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Published Sep. 28, 2021

When it comes to on-the-go snacks, it can be tempting to grab a candy bar or salty bag of chips—but these picks are usually lacking in nutrition and satiety factor. But if you’re running out the door, tight on time, or just can’t be bothered to make your way to the kitchen, an energy bar is a healthy snack you can always have on hand. 

The best energy bars have a balance of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein that will satisfy your hunger, rather than just delay it. There are plenty of high-quality options formulated with whole ingredients like nuts, dried fruit, oats, and whey protein. Whether you want a quick bite before heading to the gym or something to curb midday snacking tendencies while working from home, energy bars are a simple and healthy way to nourish your body.

How We Picked the Best Energy Bars

Methodology

We’ve tried and tested a variety of workout bars, from simple granola options to the pricier organic picks. When it came time to select the best energy bars, we narrowed the search down to products that had balanced nutritional value, quality ingredients, and reliable brands.

  • Balanced nutrition: If you want a snack that will keep you feeling satisfied, it’s essential that it has carbohydrates, fats, and protein. While all of these bars vary in the amounts of macronutrients they contain, we made sure that each pick had every component so you’ll stay satiated longer.
  • Sugar: Some energy bars are high in sugar content, which can cause your blood sugar levels to spike and subsequently, crash. While all bars contain at least some sugar, we selected ones that had fewer added sugars for steady energy throughout the day.
  • Brand: Whether it’s tried-and-true energy bars like CLIF BARS or a new contender like RXBAR, we found brands that have built a name for themselves with quality taste and ingredients.

The Best Energy Bars: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: RXBAR, Best Seller Variety Pack

Simple Ingredients

These bars are made with only nine healthy, gluten-free ingredients. XBAR

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Specs:

  • Amount: 12 count
  • Weight: 1.83 ounces
  • Protein: 12 grams

Why It Made The Cut: Unlike many other snacks, RXBARs have no added sugars or chemicals. 

Pros:

  • High in fiber
  • Gluten-free
  • No added sugar

Cons:

  • Includes animal products (eggs)

RXBARs formally launched in 2017 and stood out on the shelves for their incredibly short and simple ingredients list. While many energy bars might contain additives, sugars, or other ingredients you’ve never even heard of, the RXBAR nutrition label is about as brief as it can get. The bars are a nut-based mix of cashews, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, or peanuts. Because nuts naturally have a healthy balance of fat, carbs, and protein, they make a high-quality ingredient that will curb your hunger in a few bites. 

For additional protein, RX adds egg whites to its ingredients list. Egg whites are a complete protein, which satiates hunger for longer, is easy to digest, and is a cholesterol-free ingredient. To amp up the flavor and sweetness, these bars also contain fruit, chocolate, cinnamon, or dates. You won’t find an RXBAR with more than nine ingredients on the list, so you can snack simply without double-checking the nutrition label. This pick also has more fiber than your average bar; the whole ingredients provide anywhere from 3 to 5 grams.

Best flavors: CLIF Energy Bars Best Sellers Variety Pack

Delicious Classic

These tried-and-true energy bars combine delicious flavors with quality ingredients. Clif Bar

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Specs:

  • Amount: 16 count
  • Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Protein: 9 to 11 grams

Why It Made The Cut

This variety pack offers an assortment of eight delicious flavors and is crafted with all non-GMO ingredients. 

Pros:

  • Wide range of flavors
  • Non-GMO ingredients
  • Made with 70% organic ingredients

Cons:

  • Not gluten-free
  • Higher in sugar

Among outdoor enthusiasts, athletes, and adventurers alike, the CLIF BAR is a well-established energy bar brand. These bars are designed to sustain energy during long-lasting and moderate activity, with a blend of protein, fat, and carbs that satiate hunger. CLIF uses sustainable ingredients in their bars, with ethically sourced chocolate and plant-based additions like almonds, peanuts, and rolled oats. 

This pack highlights their best-selling flavors such as chocolate chip, blueberry crisp, Sierra trail mix, peanut butter, banana, and more. Whether you’re tossing these in your kids’ lunch sack or packing them for a trail hike, there’s an option for even the pickiest of eaters. If flavor reigns for you, CLIF BAR definitely has some of the best flavors on the market. That said, this bar does have a considerable amount of sugar, coming in at a whopping 41 percent of your recommended daily intake. For those that don’t want to sacrifice sweetness, these bars are the perfect addition to your hiking pack or book bag.

Best Energy Bar for Kids: Orgain Organic Kids Energy Bar

Picky-Eater Approved

An organic and healthy snack option for the little ones. Orgain

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Why It Made The Cut: The Orgain Organic Kids Energy Bar is a great-tasting, organic, and low-sugar option that will satisfy kids’ hunger in a healthy way. 

Specs: 

  • Amount: 10 count
  • Weight: 1.27 ounce
  • Protein: 2 grams

Pros

  • Vegan and gluten-free
  • Non-GMO
  • USDA-certified organic

Cons

  • Less protein 
  • Several available flavors, but only one flavor per box

It’s no secret that getting kids to eat healthy foods can be a challenge—they’re usually reaching for low-nutrient, high-sugar snacks like cookies or candy. Kids’ energy bars are a great way to tackle this problem, since they can be formulated in kid-friendly flavors and still be packed with healthy ingredients to satiate hunger. 

Be wary of feeding your kids just any energy bar, as many have sugar levels that are acceptable for adults, but are too high for your little ones. That’s why we picked this energy bar from Orgain as the best option for kids—it only has 4 grams of added sugar, while still providing 7 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein. With flavors like chocolate, peanut butter, and chocolate brownie, even picky eaters will enjoy these dessert-like yet healthy bars. 

This Orgain pick is also certifiably USDA organic, vegan, non-dairy, gluten-free, lactose-free, soy-free, kosher, and free of all artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Whether your kid has allergies or you just want to avoid unnatural additives, this snack is a certified win. 

Best Vegan Energy Bar: GoMacro MacroBar Organic Vegan Protein Bars

Balanced Nutrition

This certified organic bar has plant-based protein to keep you energized. GoMacro

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Why It Made The Cut: Finding a plant-based energy bar doesn’t have to mean sacrificing protein or flavor—GoMacro Bars are a healthy and delicious pick for vegans.

Specs: 

  • Amount: 12 count
  • Weight: 2.1 ounce
  • Protein: 11 grams

Pros 

  • High-protein, plant-based ingredients
  • Certified organic
  • Gluten-free

Cons

  • 9 grams of added sugar 

While energy bars are a healthy snack to keep you fueled, many of them contain animal products like milk-based chocolate, egg, or whey. For those who are vegan or prefer plant-based products, finding a vegan option can be challenging. GoMacro was founded in 2003 by a mother/daughter team and has been creating vegan energy bars ever since. With flavors like blueberry with cashew butter, maple sea salt, sunflower butter chocolate, and coconut almond butter, there’s no shortage of options to try. 

These bars are made with organic, non-GMO ingredients like sustainably grown almonds, organic oats, and fair-trade cinnamon. The company is also Climate Pledge Friendly, and uses sustainable energy and recycled materials for their packaging. Though these bars are a more expensive option, the high-quality ingredients and sustainability of their production process are worth the price. Whether you’re a full-fledged vegan or trying to incorporate more plant-based products into your diet, the GoMacro bars are a great way to snack and stay satiated. 

Best Protein Energy Bar: Quest Nutrition-High Protein Bars

Post-Workout Snack

Refuel your body with 20 grams of whey protein. Quest Nutrition

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Why It Made The Cut:

Quest bars are formulated with low sugar content, high protein, and fiber to support your body, whether it’s after the gym or on your lunch break. 

Specs:

  • Amount: 12 count
  • Weight: 2.1 ounce
  • Protein: 20 grams

Pros

  • Tasty flavors that are gluten-free
  • No added sugar
  • High-protein

Cons

  • Contains dairy 

When it comes to high-protein bars, it’s not uncommon to find nutrition labels that are packed with calories, sugar, and carbs. That’s why Quest formulated its energy bars with complete proteins, minimal carbs, and sweeteners that don’t spike blood sugar levels—and with no added sugars. And if you are accustomed to the chalky flavor of protein powder and bars—no need to worry. Quest Protein Bars come in flavors like birthday cake, maple waffle, blueberry muffin, cinnamon roll, and lemon cake. Plus, many of the bars have chocolate chips or tasty cookie chunks that make this healthy snack taste like a dessert. 

Though Quest bars are great for day-to-day snacking, they are especially beneficial for post-workout recovery. Protein consumed 30 to 60 minutes after a workout can assist with muscle recovery and synthesis if paired with carbohydrates. That makes this bar a perfect partner after a workout, with its 20 grams of protein and 5 grams of carbs. Complete nutrition doesn’t need to be complicated; just grab a bar and keep it in your gym bag. 

Things to Consider Before Buying Energy Bars

While all of our picks have ingredients to give you sustained energy, some are certified organic, vegan, gluten-free, or have higher protein. Depending on your unique nutritional needs and preferences, you may want to take these factors into consideration before making your selection. 

If you want a pre-workout snack or something to toss in your purse, a lower-protein, higher-carb bar will give you more fuel to charge your day. But if your priority is to build muscle and recover post-workout, a higher-protein option is better suited to you. 

You may also want to consider your current sugar intake before you pick an energy bar. If you’re looking to cut down, opt for a bar with simple ingredients and no added sugar. If your diet is already relatively low in sugar and you love a flavorful energy bar, a higher-sugar bar might fit the bill.

FAQs

Q:

What is the leading energy bar?

CLIF BARS are one of the longest-standing energy bar brands in the game, and they routinely lead for the most popular and purchased option. Among their top flavors are crunchy peanut butter, chocolate chip, white chocolate macadamia nut, and chocolate brownie.

Q:

What are the healthiest bars to buy?

RXBARS and GoMacro bars have high-quality, simple ingredients that make them top contenders for the healthiest bars on the market.

Q:

Are protein bars good for energy?

A combination of protein and carbohydrates is perfect for refueling throughout the day, and protein bars make for an easy, on-the-go snack that can give you steady energy.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a busy, on-the-go mom or a college student looking for a quick snack on the way to class, energy bars are a healthful and fulfilling option that won’t leave you feeling hungry in another 30 minutes. And where convenience is a concern, the ease of grabbing a wrapped-and-ready snack makes you all the less likely to reach for junk food or sweets. We all have different diets and preferences, but thankfully, there are plentiful options for you to choose from when it comes to energy bars.

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