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Best Nutrition Bars

Updated September 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 17 Models Considered
  • 6 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 142 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best nutrition bars

    Last Updated September 2018

    There are lots of reasons you might reach for a nutrition bar. Maybe you want a quick snack between meals. Maybe you’re looking for a way to fuel your body before a tough workout. Or maybe you’re trying to lose weight and want to use nutrition bars as a breakfast or lunch replacement.

    Thousands of companies have taken up the call to provide good-tasting nutrition bars, but few products actually live up to this goal. Some weight loss bars are laced with so much sugar that they could actually add to your problem. On the other side of the spectrum, some of the healthiest nutrition bars have such an unpleasant taste that no one wants to eat them. Neither is a winning combination.

    The right nutrition bar combines great taste with healthy ingredients that give you energy and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Here at BestReviews, we did the research and narrowed our results down to the top five nutrition bars. Try one of these, or keep reading to learn about the different kinds of nutrition bars and how to choose the one that’s best for you.

    The best nutrition bars are made primarily with real food ingredients. This includes nuts, fruits, and oats.

    Nutrition bar types

    Snack bars

    Nutrition bars can be a great snack in between meals, but if it’s just a snack, you don’t want a bar that’s too filling. If healthy snacking is your goal, you want to keep an eye on the number of calories and the amount of fiber in your nutrition bar. Try to stay under 200 calories, and limit fiber limit to only a couple of grams. Too much of either could leave you feeling fuller than you intended.

    Energy bars

    These bars give you the energy boost you need to sustain yourself through a challenging workout. It’s okay to choose a bar with lots of carbohydrates because you’ll burn carbs as you exercise; look for something with around 20 grams. Sugar is okay, too, because your body can use it for fuel as welljust don’t go overboard.

    Meal replacement bars

    A meal replacement bar is far more substantial than a snack bar. It should be full of fiber because fiber keeps you feeling fuller for longer. It should have more calories than a snack bar, too, though the calorie count should stay fairly low if you’re trying to lose weight.

    Protein

    Virtually all nutrition bars have some protein. It helps your body build lean muscle mass while reducing body fat and, like fiber, it can help you fill you up. The recommended dietary allowance of protein is about 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.

    Nutrition bars can have anywhere from a couple of grams of protein per serving to over 25 grams per serving. A good nutrition bar usually has at least 10 grams. Keep in mind that you don’t need to get all of your protein in a nutrition bar because you’ll also be getting some through your meals.

    Carbohydrates

    There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbs are basic sugars and starches that are absorbed relatively quickly. Complex carbs take longer to digest and provide more sustained energy for your body.

    The right amount of carbohydrates for you depends on what you’re trying to do. If losing weight is your primary goal, you want to minimize the number of carbohydrates you consume. When your body runs out of carbs to burn, it will move on to fat instead. But if you’re highly active, a higher carb intake may be what you need to maintain enough energy throughout the day.

    The American College of Sports Medicine recommends consuming three to 10 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight. Obviously, if you’re more active, you’ll fall on the higher end of that spectrum.

    Fiber

    Most people don’t get enough fiber in their diets. A nutrition bar can be a good way to add some of that missing fiber. It’s recommended that men should get 30 to 38 grams of fiber per day while women should strive for 25 grams per day.

    A high-fiber nutrition bar can help you feel full for longer—this is very helpful if you’re trying to lose weight. If you’re just looking for a light snack, however, a high-fiber bar would probably be too filling.

    Fat

    It’s always a good idea to look for a nutrition bar that’s low in fat, no matter what your goals are. You may not be able to find one that’s fat free, but a gram or two probably isn’t going to make a big difference.

    You should be wary of trans fats, though. Trans fats lower your good cholesterol and raise your bad cholesterol, and consuming a lot of them can increase your risk of developing heart disease. Whenever possible, avoid nutrition bars that have trans fats; this ingredient should be listed clearly on the product label.

    Sugars, artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols

    Most nutrition bars contain a little bit of sugar because it helps improve the taste. But you don’t want to consume too much, especially if you’re trying to lose weight, because a high sugar intake can actually cause you to gain weight.

    The ideal approach is to opt for a nutrition bar that has the least amount of sugar possible while still tasting good. Look for one that gets its sugars from natural sources like fruit rather than added sugars. The nutrition label should indicate how many grams of sugar have been added to the bar artificially.

    Some nutrition bars use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. Many nutrition experts recommend staying away from these recipes, as studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may be bad for your health. Artificial sweeteners to avoid include the following:

    • Acesulfame K (Ace K, Sunnette, Sweet One)

    • Aspartame (Equal, NatraTaste Blue, NutraSweet)

    • Saccharin (Sweet ’N Low)

    • Sucralose (Splenda)
       

    Sugar alcohols are a popular substitute for sugar. Derived from real sugar, they are more natural than artificial sweeteners and contain fewer calories than sugar. Notably, however, some people complain that sugar alcohols cause them to suffer digestive issues. If you find this to be true for yourself, you may wish to avoid them.

    Common sugar alcohols include the following:

    • Erythritol

    • Mannitol

    • Sorbitol

    • Xylitol

    EXPERT TIP

    Choosing a nutrition bar that’s too high in sugar can cause your energy to spike and then crash. For sustained energy, look for a nutrition bar with fewer sugars and more carbohydrates.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    When comparing the fat content of various nutrition bars, look at the fat sources, too. Fats that come from nuts and healthy oils are a good choice and contribute to a well-balanced nutrition bar.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Nutrition bars and special health concerns

    If you follow a special diet, you’ll have to be even more careful about selecting a nutrition bar. The nutrition label should tell you about any common allergens, including nuts and wheat, that are included in the bars. You can also check the ingredient list for signs of potential allergens.

    If you follow a vegan diet, pay special attention to where the protein in your nutrition bar comes from. Look for a plant-based source like soy or brown rice protein, and stay away from whey protein, which comes from cow’s milk.

    A healthy way to indulge your sweet tooth

    This nutrition bar combines healthy nut protein with a chocolate drizzle for a sweet treat between meals. It’s low in fat and sugar, so you can make it a part of your daily routine and indulge without guilt.

    Taste

    While the factors mentioned above are all important when choosing a nutrition bar, taste is arguably one of the most important factors because you can’t benefit from a bar you don’t eat.

    Everyone has their own opinion about what makes for a good-tasting nutrition bar. The best brands offer a variety of flavors that provide similar nutrients so you can switch up the taste as often as you want.

    Check the label carefully before you buy a nutrition bar. Among other ingredients, some energy bars contain caffeine. If you don’t want to obtain your energy this way, you’ll appreciate knowing about the caffeine component before you buy.

    Nutrition bar prices

    When pricing out nutrition bars, it’s more important to focus on the price per bar than the price of the whole box. Most nutrition bars range between $1 to $2 per bar, with anywhere from five to 12 bars per box.

    Price varies from brand to brand and sometimes within a single brand, depending on the flavor. You may get higher-quality ingredients from a more expensive bar, but this isn’t always true. Rather than focusing on price, we recommend that you focus on the nutrition label and decide if the bars match up with your goals.

    A tasty pre-workout boost

    Clif Bars have 20 grams of carbs to help sustain you through tough workouts and nine grams of protein to help you build lean muscle mass. They’re also fortified with a number of vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin D.

    Tips

    • If you’re trying out a new nutrition bar, it’s best to start with a smaller box or look for somewhere that you can purchase a single bar. That way, you don’t end up paying for a whole box of bars that you don’t like.

    • If you’re shopping for a meal replacement bar, it’s not a bad idea to choose one that has been fortified with vitamins and minerals.

    • Always look at the ingredient list before you buy. Easy-to-read ingredients are often best; stay away from bars that have too many chemical ingredients that you don’t recognize.

    • If you’re going to be eating your nutrition bar on the go, texture is also something to consider. Some bars crumble as soon as you take them out of the packaging, which can make them difficult to eat, especially if you’re multitasking.

    Most nutrition bars contain between 100 and 400 calories.

    FAQ

    Q. Why should I consider adding a nutrition bar to my daily diet?

    A. There are lots of possible reasons why you might want to consider adding a nutrition bar to your diet. Nutrition bars can be a great source of extra fiber or protein. They can help curb your cravings so you don’t overeat between meals. Some nutrition bars are designed specifically to fuel your workouts and/or help you build lean muscle mass.

    Q. Should I look for a nutrition bar that sticks to the 40-30-30 principle?

    A. The 40-30-30 principle suggests that the ideal diet contains 40% carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 30% protein. That may work for some individuals, and there are plenty of nutrition bars that fit the ratio. However, the 40-30-30 approach isn’t right for everyone. There are many factors to consider, including how active you are and your reasons for wanting a nutrition bar in the first place.

    Q. What’s the most important thing I should look for on the nutrition bar label?

    A. That depends on your goals. For example, if extra energy is your primary concern, carbohydrates will be most important. If you’re trying to lose weight, an energy bar with added fiber would be ideal. Regardless of the type of nutrition bar you’re interested in, it’s a good idea to check the fat and sugar content and give the ingredient list a quick readthrough.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Kailey
      Kailey
      Writer
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor

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