10 Best Energy Bars for Runners Tested

Whether you’re a runner, athlete, or someone who’s always on the go, you’ll find that the best energy bars for runners are a game changer.

Nowadays we all lead active and busy lifestyles that can quickly burn us out and leave us feeling depleted. The best energy bars for runners will ensure you get the energy you need before you hit your run, keep you full while you’re on the go, and give you the energy you need so you don’t crash when you need your energy most. The best part about these energy bars, however, is that you don’t have to mix, shake or prepare anything—just unwrap them and enjoy!

With all the selections out there, we know how difficult it is to narrow down the best energy bars—so we did it for you!! Take a look at our list of the top 10 best energy bars!

Standout Picks

Kind bars taste kind of like you placed a bunch of goodies in a blender and then congealed the results together in perfect harmony. They aren’t going to feel like a full meal like many heavier protein bars, but they are light, nutritious and extremely tasty. Each bar has 13 grams of fat, which are mostly monounsaturated (this can be thought of as the “good” kind of fat), and the carbohydrate-to-protein ratio (20 grams and 4 grams) replenishes exhausted glycogen reserves giving your muscles a boost or a quicker path to recovery. Highly recommended.
Amazon Link
Visit any Whole Foods or organic supermarket and you are bound to run across Lara Bars. These treats have become more common with good reason. The thing we like most about Lara bars is that their ingredients are simple; they’re non-GMO, kosher, dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan. A great pre-workout snack these bars contain natural sugars and complex carbohydrates for quick energy that will keep you humming right along. There are tons of flavor options as well, so if the chocolate chip one isn’t a good fit for you, there is sure to be one that is.
Amazon Link
These Real Food Protein Bars are unique in that they use eggs are their protein source and nothing but dried fruit for sweetening. There also aren’t tons of ingredients (with unpronounceable names) which is generally a good indicator. Add in handy pouch style packaging and the usual parade of attributes, gluten-free, non-GMO, no soy, and no dairy, and you’ve got a premium energy bar.
Amazon Link
If you’re someone who is extra partial to taste, the ZonePerfect Bar may be for you. This bar simply tastes so good that it’s hard to imagine it has very many healthy properties. The taste seems fresh from the bakery and it’s got an antioxidant kick: high in vitamins A, C, and E (accounts for 100 percent of your daily value). Don’t forget a solid 15 grams of protein and a glazed finish that make you forget you are eating a “health food” product. ZonePerfect bars are a good way to replenish your body after a hard day of training.
Amazon Link
Clif Bar's are one of the original energy bars, and chocolate chip is the original cookie flavor, so this is a marriage made in heaven. Users enjoyed this classic flavor and the energy it gave them. Being non-GMO doesn't hurt either.
Amazon Link
Are you a diabetic that also loves to stay in shape and keep healthy? The Power Crunch Protein Bar is a product that you're going to want to keep with you. It features a very low glycemic response, making it diabetic-friendly, which is hard to find. These are high-protein, creme-filled wafer bars that are full of Proto Whey protein. You can snack on these before or after your routine without it feeling heavy in your stomach. It also is only produced with the highest quality whey hydrolysates.
Amazon Link
Protein bars are a huge hit for those who have a workout regime every day. However, it's tough to find one that's both effective and delicious, until now. The Syntha-6 Protein Crisp Bar is chocked full of proteins and a nice texture for a pleasurable eating experience. No more cutting the roof of your mouth on hard energy bars. This one has a very light and airy rice crispy texture in a salted toffee pretzel flavor.
Amazon Link
This option is marketed as being an energy bar for women, but men can eat it to. The difference is in the amount of calories this one has versus a traditional energy bar, which is about two-thirds of other products because women have different caloric needs than men. Regardless of your sex however, this is a delicious option that packs a good amount of energy but not so much you'll go through the roof.
Amazon Link
Veganism is a growing trend and for good reason. Producing good tasting food without animal products can be a challenge, however, and some vegan food simply misses the mark (in our humble opinion). We agree with the ethics, but having a hard time eating things that taste like chalk or cardboard. The good news is there is also some amazing tasting vegan food, that will satisfy vegans and non-vegans alike. The Vega Sport Chocolate Protein bar is a shining example of vegan food done right. With ingredients like pea protein, sprouted brown rice, and pumpkin seed butter this is a very healthy bar. Add in cocoa butter and chocolate liquor for the irresistible taste. It also includes quinoa, dates, and sorghum, which pack in 15 grams of lean protein. Overall a tasty, ethical and healthy choice.
Amazon Link
Power Bar has been making energy bars for a long time and is one of the most recognized and respected brands out there and for good reason. This product got great reviews for its good taste and the high amount of energy and protein it supplies, although some people didn't enjoy the chewy texture.
Amazon Link

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Product Purity

Whenever you put something into your body, especially when you are trying to make smart health choices, it is important to think about how pure it is. For consumables like energy bars you want to make sure the ingredient label is accurate and everything that it claims is in there really is and that there are no undisclosed ingredients either. We here at RunnerClick know how important this is which is why we carefully reviewed each product on our list and made sure that every one of them is pure and has an accurate ingredient list.

We know you want an energy bar that provides you with the energy you need. However, this doesn't mean you have to sacrifice taste or texture. Taste is tricky because it depends on your own personal preference, so we made sure to include something for everyone. We have options that taste like dessert and others that are blander nut still sweet. We also made sure to include the more natural options that are free of artificial ingredients as well as include options for those of you with allergies or diet sensitivities.

Potency

Similar to purity, potency is something else you will want to think about as you search for the best energy bars to use before, during, and after your runs. Potency refers to how much of each vitamin and mineral and nutrient you get per serving. When you are looking for energy boosts, you will want to ensure the bars you are using are delivering the right dose your body needs. Our review team made sure to keep this in mind as we searched for the best energy bars used by runners and we feel we have a good selection here for you to review!

According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a balanced diet should be 45-65 carbohydrates, 20 to 35 percent fat, and 10 to 35 percent protein. These recommendations are for the average adult, but runners and athletes typically need more carbohydrates to refuel after a workout--and more protein if you want to build muscle.

As a rule of thumb, it's important you choose a bar that provides you with the nutrition you need to power through after a workout. AYou should also consider the ingredients your bar is made of as well as whether or not it has a lot of added sugars. If you prefer organic food or have any food allergies makes sure to consider this as well. t

Rx Bars, the Bearded Brothers Paleo bars, Kashi bars, Kind bars, and Larabars are all made using minimal ingredients that are easy to recognize, such as whole nuts, fruits, egg whites, and natural peanut butter and chocolate sources. When you can, it is advised to opt for "real" food (as opposed to synthetically created foods) so look for bars with ingredients like oats, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and a recognizable and trusted protein component. Of course, if you have special dietary needs and/or restrictions, be mindful of those as well. Luckily, our list of bars can easily fit into gluten-free diets, Paleo diets, etc.

Value

When you are searching for nutritional supplements like energy bars, it is important to remember it usually is not a good idea to cut corners for the sake of saving a few bucks. You get what you pay for and when it is your health on the line, you don’t want to skimp on the quality. The RunnerClick review team made sure to look at the price along with all the benefits each energy bar offered We then selected the ten best ones to include on our list for you. We tried to include a variety of price points while keeping quality first and foremost!

We know you work hard for your money, and you definitely shouldn't have to break the bank to get a simple energy bar that fits your needs. Energy bars are more convenient sources of fast energy than some other sources, but there is still no need to overpay for convenience! Shopping and buying in bulk is a great cost-saving trick. The bars on our list can be bought either individually or packaged together in bulk. Buying them in boxes of twelve bars lowers the per serving cost substantially. And because the shelf life of energy bars is typically several months, it makes it easy to buy in bulk and store them away to be used as needed without worrying so much about expiration dates.

We have also taken into consideration the overall value of the bar - that is, that you are getting a quality product for your money. The bars on this list are made using quality ingredients and actually do what they are supposed to, which is provide carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that provide for your energy and recovery needs - all while keeping costs relatively low. Also included when considering value is considering portion sizes, and exactly how much (or, in some cases, how little) you are getting for your money. We want your dollars to go as far as they can, and to be spent on energy bars that are substantial in serving size.

Effectiveness

There is little point in buying new running gear or using different products if they are not effective and don’t deliver what they promise. The same is true for nutritional boosts and supplements. You want the energy bars you eat to give you that boost you are looking for without the nasty side effects. We made sure to consider the reviews from other users as well as our own experiences to find the most effective energy bars that will serve you well as you enjoy your runs or workout sessions. We know effectiveness is important for you whenever you are on the go.

Effectiveness looks at several factors, one of which is functionality. This means you need to consider where you want to consume your bar and whether or not it will provide you with the energy you need. Here we made sure to provide a list of options you can easily consume before a run or workout so you can get a quick boost of energy.

Generally speaking, the best bars to eat before and during have a lower protein and fat content and a higher carb count high. For example, while delicious, some athletes experience stomach cramps from foods like nuts and peanut butter if eaten just before a workout because they are filled will slow-digesting proteins. However, other athletes are not phased by nuts or nut byproducts at all, so it does come down to the individual case by case scenarios. Know yourself and your body!) Yet, these kinds of bars are perfect for post-workout recovery and muscle repair and will help you come back for your next workout or race faster and stronger.

Another component of practicality is convenience. One of the major appeals of purchasing energy bars is because they can conveniently be eaten in the car, during a workout, at work, in between classes, and the list goes on. They are easy to transport, they do not have to be refrigerated, no preparation is needed, and clean up is obviously a breeze. They also tend to have a great shelf life, so they are a cost-effective snack because you can buy them in bulk and they will stay good in your pantry (or emergency snack stash at the office or in the car!) for months.

They also should not be so big that they can't be easily taken with you during a run. Brands like the Honey Stinger Waffle bar on this list are perfect in this regard because they are smaller in size and can easily fit into compact compartments and pockets. And finally, for convenience sake, the bars need to be simple. That is, you do not want to have to worry about them being too crumbly, too hard to eat, easily melting during the summer months, or frozen solid when you are out on the trails in mid-winter.

Side Effects

The final key factor we considered in our search for the top ten energy products to feature on our list was any known or possible side effects. For the energy bars that made it to this guide, they are safe and healthy options for active individuals. There are few if any reported side effects and most are minor and short-lived including things like stomach upset or an aftertaste. Unless you are allergic to one of the ingredients in one of these bars you should not have any problems or concerns about side effects while enjoying them!

Although some products of this type do have side effects for certain people, thankfully the incidences of this are quite low, especially when compared to how many people experience side effects from other nutritional supplements such as protein powders and BCAAs. We looked over tons of reviews for each product and if we found that a lot of users were experiencing negative side effects it didn't make our list. Something we found is that when people do have problems using this type of product it's often due to them not drinking enough water when they eat the bar, which makes it hard to digest, so it's hard to judge a product when the problem actually lies with the user.

If you are allergic to certain foods (particularly tree nuts like peanuts, almonds, and cashews, seeds, any fruits, or suffer from Celiac's disease or are overly intolerant to gluten) than you should always be mindful of what you are consuming, especially when it comes to energy bars or snacks that you might be eating while out on the trails or roads by yourself. Always read the label and be on the lookout for ingredients that might trigger an allergic reaction. Luckily, the range of bars we have included in our list are so versatile and different that, no matter your allergy, you can find one that can safely fit into your diet.

10 Best Energy Bars for Runners

1. KIND

Where to buy
Amazon Link
KIND
Amazon Link

Kind bars taste kind of like you placed a bunch of goodies in a blender and then congealed the results together in perfect harmony. They aren’t going to feel like a full meal like many heavier protein bars, but they are light, nutritious and extremely tasty. Each bar has 13 grams of fat, which are mostly monounsaturated (this can be thought of as the “good” kind of fat), and the carbohydrate-to-protein ratio (20 grams and 4 grams) replenishes exhausted glycogen reserves giving your muscles a boost or a quicker path to recovery. Highly recommended.

Read more

Product Purity

Kind energy bars are made of all-natural ingredients that many people have come to enjoy and trust. Not only are there products mostly allergen-free--they are gluten-free and dairy-free--but these bars are also low in sugar. They are minimally processed and don't use any hydrogenated oils. The company lists all of their ingredients, so they are really transparent with what they put in their products.

Potency

Kind bars won't really keep you to full but they will give you a boost of energy thanks to their carb content. While they aren't a good option to take with you on race day or for a marathon, they will definitely give you a boost before you hit your run.

Value

These bars are a little pricey--but you definitely get what you pay for. Kind bars use high-quality and all-natural ingredients that you can trust, so they are definitely worth every penny.

Effectiveness

As we mentioned above, Kind bars will definitely give you a good little energy boost but they won't have you flying off the walls either. These are perfect for those of you who need to get something in your stomach before training or hitting a quick run and will give you the energy boost you need to get moving.

Side Effects

These bars don't really have any side effects--however, they typically have nuts in their ingredients so if you have a nut allergy you will need to be careful with these bars!

Amazon Link

2. Larabar

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Larabar
Amazon Link

Visit any Whole Foods or organic supermarket and you are bound to run across Lara Bars. These treats have become more common with good reason. The thing we like most about Lara bars is that their ingredients are simple; they’re non-GMO, kosher, dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan. A great pre-workout snack these bars contain natural sugars and complex carbohydrates for quick energy that will keep you humming right along. There are tons of flavor options as well, so if the chocolate chip one isn’t a good fit for you, there is sure to be one that is.

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Product Purity

Lara Bars are known for their organic and all-natural ingredients--even their chocolate chips are fair trade certified! These are the perfect kosher bars that are also minimally processed and low in sugar content. They only use non-GMO ingredients and are gluten and dairy free--and they even have up to 10% of your necessary daily value of magnesium (which is an important part of your recovery process).

Potency

These are not the most potent bars and they certainly don't offer any caffeine or additional energy supplement. However, they do have plenty of carbs to offer you a great energy boost and ensure that you can get to moving.

Value

These are pretty pricey but totally worth every penny given their clean and high-quality ingredients.

Effectiveness

If you need a quick pick me up as well as something to cut the edge off of your hunger, you will love these bars. They are delicious and have enough carbs to ensure that you get the energy boost you need.

Side Effects

Some of these bars do have nut ingredients, so if you have any nut allergies you will have to pay close attention to their ingredient list.

Amazon Link

3. RxBar

Where to buy
Amazon Link
RxBar
Amazon Link

These Real Food Protein Bars are unique in that they use eggs are their protein source and nothing but dried fruit for sweetening. There also aren’t tons of ingredients (with unpronounceable names) which is generally a good indicator. Add in handy pouch style packaging and the usual parade of attributes, gluten-free, non-GMO, no soy, and no dairy, and you’ve got a premium energy bar.

Read more

Product Purity

RX bars have quickly gained popularity among runners and athletes everywhere. All of their ingredients are print in large print at the very front of the package--so you know absolutely everything you are consuming. These bars stay on track with the paleo diet and are always free of gluten, dairy, sugars, grains, and artificial additives.

Potency

This brand offers pre and post workout bars--and the energy boosting bars offer the right levels of potency to ensure you get the energy boost that you need.

Value

RX bars are typically on the pricier side as well, but they are worth the investment if you are looking for something effective that also uses clean ingredients you can trust.

Effectiveness

These bars are incredibly effective at providing you with the energy boost that you need to hit your runs and workouts. They are well-regarded in the athletic community and many users highly recommend them.

Side Effects

These bars don't really have any side effects outside of hiving

Amazon Link

4. ZonePerfect

Where to buy
Amazon Link
ZonePerfect
Amazon Link

If you’re someone who is extra partial to taste, the ZonePerfect Bar may be for you. This bar simply tastes so good that it’s hard to imagine it has very many healthy properties. The taste seems fresh from the bakery and it’s got an antioxidant kick: high in vitamins A, C, and E (accounts for 100 percent of your daily value). Don’t forget a solid 15 grams of protein and a glazed finish that make you forget you are eating a “health food” product. ZonePerfect bars are a good way to replenish your body after a hard day of training.

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Product Purity

These bars feature great ingredients that taste great and will give you the energy boost you need. They will provide you with 19 essential vitamins and minerals, 15 grams of protein, and enough carbs to give you the energy boost you are looking for. They are sweeter than other bars, so if you want the lowest sugar content possible, these are not the right bars for you--but they definitely taste great.

Potency

If you want a bar that gives you an energy boost, these offer both protein and carbs to keep you full and help you keep pushing through the day.

Value

These bars come at a good price and you can find them in any grocery store.

Effectiveness

If you need a quick energy boost you will love these bars. They aren't loaded with sugar but still taste like a nice little treat.

Side Effects

These bars are less organic and all-natural than other bars on our list, but they are still great. Many of them have gluten, dairy, and nut ingredients so make sure to take any dietary constraints you may have into consideration before getting these bars.

Amazon Link

5. Clif Bar

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Clif Bar
Amazon Link

Clif Bar's are one of the original energy bars, and chocolate chip is the original cookie flavor, so this is a marriage made in heaven. Users enjoyed this classic flavor and the energy it gave them. Being non-GMO doesn't hurt either.

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Product Purity

The ingredients for this option are sourced from non-GMO ingredients, and this brand has been recognized and rewarded for its high-quality products for over 25 years.

Potency

Reviewers felt that they received a good boost of energy from this product, but not as much as some other options.

Value

These are about the average price for a product on this list. They might seem a little expensive, but they pack a lot of energy for the money.

Effectiveness

These pack a lot of energy in the form of calories, so they can be a great option for very active people, but be aware that this isn't meant to be just a snack, but an energy source, so they're not recommended if you're just sitting around a lot.

Side Effects

Some users complained of upset stomachs, but they also reported that they had eaten more than one serving and done so very

Amazon Link

6. Power Crunch

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Power Crunch
Amazon Link

Are you a diabetic that also loves to stay in shape and keep healthy? The Power Crunch Protein Bar is a product that you're going to want to keep with you. It features a very low glycemic response, making it diabetic-friendly, which is hard to find. These are high-protein, creme-filled wafer bars that are full of Proto Whey protein. You can snack on these before or after your routine without it feeling heavy in your stomach. It also is only produced with the highest quality whey hydrolysates.

Read more

Product Purity

These energy bars are perfect for those of you who are diabetic and need something that is low in sugar content. They offer the perfect proportion of carbs, protein, and fat--and the use of whey hydrolysates provides 100% absorption of protein.

Potency

These are not the most potent bars on our list but they definitely offer an excellent energy boost for those of you who need something that is also low in sugar.

Value

These are comparable in price to other bars on our list, so they are not overly expensive.

Effectiveness

These bars will keep you full without letting you feel weighed down or uncomfortable and they will definitely give you the boost of energy you are looking for.

Side Effects

If you are worried about any stomach issues, you will be happy to heat that these bars are light and not too textured—so they won’t leave your stomach feeling heavy or uncomfortable.

Amazon Link

7. BSN Syntha-6

Where to buy
Amazon Link
BSN Syntha-6
Amazon Link

Protein bars are a huge hit for those who have a workout regime every day. However, it's tough to find one that's both effective and delicious, until now. The Syntha-6 Protein Crisp Bar is chocked full of proteins and a nice texture for a pleasurable eating experience. No more cutting the roof of your mouth on hard energy bars. This one has a very light and airy rice crispy texture in a salted toffee pretzel flavor.

Read more

Product Purity

When it comes to product purity, these bars offer 20 grams of protein per bar and only 2-4 grams of sugar per bar. They come in lots of great flavors and they definitely won’t compromise your macros.

Potency

As far as potency, these offer 240 calories to keep you full and a good carb, protein, and at ratio.

Value

These bars are also available at a similar price to the other bars on our list--and while they may be a little pricey compared to cheap alternatives, these are perfect for athletes and taste great if you want something on the sweeter end.

Effectiveness

This bar is perfect for pre or post training. They offer a good bit of energy, but definitely won’t have you jumping off the walls.

Side Effects

If you want something all organic or have a sensitive stomach, then this bar may not work for you. Many users have reported some stomach upset and difficulty finding gluten free or dairy free options. If you have no stomach issues you probably won’t experience any of these issues.

Amazon Link

8. Luna Bar

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Luna Bar
Amazon Link

This option is marketed as being an energy bar for women, but men can eat it to. The difference is in the amount of calories this one has versus a traditional energy bar, which is about two-thirds of other products because women have different caloric needs than men. Regardless of your sex however, this is a delicious option that packs a good amount of energy but not so much you'll go through the roof.

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Product Purity

This one has no high-fructose corn syrup, no GMO's, and no artificial flavors or sweeteners. It's also 70% organic so it's one of the better options out there when it comes to purity of ingredients.

Potency

With 200 calories per serving this product will give the user a good amount of energy before a run or workout, but not so much that you feel heavy or have an energy crash afterward.

Value

Because these are smaller in size than a lot of other products on our list they are quite a bit more affordable as well.

Effectiveness

These do a good job of accomplishing their purpose of giving the user an energy boost before a run. Keep in mind these are formulated for people with lower caloric needs than a lot of other options, so if you need an extreme energy boost you might want to try another option, while they're perfect for others.

Side Effects

We couldn't find any reports of negative side effects from users, and almost everyone loved the flavor, although some felt there wasn't enough coconut.

Amazon Link

9. Vega Sport

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Vega Sport
Amazon Link

Veganism is a growing trend and for good reason. Producing good tasting food without animal products can be a challenge, however, and some vegan food simply misses the mark (in our humble opinion). We agree with the ethics, but having a hard time eating things that taste like chalk or cardboard. The good news is there is also some amazing tasting vegan food, that will satisfy vegans and non-vegans alike. The Vega Sport Chocolate Protein bar is a shining example of vegan food done right. With ingredients like pea protein, sprouted brown rice, and pumpkin seed butter this is a very healthy bar. Add in cocoa butter and chocolate liquor for the irresistible taste. It also includes quinoa, dates, and sorghum, which pack in 15 grams of lean protein. Overall a tasty, ethical and healthy choice.

Read more

Product Purity

As far as product purity, these bars use plant-sourced protein and ingredients—so if you are a vegan you will love these. They are also free of gluten, artificial flavors, and artificial colors. If you want a bar that solely uses non-GMO and organic ingredients, then you will love these bars!

Potency

These bars are pretty potent and will give you a great energy boost thanks to their macro proportion and calorie content.

Value

These are pretty pricey, but not any more than some of the other bars on our list.

Effectiveness

If you want an effective energy boost, these will definitely give you just that!

Side Effects

Users don’t really report any issues with this product—thanks to the fact that it uses organic, all-natural, and clean ingredients that are gentle on the stomach.

Amazon Link

10. Power Bar

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Power Bar
Amazon Link

Power Bar has been making energy bars for a long time and is one of the most recognized and respected brands out there and for good reason. This product got great reviews for its good taste and the high amount of energy and protein it supplies, although some people didn't enjoy the chewy texture.

Read more

Product Purity

While this option is non-GMO and contains no high-fructose corn syrup, it does have maltodextrin and dextrose, two types of sugars that don't always come from the purest sources.

Potency

With 230 calories and 44 grams of carbohydrates, this one packs a lot of energy.

Value

These are one of the most expensive options on our list, but for all the energy you get it's still a good value

Effectiveness

This product is very effective at giving the user energy because of the high amount of calories and carbs. It's actually one of the highest bars in energy on our list.

Side Effects

We couldn't find many mentions of adverse side effects with these, although there were scattered reports of a mildly upset stomach.

Amazon Link

Sources

  1. Elle Penner, My Fitness Pal, Dietary Blog Article
  2. Patricia Brannen, Livestrong, Dietary Blog Article
  3. Mark Barroso, Men's Fitness, Running and Strength Training Blog Article
  4. Lawrence Adams, Livestrong, Nutrition Blog Article

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Inside RunnerClick Pro, runners of all strengths come together to meet and support one another, get answers to burning questions, learn from experts, participate in personal challenges, and more.