When you’re trying to eat healthy, it’s easy to get derailed. Things come up, life gets busy, and, before you know it, once-fresh veggies are now stinking up the fridge.
One of the best ways to stick to a healthy diet is to buy grab-and-go snacks that are already prepared. A fan-favorite treat that’s always stocked in our fridge: Perfect bars. Marketed as non-GMO and certified USDA organic, Perfect bars appear to be a cleaner choice than most. However, their labels make some interesting claims like: “whole food protein” and “20+ superfoods”.
This leaves us wondering, do their ingredients actually back up these claims? And, are Perfect bars healthy? We tap registered dietician Imashi Fernando M.S., R.D. to find out.
Are Perfect Bars Healthy?
Yep. Perfect bars are a decent choice for those looking for a protein bar based on whole food ingredients, but they may not be the best choice for everyone.
“Perfect bars may be better suited for those who are more physically active and have higher daily energy and protein needs because of how energy dense it is,” says Fernando.
For the rest of us, she recommends aiming to keep snacks under 200 calories (significantly less than the 340 calories you’ll find in the peanut butter Perfect bar). “However, depending on what your other meals throughout the day look like, a Perfect bar can fit within any person’s food intake for the day, and can even make for a solid occasional breakfast choice on busy mornings,” she adds.
Perfect bars aren’t the only nutrient-dense snack out there. Per Fernando, there are plenty of better options to choose from, including: hard-boiled eggs, berries, cheese sticks, whole grain crackers, apple slices, banana, nut butter, avocado, veggie sticks, hummus, nuts, and trail mix.
What’s In a Perfect Bar?
When it comes to determining if a food is healthy, Fernando looks past the general claims littered on the label and heads straight to the ingredients list and nutrition info. Here’s what she looks for:
Perfect bars contain no artificial ingredients or preservatives you can’t understand. The ingredients list varies per flavor, but the core ingredients are pretty consistent.
Here’s what you’ll find in the peanut butter flavor:
Peanut Butter*, Honey*, Nonfat Dried Milk*, Dried Whole Egg Powder*, Rice Protein*, Dried Whole Food Powders (Kale*, Flax Seed*, Rose Hip*, Orange*, Lemon*, Papaya*, Tomato*, Apple*, Alfalfa*, Celery*, Kelp*, Dulse*, Carrot*, Spinach*), Sunflower Lecithin*, Flaxseed Oil*, Sunflower Oil*, Sesame Seed Oil*, Olive Oil*, Pumpkin Seed Oil*
Variety of protein sources
Each bar includes 17 grams of protein, which comes from peanut butter, skim milk powder, rice protein, and dried egg powder. Protein is important for building and maintaining lean muscle mass (1) and staying satiated throughout the day (2).
According to Fernando, getting your protein from a variety of sources found in a Perfect bar will help meet those needs. “When combined together, the various amino acid profiles make a complete protein that provides your body with all of the essential amino acids it needs,” she says.
Most pre-packaged protein bars are laden with added sugars. And with organic honey as the second ingredient, Perfect bars are no exception. Sugar is associated with a ton of health issues, yet according to the American Heart Association the average American male ingests about 17 teaspoons of sugar daily—nearly double the recommended limit (3).
“Each bar contains 19 grams of total sugar and 13 grams of added sugar which is just over one-third of the recommended daily sugar limit for men (36 grams),” says Fernando. “The upside is that the primary source of added sugar is organic honey, which is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants compared to more typically used sources of added sugar like high fructose corn syrup, which has no nutritional value at all.” Per the company’s website, honey is also used as a natural preservative.
Fruit and vegetable powders
From kale to kelp, Perfect bars pack a variety of “superfood” powders. It sounds legit, but Fernando warns: “the FDA does not regulate the use of the word ‘superfood.’ A superfood can be any food that is very nutrient-dense or packed with nutrition.” All fruits, greens, veggies, and legumes qualify.
“The vegetable and fruit powders found in Perfect bars may offer some nutritional value but are not a substitute for real fruits and veggies, so make sure to still include these in your daily diet,” Fernando explains.
Perfect bars contain flaxseed oil, which is an excellent source of heart-healthy antioxidant-rich omega-3 fatty acids which are associated with a decreased risk of all-cause mortality (4). They also include olive oil, a staple of the Mediterranean diet which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease (5).
“Perfect bars are also very low in saturated fats, which have been adversely associated with chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease (6),” Fernando adds.
“The only ingredient you may not recognize is sunflower lecithin which is basically just a gum that’s made from dehydrating or cold-pressing sunflower seeds,” says Fernando. It’s considered a natural binding agent because it’s derived from real food.
Fernando points out that these bars aren’t the best for people with food allergies or sensitivities since they contain a variety of top allergen contenders including peanuts, sesame, eggs, and dairy. “On the plus side, these bars are gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly,” she notes.
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Every protein bar has a different nutritional breakdown, which makes some better than others for specific diets. Here’s how the peanut butter-flavored Perfect bar clocks in.
Perfect bars are considered calorie-dense. The peanut butter bar packs a whopping 340 calories. “Given how small these bars are, the caloric content can be deceiving,” says Fernando.
“The bar’s high fat and protein content will keep you full for longer and may help you get through the day without minimal snacking,” she says. However, “Perfect bars might not be the best choice for those who are hoping to eat a lot of volume while still minimizing calories,” Fernando explains. Check the label on specific flavors to make sure it fits with your daily target.
Each peanut butter Perfect bar contains 19 grams of total fat, 17 grams of protein, and 27 grams of carbs—a decent amount of each macronutrient to keep you energized, full, and satiated.
Fernando recommends paying attention to food labels to find options with at least 10 grams of protein and more protein than added sugar per bar. “Other brands that contain a good amount of protein include Zing bars, certain flavors of Rx bars, and Kind protein bars,” she says.
Perfect Bar FAQs
Are Perfect Bars Gluten-Free?
Yes. In the place of flour, they contain peanut butter, egg, rice, and plant-based powder making them a great gluten-free option. Always check the label for up-to-date allergen information.
Are Perfect Bars Keto?
No. Perfect Bars contain 24 to 26 grams of carbohydrates (20 to 22 grams net carbs) per bar and are not considered keto. Most keto diets limit carbs to 20 to 50 grams of net carbs per day, which is typically hit from approved fruits and vegetables alone.
Are Perfect Bars Whole30?
No. Perfect Bars are not considered Whole 30 as they contain dairy, added sugar (honey), and nuts. Most nuts are allowed on the Whole 30 diet, but peanuts—which are technically a legume—are not.
Are Perfect Bars Paleo?
Nope. If our ancestors couldn’t hunt or gather it, it’s not Paleo. Perfect bars might be less processed than many of the options at the market, but they contain dairy and plant-based oils that aren’t allowed on the Paleo diet.
Are Perfect Bars Low FODMAP?
Unfortunately, no. Perfect bars contain honey which is a source of fructose; therefore, they aren’t considered low FODMAP.
Are Perfect Bars a Meal Replacement?
Maybe. Depending on your nutritional needs, Perfect bars may be a suitable meal replacement. “Keep in mind, consuming a processed food item (like a Perfect bar) will likely digest much faster than a balanced meal containing a variety of fresh, whole food ingredients, meaning you will not feel full as long,” says Fernando.