Last Updated on November 1, 2021
What’s not to love about the humble energy bar? They are portable, nutritious, tasty, and ideal for providing us with a bit of boost when we need it. Whether eaten with some tea at breakfast or as an afternoon snack after the gym, energy bars are packed with fiber and protein and can keep us feeling full for a few hours.
However, not all energy bars are created equally, and it may or may not surprise you to hear that not all energy bars are healthy. Many contain nutritious fruit, nuts or seeds, just as many are full of sugar and artificial sweeteners and can be just as bad for us as regular chocolate bars. The FDA now requires companies to disclose the amounts of sugar in each bar on the packet; it has made it easier to rid the unhealthy bars from our diets.
However, you can always find a balance that works; it can’t be all work and no play, right? What this article looks to do is discuss what exactly makes a good protein bar and dive into a list of 14 bars, discussing the good, the bad, and the ugly on each one.
What makes a good energy bar?
When picking the right energy bar, three “make or break” criteria should be met. While other factors may be necessary, the taste, the nutritional value, and the price of the bar are the three most important factors.
This one is obvious, and you may have to buy one to know whether or not you like the taste. However, usually, most bars will have certain flavors that may stand out, and if you think they have promise, then try them. Choosing a bar that you like to eat will justify the price or the nutritional pitfalls it may have. Something can be healthy but taste horrible, but what’s the point in punishing yourself?
Choosing an energy bar based on its nutritional value will depend on what stage you are at with your fitness. If you are bulking up, consider any bar because it may not matter, but if you are looking to cut out sugar, or if you are vegan, or trying to lower your intake of fats, understanding the nutritional values of each bar is essential.
Not everyone is rolling in cash. While some energy bars can be well priced, most of them can be a little expensive due to the natural or organic ingredients inside them. If you do not have a lot of money, consider buying in bulk online for discounts or find them reduced or on sale in your local store
1. Rx Bars
Armed with a “No BS” marketing strategy, RX has one of the most simple and effective packaging designs on the entire list. Each flavor of bar has the ingredients listed on the front to know exactly what is going into your body. This is ideal for those that are looking to monitor their nutrition.
There are 14-16g of sugar in each bar, but all of that is natural, and there is no added sugar. Each flavor (Coconut Chocolate is my favorite) has over 10 grams of protein due to the egg whites, which makes it the perfect post-gym snack for boosting your energy and building muscle. A bar contains around 210 calories and costs $3 which is standard for an energy bar.
2. Kind Bars
One of the most globally recognized energy bar brands; Kind prides itself on offering variety, great taste, and reasonable prices. They are usually packed with almonds and peanuts (so anyone with a nut allergy beware) and are brought together with honey or chocolatey combinations like dark chocolate and cherry or sea salted caramel.
There has been controversy in the past about whether or not certain flavors of Kind bars were “healthy” because for a bar to be labelled as “healthy”, it needs to have less than 15% of its calories coming from saturated fat. Due to the Kind bars love for almonds and other nuts, along with coconut, some of their bars cannot be labelled as “healthy” because their fat content is too high. In saying that, with the array of flavors on offer along with their reasonable price (you can get a box of 12 on Amazon for around $20), Kind bars are still an industry leader.
3. R.e.d.d Energy Bars
If you are looking for a vegan, gluten-free, tasty bar that is sure to give you a boost, then look no further than R.e.d.d bars. When we eat an energy bar, we often look for sugar, whether natural or artificial, to give us the energy we need. R.e.d.d bars offer something more unique than that. Packed with superfoods and seeds along with 35mg of coffee, they will not only fill you up, but they will give you that kick you need. They have a range of flavors, but their peanut butter and chocolate variants are the most popular.
4. Clif Bars
One of the original energy bar companies, Clif, has been providing active people with an added boost of energy and protein since the 1980s. Many argue that the Clif bar range moved energy bars from the realm of eating for fuel to eating to enjoy. They are small, portable, easy to eat and even have a smaller variant known as Clif’s Energy Chews, which are small balls of protein and caffeine. They are available in many classic flavors and are constantly innovating to find new flavors like apricot, carrot cake, birthday cake and pumpkin spice. They contain 7 grams of plant-based protein in each bar and are less than 200 calories too. What’s not to love?
5. Lara bars
One of the first energy bars on the market that claimed to have no added sugar, Lara bar is one of the American energy bar industry staples. They are seen by many as the ideal snack because they are tasty, available in a variety of flavors and have few additives. For example, their pecan pie bar contains only dates, pecans, and almonds; that’s it! They have a line of bars with added chocolate chips that will give you that little sugar rush, but they have nearly 20 bars without chocolate, so they offer a huge variety. They have their line of superfood bars with turmeric ginger, and beetroot flavors being among the more popular choices.
6. Verb Bars
Verb prides its bars as being the perfect energy bar for anyone on the go. This is because they are super small and can be eaten in two or three bites. Most of the bar ingredients are organic, vegan, gluten-free, and contain caffeine that comes from natural green tea leaves. Their marketing and packaging are super slick. They have put a real effort into their flavors, partnering with chef Nick DiGiovanni to create exciting flavors like Vanilla Latte and Lemon Raspberry. They contain just 90 calories and have as much caffeine as an espresso. They are brilliant.
7. Soldier Fuel Energy Bars
As if the name wasn’t cool enough already, wait until you hear the story behind their design. Originally made for the U.S Special Forces and recommended for police and firefighters, the soldier bar is made with natural ingredients and contains 11g of protein. There are 19g of sugar, but the goal was to provide energy, which is perhaps to be expected. They have a 3–4-year shelf life and contain a 4:1 carb to protein ratio, which is the optimal ratio for human performance. They have thought of everything with this bar.
8. Hammer Nutrition Organic Energy Bars
Packed with organic ingredients and about 5g of protein per bar, hammer nutrition bars are soft, easy to eat and easy for your body to digest. They contain no added sugars but can be a little high in natural sugars, so beware of this. With 11g of fat and 210 calories per bar, they are on par with many other energy bars on the market, however, they are well priced at $2.60 because they are full of organic ingredients. Kosher and vegan alternatives are also available.
9. Thunderbird Real Food Energy Bars
Thunderbird energy bars are fantastic, packed with natural ingredients, low in all kinds of sugar, designed by professional athletes and available in various flavors. Their products are paleo and vegan friendly and are available in some delicious flavors like Chocolate Mint Walnut and Cashew Fig Carrot; they are unique in their taste and packaging.
10. No Cow Energy Bars
These energy bars are exactly what they sat on the tin. They have no dairy and are perfect for anyone with dairy intolerances. They have some of the most exciting ingredient lists of any bar on the market with cacao powder, rice, and pea protein. Many of their flavors are pretty standard, but their taste is fantastic, and with 12 grams of protein per bar, you cannot complain.
11. Bearded Brothers Energy Bars
There is a lot to love about this bespoke brand of energy bar. Started by two very active brothers that wanted to create a new bar that could fuel their active lifestyle, they created their 100% natural energy bar. Each of their bars is free of gluten and soya, making them ideal for anyone with allergies and with just seven ingredients in most flavors, they are minimal in additives. With 5g of protein in even their fruit bars, they are full of fiber and perfect for anyone who is active and needs to refuel quickly.
12. Luna bars
Owned by Clif, who make Clif bars, Luna bars are oat-based energy bars that come in many flavors. The main difference between Luna and Clif bars, and indeed one of the standout features of the Luna bar, is that it has very little sugar. This makes it the perfect bar for anyone looking for a guilt-free snack. Furthermore, they cost about a dollar and have 5-6 grams of protein in each bar. They are perfect for every scenario. Some of their more popular flavors include Sea Salt Caramel and Blueberry Bliss.
13. High 5 Bars
With regular, vegetarian, and vegan options available, High 5 has some of the most versatile sets of products on the market. They have some of the highest sugar contents on the list due to the amount of dried fruit that is included. However, if energy is what you need, then the 30g of natural sugar you get will do the trick. Packed with fiber and complex carbohydrates, they are excellent for athletes looking to improve their performance.
14. Pro bars
Last but not least on the list is the Pro Bar. With exciting and unique flavors like the “superfood slam” and “Koka Moka”, they boast some of the tastiest energy bars on the market. They are a little higher in calories compared to other bars on the list, and because of this, they are classed as “meal bars”, meaning that they are the ideal substitute for a meal. They also have a trail mix product that offers 9 grams of protein and is packed with healthy nuts and dried fruit.