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Healthy snack upgrade: Why nutrition balls are the new energy bars


Top 5 protein balls and energy balls Pin It
Photo: Stocksy/Gillian Vann
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Bars have long been the go-to for grab-and-run snacks and handheld protein boosts (pre or apres workout). And the marketplace has definitely gotten crowed—GNC alone sells over 20 different brands. So maybe it’s no surprise that people have hit nutrition bar fatigue.

But everyone is still busy and still needs a studio-friendly snack. Enter “the bite.”

Have you noticed? Suddenly, they’re everywhere—from IRL snack aisles to the Instagram photos posted by your favorite healthy food bloggers. And yes, they’re even in both. Case in point: Ella Woodward (the force behind Deliciously Ella) launched her very first product earlier this year and it’s—you guessed it—bite-size energy ball snacks.

What’s the appeal? For one, they’re more fun to eat. (You get that satisfying feeling of snacking on mini treats, a la fat bombs.) They’re easier to pop in your mouth if you’re mid-activity (bites have caught on quickly among long-distance runners and cyclists). Plus, sometimes you don’t want a whole bar—bites let you customize your portions a bit more.

While you wait for Deliciously Ella’s to arrive stateside, try a few other bite-sized, superfood-packed options.

Scroll down for six nutrition balls worth stashing in your gym bag.

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Hemp Heart Bites
Photo: Manitoba Harvest

Hemp Heart Bites

If, like a lot of people, you’re all about plant-based protein, these crunchy balls are a good option to reach for—there’s a full gram of protein in each bite, plus you get 25 percent of your daily recommended iron in just 10 pieces. The hemp seed base is sweetened with a little bit of vanilla and cane sugar, making them a satisfying snack. Besides the original flavor (shown here), you can try ’em in cinnamon and chocolate.

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Enjoy Life ProBurst Bites
Photo: Enjoy Life

Enjoy Life ProBurst Bites

Enjoy Life’s latest product isn’t even out yet (they’ll be hitting shelves in January), so consider this your snack sneak peek. The Paleo-vegan bites will come in unexpected flavors like mango habanero and cranberry orange, and each little ball is full of surprising protein sources (think pumpkin seeds and sunflower seed butter). Don’t let their size deceive you: There’s a whopping seven grams of protein in each serving.

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Epic bison jerky bites
Photo: Epic

Epic Jerky Bites

Yep, the trend has hit the meat market. Epic, known for its ethically sourced, organic animal-based bars and bone broth, now has bison, bacon, steak, chicken, beef, turkey, and salmon in more poppable form. The brand sneaks other good-for-you ingredients in too, like chia seeds, cumin, and coconut oil.

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Tigernut Raw Chocolate Clusters
Photo: Organic Gemini

Tigernut Raw Chocolate Clusters

If—without fail—you crave something sweet post-dinner, consider this your cure. These tigernuts—an African root vegetable full of healthy fats—are coated in cacao powder, which isn’t just delicious but shoots a dose of mood-boosting serotonin to your brain. Also packed in these clusters is sacha inchi, a Peruvian seed that’s high in protein, vitamin E, and omega 3, 6, and 9. 

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Bounce protein bomb balls
Photo: Bounce

Bounce Protein Energy Balls

Originally launched in Australia—where all healthy trends seem to be birthed—Bounce is a line of energy balls in delish flavors like coconut lemon, cacao mint, peanut cacao, and coconut macadamia. And yes, they’re still healthy. The protein content ranges from 8 to 13 grams per serving and the ingredients list is very clean (AKA no weird additives or preservatives).

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Larabar bites
Photo: Larabar

Larabar Bites

Yep, even the popular, ahem, bar brand is branding out to balls. Their new bite snacks come in four flavors (mint chocolate chip, cherry chocolate chip, chocolate macaroon, and double chocolate brownie) while packing the same amount of protein per snack pack that the original bars have.

Want more snack ideas? Here’s what in-demand trainers keep in their gym bags for pre- or post-workout fuel. Or, make your own fat bombs—these are actually are good for you.