The Best and Worse: Protein and Nutrition Bars

Aug 29, 2013 by

Make your Own at YouBar!

If you live in this day and age, have a full time job, children and a long list of responsibilities, then the world of convenience foods is near to impossible to escape. While in an ideal world we would have the time and energy to make all of our own food, the reality is that we are just not there yet. Therefore, we rely on pre-made, to-go foods, which often includes protein and nutrition bars, so making the right choice becomes imperative.

As we have learned thus far, not everything is created equal and there is most certainly a difference between the different bars out there. Some can actually be a really healthy option when needed while others are nothing short of a candy bar. So today we are going to take a look at how to decipher the difference. The good thing is that I have had a lot of experience with nutrition bars, so the ones I am recommending are not only healthy, but taste delicious too! Yes of course, they are THK approved, so make sure to throw out the following bad guys!!

The Bad Guys

Now the following list by no means covers the entire gamut of protein and nutrition bars that are bad for you, but this is a darn good start. In addition, remember I have not mentioned every single ingredient that is not good for you, just the ones that are the worst. I think that will be good enough though :)

Balance Bar

Balance Bar

Ingredients: Protein blend (casein, soy protein isolate, whey protein isolate, partially hydrolyzed milk protein isolate), glucose syrup, sugar, glycerine, whey protein concentrate, high maltose corn syrup, fractionated palm kernel and palm oil, invert evaporated cane syrup, peanuts, water, maltodextrin, partially defatted peanut flour, natural flavor (includes caramel added for color). Contains less than 2% of: cocoa, peanut butter (peanuts), fructose, nonfat milk, soy lecithin, salt, heavy cream (cream, milk, cellulose gel, milk solids, carrageenan, cellulose gum), butter (cream, salt, annatto added for color), butterfat, soybean oil, sodium citrate, tocopherols added to protect flavor, carrageenan, dextrose.

Vitamins and Minerals: calcium phosphate, magnesium oxide, ascorbic acid, alpha-tocopherol acetate, ferric orthophosphate, niacinamide, zinc oxide, copper gluconate, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, vitamin A acetate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, thiamine mononitrate, chromium chloride, folic acid, biotin, potassium iodide, sodium molybdate, sodium selenite, phytonadione, vitamin D3, vitamin B12.

Why it’s BAD
  • Protein Source: first off casein is a protein from dairy that is extremely difficult to digest by the body and is the cause of many allergic responses in the body. Secondly, casein often causes the development of a mucus in the intestine, leading to digestive issues and a reduction in nutrient absorption. We then have conventional whey, which is from non-organic dairy. Non-organic dairy contains antibiotics and is also loaded with hormones, which lead to hormone imbalance (low testosterone, high estrogen). Finally, we have conventional soy which is GMO or genetically modified. Soy is also a hormone disrupter and allergen.
  • Sugar: loaded with unnatural sugar sources such as glucose, sugar, glycerine, high maltose corn syrup, cane syrup, maltodextrin, fructose and dextrose…. could the list get any longer?
  • Unhealthy Fats: palm oil, soybean oil, heavy cream (non-organic) and butterfat (non-organic)
  • Peanuts: peanuts contain aflatoxins which are known carcinogens
  • Natural Flavors: could be MSG, monosodium glutamate, a known neurotoxin
  • Nothing natural! Even the vitamins and minerals are synthetic, which can actually be harmful to the body. There is actually almost no real food in this bar at all!

PRO Bars

Pro Bar

Ingredients: Soy protein isolate, organic tapioca syrup, organic agave, organic dried cane syrup, fractionated palm kernel oil, glycerine, organic agave inulin, high oleic safflower oil, omega blend (flaxseed, chia seed), unsweetened chocolate, sugar, natural flavor, organic rice protein concentrate, tapioca starch, cocoa, organic soy protein, salt, cocoa, molasses, soy lecithin, cocoa butter, gum arabic, rosemary extract, tocopherols

Why it’s BAD
  • Protein Source: Soy again….
  • Sugars!: Even though it’s organic, it doesn’t make the sugar less of a sugar. Tapioca syrup, agave, cane syrup, glycerine, sugar, and molasses.
  • Allergens: Soy lecithin, soy protein isolate and soy protein concentrate.
  • Natural Flavors: Natural flavors is another name for MSG, a neurotoxin that causes cell death.

Tiger’s Milk

Ingredients: Peanut Butter (Roasted Peanuts, Salt), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Honey, Carob Coating [Brown Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Whey Powder, Carob Powder, Soy Lecithin (as an emulsifier), Nonfat Dry Milk, Peanut Flour, Maltodextrin, Corn Syrup, Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, contains less than 1.5% of Brown Sugar, Calcium Caseinate, Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Phosphate, Dextrose, Natural Flavors, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Ferrous Fumarate, Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate), Niacinamide, Calcium d-Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin), Copper Gluconate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Salt.

Why it’s BAD
  • Peanuts: peanuts contain aflatoxins, a carcinogen (cancer causing agent)
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup: HFCS is the worst sweetener available that has been directly linked to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, dementia, tooth decay and more
  • Other Sugars: As if HFCS wasn’t good enough it has corn syrup, brown sugar, and maltodextrin
  • Trans Fats and Unhealthy Fats: contains partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, also known as a trans fat, which greatly increases your chances of heart disease and heart attacks. In addition, they have been linked to cancer, diabetes, obesity, decreased immune function and fertility.
  • Allergens: Soy, here it is again… soy lecithin and soy protein isolate, and conventional dairy, whey and dry milk. A slew of hormone balance interrupters, GMO, digestive distrupters and antibiotics.

Power Bar

Ingredients: Dual Source Energy Blend (cane invert syrup, maltodextrin, fructose, dextrose), oat bran (contains wheat), soy protein isolate, alkalized cocoa, brown rice flour, and less than 2% of: high oleic canola oil, vegetable glycerin, calcium phosphate, salt, chocolate, potassium phosphate, sugar, natural flavor, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), partially defatted peanut flour, nonfat milk, ground almonds, ferrous fumarate (iron), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), thiamin hydrochloride (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2)

Why it’s BAD
  • SUGAR not “ENERGY:” yes, the body uses sugar as energy in the form of glucose, but this is a slippery slope especially when those sugars are from sources such as cane syrup, maltodextrin, fructose, dextrose and white sugar. If we are not careful the extra sugar is NOT used as energy but is rather stored as fat leading to weight gain. For most of us who are not clocking 9 miles a day, 25 grams of sugar is looking more like accrued fat rather than burned energy. Besides, that is the same amount of sugar as a candy bar and the sugar sources are unnatural.
  • Allergens: soy (soy protein isolate) and dairy (nonfat milk) – are we seeing a pattern here?
  • Natural Flavors: they just cannot do without the MSG huh.
  • Peanuts: aflatoxins are carcinogens remember?

Pure Protein

Ingredients: Marshmallow Cream Layer (Maltitol, Milk Protein, Sorbitol, Palm Kernel Oil, Nonfat Dry Milk, Lecithin, Salt, Natural Flavor, Calcium Carbonate), Chocolate Coating (Maltitol, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Whey Protein Concentrate, Cocoa (processed with alkali), Calcium Carbonate, Natural Flavor, Soy Lecithin, Sucralose), Hydrolyzed Collagen, Protein Blend (Whey Protein Hydrolysate, Whey Protein Isolate), Glycerin, Soy Crisps (Soy Protein Isolate, Tapioca Starch, Salt), Maltitol Syrup, Water, Natural Flavor, Marshmallow Pieces (Sugar, Corn Starch, Fructose, Soybean Oil, Corn Syrup Solids, Natural Flavor, Salt, Soy Lecithin), Milk Chocolate Drops (Sugar, Whole Milk Powder, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat, Soy Lecithin, Natural Vanilla Flavor), Canola Oil, Peanut Flour, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin and Mineral Blend (Ascorbic Acid, Tricalcium Phosphate, d-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate, Niacinamide, Zinc Oxide, Copper Gluconate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Cyanocobalamin), Salt, Sucralose, Soy Lecithin, Milk Protein Isolate, Wheat Germ, Almond Meal.

Why it’s Bad

I almost don’t even know where to begin on this one because there is something unhealthy that can be attributed to almost every ingredient listed here. Simply apply every attribute we spoke about for the other bars here, and you will have a good idea of how bad it really is. This most certainly be one of the worst bars thus far.

Zone Perfect 

Ingredients: Soy Protein Nuggets (Isolated Soy Protein, Cocoa [Processed with Alkali], Tapioca Starch, Salt), Chocolate Layer (Corn Syrup, Sugar, Palm Kernel Oil, Invert Sugar, Sugar, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa [Processed with Alkali], Milk Protein Isolate, Natural Flavors, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla Extract, Gum Arabic, Xanthan Gum, Carob Seed Gum), Chocolate Flavored Coating (Sugar, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa Powder [Processed with Alkali], Soy Lecithin, Nonfat Milk Powder, Vanilla), Corn Syrup, Soy Protein Isolate, Chocolate Drops (Sugar, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla), Fructose Syrup, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali). Less than 2% of the Following: High Oleic Safflower and/or High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Chocolate Powder (Natural Cocoa Powder, Sugar, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla), Cocoa Fructose (Fructose, Water, Corn Maltodextrin, Cocoa [Processed with Alkali], Natural Cocoa, Salt, Carrageenan, Natural Flavors, Tocopherol, Ascorbic Acid), Glycerine, Natural Flavors, Caramel Color, Salt, and Vitamin & Mineral Blend (Calcium Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid [Vit. C], d-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate [Vit. E], Magnesium Oxide, Niacinamide [Vit. B3], Zinc Oxide, Calcium Pantothenate [Vit. B5], Ferrous Fumarate [Iron], Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vit. B6], Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin [Vit. B2], Thiamine Mononitrate [Vit. B1], Folic Acid [Vit. B9], Chromium Chloride, Biotin [Vit. B7], Sodium Selenite, Sodium Molybdate, Cyanocobalamin [Vit. B12]).

Why it’s BAD
  • Soy: this bar is predominantly made up of soy, and that means exposure to GMO, hormones and allergens
  • Sugar, sugar and more artificial sugars
  • Natural Flavors: unnecessary exposure to the neurotoxin, MSG
  • Artificial ingredients: no real foods here
  • Synthetic vitamins and minerals: difficult for the body to process and may cause harm in some cases


Ingredients: Promax protein blend (soy protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, calcium caseinate), corn syrup, fructose, chocolate flavored coating (sugar, fractionated palm kernel oil, cocoa, whey, nonfat milk, soy lecithin, natural flavor), dutch processed cocoa, water, coconut oil, natural flavor, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, guar gum, cocoa, salt, carrageenan, tocopherols

Why it’s BAD
  • Protein source: we have conventional soy and whey, not to mention the irritant, calcium caseinate. This leads to hormone imbalance, digestive disturbances, immune stress and exposure to GMOs and antibiotics
  • Sugar: fructose, corn syrup, white sugar, and maltodextrin – artificial sugars that lead to pancreatic stress, setting the stage for diabetes, heart disease and obesity

Oh Yeah!

Ingredients: Protein Blend [(OhYeah! Blend Consisting of Whey Protein Isolate, Soy Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Concentrate, Calcium Caseinate), Hydrolyzed Gelatin], Chocolate Coating [Maltitol, Palm Kernel Oil, Whey Protein Concentrate, Sugar, Cocoa Powder, Soy Lecithin (an Emulsifier), Vanillin (an Artificial Flavor)], Caramel [Sugar, Corn Syrup, Non-Fat Dry Milk, Maltitol Syrup, Cocoa Butter, Corn Starch, Butter, Sucralose, Soy Lecithin (an Emulsifier), Natural and Artificial Flavors], Peanuts, Milk Chocolate Candy Pieces [(Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Chocolate Liquor, Whole Milk Powder, Soy Lecithin (an Emulsifier), Vanilla), Sugar, Artificial Colors (Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6, Yellow 6 Lake, Red 40, Red 40 Lake, Sorbitol, Titanium Dioxide, Phosphoric Acid, Methyl, Propyl Parabens, Caramel Color), Corn Syrup, Wax, Dextrin],  Glycerine, Peanut Flour, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Soy Lecithin (an Emulsifier), Natural and Artificial Flavors, Salt, Sucralose and Potassium Sorbate

Why it’s BAD

This is possibly the WORST bar out of them all! This bar includes extremely toxic ingredients such as PARABENS, Artificial colors and preservatives.

Parabens are a carcinogen that is believed to be linked to reproductive issues, hormone imbalance, neurodegeneration and immune suppression, and are an extremely harmful ingredients for a food bar.

Secondly, these bars contain artificial colors which are known to cause hyperactive disorders such as ADD, and may lead to cancer.

  • Protein: once again, conventional whey and soy, and calcium caseinate, not to mention conventional milk
  • Allergens: rich with soy products and dairy products leading to immune stress, hormone imbalance, digestive disturbance and exposure to GMOs
  • Peanuts: exposure to alfatoxins, the carcinogen
  • Sugar, sugar and more unnatural sugars: white sugar, corn syrup, maltitol syrup, sucralose, sorbitol, and glycerine. This even has artificial sugar which leads to gastrointestinal distress

Not the Worst, definitely NOT the Best

The next couple are better than the chosen worst, but I would not recommend them either. They still contain ingredients such as soy, caseinate, natural flavors and unhealthy fats (canola oil) that I believe are harmful to your health, and are not suitable for a nutritious snack. So please only eat the ones in the GOOD section, capish?

Think Thin

Ingredients: Whey protein isolate, soy protein isolate, calcium caseinate, glycerin, coating (maltitol, cocoa butter, chocolate, sodium caseinate, milk fat, soy lecithin, natural flavors, salt), maltitol, peanuts, soy crisps (soy protein isolate, rice flour, salt), water, peanut flour, canola oil, natural flavors, soy lecithin, sea salt

Clif Bars

Ingredients: Organic Brown Rice Syrup, ClifPro® (Soy Rice Crisps [Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Rice Starch, Barley Malt Extract], Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soy Flour), Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Toasted Oats (Organic Oats, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Ascorbic Acid, Natural Vitamin E [Antioxidant]), Dried Apricots (Apricots, Dried Cane Syrup, Rice Flour, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid), ClifCrunch® (Organic Oat Fiber, Inulin [Chicory Extract], Organic Milled Flaxseed, Organic Oat Bran, Psyllium), Organic Cane Syrup, Dried Apricots, Organic Date Paste, Organic Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Citric Acid, Sea Salt, Colored with Annatto.

Why it’s BAD
  • Soy – soy is an allergen and a genetically modified food. It also has estrogenic effects in the body, interrupting hormone balance, leading to high estrogen levels and low testosterone levels.
  • Sugar – the first ingredient is brown rice syrup, meaning its predominantly sugar. It also has cane syrup, dried apricots, and date paste, making the total count a whopping 23 grams! Only a few grams less than a Snickers bar!
  • Natural Flavors – natural flavors is a term that can actually be MSG, monosodium glutamate, a neurotoxin that can actually cause cell death.

Luna Bar

Ingredients: LunaPro ® (Cocoa Soy Rice Crisps Soy Protein Isolate, Organic Rice Flour, Organic Alkalized Cocoa, Alkalized Cocoa], Organic Soy Protein, Organic Flaxmeal), Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Caramel (Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Cane Syrup, Cocoa Butter, Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Natural Flavors, Salt, Organic Soy Lecithin), Coating (Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Cocoa, Palm Kernel Oil, Organic Palm Kernel Oil, Organic Soy Lecithin, Organic Vanilla), Organic Chocolate Chips (Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Unsweetened Chocolate, Organic Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavors), Walnuts, Inulin (Chicory Extract) (Chicory Extract), Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Unsweetened Chocolate, Organic Cocoa, Organic Alkalized Cocoa, Organic Chocolate Flavor, Organic Sunflower Oil, Sea Salt, Natural Flavor.

Nature Valley

Ingredients: Whole grain oats, sugar, canola oil, yellow corn flour, honey, soy flour, brown sugar syrup, salt, soy lecithin, baking soda, natural flavors

Why it’s BAD
  • Sugar!: white sugar, honey and brown sugar syrup… that is a lot for a “healthy” snack, especially when it is coming from white sugar
  • Soy: we have soy flour and soy lecithin, meaning GMOs, hormone interrupters, and allergens
  • Natural Flavors: another name for MSG, the neurotoxin

Almost Good, but Not


Ingredients: Mixed nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, macadamias, peanut butter, brazil nuts), honey, sugar, non GMO glucose, soy crisps (soy protein isolate, tapioca starch, salt), palm kernel oil, cocoa powder, chicory root fiber, natural flavors, milk powder, soy lecithin.

Why it’s NOT good

Now this was a bar that is so close to being on the good side, but just doesn’t make the cut. It starts off good with nuts and mixed fruit, but then tanks with the addition of glucose, natural flavors, conventional milk and soy.

A Few Final Notes

Eliminating the Artificial

#1. Highly Processed, Artificial Ingredients and Fillers

Just because it claims to be natural or has a picture of fruit, nuts or a mountain climber on it doesn’t mean that it’s healthy. A lot of food bars contain highly processed ingredients that are difficult to digest and can even be toxic to the body. For example, Balance bars contain an artificial flavor-enhancer calcium caseinate, which is known to cause migraines and cognitive issues.

In addition to the processing and artificial ingredients, some bars even have added vitamins and minerals. So why is adding vitamins and minerals NOT the healthy choice? The forms of vitamins and minerals that are added into bars are synthetic and therefore difficult to absorb. In some cases synthetic forms of vitamins can even be toxic, acting as a pro oxidant, damaging your very cells. Now this is not what we want from a snack… best to get the vitamins and minerals from whole foods.

Finally, I dare you to find more than 3 ingredients in each of these bars that resembles something that you could pick off a tree, pull out of the ground, or forage. Ya, I thought so. Do you not think it’s an issue that their ingredients are composed of things that can only be synthesize in a lab?

#2. Sugar, Sugar, and more Sugar

Have you ever checked out the sugar content of your bar? Some bars contain 22 grams of sugar, which is about equal to that of a snickers bar, and worse the sugars are coming from unnatural sources such as high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, cane syrup, sorbital, dextrin etc. And remember, sugar not only leads to unnecessary weight gain, but it also is the very food that fuels nasty pathogens such as fungus (candida), bacteria and cancers, leads to inflammation, depresses the immune system and even negatively effects blood pressure and cholesterol.

#3. High Calories – Meal Replacement, not Snack

We love to eat bars because they taste good and they are easy to grab when on the go, but the problem is that for the most of us they actually do not fill us up, so they end up being more of a snack rather than a meal replacement. With the majority of them containing enough calories to qualify as a meal, these little “snacks” are leading to unnecessary weight gain that we most likely are not aware of. Therefore, if you are eating them as a snack, make sure to choose the bars that are about 200 calories or under.

#3. Hexane Extracted Soy

Have you heard of hexane? Hexane is actually a constituent of gasoline and a common solvent for extracting oils from foods such as soy and corn. It is a neurotoxin and a hazardous air pollutant. Unfortunately its use has become widespread within the food industry, and is a standard practice for the extraction of soy products used in food/protein bars. Even if the product claims “made with organic ingredients” it can still contain hexane extracted soy. That is because under that claim only 70% of the ingredients have to be organic. So not only does it contain conventional soy, but also a harmful toxin, giving us just ANOTHER reason to avoid SOY in our bars. The following is a list from the Cornucopia Institute that lists the companies that have been thought to utilize hexane-extracted soy.


And here you thought I would never get to the good stuff! Just check out the HUGE difference in ingredients here from the BAD guys…

Raw Revolution

Ingredients: Organic Cashews, Organic Sunflower Seed Kernels, Organic Agave Nectar, Organic Dates, Organic Coconut, Organic Cocoa processed with Alkali, Organic Almonds, Organic Sprouted Flax Seed

Go Raw

Ingredients: Organic flax seeds, organic bananas, organic coconut, organic dates

Raw Organic Food Bars

Ingredients: Organic Cashew Butter, Organic Dates, Organic Agave Nectar, Organic Brown Rice Protein, Organic Dark Chocolate Chips – Non-Dairy (Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Chocolate Liquor, Organic Cocoa Butter, Non-GMO Soy Lecithin), Organic Bio Sprouts – Quinoa, Organic Bio SproutsTM

* These bars have a bit more sugar, so you may even consider their kids line that offers flavors such as apple cinnamon and cherry pie that have less calories and sugar.

Organic Food Bars

Ingredients: Organic Almond Butter, Organic Dates, Organic Premium Blue Agave Nectar, Organic Brown Rice Protein, Organic BiodynamicTM (Demeter) Raisins, Organic Bio SproutsTM – Flax, Organic Bio SproutsTM – Quinoa, Organic Wheat Grass Juice Powder, Organic Barley Grass Juice Powder, Organic Sesame Seeds, Organic Spirulina, Organic Blueberry, Organic Raspberry, Organic Broccoli Sprouts, Organic Beet Juice, Organic Carrot Juice.

* This bar should be eaten more as a meal or by those who are serious athletes  since it has about 300 calories and 22 grams of sugar

Earthling Organics Rawnola

Ingredients: Organic Coconut, Organic Almonds, Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Figs, Organic Raw Agave Nectar, Sun-Dried Sea Salt, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Ginger, Organic Vanilla Bean

Wild Bars

Ingredients: Organic Cacao (Cacao Paste, Cacao Butter, whole Cacao powder), Organic Clear Blue Agave Nectar, Organic Macadamia Nuts, Organic Mesquite, Organic Hemp Seed, Crystal Manna™ (Organic Wild Blue-Green Algae), Organic Maca, Organic Poppy Seed, Organic Vanilla Bean Powder, Pink Himalayan Salt Crystals, Organic Essential Oil of Peppermint


Ingredients: Gluten-free oat flour, organic dates, organic bananas, almonds, organic palm sugar, organic coconut, walnuts, organic cinnamon, wild crafted vanilla, pink Himalayan salt

Thunderbird Energetica

Ingredients: Organic prunes, buckwheat groats, papaya, organic mango, pineapple, black lava salt

* Now these bars have more sugar so they are best fit for endurance athletes

Pure Bars

Ingredients: Organic dates, organic wild blueberries, (with organic apple juice concentrate and organic sunflower oil), organic cashews, organic agave nectar, organic walnuts, organic brown rice protein, organic almonds, organic unsweetened lemon juice concentrate

Elemental Superfood

Ingredients: Organic buckwheat, organic almonds, raw honey, organic flaxseeds, organic coconut, organic cacao nibs, organic sunflower seeds, organic pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, mulberries, organic sesame seeds, cacao butter, spirulina, vanilla bean, sea salt, Vitamin E

Good, but not the BEST

The following are still good options, but not the ideal. This is because they are either not organic, raw or are higher in sugar. While the sugar comes from natural food sources (yay!), unless you are an athlete or endurance athlete, the sugar content can tip the scale. Therefore, eat more wisely, or even enjoy as a dessert.

Lara Bars

Ingredients: Dates, cashews, almonds, lemon, lemon flavor

Rise Bars

Ingredients: Almonds, cashews, honey, dates, amaranth, crisp rice, salt

Why they are so darn GOOD!

  • Simple!! Do you see the difference here? These bars have very few ingredients, some only containing a total of 4! This is a far cry from the 30 + ingredients in the BAD bars, wouldn’t you say?
  • Organic: organic ensures that the ingredients have not been treated with any pesticides, and have been grown to be nutrient-dense without toxins.
  • Raw: the majority of these bars are raw, and raw foods contain all the enzymes and nutrients in their “live” forms providing us with easily accessible nutrients for absorption and utilization
  • REAL foods: all the ingredients are in their natural state, unprocessed and not synthesized. This means that we are eating the full spectrum of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids that are required for a healthy body without all the junky synthetic additives and preservatives
  • Natural sugars: while there are debates about agave, we can say for certain it is a better sweetener than other alternatives such as high fructose corn syrup. The other sugars they use are from fruits such as dates or figs, which also contains nutrients. This makes them the preferred source of sugar and therefore energy. Plus these bars are lower in sugar than their BAD counterparts, containing as few as 4 grams in some
  • Calories: each bar is relatively low in calories ranging from about 100 – 200 calories, making it a perfect on-the-go snack
  • Healthy Fats: rich in raw seeds, nuts, and coconut, these bars are rich in the healthy fats, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. These fats are essential to maintaining a healthy weight, soft skin, a strong immune system and inflammation levels.
  • Protein: these bars are rich in natural plant-based proteins from sources such as nuts, seeds and rice, making them a great alternative to the toxic whey, casein and soy found in other bars
  • Allergen and Toxin-Free: free of soy, gluten, peanuts and dairy, these bars are easy to digest and cause no toxic burden to the body that may interfere with hormone balance or the immune system

My New Roots Hemp Bars

Final Thoughts

The good news is that there are so many healthy alternatives out there, so you do not have to worry about eliminating the bad ones. Secondly, if you have not found one that has fit all of your needs, you can choose to make your own bars homemade like these Hemp Bars from My New Roots, or even have them made for you with the website YouBar! Pretty cool huh?

Finally, in regards to cost and accessibility, you can buy the bars in bulk and have them shipped from Amazon, which makes them quite affordable. Or ask your local health food store for bulk deals. I have added links to the bars so you can easily purchase them, simply click on the bars that you like to purchase, and it will take you to an ordering page. And remember, it is always best to have these guys on hand because whenever you are in a pinch, you must be prepared otherwise you could end up eating real junk!


≈ For more healthy living tipsrecipes and inspiration please subscribe to this blog on the top left of the homepage, follow me on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Instagram and  Join the THK health conversation on Facebook!



  1. Alan Moore

    Hey Lauren,
    How about Organic Food Bar? They have a handful of different flavors, Active Greens, Blueberrry, Original etc. As i recall most ingredients are organic but they do taste sugary.
    Good health! Alan

    • lauren

      Hi Alan, That is the same company as Raw Organic Food bar, which I mentioned. The Organic food bars are great, but definitely more of a meal replacement since they are typically 300 calories and 22 g of sugar (but natural sugars). I eat them on the road when I don’t have anything else, or I even divide them in two for a snack. I really love the greens one!

      • oops! sorry must have missed them when reading the article. it happens online…thankyou!

        • Alan

          What i have noticed about Organic Food Bar is they are getting a tad smaller. They used to fill the packaging, now there’s an obvious shortfall. Oh well!

  2. Larabars are my favorite! They are perfect for long hikes. I haven’t tried any of the others because I love the Larabars so much, I’ll have to branch out.

  3. Hi Lauren,

    Nice article on protein bars. I used to eat power bars a long time ago when I was skiing and hiking. More recently (the past few years) I’ve used cliff bars. They hold up pretty well when backpacking.

    I’ll see if I can get some organic food bars to test out. They look good.

    Thanks and best wishes!

  4. Kelly Holguin

    Hi Lauren,
    I used to eat Kind bars, but I have switched to Quest bars.
    What do you think of them?

    • lauren

      Hey Kelly, I am not crazy about the fact that they use conventional whey and milk because conventional dairy contains hormones and antibiotics, which we do not want. Plus, I am not a fan of fake sugar, specifically sucralose, or peanuts, which are in some bars. I know…. sorry for the bad news !

  5. Kim

    Yay for this post!

    It’s taken me quite a while to sift through all the crap out there and decide what I actually want to eat. You’ve confirmed to me that what you put in your body should be pure and clean and what you need for the life you’re living. If I’m biking for 50 miles, I want some easily processed sugar and calories. But if I’m sitting around for hours, there’s no need for 250 calories in a snack. (I remember gaining quite a few pounds when I was working all the time and discovered Lara Bars as a snack. Whoops!) And it’s difficult, but often worth it to spend the extra money when you want something prepackaged.

    What about making your own? I’m sure that’s another post all together, but it would be interesting to see your take on delicious protein/energy bars at a lower cost. (please get them to stick together and portable! It’s the downfall of many homemade bars.)

    Thanks again!

    • lauren

      Hey Kim! Ya, making your own can be a great option, check out that recipe at the bottom of the post by My New Roots… really like that one. Haven’t master a recipe of my own that I am in love with, because as you mentioned, sometimes they are a bit dry. I will continue to work on it though!

  6. This is an AWESOME post! Thank you!! I agree with pretty much everything you have to say and coincidentally have been on the search recently for the perfect bar to purchase when necessary (much prefer the idea of making my own but every once in a while you gotta buy ‘em!).

    The only thing I differ with you on is the use of agave as “good”…agave is processed entirely in the liver and is VERY TAXING on this important detox organ! Of course, if you have agave once in a blue moon your liver can (most likely) handle it, but if you’re consuming it daily your liver will suffer. Just something to consider…

    Also, in my search I landed on Kit’s Organic bars (made by Clif Bar!!)…they are organic, NO SUGAR, NO AGAVE…even the flavor with chocolate uses unsweetened chocolate!!! Check ‘em out!

    Much love for all you do! I send your page out to everyone I know!!

    • lauren

      Hi Elijah, as I mentioned, and tried to use my words carefully, agave is better than other sweeteners that are used such as High Fructose Corn Syrup, corn syrup and glucose. It is not as good as raw honey, molasses, maple syrup or sugars from fruits such as figs and dates, but if eaten in moderation I believe it is still an okay option.

      And about the Kit bars, never saw them before but they actually look pretty good! Really surprising since Clif typically cannot be trusted, but good to know they are trying!

  7. Have you checked out the new kind bars with less sugar – 4-5 grams. I agree with your comment as it relates to the higher sugar Kind bars but they have improved their choices of late!

    • lauren

      Hi Monica – Ya, I have checked those out, but I still don’t recommend eating them because they contain soy lecithin, conventional dairy, and unnatural sugar – white sugar and glucose.

      • I know. I wish I could lobby them to remove those things! I was excited about the low sugar and good taste.

  8. Melissa Mahon

    Hi Lauren,
    I just discovered Kit’s Organic bars. They are made by Cliff, but claim to only have 5 ingredients (at least the Fruit and Nut bar I have in front of me): Organic Dates, Organic Almonds, Organic Barberries, Organic Bilberries, and sea salt. Thoughts? Thanks!


    • lauren

      Sounds good!!! I always feel suspect of big brands like Clif who also use GMO and non organic ingredients in their other bars, but maybe this is them getting a clue of what we want! Go for it!

  9. I really, really love this post. This is so necessary. So many people view these bars as “healthy” and believe what they read on the label. It’s so much more than calories! The ingredients matter and this is so important. Thank you for doing all this research! Such a great breakdown :)

  10. Thanks for putting together this comprehensive list Lauren. I think I’ve tried every bar in the Bad Guy’s List. And I’ve never heard of any in the Good Guys. I’m glad there’s a handful of healthy alternatives. Can’t wait to try them out and see how they taste. Thanks again!

  11. Hey Lauren, have you tried Nakd bars? I eat the cocoa delight ones. They’re raw and only have dates, cashews, raisins, and cocoa. I’ve heard they’re similar to Lara bars (I don’t live in the US, have never tried one so I can’t compare!). I feel like they’re quite ‘good’ but don’t know how they would rank on THK scale.

    Green love,

    • lauren

      Hmmm I don’t think that I have. If those are the ingredients, the only thing I would be concerned about is raisins. Raisins should always be organic, because they are one of the most highly pesticided fruits (grapes). Other than that they sound good though!

  12. Thank you for this post!! My stepson doesn’t eat breakfast, but is willing to eat a Luna Bar. Unfortunately, that’s the one you didn’t post info about why they’re not good, only the ingredients list…i see the soy, sugar, and natural flavors. anything else? And he won’t eat anything too raw or “hippy” as he would call it. Any suggestions of something maybe better than Luna bars and similar even if not as healthy as you or I would eat? I’ll try Lara bars as the coop has those…

  13. Fred

    What would recommend for those of us with no really food allergies. The bars you are claiming to be the best would put me in the hospital. As a diabetic, the amount of raw sugar is them is unhealthy. I eat 6 small meal a day where I need to focus on protein first, then low carb, then good fats… Based on sugars I would be better to go to McDonald’s and have cheese burger without top bun and no ketchup. There are a huge number of us out there, I try to eat as much Whole food as a can but when you work and travel 10+ hours a day. You have to supplement somewhere. Any suggestion would be great.

  14. Lesley

    This is a great article! You should check out Raw Crunch bars – only 4 grams of sugar, all natural and organic! I love all the flavors. Where would you rank these bars?

    • Lesley

      Actually, 5 grams of sugar. Still much better than most bars!

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale

      Those look great!! Love it! I will have to try them… thanks for the recommendation!

  15. Chloe Mitchell

    Hi hi, loved your article, it’s very informative. I’ve been looking to find bars that satisfy my desire for good nutrition and good taste without having all the sugar (cause if I want a dessert, I wanna have that sugar in an awesome dessert, not a meh “nutrition” bar). I’ve seen a few lists like this, and none have mentioned Stabilyze bars. I’ve only found them in one place (Costco), but as far as protein/nutrition bars go, they have been my favorite. I like how they taste, they only have 4 grams of sugar, and have lots oft daily vitamins and minerals. I’m not positive how natural they are though. Have you heard of them? What do you think?

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale

      Hi Chloe, those are not terrible, but they are not the best either. I am not in love with non-gmo soy, non-organic whey, and synthetic vitamins/minerals, but if you are only eating them on occasion, then I would not worry about it.


  1. Ocean View + Link-ables | Fitness in the Kitchen - [...] PROTEIN BARS – What kind do you buy…and is it best choice?  [...]
  2. Friday Finisher: 11/8/13 | Strength and Sunshine - […] + The Best and Worse: Protein and Nutrition Bars […]
  3. » Thoughtful Thursday Kibby's Blended Life - […] ♥ The Best and Worse: Protein and Nutrition Bars – Awesome article on what protein/energy bars are out on …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>