Q: Advocates for these savory, meat-based bars trumpet them as a more wholesome snack alternative to standard sweet energy bars or even jerky.
Oz Says: The new wave of jerky/energy bar hybrids really are raising the bar when it comes to protein-based snacks. These options — usually a combination of organic or grass-fed meats along with dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and spices — are far easier to carry around than, say, a piece of grilled chicken. And they stack up nicely against jerky: Many have about half as much sodium and are free of preservatives and additives such as nitrites or MSG.
"Compared to the typical energy bar that relies on highly processed forms of sweeteners and proteins, these bars have a whole-food-based ingredient list and lower sugar numbers, which make them a healthier choice," says Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. They can be useful hunger busters, she says. Just check labels and look for those with 8 g or more protein, and less than 8 g sugar and 300 mg sodium.
The Verdict: TRY IT
Our Favorite Meaty Bars
Two brands got the most raves in our taste test.
EPIC: Beef, Apple, Uncured Bacon: A little sweet, a little smoky, and a nice, soft texture for 140 cals. ($3, epicbar.com) Chicken Sriracha: If you like your snacks fiery hot, this one's for you. It's also among the lowest-calorie bars we tasted (100 cals). ($3, epicbar.com)
BRICKS: Turkey, Sweet Potato, Cranberry, Pumpkin Seed: The mix-ins make it easy to chew; sage, thyme, and cinnamon spices reminded testers of a holiday meal — all for a smart 130 calories. ($3.50, bricksbars.com)
This story originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.