Are Nutri-Grain Bars Healthy? A Dietitian’s Honest Review

Nutri-GrainⓇ bars have been around for a long time, and they’re marketed as a healthy snack. You might be wondering: are Nutri-Grain bars healthy?

Welcome, I’m Jamie, a dietitian of almost 10 years. I totally understand the endless questioning of what is best in light of health goals, time constraints, and trying to keep that darn grocery bill in line. 

Let’s dive into the world of Nutri-Grain bars – a go-to snack in many homes.

In this blog post, I’ll walk you through the pros and cons of adding these bars to your day. 

After reading this post, you’ll have a full understanding of the nutritional content and ingredients to help you decide if they’re a healthy choice for you.

A cereal bar broken in half with raspberries.

What Are Nutri-Grain Bars?

Nutri-Grain bars, produced by Kellogg’sⓇ, have been around for over three decades! 

They were born in the same year as Taylor Swift: 1989. When they were first released, they were called “Smart Start Cereal Bars.” Since 1991, the bars have been known by what we call them today: Nutri-Grain Bars.

Nutri-Grain bars are widely recognized for their soft, chewy texture and come in a variety of fruit-flavored fillings encased in a whole-grain crust. Each bar is designed to be convenient, and is packaged individually for easy consumption.

Let’s take a look at the back of the package and get to know the nutrition facts panel and ingredient list. As a dietitian, I know that companies can market their product in all sorts of ways, but we get to base our review on the facts. 

Nutri-Grain Nutrition Facts

There are lots of flavors of Nutri-Grain bars. My top favorite is the Apple Cinnamon flavor, so let’s look at the nutrition facts for that one. If you love another flavor more, no worries: the nutrition facts are pretty similar across the board. 

For one Nutri-Grain Apple Cinnamon bar, here’s a quick rundown of its nutritional content:

  • Calories: 130
  • Total Fat: 3.5g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.5g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 115mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 24g
  • Dietary Fiber: 3g
  • Sugars: 11g (includes 11g added sugars)
  • Protein: 2g

It’s also worth noting that Nutri-Grain bars provide vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Calcium, though the exact percentages can vary by flavor.

Nutri-Grain Bar Ingredients

Now let’s take a quick peek at the ingredient list for the same Apple Cinnamon Nutri-Grain bar. Fair warning: if you’re looking for a short ingredient list, these bars are probably not going to be your thing!

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
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Sugar
  • calcium carbonate
  • vegetable glycerin
  • invert sugar
  • Whey
  • soluble corn fiber
  • Cellulose
  • Salt
  • natural flavor
  • potassium bicarbonate
  • Cinnamon
  • vitamin blend (salt, niacinamide, vitamin B1 [thiamin hydrochloride], vitamin B6 [pyridoxine hydrochloride], vitamin B2 [riboflavin], vitamin D3, vitamin B12)
  • wheat bran
  • mono- and diglycerides
  • soy lecithin
  • wheat gluten
  • Carrageenan
  • Iron
  • guar gum

Filling

  • invert sugar
  • corn syrup
  • vegetable glycerin
  • apple puree concentrate
  • Sugar
  • sodium alginate
  • modified food starch
  • sodium citrate
  • lemon juice concentrate
  • Methylcellulose
  • citric acid
  • dicalcium phosphate
  • cinnamon

Nutri-Grain Bars pros:

As a dietitian, here are some things I really enjoy about Nutri-Grain bars: 

  • Convenience: The individual packaging makes it easy to grab and go, making it a great option for busy mornings or a quick mid-afternoon snack.
  • Whole grains: The crust is made with whole grains and provides 3 grams of fiber, which can help keep you feeling full and satisfied. The first ingredient is whole grain oats!
  • Variety of flavors: Nutri-Grain bars come in a variety of flavors, offering options for different taste preferences.
  • Picky-eater friendly: These tend to be popular with picky eaters, so that’s always a win!
  • Affordable: With the cost of groceries on everyone’s minds lately, I love that these bars are relatively inexpensive. At my local grocery store, one box of 8 Nutri-Grain bars is $3.69, making one bar cost less than 50 cents.
  • Quick energy source: Due to their high carbohydrate content and convenience, these bars are especially a perfect pre-workout snack.

Nutri-Grain Bars cons:

Here are some of the factors that make me less excited about Nutri-Grain bars. 

  • Added sugars: While Nutri-Grain bars do contain some natural sugars from the fruit filling, they also have added sugars listed as one of the top ingredients. The example we looked at has 11 grams of sugar added per serving, which is almost half of what’s recommended daily for women.
  • Refined grains: The whole-grain crust is made with a combination of enriched wheat flour and whole-wheat flour. Enriched wheat flour is a refined grain, which means it has been stripped of its natural nutrients during processing (although some are added back in).
  • Carb heavy: While carbohydrates are an important source of energy, Nutri-Grain bars are relatively high in carbohydrates and added sugar compared to other snack options. Bars with a better balance of protein, fat and fiber will have more staying power and keep you feeling satisfied for longer.
  • Processed ingredients: The ingredient list for Nutri-Grain bars is pretty long and contains many processed ingredients that many may not feel comfortable with in their diet.
Two cereal bars with one broken in half on a white background.

Do Nutri-Grain Bars have too much sugar?

The short answer is: it depends on your individual dietary needs and preferences. 

As mentioned earlier, Nutri-Grain bars do contain added sugars, which can potentially impact overall health.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar intake to no more than 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men.

One Nutri-Grain bar contains 11 grams of added sugars, so they can definitely fit into your day, just keep an eye on the rest of your usual foods and drinks.

If you prefer your added sugars to come from your favorite sweet treats, it may be worth checking out some alternative options. If you enjoy these for one reason or another, just use mindfulness.

Rather than vilify a single food or put a health halo on another, it’s important to consider the big picture of what you’re eating on a regular basis. There are a LOT of right ways to be happy, healthy, and balanced. 

Nutri-Grain bars are definitely a bit higher in added sugar than many other snack options, but if you’re a big fan and really enjoy them, they can fit with some mindfulness.

Are Nutri-Grain Bars healthy for kids?

It depends!

Nutri-Grain bars are often marketed as a kid-friendly option. As with any food, moderation is key, especially since these do contain added sugar. 

These bars can be a suitable snack for children in moderation, but it’s important to also offer a variety of whole foods as part of their daily diet.

With that said, some kids are picky! If this is the only bar that your child will eat and it’s a nice convenient affordable option, there’s really no need to stress.

Are Nutri-Grain bars good for weight loss?

Maybe! The thing is, no single food is going to make or break your current weight. Read about my tips for weight loss goals here

What really matters is the big picture; are you eating foods that nourish your body, provide you with sustained energy, and don’t go too far above your needed energy level?

Bars like these aren’t personally my absolute favorite because I find that they’re not super filling on their own, but if they work for you, that’s totally okay!

But, if you find that they’re not satisfying you and you’re grabbing more snacks immediately after, it may be exploring other options.

Dietitian tip: Pair with protein

One way to turn Nutri-Grain bars into a healthy snack option is to pair them with a source of protein. This can help balance out the carbohydrates and added sugars and provide more sustained energy and stable blood sugar levels.

Some easy ways to add protein content include pairing the bar with string cheese, a hard-boiled egg, or a Greek yogurt.

For a bit of a deeper dive into what counts as a “balanced” snack, check out this post: Balanced Snacks to Fuel your Health Goals (RD Approved!)

Alternative snack bars

If you’d like to consider another kind of snack bar, there are so many options these days! Here are a few of my favorites.

  • Kodiak Soft-Baked Sandwich Breakfast Bars: These bars have 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber each, love! They do still have added sugars, but they’re a bit more balanced with other nutrients.
  • Larabars: Larabars are sweetened with dates but have no other added sugar, plus some fiber and protein from whole food ingredients.
  • Dinobars: I love that these have a nice mix of carbs, protein and fats for more lasting energy. Plus, they’re wrapped in edible paper so there are no messy crumbs getting absolutely everywhere. 
  • Skout Snack Bars: These are sweetened with dates and packed with real fruit, seeds, and other whole food ingredients.
A snack box with berries, nuts, hard boiled egg, cucumber and cottage cheese.

More snack ideas

If you need a quick balanced snack combination, here are some of my favorites:

  • Apple + cheese stick
  • Greek yogurt + granola
  • Whole grain crackers + sliced cheese
  • Tortilla chips + guacamole
  • Sliced bell peppers and cucumbers + Cottage cheese
  • Hard boiled egg + banana

I have some fun snack recipes for you to try too. Trust me: I totally get it that we don’t always have time to make snacks from scratch. There is ZERO shame in the shopping game.

But, if you’re interested in putting together homemade snacks and have the time and energy to do so, here are a few of my favorites:

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So, are Nutri-Grain bars good for you?

Well friends, like many snack foods, Nutrigrain bars have some benefits, but they’re not perfect. I love that they include some whole grains, and are tasty, affordable, and portable.

On the other hand, they do have a bit of added sugar and don’t have much in the way of nutritional staying power; the fiber, protein, and fat – the nutrients that keep us satisfied longer than carbs – are pretty low.

If you’re looking for something convenient with quick energy (like a pre-workout snack), these are a good option!

If you’re looking for something to keep you full for a while, you’ll want to pair these with a protein source or another good source of fiber, or try a different option.

The bottom line? If you really like Nutri-GrainⓇ bars – enjoy ‘em! If you’re not ultra-picky, I think it’s fair to explore other options with less added sugar. Everyone’s “healthiest option” is going to look different!

If you’d like some help deciding what to eat, check out my Easy Balanced Bites Recipe Ebook with delicious recipes, six weeks of meal plans, and the grocery list to boot. Give your brain a break by not having to figure out what’s for dinner for over a month!

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It's me, Jamie!

I’m a Registered Dietitian dedicated to helping you break free of the all-or-nothing dieting with balanced and realistic healthy eating.

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Meet Jamie

I’m a Registered Dietitian and I’ve been exactly where you are, right now. The all or nothing dieting, the constant food guilt, the scale obsession, absolutely no balance with food…. Sound familiar?