Best Meal Replacement Bars Tested & Reviewed

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There are quite a bit of advantages to incorporating meal replacement bars into your daily routine and diet.  Meal replacement bars wear a number of hats. First, they do just that, they replace meals. For many people who are looking to control their weight and need help with eating high nutrient-dense food, portion control and control of calories in vs. calories out a meal replacement bar is a simple and easy addition to help you meet your goals.  They are generally easy to pack, you can see exactly what you are getting via the nutrition label so you can easily adjust the rest of your day. They are pre-made so no extra prep, they are great time savers.

These bars are not just convenient, and healthy but they also provide another use. They help us easily make sure we are taking in small meals throughout the day to help regulate our blood sugar levels.  It is not just important for diabetics, it is important for anyone. Nothing good comes out of irregular blood sugar spikes and dips. Below lists 10 of the best meal replacement bars and snacks on the market including an option specifically for kids.  Ingredient quality, taste, price and the brand standing are metrics used to review each of the bars and provide you detailed information to compare and contrast so you can figure out which bar would be the best for you to try.

LUNA Bar
  • LUNA Bar
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Quality Ingredients
  • Price: See Here
CLIF Kid ZBAR
  • CLIF Kid ZBAR
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • USDA Certified Organic
  • Price: See Here
PROBAR
  • PROBAR
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Protein & Fiber
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Meal Replacement Bars

 

 

LUNA Bar

LUNA bars are popular meal replacement bars that have nine yummy flavors for you to choose. They are gluten-free and they aren’t made with high-fructose corn syrup nor do they have any artificial flavors. They offer complete protein with the essential amino acids you’d expect from a plant-based source of soy.
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Healthy
These bars are great for providing the energy you need on the go. Their sized nicely which is great for portion control. They can definitely curb your hunger and offer excellent ingredients to nourish your body. Their ration of fats to carbohydrates and protein is spot on so you can feel good about eating them when you need.

Taste
Taste is not sacrificed in these highly nutritious bars. The nine flavors they offer give you a wide range to choose from and satisfy your taste preferences. These tasty treats are sweet, but they aren’t overly sweet. They have a great texture, they aren’t dry at all and you won’t get that aftertasted with these bars that you sometimes can have with nutrition foods.

Cost and Value
These bars are 70% organic with no GMOs and they are vegan and they still offer you a complete protein profile. They are easy to pack and carry, and their nutritional makeup is super healthy for you. They taste great and their size is the perfect portion.
Pros
  • Vegan
  • High quality ingredients, no artificial flavors or high-fructose corn syrup
  • Very tasty
  • Highly nutritious and composed bar
  • Variety of flavors, they offer 9
Cons
  • Pay attention to when you order, because they can melt in the shipping packaging in hot weather
  • Some flavors can be messy as chocolate has a low melting point

CLIF Kid ZBAR

This one is for the kids! The CLIF ZBAR is formulated to have the most agreeable taste for children. This is a USDA certified organic bar that is also non-GMO. It is soft-baked so the texture is soft and chewy. It packs in 8-11g of whole grains and is high in fiber.
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Easy for parents
Most of us who have children know how important it is to have easy access to portable and healthy snacks. These bars don’t have anything artificial or synthetic in them. They are super nourishing with a nice blend of fiber, protein and fat that will sustain your child through all their activities.

Solid recipe
These bars are crafted with quality ingredients using recipes that are inspired by foods children love. CLIF uses sustainable and organic ingredients such as oats, almonds and dates that will meet all the nutritional needs parents are looking for.

Cost and Value
These highly addicting treats are delicious, satisfying and have a terrific texture that your kids will love. The quality ingredients will keep them energized and nourished. They are easy to pack and travel with as well. Parents enjoy their great taste and texture too!
Pros
  • Recipe specifically designed for kids
  • USDA Certified Organic
  • Very tasty
  • Gluten and Dairy allergy friendly
  • Convenient for kids and parents
Cons
  • While they are all tasty, there are only three flavors
  • Some people felt they are too chewy

PROBAR

The PROBAR is both gluten and soy-free. It uses safe and sustainable ingredients and uses the plant-based Chia and Flax seeds for it’s protein source. It’s comprised of natural ingredients that will keep you energized as well as full for 370 calories.
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Sustainable ingredients
These bars are Non-GMO Project verified and they use natural organic ingredients. You can be confident that you are consuming safe and nutritional food. They are completely vegan, they never use any animal ingredients including dairy, ever. They have a list of 10 signature ingredients that include acai berries, raspberries, dark chocolate and greens.

Filling
These bars are exactly what you’d want in a meal replacement and that is for it to be satisfying and filling. These definitely are both. They are super tasty as well with a texture similar to a chewy granola bar.

Cost and Value
A ton of protein as well as healthy antioxidants from the berries as well as benefits from dark leafy greens you get the full package with this bar. They taste great and use high quality ingredients. They are non-GMO and they will fill you up as you would want from a meal replacement bar.
Pros
  • Convenient to have as a meal, will fill you up
  • Non-GMO
  • Lots of protein
  • Healthy and vegan
  • Full of fiber
  • Can help you reduce your amount of empty calories
Cons
  • Can taste pretty sweet
  • Peanut flavor doesn’t have intense peanut taste

CLIF Bar

CLIF Bar
CLIF bars are super popular among the active crowd. These bars can help you keep a sustainable energy level that can help regulate your blood sugar and ultimately help you lose weight if that is a goal of yours. These bars have a good amount of protein and fiber. They are moist,tasty and chewy bars.
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Ingredients
These bars use certified organic foods, and offer 10 grams of proteins, 23 essential vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates and dietary fiber. They don’t use artificial sweeteners, wheat or dairy. They also don’t use hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup or trans fats.

Texture
CLIF has a soft chewy texture that is also very fulfilling. They travel well as they don’t crumble, or melt and they don’t get mushy. They are filling and their not messy, so you won’t have to worry about sticky hands after eating them.
Cost and Value
These are a convenient and an excellent alternative should you need a quick and nutritious meal on the go or in a pinch when time is lacking. They offer a great combination of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals that will nourish your body.
Pros

Can assist with weight loss

Excellent texture

Improves energy

Cons

High sugar content

Nature Valley Protein

Nature Valley Protein
Nature Valley offers nutritious protein rich snack bars. They use natural protein sources like roasted peanuts, almonds as well as sunflower seeds. It is chewy and crunchy at the same time. They have a great texture, no weird aftertaste and compared to other snack bars or meal replacement bars they are relatively inexpensive.
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Decent protein and low sugar
While some energy bars can be extremely high in sugar, upwards of 30-40% sugar, these are about 17.5% sugar. Coming in with 10 grams of protein to 7 grams of sugar, its not a terrible ratio. The coconut almond bars are a fan favorite as they have a great almond taste with the with a pleasing texture mix of smooth bottom and crunchy top. They aren’t too sweet or too salty, just a nice mix.

Practical
These bars are so easily packed for activities like hikes or bike rides, runs or if you need a quick pick me up in energy without the time or ingredients to put something together for yourself. These easily could be a late night snack should you need that little something before bed. They offer a balanced snack that are full of nutrition and they taste good. They will satisfy, but not be overly filling.

Cost and Value
Most supplement bars are fairly pricey. These bars are some of the most affordable on the market. They use natural ingredients and have a nice dual texture of smoothness and crunch to satisfy your hunger and keep your body running and regulated to make it through the day. They are easy to pack and are good for bigger kids (who do not have nut allergies) and adults.
Pros
  • Super affordable
  • Tasty without too much sugar
  • Easy shipping
  • Great balance for active people and people in need of a quick pick me up
  • Nice amount of tasty flavor options
Cons
  • Taste much better the fresher they are
  • People with dentures may find it hard to eat flavors such as the coconut as it may stick to their teeth

Zing

Zing
The Zing protein snack bar is gluten-free and GMO-free, whose makeup is vegan. It is designed by nutrition professionals and uses the best nutrition science to back its formulation. Base the focus of their nutrition research with vegetarian nutrition. This company aims to make products that supports raw, organic and vegan lifestyles.
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Soy and treenut-free
It can be tricky to find protein bars that are both soy and treenut free. Soy and tree nuts can be a huge source of food allergies for many people, these components being sensitive ingredient are quite common. They can still maintain nice protein profile with a great taste.

Good for those who can’t process dairy well
Just like the soy and tree nut allergies, another quite common problem many, many people have is breaking down dairy. This too, is a very hard thing to find in the energy bar market, as there are limited high-quality options that don’t have some type of dairy component. These bars have are dairy free and have a great protein to carb ratio as well as a pleasant taste.

Cost and Value
These bars are a bit on the high end as far as cost, but the focus on quality ingredients and attention to the many people out there that have serious food allergies is a huge plus.
Pros
  • Vegan bar with food allergy considerations
  • Company focuses on vegan, raw, and organic products
  • Non-GMO
  • Good protein to carbohydrate ratio
  • Recipes thoughtfully made with science based research and nutrition professional guidance
Cons
  • They will change their recipes once and a while which can take time to get used to
  • Pricey

RXBAR

RXBAR
The RXBAR is a whole-foods protein bar. They use clean, simple ingredients such as egg whites, dates, and nuts to make some tasty and nourishing options. They don’t add sugar, are gluten and soy-free, they don’t use dairy or artificial flavors, no preservatives or fillers. They are non-GMO and they are whole30 compliant which is awesome. They offer 12 grams of protein and are kosher.
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Ingredients
They are so simple and to the point that they give you all their components on the bar’s wrapper. They use nuts and dates pretty straight forward. They also prefer to use egg whites. This is great because egg whites are cholesterol free and the body can better absorb the protein than other non-complete protein sources.

Whole 30 compliant
The whole 30 is a trending program that is focused on resetting your body by finding those foods that you may have a natural sensitivity to and use food as medicine to treat various health conditions. Weight loss comes naturally as an added bonus. The foods are whole, natural and unprocessed. Having a go to, ready-made bar is a great option for people on this diet to be able to easily supplement their nutrition with convenience.

Cost and Value
These are high quality bars are made simply with clean ingredients. They are more easily digestible for most people with or with
Pros
  • Made with whole foods and is kosher
  • Compliments whole30 program
  • Highly rated
  • Good amount of flavor combinations
  • Provide a nice boost of energy
Cons
  • Potential quality control issues
  • Can be on the sweet side

Raw Rev

Raw Rev
The Raw Rev bar uses Spirulina powder for their plant-based protein source. Spirulina is a superfood that is not just great for protein but high in minerals, vitamins including vitamin B12. These bars are USDA certified organic. They are GMO, gluten, wheat and animal product free.
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Mostly raw
These bars are as close to raw as you can get. Ingredients include the spirulina powder, of course but also organic: cashews, dates, sunflower seed kernels, agave nectar, almonds and sprouted flax seed. They are clean and healthy and environmentally friendly as they can be.

Fresh bars like homemade
There are a good amount of people that make their own energy bars and these bars are fairly close to the ingredients and process you would use and do at home. If you are short on time, a fairly common thing for most people, these bars are a great alternative if there was no time to make a batch at home.

Cost and Value
These are clean bars that are whole and fulfilling and they have a nice variety of flavors. They don’t have to be frozen to keep them from melting so that makes them ideal to stash away and pack in any environment. They are smooth and chewy with that also come with a nice crunch and they are just slightly sweet.
Pros
  • Whole, clean ingredients
  • Small list of ingredients per bar
  • Offer lots of nutrition while feeling like a treat
  • This company focuses on raw nutrition in their formulations
  • Great for energy-boost
Cons
  • Can get oily because the ingredients used are natural and oil separation is a natural occurrence
  • Spirulina taste may take some getting used to for some people

PowerBar Protein Plus

PowerBar Protein Plus
The PowerBar Protein Plus is a very high protein bar that contains 83% less sugar than the regular PowerBar protein bars manufactured. It comes in four flavors including Lemon Poppyseed, Vanilla, Chocolate Coconut, and Chocolate Peanut Butter. They have no artificial flavors or colors and are trans fat and gluten-free.
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Practical
These bars are a great option for a an enjoyable breakfast on the go, a snack or to replenish your body after a workout. They are very high in quality protein to give you energy and replenishment of nutrition for the demands of your day. This bar also comes with a lot less sugar than the regular version.

Company recognition as leaders in the industry
PowerBar is widely known as a leader in the energy and protein bar industry. They offer consistent quality in their products and they focus on active people and athlete nutrition needs.They formulate their bars and drinks to replenish and supplement the active body in motion.

Cost and Value
Moderately priced, these bars have a whopping 20 grams of protein which is really more so aimed at the athlete but anyone can benefit from the protein composition in these bars.You can supplement yourself with a full line of PowerBar products, and this bar is specifically nice because of the decrease in sugar content.
Pros
  • Still solid taste even with the decrease in sugar
  • Don’t taste chalky
  • Highly reliable company
  • Good for active people and athletes
  • Very high protein
Cons
  • Peanut butter taste is not as intense as the regular bars
  • Hold up best by being stored in the fridge

Kashi GoLean

Kashi GoLean
The Kashi GoLean bars are non-GMO project verified. They are vegan and gluten-free and use multi-source forms of plant proteins. They use Fair Trade USA Certified cocoa and offer around 8 grams of protein with 4g of fiber in each bar.
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A great overall bar
Kashi is a brand that is very available and easy to find at most stores. It has a good nutritional makeup and uses quality, sustainable ingredients. Kashi products are known to have a nice texture and crunch as well as a pleasing taste that is sweet but not overly sweet.

Delicious
Kashi offers a nice blend of natural ingredients with spices to offer a very wide range of flavors. Their super nutritious bars are easily packed and hold up to most environments. The plant-based proteins in the GoLean line are great for vegans and vegetarians.

Cost and Value
Kashi is a well known company with a wide variety of various nutrition lines that includes bars. You have the versatility to pick from a wide variety of flavors and composition options that are made with sustainable and high quality ingredients. They are reasonably priced and easily found at any store or online.
Pros
  • Great availability
  • Options for vegetarians and vegans
  • Large versatility in products and flavors
  • Reasonable price
  • Healthy, with pleasant flavors
Cons
  • Lots of flavors offered, but check because some flavors could be discontinued
  • Some flavors dryer than others

 

Any of the bars above will serve you to be a very healthy alternative to a high calorie meal or empty calorie snack.  It really comes down to your preference in diet, taste and texture. These bars will serve your body good in a number of ways.  They can actually help to support your immune system by providing all the complete essential amino acids that will aid in equalizing your hormones and natural enzymes.  The varying protein content in these bars will either help you increase your protein levels to gain muscle or support your existing muscle. Building and maintaining muscle gives way to burning fat and then losing weight because muscle burns calories relatively fast and efficiently.

Meal replacement bars are convenient little packages of predetermined nutrition that you can take anywhere you need.  Keeping small, highly healthful and portion controlled foods around to eat throughout the day will balance your blood sugar.  That can help you to feel more focused and energized to accomplish the goals you have for your day.

 

The Criteria We Used For Our Evaluation

Ingredient Quality

You really have to be careful when you are picking a meal replacement bar.  Just because there are a plethora on the shelves together doesn’t mean they are all healthful or anyone can meet your needs.  There are many different types of bars out there for different reasons. You wouldn’t want to eat a bar designed for exercise aimed at weight gain if you are trying to slim down, for instance.  Then there are bars out there that advertise that they are healthy, but really when breaking down their ingredients and nutritional profile, they are nothing better than, and could even be worse than a candy bar.  

You want to ask yourself what are you looking for in a bar.  Do you want it to be organic, non-GMO, kosher? Do you need it to follow a specific diet, vegan, raw, whole 30, etc.?  Are you concerned with the amount of ingredients used in the bar, do you prefer just a few simple, and clean natural ingredients? Do you have food allergy sensitivities or restrictions that you need to veer away from? Are you looking for a meal replacement or a snack bar, because meal replacement bars can easily be confused with snack bars and if weight loss is your deal you are going to have a sad reality when you use one for the other. Meal replacement bars tend to be much higher in calories and fats, because let’s be serious, they are replacing a whole meal in your day not just a quick snack.  How are the bars sweetened? Do they use sugar, sugar alcohols, stevia, honey, agave nectar? A bar’s glycemic load is definitely something to consider.

Taste

If you find a bar that looks on paper like it is going to fit your nutritional needs the best thing to do is go out and buy one or two of the various flavors offered.  You’ll see first hand if you like the texture which is a real big part of the nutrition bar industry. Texture can make or break a bar for some people even if they enjoy the taste.  However, taste is definitely the number one thing that will determine if you are actually going to use your bar or not. You are not going to supplement your diet with something that you can’t stomach or swallow.  So before you go out and spend money on bulk bars to grab and go when you need from your home, do a little personal research and experimenting. Chances are, if you find one bar that meets your criteria but you don’t necessarily find it delectable, you can certainly find a similar composition with a taste and texture that is more appetizing for you.

Price

The reality is, these bars tend to be overall fairly pricey.  Especially if you are looking for very specific bars that have specific criterion and very high quality ingredients.  If the bar becomes something that is just out of your budget you won’t continue with it and may make unhealthy choices for meals and snacks in a response to not being able to have the backup supply you need at home.  Luckily there are many, many options in this industry so finding something that can come close enough to meet your needs and wallet is definitely not out of the question. And if your budget is small, figure out exactly the function you want the bar to serve and then decide what one or two criteria are the most important to achieving that goal, and start your search from there.  Then you can see what is available and the pricing and maybe extend out from there, criteria by criteria until you have the best bar for you at the best price.

Brand Standing

The reputation of a company and a brand is very important in this ultra saturated market.  If one of the brands listed above looks interesting but you haven’t heard about it, do some due diligence and check out what people are saying about it, what it is rated and reviewed, and read up on the company.  I for one I am a fan of companies that are geared more towards supplementing the raw, vegan, and food sensitive audience. RXBAR, ProBar and Zing are really attractive to me. They also have quality, companies with great ethics and a nutritional outlook that can match up the best with my own.  They are highly rated. And I also have to admit my family and I do quite often buy in the CLIF line quite a bit, we find them to be balanced nutritionally and we all love the texture and taste.

Better companies with greater brand standing and recognition will also have better quality assurance so you can be confident that when you find the bar you like, the company will send you exactly what you expected and if you don’t get what you were looking for they will have the customer service to support you and back you up.  The other nice thing about brand standing is that more popular brands will be much easier to find anywhere. Lesser known brands might only be found at a couple of specialty stores or only online, and that can make keeping as supply just a tad more difficult. The most important part about brand standing and reputation is that if you can find a solid brand you like you can be more sure that the ingredients they use are consistent and of the quality and standards they advertise.  If you buy a bar because of its ingredients, it most certainly should have the exact ingredients it boasts. Better known and tend to be more responsible in how they manufacture their products and what they use.

 

Other Important Factors to Consider

There has been muc covered in this review.  Only a bit more should be considered when looking for your perfect bar.  You might be interested in how messy the bar is in varying environments. You probably wouldn’t want a bar that can melt easily and get mushy on a long bike ride in the summer.  You might not want a super dry and crunchy bar packed away underweight or in tight spaces on a road trip.

Many of these bars are great treats and snacks for children, but many are made with nuts and other highly allergic and reactive ingredients.  Many schools, preschools, daycares, etc., don’t allow for nuts to be in school. So just make sure that if you have a bar for your child that you check it’s ingredients and those regulations and guidelines from your child’s care provider or school.  No One would want to unintentionally cause a reaction in another child.

 

FAQ

Q:  Can highly active athletic individuals benefit from meal replacement bars?

Absolutely!  Meal replacement bars are a fantastic supplement for highly active or athletic individuals who need to feed their bodies in the correct proportions to meet their fitness goals and activity levels.  Again, easy to pack, after a grueling workout you need your post workout meal to help maximize the benefits of your exercise session. You can easily find the right bar for you that has the exact amount of calories, carbohydrates, fats and protein to accommodate that.  Even better, you can find it in the form that you prefer, vegan or not, sustainable or raw, textured or chewy, there are plenty of options for you taste, nutritional needs and diet.

Q:  Are meal replacement bars suitable for children?

For parents taking their kids back and forth to practices or to appointments, having snacks on hand is invaluable, but you always want to make sure your child is consuming the very best sustenance that will break down and work well for their growing bodies.  You could choose any bar out there that meets your parental requirements but a cool thing here is you can narrow your search by investigating the snack and meal bars that are made specifically for kids. Just like you would for yourself, decide the diet that you want your children consuming and make sure to read the nutrition labels to decide if the ingredients and the nutritional content works for your requirements.  Overall, children really tend to like many of these bars.

Q:  How can meal replacement bars aid a healthy lifestyle?

Busy people going from meeting to meeting or handling a long day of tasks and chores might often chose to eat empty calories or just not eat at all to get everything done.  A quality bar with a great nutritional ratio is going to be far and beyond better for a quick meal or snack than the alternative. These bars are not just convenient, and healthy but they also provide another use. They help us easily make sure we are taking in small meals throughout the day to help regulate our blood sugar levels.  It is not just important for diabetics, it is important for anyone. Nothing good comes out of irregular blood sugar spikes and dips.

Q:  How can I find what is the right fat to protein ratio to look for when you are trying to lose weight?

If you are trying to lose weight, the first thing you need to do is drink more water.  Many people do not drink enough, keep a water bottle handy and on you at all times. Water will help your body regulate itself correctly as well as keep your metabolism running and it helps squelch hunger.  Next, get moving. Specific workouts sessions are great but in addition you want to get in as many steps anywhere you can during your day. Every little bit counts and it all adds up. When it comes to nutrition, you should take your current calorie count and decrease it by 30 percent , make sure calories that come from fat make up less than 30 percent of your diet.  Last, you want to shoot for one gram of protein for every two grams of carbohydrates.

Sources

  1. US News & World Repor, Whole30 Diet, International News Source,
  2. Every Nutrient, 10 Best Meal Replacement Bars for Weight Management, Website,
  3. Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, The Best of the Bars, WebMD,
  4. Dr. Oz, Protein Bar Buying Guide, Website,