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The Best and Worst Protein and Nutrition Bars

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 Best and Worst Protein and Nutrition Bars

The Bad Guys: The Worst Protein and Nutrition Bars

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
  • 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.

 

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.
  • Corn syrup: not only is it a bad sugar, but it is a genetically modified (GMO) product

 

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?
  • 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
  • Artificial ingredients: no real foods here
  • Synthetic vitamins and minerals: difficult for the body to process and may cause harm in some cases
  • Carrageenan: can cause bowel ulceration, ulcerative colitis, fetal toxicity and birth defects
  • Corn syrup: not only is it a bad sugar, but it is a genetically modified (GMO) product

 

Promax

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
  • Carrageenan: can cause bowel ulceration, ulcerative colitis, fetal toxicity and birth defects
  • Corn syrup: not only is it a bad sugar, but it is a genetically modified (GMO) product

 

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
  • Corn Syrup and Corn Starch: both genetically modified (GMO) products

 

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

Why it’s bad

  • Maltitol: maltitol is a sweetener that may cause digestive disturbances such as bloating, gas, diarrhea and intestinal pain
  • Canola oil: canola oil is a inferior oil that has the potential to be GMO. It is also rich in inflammatory oils.
  • Peanut flour: peanuts have high levels of aflatoxins, a toxin that can lead to allergies and liver stress
  • Soy: soy is a source of phytoestrogens that can cause hormone imbalance in men and women
  • Non organic soy and whey

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 is a phytoestrogen. It has estrogenic effects in the body, interrupting hormone balance, leading to high estrogen levels and low testosterone levels. Soy also contains phytic acid. Phytic acid can reduce the assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc in the body leading to deficiency.
  • 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: Protein Grain Blend (Soy Protein Isolate, Organic Rice Flour, Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soy Flour, Organic Alkalized Cocoa, Organic Milled Flaxseed), Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Cocoa, Organic Unsweetened Chocolate, Organic Sunflower Oil, Walnuts, Inulin (Chicory Extract), Organic Palm Kernel Solids, Cocoa Butter, Palm Kernel Oil‡, Organic Alkalized Cocoa, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Natural Flavors, Organic Palm Kernel Oil, Soy Protein Concentrate, Natural Flavors, Organic Soy Lecithin, Salt, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Vanilla Extract, Mixed Tocopherols (Antioxidant). Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C), Ferrous Fumarate (Iron), Niacinamide (Vit. B3), DL-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vit. E), Beta Carotene (Vit. A), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vit. B6), Riboflavin (Vit. B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vit. B1), Ergocalciferol (Vit. D2), Folic Acid, Cyanocobalamin (Vit. B12).

Why it’s bad

  • Soy – soy is a source of phytoestrogens that can interrupt hormone balance in both men and women.
  • Palm oil – the harvesting of palm oil is a leading causes of environmental issues. The industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses.
  • Cane sugar – cane sugar is not the ideal source of sugar for food bars. Look for natural sugars derived from fruit.

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. 11 grams per bar.
  • Soy: we have soy flour and soy lecithin, meaning GMOs, hormone interrupters, and allergens
  • Canola oil: canola oil is a inferior oil that has the potential to be GMO. It is also rich in inflammatory oils

Isagenix

best and worst protein food nutrition bars

Ingredients: Protein blend [whey protein isolate, calcium caseinate, whey protein crisps (whey protein concentrate, starch, cocoa processed with alkali)], evaporated cane juice syrup, chocolate coating (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, milk fat, lecithin, natural flavor), maltitol, ground almonds, glycerin, sunflower oil, nonfat dry milk, natural flavors, gum arabic, vitamin and mineral blend [potassium chloride, dicalcium phosphate, ascorbic acid, zinc oxide, niacinamide, d-alpha tocopheryl acetate, potassium iodide, vitamin A (palmitate), manganese sulfate, biotin, copper gluconate, electrolytic iron, riboflavin, sodium molybdate, pantothenic acid, sodium selenite, thiamin mononitrate, folic acid, pyridoxine HCI, cholecalciferol, cyanocobalamin, chromium amino acid chelate]

Why it’s bad

  • Sugar: this bars on average have 18 grams of sugar which is high especially since that sugar does not come from natural sources like fruit but from cane juice and pure white sugar.
  • Non organic whey and dairy – the whey protein and nonfat dry milk used is not organic
  • Maltitol – this is an artificial sugar known to cause digestive disturbances such as discomfort, gas, bloating and diarrhea.
  • Glycerin is a sweetener that may act as a laxative in some individuals

 

Almost Good, but Not good enough

 

KIND Bars

Ingredients: Peanuts, dark chocolate flavored coating (sugar, palm kernel oil, cocoa powder, soy lecithin, natural flavor, salt), almonds, glucose syrup, honey, soy protein isolate, peanut butter (peanuts, salt), unsweetened chocolate, chicory root fiber, soy lecithin, tapioca starch, sea salt.

Why it’s bad

Now this was a bar that is so close to being on the good side, but just doesn’t make the cut. Not a fan of the added white sugar and glucose syrup (not whole food sugar sources) or its low nutrition content. Also uses palm oil, a huge contributor to environmental damage and climate change.

Some of the other KIND bars, like the fruit based ones are a better choice if you were to choose to eat one. Still not my favorite though.


Eliminating the Artificial

The Rundown: What to avoid in nutrition and food bars

#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.

The GOOD guys, These are the Bars to eat

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…

Oatmega Bars

best nutrition bars

Ingredients: Grass-Fed Whey Protein (Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate), Chicory Root Fiber, Gluten-Free Oats, Organic Dark Chocolate (Organic Sugar, Organic Chocolate Liquor, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Soy Lecithin, Organic Vanilla), Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Sunflower Oil, Almond Butter, Responsibly-Caught Fish Oil (Anchovy, Sardine, Tilapia), Cocoa Powder, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Sunflower Lecithin, Tapioca Starch, Monk Fruit Extract. Non-GMO.

 

Bhu Organic Protein Bars

best-worst-protein-bar-bhu-bars

Ingredients: Whey Protein (Grass Fed), Prebiotic Fiber (From Tapioca), Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Pecans, *Organic Palm Oil (Certified Sustainable), Organic Caramel Flavor, Organic Vanilla, Organic Coconut Oil, Monk Fruit,  Sea Salt.

 

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

* not the ideal due to the agave

 

Go Raw

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

 

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

 

Rawxies

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

* 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

 

Go Macro Bars

Go-Macro organic food barIngredients: Organic brown rice syrup, sunflower seed butter, sprouted brown rice protein, crispy brown rice, fair trade chocolate, puffed brown rice, coconut sugar, flax sprouts, natural vanilla, cinnamon

 

CORE Meal

CORE food bar organic Ingredients: Organic gluten-free oats, raw cashews, whey protein concentrate, raisins, cacao, coconut, vanilla beans

 

Exo Bars

best and worst protein nutrition food bar

Ingredients: Almonds, Apricots, Blueberries (Blueberries, Apple Juice Concentrate), Strawberries (Strawberries, Apple Juice Concentrate), Cricket Flour (Acheta domesticus), Honey, Ground Flaxseeds, Coconut, Vanilla Extract, Sea Salt.

 

Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bar

best and worst protein nutrition food bar

Ingredients: Organic cashew butter, grass-fed collagen protein, chicory root fiber, Bulletproof XCT® oil powder (caprylic and capric acid triglycerides from highly refined coconut and/or palm kernel oil, tapioca dextrin, tapioca), organic cashews, Bulletproof Brain Octane® oil (caprylic acid triglycerides from highly refined coconut oil), organic coconut oil, lab-tested vanilla beans, sea salt, stevia.

 

Aloha Protein Bar

best and worst protein nutrition food bars

Ingredients: Almonds, tapioca syrup, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed protein, pea protein, pea protein crisps (pea protein, rice flour), liquid agave inulin, acacia gum, vanilla bean extract, sea salt, monk fruit extract. *organic

 

Really Good, but not the BEST of all – higher in sugar

The following are still good options, but not the ideal. This is because they are either not organic, raw, contain agave or are higher in sugar (about 15 gram or more per bar). While the sugar comes from natural food sources (yay!) it maybe too much for some people. If you are exercising heavily, are an athlete or endurance athlete, a growing child, or trying to gain weight, then these bars would be appropriate. If not, eat wisely. They could be the perfect meal replacement or treat.

Raw Organic Food Bars

Ingredients: Organic Cashew Butter, Organic Dates, Organic Tapioca, Organic Protein Blend (Organic Pea Protein, Organic Pumpkin Protein), Organic Dark Chocolate Chips – Non-Dairy (Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Chocolate Liquor, Organic Vanilla), 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 Tapioca Syrup, Organic Protein Blend (Organic Pea Protein, Organic Pumpkin 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 athletes, growing children or who need extra calories. This bar has about 300 calories and 22 grams of sugar

Picky Bars

best and worst protein food nutrition bars

Ingredients: Organic Peanuts, Organic Dates, Organic Agave Nectar, Organic Brown Rice Crisp (Brown Rice, Brown Rice Syrup, Salt), Organic Holy Kakow® Cacao Powder (Single origin, minimally processed cacao), Rice Protein (Protein from whole grain sprouted brown rice), Organic Chocolate Chips (Cane Sugar, Cocoa Liquor, Cocoa Butter), Sea Salt, Natural Vitamin E (to preserve freshness), Organic Sunflower Oil.

RX Bars

best and worst protien nutrition bar

Ingredients: Dates, egg whites, almonds, cashews, cacao, peppermint oil, sea salt

The Perfect Bar Almond Butter

best and worst protein nutrition food bar

Ingredients: Organic almond butter, organic honey, nonfat milk powder, organic almond pieces, organic rice protein, dried whole egg powder, organic flax seed oil, organic sunflower seed oil, organic olive oil, organic pumpkin seed oil, dried whole food powders (organic flax seed, organic rose-hip, organic orange, organic lemon, organic papaya, organic tomato, organic apple, cherry, red bell pepper, organic alfalfa, organic celery, organic kelp, organic dulse, organic carrot, organic spinach).

 

Lara Bars

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

Health Warrior Protein Bar

best and worst protein nutrition bar

Ingredients: Ancient Grain Blend (Chia, Oats, Organic Quinoa), Brown Rice Syrup, Pea Crisp (Pea Protein Isolate, Pea Starch, Rice Flour, Calcium Carbonate), Almonds, Organic Agave Syrup, Organic Dark Chocolate Chips (Organic Syrup, Organic Cocoa Liquor, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Vanilla), Cocoa Flakes, Cocoa Powder, Arabic Gum, Natural Flavor, Sea Salt, Mixed Tocopherols (Natural Vitamin E).

Rise Bars

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

 

Amazing Grass Energy Bar

best and worst protein nutrition bars

Ingredients: Organic dates, organic agave nectar, Amazing Grass Green Superfood (organic wheat grass, organic barley grass, organic alfalfa, organic spirulina, organic spinach, organic chlorella, organic broccoli, organic acai, organic maca, organic carrot, organic beet, raspberry, organic rose hips, organic pineapple, green tea, organic flax lignans, L Acidophilus, alpha and beta amylase, protease, lipase, lactase, cellulase, organic peppermint), organic cashews, organic almond butter, organic almonds, organic sunflower seeds, organic dried cranberries, organic pumpkin seeds, organic dried coconut, organic vanilla extract.

*25 grams of sugar per bar

 

Zing Bars

Zing food bars

Ingredients: Almond butter, organic tapioca syrup, agave syrup, whey protein blend (whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, whey protein hydrolysate), organic dried blueberries, roasted almonds, chicory root fiber, almonds, rice protein concentrate, whey protein crisps (whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, tapioca starch, calcium carbonate, sunflower lecithin), sunflower lecithin, vanilla extract, sea salt, mixed tocopherols (Natural Vitamin E), natural almond extract

 

Qi’a Bars

Qi'a health bar

Ingredients: dried coconut*, roasted almonds*, brown rice syrup*, tapioca syrup*, fair trade dark chocolate chunks* (cane sugar*, unsweetened chocolate*, cocoa butter*, vanilla*), dried cranberries* (cranberries*, apple juice concentrate*, sunflower oil*), chia seeds*, hemp seeds*, fair trade cocoa powder*, tocopherols (Vitamin E).

 

Earnest Eats Bars

best worst protein bars

Ingredients: Whole Rolled Oats, Almond Butter, Brown Rice Syrup, Natural Cane Syrup, Raisins, Oat Bran, Organic Dried Apples, Sunflower Seeds, Dried Cane Syrup, Walnuts, Natural Vanilla Extract, Natural Apple Flavor, Spices, Sea Salt.

Quest Bars

Quest Bars healthy

Ingredients: Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate), Isomalto-Oligosaccharides* (Prebiotic Fiber), Almonds, Water, Erythritol. Contains less than 2% of the following: Sea Salt, Stevia, Lo Han Guo, Natural Flavors, Cinnamon.

* WARNING: Not all Quest bars are a healthy choice. Half of their bar line contain SUCRALOSE, an artificial sugar that causes many health issues. Unfortunately some of their tastiest flavors come with sucralose such as cookies n cream and s’mores. Always check the label.

 

Odwalla Food Bar

best and worst protein nutrition food bars

Ingredients: Brown rice syrup, ground golden flax, rolled oats, date paste, dried sweetened cranberries (apple juice concentrate, cranberries, sunflower oil), oat flour, fig paste, vegetable glycerin, soy butter (soybeans, soy oil, sea salt), whole dried sweetened blueberries (apple juice concentrate, whole dried blueberries, sunflower oil), plum puree, oat bran, raisins, natural flavors (contains coconut), less than 2% of: calcium carbonate, soy lecithin, salt, dried strawberries, dried raspberries, baking soda, vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol acetate) and beta carotene. *Non-GMO

 

Vega Sport Protein Bar

best and worst protein nutrition food bar

Ingredients: Complete protein blend (organic sprouted whole grain brown rice protein, pea protein), organic tapioca syrup, organic brown rice syrup, organic cane sugar, organic peanut butter, palm kernel oil, organic peanuts, Vega SaviseedTM (sacha inchi) oil, inulin (from chicory root), brown rice crisps, cocoa powder (processed with alkali), organic peanut flour, organic agave syrup, sea salt, organic peanut extract, unsweetened chocolate, natural vanilla flavor, sunflower lecithin.

 

What makes the GOOD bars so Healthy?

  • 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?

I know that protein bars can get pretty expensive, especially when you are eating one a day, so I suggest buying them by the box. The best way to save money is to purchase them from Thrive Market. Thrive Market is an online shop that sells health food and products for a discount. Think a healthy Costco. They have a great selection of the food bars mentioned above and at a great price. Check them out at Thrive Market. Another option is to 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!

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95 Comments

  • Reply Alan Moore August 29, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    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
      Reply lauren August 29, 2013 at 8:33 pm

      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!

      • Reply Alan August 30, 2013 at 9:32 pm

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

        • Reply Alan November 1, 2013 at 8:04 pm

          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!

  • Reply Katherine August 30, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    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.

  • Reply Rich Donahue August 30, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    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!

  • Reply Kelly Holguin August 30, 2013 at 5:08 pm

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

    • lauren
      Reply lauren August 31, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      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 !

  • Reply Kim August 30, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    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!
    Kim

    • lauren
      Reply lauren August 31, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      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!

  • Reply Elijah Shannon Selby August 30, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    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
      Reply lauren August 31, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      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!

  • Reply monica August 31, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    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
      Reply lauren August 31, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      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.

      • Reply monica September 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm

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

  • Reply Melissa Mahon September 19, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    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!

    Melissa

    • lauren
      Reply lauren September 21, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      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!

  • Reply marquis @realrawkitchen September 23, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    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 🙂

    • lauren
      Reply lauren October 1, 2013 at 2:05 pm

      Absolutely! And the raw ones are the best tasting too!

  • Reply Nicky October 3, 2013 at 11:26 am

    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!

    • lauren
      Reply lauren October 6, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      Oh great!! Good thing they taste even better than the bad guys!

  • Reply Genevieve October 8, 2013 at 9:21 am

    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,
    Gen

    • lauren
      Reply lauren October 8, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      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!

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    […] ♥ The Best and Worse: Protein and Nutrition Bars – Awesome article on what protein/energy bars are out on the market and what people might think are considered “good”, “healthy”,”clean”, etc.  You would be surprised once reading the ingredients.  Most are junk!!  If interested, check out my Raw Chocolate Protein Energy Bars.  It is what I make for my family and friends.  Scott and I eat them weekly.   […]

  • Reply Katy Taylor March 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    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…

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren aka The Holy Kale March 11, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      Hi Katy, Have him try the Rise Protein Bars. They are a bit high in sugar, but they do have a lot of protein to balance it. This would be a good option if he will not try the other “hippie” bars as he calls it. http://risebar.com/products/sunflower-cinnamon/

  • Reply Fred March 10, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    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.

  • Reply Lesley September 17, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    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?

    • Reply Lesley September 17, 2014 at 12:23 pm

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

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren aka The Holy Kale September 30, 2014 at 3:18 pm

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

  • Reply Chloe Mitchell September 24, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    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
      Reply Lauren aka The Holy Kale September 30, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      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.

      • Reply Nancy Strong March 21, 2015 at 1:16 am

        I also bought Stabilyze bars at Costco and really like them because they really do fill you up for at least 4 hours and have 12 grams of protein. Only tried the Chocolate Thin Mint Cookie ones but they are good and chewy so they feel substantial.

  • Reply Allyson May 21, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    Hi Lauren,

    You should check out CORE Meals and CORE Meals with Whey (www.corefoods.com)! They’re definitely meal replacement bars, not snack bars, but they seem to have one of the cleanest ingredient lists out there!

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren aka The Holy Kale June 2, 2015 at 4:12 pm

      Love those!! yes, I will add. Thanks for the reminder.

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  • Reply Power Hungry June 6, 2015 at 2:25 am

    Hi Lauren, I have no idea how I landed on this page, but very glad I did. Thanks for compiling the information
    and giving us a list of “the good bars”. Such a relief. Wildbars are my FAVORITES.

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren aka The Holy Kale June 8, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      Oh you are so welcome! Love those too!

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  • Reply Havi October 1, 2015 at 2:31 am

    Cliff bar who makes Luna bar too states on their site that their bars do not have GMOs as an ingreidient but your site says otherwise.

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale October 1, 2015 at 5:39 pm

      Hi Havi, thanks for bringing this to my attention. You are indeed correct. This was not the case when I wrote the article so I will update. Glad to know they are moving in the right direction!

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  • Reply Shannon b November 5, 2015 at 5:32 am

    I’ve recently joined Advocare and I would like your thoughts on their meal replacement shakes and protein bars.

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale November 10, 2015 at 5:22 pm

      Hi Shannon, upon looking at the products I am not a huge fan. I always recommend using products that are closest to food and these have little resemblance. One of the big ingredients that I never ever recommend people to eat is Sucralose. This is an artificial sugar that can not only cause intestinal distress (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation etc.) it has also shown to cause more serious side effects and may lead to certain diseases. The bars also use soy, and corn syrup, both of which are genetically modified foods (and I do not see a seal for Non-GMO). GMO foods have been thought to lead to liver and kidney damage, birth defects, and cancers. If you just take a look at their ingredients I think you will quickly see how you can barely recognize any of the ingredients as REAL food (i.e dates, apricots, walnuts, pea protein etc.). I hope this helps!

  • Reply Marc-Antoine Bernier December 2, 2015 at 1:43 am

    Hi,

    I would like to have your opinion about the MLO Bio Protein bars. Thanks

    Marc-Antoine

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale December 2, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      Hello! I would be happy to but I cannot seem to find their company’s website in order to check out their ingredients etc. Can you pass over a link?

  • Reply Katie December 10, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Hi Lauren,

    What are your thoughts on Perfect Bars? http://perfectbar.com/

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale December 23, 2015 at 4:12 pm

      Hey Katie – LOVE them! I only eat the vegan and the ones with almond butter though. I think the almond butter is a healthier/safer choice than the peanut butter.

  • Reply Sara January 4, 2016 at 12:19 am

    Nice job with a couple of exceptions. Agave frequently has more fructose than HFCS. No one should be eating agave. Sugar alcohols in the quantities found in these bars are also not a healthy food, especially not if a person has any hint of a liver problem.

  • Reply George R January 22, 2016 at 5:02 am

    Have you tried ?

    Or ?

    And are really good, but they’re just getting started!

    • Reply George R January 22, 2016 at 5:05 am

      [Oops, messed up the tags. Where’s the ‘Preview’ button?]

      Have you tried Qia bars?

      Or Simple Squares?

      And these guys are really good, but they’re just getting started!

      • Lauren The Holy Kale
        Reply Lauren The Holy Kale January 26, 2016 at 4:59 pm

        Gonna try the last one!

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale January 26, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      Yes, really like the simple bars 🙂

  • Reply Jen B February 4, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Hi Lauren: 🙂

    I am an avid user (and distributor) of Shaklee products. I like them best because they give me the Leucine I need to retain my lean muscle mass. Have you ever heard of Shaklee? I would be interested in knowing your opinion so that I can follow up with Shaklee corporate on any concerns you may have with Shaklee products. I always appreciate feedback from professional like yourself because I know that the assessment will be educated and honest.

    I am one of those who tends to throw all kinds of things at Shaklee. I believe in the company and I want to make sure that my clients have as much honest transparency as humanly possible.

    So happy to have found your website! I will look into it often! 🙂

    Best regards,

    Jen B.

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale February 29, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      Hi Jen, overall the products are not harmful, although I always like working with foods that are more nutrient-dense, and more plant-based. For example, the shakes are mostly made of synthetic vitamins and minerals, and I prefer to get my vitamins/minerals from fruits, veggies and whole grains. There are many companies out there that make shake powders using dehydrated foods rather than additives. As for the snacks, they are kindave like eating air since they are made with low nutrition carbs such as potato starch, and soy flour. I would rather see a cracker made with nuts, seeds, and whole grains, like the brand Marys Gone Crackers. The reason being is that you are eating, but the body is not getting enough nutrition. As a result this can cause one to eat MORE food, preventing weight loss if that is the goal. Finally, as for the supplements, I never recommend tablets. These are VERY hard for the body to absorb, leaving the nutrients unavailable to the body. In addition, they use many additives (glues and binders) that are hard on the body. Finally, tablets use heat which can damage the nutrients of the supplement. Overall, tablets are the least effective way to get nutrition. I always use powder filled, veggie caps or liquids. Hope that helps!

  • Reply Russell Long March 21, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Thank you for your excellent blog!

    I wanted to ask if you’re going to do an updated bar ranking soon, since this one was done almost three years ago. Andrew Weil and Dr. Oz have asked us to completely remove agave from our kitchens because it can harm us. Here’s the recommendations to avoid agave:

    http://blog.doctoroz.com/dr-oz-blog/agave-why-we-were-wrong

    http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA401166/Whats-Wrong-with-Agave-Nectar.html

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/03/30/beware-of-the-agave-nectar-health-food.aspx

    thanks much,

    Russell

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale March 22, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      Hey Russell, yes there are so many more bars to add. I will put it on my list. As for the agave, fortunately the Organic Food Bars no longer use agave. The Raw Revolution do, so those are not ideal in terms of the sugar content. I am very aware of the information out there about agave, and its health detriments, so I will be updating soon. Thank you so much for your interest!

  • Reply Kelly April 10, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Thank you! Your work helped me avoid a choice that would have been bad for me. Plus I have wanted a protein bar with a protein like pea protein as I can’t have the more processed proteins and didn’t know if they existed before reading this, so thanks for including the good stuff.

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale April 30, 2016 at 3:08 pm

      Oh that is so great to hear Kelly! So glad to know you have found something that fits your needs 😉

  • Reply Ara Manoogian May 8, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    Hi Lauren,

    Thank you for putting this list together.

    Can you tell me if Arbonne nutrition bars are safe to consume? I was told they are GMO free and organic.

    Any information you can provide will be helpful.

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale June 1, 2016 at 4:02 pm

      Hi Ara, here are the ingredients: brown rice syrup, brown rice protein, pumpkin seeds, water, crisp rice (rice flour, sugar, salt, calcium carbonate), pea protein isolate, alkalized cocoa, chicory fiber, oats, dates, cocoa butter, glycerin, natural flavors, quinoa, sunflower lecithin, sea salt. Overall it is pretty good, low in sugar and free of the majority of “bad” ingredients. The only thing I would check on is the natural flavors to make sure it is not MSG. Finally, it has added vitamins and minerals which is okay… but definitely not my choice way of getting nutrition. I always prefer to get it from the natural food ingredients themselves. I do not see a certified Non-GMO label or organic certification so that means that it is not certified as either. Hope that helps!

      • Reply Devin June 22, 2016 at 9:03 pm

        Hey Lauren,

        Thanks for compiling such an extensive list of nutrition bars! Just to piggyback off of this post, I think it’s really important to point out that ingredients have to be labeled “USDA Certified Organic” to be federally regulated as such. Most companies loosely use the words organic and certified organic as nothing more than marketing. I noticed a number of bars were missing the USDA certification. Just food for thought!

        • Lauren The Holy Kale
          Reply Lauren The Holy Kale June 29, 2016 at 4:55 pm

          Hi Devin, thanks for bringing up the certification issue but it is not exactly how you stated. Any label that states organic means that it is organic (contains 95-99% organic). If it says USDA certified that just means that the product is specifically certified by the USDA, but all other products with an organic label are also certified but by a company that is approved by the USDA. This is because USDA certification places are not available in all locations, but this does not mean that non-USDA approved products are less than the USDA certified products. If a product says “made with organic” ingredients, then it is guaranteed to be at least 70% organic. All organic products may have a non-organic, but natural preservative such as salt, or sodium bicarbonate, because these ingredients cannot be found organic in a very limited amount. Hope that helps!

  • Reply Debra May 10, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    I was diagnosed with DCIS breast cancer,it was precancerous, everything seems good so far, my lesion was fueled on estrogen I read that soy is no good for me. I love Luna Bars but it contains soy protein isolate soy lecithin is there enought in a luna bar that I should not eat, because I think they will fuel the estrogen. If you could can you email me. thanks Debbie

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale June 1, 2016 at 3:30 pm

      Hi Debbie, If I were you I would avoid eating them. This is the safest choice and there are lots of other bars out there that do not contain soy. That way there is no chance at all that it may be interacting with your hormone levels. Best of luck with your recovery!

  • Reply High Protein Low Fat Snacks – Why Are They So Important and How to Make the Most of Them? May 14, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    […] and delicious high protein snacks available in supermarkets and in naturist shops. These include protein bars that use natural flavors and no un-saturated fat, powders that you can transform into shakes and mix with fruit to make them […]

  • Reply Jean June 23, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Hi Lauren,

    I am so impressed with you! You are really sweet to answer each person, and you really seem informed about nutrition. I am on the hunt for a healthy bar, and I noticed this article is a little dated.

    Have you discovered anything new? I am looking for something really low in sugar, and fairly low in fat because I tend to eat a lot of bars. I don’t care if there is a high level of protein in it because I get enough from my diet. Do you have something very low in sugar that you could recommend? I would love something with stevia or monk fruit but nothing with sucralose or aspartame. I don’t have a lot of food restrictions except I avoid glycerin because it makes me retain water. I have found a few options, but they all seem to have one drawback or another. I would really appreciate your help.

    Best regards,

    Jean

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale June 27, 2016 at 2:58 pm

      Hey jean – try Oatmega Bars. I am loving these at the moment. They are only 5 grams of sugar and 14 g of grass-fed whey. They use Monk Fruit for a sweetener. You mention that you dont want a high fat bars, and these are higher in fat (7 grams) – specifically in EPA/DHA omega 3s, which are incredibly good for the body. Most people are deficient in these fats which are critical for heart and brain health, inflammation control, skin + eyes, and for preventing disease. Give them a try!

      • Reply Jean July 5, 2016 at 4:18 pm

        Hi Lauren,

        I have recently been learning about MSG because I am very sensitive to it. I had to rule out the Oatmega bars because of this reason. Whey protein isolate is another name for MSG and so is vegetable glycerin and natural flavors. I seem to really react to vegetable glycerin. Here is a link with a list of ingredients to watch out for: (Actually, I can’t seem to copy & paste it so just search Jeff Kaplan,RN and MSG list). The list is pretty extensive, and some of the items may not contain MSG. I think he was erring on the side of overly cautious. Anyway, it’s definitely worth looking at.

        I recently discovered the raw rev glo bars and although the fat is a little higher than my ideal, everything else looks good. I am also considering giving the Epic bar a try in the salmon or chicken sriracha flavors. They advertise no MSG. I am almost to the point of making my own, but it seems like a lot of work. Isn’t the whole point of the bars, the convenience? 🙂

        • Lauren The Holy Kale
          Reply Lauren The Holy Kale July 6, 2016 at 3:09 pm

          Hi Jean, thanks for writing in. I know there is a lot of information about MSG on the web, but whey protein isolate, vegetable glycerin and natural flavors are not another name for added MSG. This is a big misconception. Potentially what you are looking at is that some foods are naturally in glutamate, a nonessential amino acid. The glutamate in MSG is chemically indistinguishable from glutamate present in food proteins. Our bodies ultimately metabolize both sources of glutamate in the same way. If there is added MSG, it is required by law (FDA) to list MSG in the ingredient panel on the packaging as monosodium glutamate. If you are sensitive to glutamate in general, there is a neurotransmitter, which opposes glutamate, which has a calming effect. This is GABA, gamma amino butyric acid. It is an inhibitory neurotransmitter.

          As for bars, Epic, being a protein food may not be the best choice. There are many other bars like Lara bars that should be fine for you to eat. Or, like you mention, make your own! They are really easy to make. I make a couple bar recipes from the cookbook Superfood Snacks, which is delicious and easy.

  • Reply Bruce Wayne July 5, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Sorry but most of those “good” bars contain Agave nectar which makes my blood sugar crash as bad as it does with any refined sugar. Are there any that use very minimal sweetner (non-processed of course)?

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale July 5, 2016 at 6:15 pm

      Try the Oatmega bars! So good!

    • Reply Jean July 6, 2016 at 4:00 am

      Bruce,

      I would look at the Raw Rev Glo bars. The creamy peanut butter only has 2 grams sugar from natural sources, and no agave. The other flavors may have one or two more grams.

      Jean

  • Reply Mike September 3, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Very interesting analysis and feedback. Have you tried Qi’a bars? Your opinion? Ranking? Thanks Mike

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale September 7, 2016 at 4:04 pm

      Hey mike! Just added them. Pretty good, a little higher in sugar, and there roasted nuts, which is not ideal. Overall way better than other bars.

  • Reply Patti November 1, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    How about just making your own? I do. Cheaper & I can control the ingredients. I got tired of spending money on the latest bar that is nothing more than a glorified candy bar. I make a nut energy bar with nothing but honey as the ‘glue’. Pure ingredients. Period.

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale November 1, 2016 at 4:17 pm

      Always a great idea! I just made these Matcha Green Granola bars! It’s also a great way to add superfood powders like reishi, camu camu, maca or greens.

  • Reply Karen Mortazavi November 6, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Thank you for this list and the updates. I eat the green Organic Food Bar, Active Greens. I like the extra “green stuff” but the calories and high natural sugars are a negative (although I try to use as a meal replacement to minimize this). A couple of things. When I clicked on one of the product links, it took me to Amazon. While Amazon can be great, I want to caution everyone that the prices on Amazon can be quite high. For instance, a box of Organic Food Bars on Amazon costs around $44.00 but you can find them elsewhere online for around $24.00. That’s an outrageous difference. While on Amazon, however, I found a review that mentioned Sprouted Minds bars. They have to be refrigerated and are expensive but am wondering if you have tried them. The other problem is that I would like to try one of a bar to make sure I like them before buying a box. This is a challenge because it’s often hard to find some of these specialty bars in stores. I don’t know the solution for this but if you have any ideas, let me know. Thanks again.

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale November 8, 2016 at 9:07 pm

      Hi Karen – yes absolutely, there are other ways you can get bars other than Amazon. I link to amazon because it is accessible to everyone no matter where they live. There are so many people that do not have access to whole foods or natural food stores so at least they can get them through the internet.

      As for the Sprouted Minds bars, I have never seen those but they look good! I would suggest contacting the company to see if they have sample bars. Many do and that way you can try them before committing to a full box.

  • Reply Jeff January 17, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    Great comprehensive review! I’m wondering if you could elaborate on your sources of information for a couple statements you made. Byninfirnation I mean scientific, peer reviewed studies.

    Statements 1: Sucralose causes health problems. What health problems and where are the scientific studies proving this?

    Statement 2: Agave Nectar is far better than High Fructose Corn Syrup. Quite possibly it is! I’ve heard lots of bad claims about HFCDm But what do you define as ‘better’ how howyxh better? Where are the scientific studies comparing human effects of sweetners?

  • Reply mg January 20, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    hi there, I am wondering if you have looked into the bars from isagenix, and also something called exo bar…
    https://exoprotein.com/
    they both seem high in sugar, but im wondering how they stack up overall to bars like quest and oatmega
    thanks
    great article btw… even though its over 3 years old hah

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale January 24, 2017 at 4:32 pm

      Hey! The exo protein bars are definitely a good choice. While a bit higher in sugar (around 14 grams) they do have a good balance of protein (10 grams) and no added sugars, fillers or junk carbs. If you don’t eat a lot of sugar in the day, and do not have blood sugar or weight issues, then this should be a fine choice. As for the Isagenix, I think you can do better. Some have quite a bit of sugar (17 grams) which is much higher than other bars. In addition, I am not crazy about the added ingredients, which I do not find necessary. These include, evaporated cane juice syrup, maltitol, glycerin, and gum arabic. I also think sunflower oil is not an ideal oil since it is high in omega 6 fatty acids. Finally, I try to steer clear of the chocolate coating due to its extra sugar content. Hope that helps!

      • Reply MG January 25, 2017 at 5:03 pm

        thank you very much for the reply. im going to give them a shot

  • Reply Kate G February 7, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    2 of the bars on the GOOD list have soy products in them. Oatmega has Organic Soy Lecithin and the Odwalla has Soy Butter. From my experience with an allergy to soy any products with soy in them are bad. Had to learn about lecithin the hard way. Sometimes lecithin can be made with things other than soy, like sunflower seeds, but I have found that if it only says lecithin then it’s usually made from soy.

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale February 8, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      Hi Kate, sorry to hear that you have an allergy to soy. In that case, those would not be the bars for you unless you are not allergic to the fat of the soy and only the protein fraction. For many people this is the case, that they are allergic to the protein, just like people are allergic to the gluten of wheat. For those who are not allergic, the organic soy is fine. The fat (lecithin) is harmless and that portion does not have any phytoestrogenic properties. Hope you can find a different bar to enjoy!

  • Reply T Jensen February 9, 2017 at 12:53 am

    We have been debating offering the Ernest Eats Baked Whole Food Bars in our coffee shop. How do these rank with you and what else do you know about the company?

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale February 10, 2017 at 3:27 pm

      They are about 210 calories per bar with around 4-5 grams protein and 14-15 grams of sugar per bar, making them about the same as eating a bowl of oatmeal with some sugar and berries. Overall they have clean healthy ingredients, health fats, some vitamins and minerals, and fiber that come from real whole foods so I would say they are a good bar that is a bit high in sugar. I personally like the sugar content to be below 10 grams and the protein to be higher since this will help keep blood sugar stable and you satiated for longer. But, if you eat a relatively low sugar diet overall, are active and need a quick snack, these will be fine as long as they are not your daily bar. Hope that helps!

  • Reply Jean March 17, 2017 at 12:40 am

    Hi Lauren,

    I see you updated this article. I just wanted to let you know for your own health that Flax seeds are the highest in phytoestrogens of any foods (even way higher than soy). Many doctors advise their breast cancer patients to avoid flax like they do soy. There’s a lot of conflicting info out there, but there’s enough to scare me away from it. I also, have had some estrogenic side effects from just eating them in my favorite bread over a long period of time. I had the hardest time figuring out what was causing my symptoms. I recommend steering clear of flax, chia, soy and sesame seeds. There are some lists of more foods high in phytoestrogens online too, but these are the worst offenders.

    Jean

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale March 20, 2017 at 2:09 pm

      Thanks so much Jean for the information. Yes, there is a lot of conflicting information and for each research article you find promoting benefits, you find one claiming its harm. Our bodies are so unique and individual it is best to always customize your diet for what is best for your individual chemistry and health situation.

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