of the key nutrients that many people today don’t get enough of. Granola bars and energy bars usually have a few grams of fiber, due to the whole grains used—but it can really differ by brand.
Here’s a table showing the fiber content of Nutri-Grain bars:
|Nutri-Grain Bar Flavor||Fiber (Per Bar)|
As you can see, these bars are not very rich in fiber. Even when you look at the similar style of “breakfast bars” from Kashi, they have 3g of fiber per bar, which is substantially higher than these Nutri-Grain bars.
5. Are Nutri-Grain Bars High in Sodium?
Most Nutri-Grain Bars have between 125mg and 140mg of sodium per bar, depending on the flavor. This is moderate sodium for such breakfast bars. Nutri-Grain Bars have less sodium than most RXBARs, but more sodium than most Larabars or Kashi Bars.
Here is a table showing the specific sodium content for many Nutri-Grain Bar flavors:
|Nutri-Grain Bar Flavor||Sodium (Per Bar)|
For reference: The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium to 2,300mg per day. But they are “moving toward an ideal limit” of only 1,500mg per day. That would still be over 10 Nutri-Grain bars of any flavor. So, Nutri-Grain Bars are not horrible when it comes to sodium.
The amount of sodium in each Nutri-Grain Bar—125mg to 140mg—is similar to one serving of many other salty snacks, such as pretzels, chips, or salted nuts.
If you want an energy bar that is lower in sodium, take a look at Larabars. Even the highest-sodium flavor only has 90mg of sodium per bar, and many flavors are completely salt-free.
6. Are Nutri-Grain Bars Good For Weight Loss?
Nutri-Grain Bars are not the best for weight loss, as each bar has moderately high sugar (12g to 13g) with low fiber (1g) and low protein (2g). Eating more fiber- and protein-rich foods would help you feel more satisfied while losing weight. But Nutri-Grain Bars can still be eaten on a diet.
Remember: The most important thing for weight loss is your total calorie balance. And if you want to make weight loss easier, the best things to eat are foods with a low calorie density.
Low-calorie-density foods are typically high in fiber and water. Think vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans. They fill up your stomach and help you feel full on fewer calories. Protein also helps you feel more full.
Most Nutri-Grain Bars have only 1 gram of fiber per bar, which is low. Their protein content is also low, at just 2g per bar.
Luckily, however, most Nutri-Grain Bars have only 130 calories. That is pretty low for such bars. So if you want to have a Nutri-Grain Bar from time to time, it’s not going to ruin your diet.
In general, one food will not make or break your diet. Portion sizes and total calorie balance are often the most important factors when trying to lose weight.
- Are Nutri-Grain Bars good for weight gain? Nutri-Grain Bars can be used for weight gain if they are eaten as part of an overall calorie surplus. However, each bar has only 130 calories. It may be more efficient for weight gain to choose a higher-calorie bar, such as Larabars or RXBARs.
- Are Nutri-Grain Bars good to eat before a workout? Nutri-Grain Bars provide carbohydrates that may provide some extra energy for a workout. However, a different snack with more complex carbohydrates and less sugar may be a better choice. Personally, I like popcorn before workouts.
7. Are Nutri-Grain Bars Vegan?
Nutri-Grain Bars are not vegan, as they contain whey, which is a milk ingredient. As a vegan of 14 years, I’ve tried many breakfast bars, granola bars, energy bars, and protein bars. Here are some of the most interesting ones I’ve found:
- Larabars – Mostly fruit and nuts, very simple ingredients and whole food based.
- Clif Builder’s Bars – High protein and very delicious, but it is high in sugar.
- No Cow Bars – Low-carb and high-protein.
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