Meal replacement bars are quick, easy and convenient. They can be thrown in a gym bag, a purse or a desk drawer and are the perfect solution to those times when you are hungry but don’t have time for a sensible meal and don’t want to succumb to the fast food trap. But, before you unwrap that bar, you had better read the label to make sure that what you see is what you get. You don’t want to undo all of the work you have done in the gym or with your sensible eating plan by eating something that is nothing more than a glorified and super expensive candy bar.
A good meal replacement bar should:
- Have the right number of calories. Too few and you are going to be hungry again an hour later. Too many and you are going to end up going over your daily needs which could lead to weight gain. A good calorie count will depend on how many calories you need overall divided by the number of meals you plan to eat. Always allow yourself a little wiggle room because sometimes you are hungrier than others.
- Be nutritionally balanced and sound. You should not be eating a bar that is too high in one macronutrient (protein, fats and carbs) and too low in another.
- Not have artificial ingredients or be mysterious about this information. If you have to go through more than 1 step to get to the ingredients on anything that you are going to eat or feed your family, pass it up.
- Not have sneaky sugar sources. Sometimes a protein or meal replacement bar will say “low sugar,” and then the ingredient list will paint an entirely different picture. Sneaky words for sugar will typically end in “ose,” but there are others that you should watch out for. Note, some alternative sugars are all natural and calorie free but may cause stomach upset, bloating and may also cause migraines in some people.
- Be as natural as possible. While all natural and organic ingredients are a good thing they can cause issues especially if you are ordering online. Watch for expiration dates and understand that sometimes these types of products will spoil, mold and go bad.
There are several buying options for meal replacement bars including ordering by the case and using a subscription-based service. If you have never tried a flavor or even a meal replacement bar you might want to find a resource for smaller orders before you commit. You might love a brand’s chocolate peanut butter crunch for instance but loathe a berry nutbar they just came out with. It can be very easy to get sick of the same flavor over and over especially if you are stuck with a case and do not want to spend money on others until those are gone.
For most meal replacement bars the emphasis is on protein so other nutrients like vitamins and minerals may be missing. To round the nutritional profile out you might want to add a piece of fresh fruit or a small salad to your bar so that you can feel satisfied and ready to take on your entire day.
Best Meal Replacement Bars
[numbered-heading label=”Onnit Bars and OatMega Bars” /]
The Onnit Vanilla Almond Protein Bars and the Oatmega bars are both meal replacement bars that actually provide more than just protein. The Vanilla Almond bars get plenty of nutrients from “MacroNourish” a blend of dozens of fruits and vegetables. They have 240 calories, 15 grams of protein, 15 grams of fiber, 5 grams of fat and only 3 grams of sugar.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EThe%20Oatmega%20bars%20come%20in%20several%20flavors%20including%20vanilla%20almond%20crisp%2C%20chocolate%20mint%20crisp%2C%20chocolate%20peanut%20crisp%20and%20brownie%20crisp.%20These%20are%20the%20less%20expensive%20option%20and%20can%20also%20be%20bought%20as%20singles.%20There%20are%20200%20calories%2C%2014%20grams%20of%20protein%2C%207%20grams%20of%20fiber%2C%205%20grams%20of%20sugar%20and%20300%20mg%20of%20Omega%203%20fatty%20acids%20in%20each%20bar.%20Each%20Oatmega%20bar%20also%20provides%20around%2025%26%2337%3B%20of%20the%20daily%20recommended%20allowance%20of%20Vitamin%20C%20and%202%26%2337%3B%20of%20iron%20(based%20on%20a%202000%20calorie%20daily%20diet).%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-Bars can be ordered as singles rather than committing to full cases right off the bat
-Plenty of plant-based nutrition with ingredients from over 60 plants
-Oatmega has several flavors to choose from.
-High in fiber and other nutrients.” cons=”-The Vanilla Almond bars may be “too chewy” for some people
-The Oatmega bars are cheaper than the other bars.” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details On Store” link=”https://www.curedisease.com/recommends/onnit-protein-bars/” color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”BSN Protein Crisp Bar by Syntha-6″ /]
The BSN Protein Crisp bar is high in protein at 20 grams. Each bar has 240 calories, 4 grams of sugar and comes in packages of 12 bars. Despite all of the protein there is very of other key nutrients making this a lopsided meal replacement bar.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EThe%20big%20advantage%20comes%20in%20the%20number%20of%20flavors%20that%20you%20can%20choose%20from.%20Nine%20different%20combinations%20including%20salted%20toffee%20pretzel%2C%20chocolate%20crunch%2C%20chocolate%20peanut%2C%20Coldstone%20mint%20chocolate%20chip%2C%20mocha%20latte%2C%20peanut%20butter%20crunch%2C%20strawberry%20crunch%2C%20smores%20and%20vanilla%20marshmallow.%20Calorie%20counts%2C%20protein%20counts%20and%20other%20nutritional%20numbers%20will%20vary%20by%20flavor.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-Many flavors to choose from
-Plenty of protein” cons=”-Not nutritionally sound
-Texture may be too “crispy” for some people” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/3hB872C” color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”Organic Food Bar” /]
The Organic Food Bar is a raw, cold processed, 100% organic meal replacement bar. It is vegan, soy free and third-party verified to be gluten-free as well. Each bar has 300 calories, 16 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EFlavors%20include%3A%20chocolate%2C%20chocolate%20chip%20and%20active%20greens%20chocolate.%20You%20get%2012%20bars%20per%20package.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-Solid number of calories per bar
-High in protein and fiber while low in sugar
-Raw, cold processed all natural ingredients with no additives or preservatives” cons=”-This bar may have too much fiber for some people. Increasing fiber is a good thing but must be done slowly to prevent complications like bloating, painful gas and possible constipation.
-Because there are no preservatives and the ingredients are all organic there may be some problems with moldy or stale products from time to time.
-These are among the most expensive meal replacement bars.” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/3b8iFnn” color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”PRO-Bar Meal Bar” /]
PRO-Bar Meal Replacement bars come in a variety of flavors, all made with plant-based ingredients with no GMOs, gluten or soy. There are no artificial ingredients and the bars are vegan. There are 370 calories per 3 ounces bar with 10 grams of protein.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EFlavors%20include%3A%20almond%20crunch%2C%20banana%20nut%20bread%2C%20chocolate%20coconut%2C%20koka%20moka%2C%20oatmeal%20chocolate%20chip%2C%20original%20trail%20mix%2C%20peanut%20butter%2C%20peanut%20butter%20chocolate%20chip%2C%20super%20berry%20and%20greens%2C%20super%20food%2C%20super%20fruit%20slam%2C%20whole%20berry%20blast.%20A%20variety%20pack%20is%20also%20available.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-No artificial ingredients
-Plant-based with 75-90% superfoods
-Good nutrition with balanced macros
-Lots of flavor varieties to choose from” cons=”-Might be too sweet for some people
-Described as mushy rather than crunchy
-Some products are molded” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/2ECqXrY” color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”Clif Builder’s Protein Bar” /]
The Clif Builder’s protein bar is marketed as low glycemic however, the 20 grams of sugar per bar tells a different story. Each bar has 270 calories and 20 grams of protein. For reference, the typical candy bar has about the same number of calories and grams of sugar per serving for about half the price.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EThe%20Clif%20bars%20come%20in%20packages%20of%208%20or%2012%20(you%20can%20find%20some%20flavors%20in%20singles%20in%20local%20stores).%20Flavors%20include%3A%20chocolate%2C%20chocolate%20mint%2C%20chocolate%20peanut%20butter%2C%20cookies%20and%20cream%2C%20crunchy%20peanut%20butter%2C%20vanilla%20almond%2C%20coconut%20almond%2C%20chocolate%2C%20mint%20chocolate%20almond%2C%20peanut%20butter%20and%20chocolate%2C%20salted%20caramel%20cashew.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-Plenty of flavors to choose from
-High in protein
-Mostly organic ingredients” cons=”-Way too high in sugar (Sugar and Protein both come in at 20 grams per bar)
-Weird pricing- each flavor is priced very differently with some costing as much as 50% more than others for the same size bar/package
-Items may be stale, discolored or melted upon arrival” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/3gEWc2s” color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”KIND Bars” /]
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EEach%20bar%20has%20around%20200%20calories%20and%20is%20dairy%20and%20gluten%20free%20with%20no%20trans%20fats%20and%20all%20natural%20ingredients.%20Each%20bar%20is%20also%20kosher.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-All natural ingredients
-Two sizes of bars, regular and mini. Both are available in variety packs
-Low glycemic so it won’t spike your blood sugar and won’t leave you hungry an hour later” cons=”-Pretty low in protein at only 7 grams per serving
-Can be stale and hard to chew because of all of the nuts
-Some people have complained that their entire package was filled with ants.” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/2Qlg1PF” color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”Go Macro Macro Bar” /]
The Go Macro Macro meal replacement bar has 6 grams of protein and 220 calories. There are 3 grams of fiber and 11 grams of sugar . It provides around 2% of the daily recommended allowance of calcium and about 10% of iron. Each bar is certified to be organic, vegan, gluten, soy and dairy free. They are kosher as well.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EFlavors%20include%3A%20almond%20butter%20carob%2C%20apple%20walnut%2C%20granola%20with%20coconut%2C%20cashew%20caramel%2C%20cherries%20and%20berries%2C%20coconut%20and%20almond%20with%20chocolate%20chips%2C%20cashew%20butter%2C%20peanut%20butter%20chocolate%20chip%2C%20peanut%20butter%2C%20sunflower%20butter%20and%20chocolate.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
The Go Macro brand was started in 2003 by breast cancer survivor, Amelia Kirchoff. Amelia chose to start eating a plant-based, macro balanced diet rather than use the traditional cancer treatments. From there, she developed her Macro meal replacement bars and has continued to add new items to her company as it and she continues to thrive.
[pros-and-cons pros=”-RAW and Clean Certified
-USDA certified organic
-Lots of flavors to choose from.
-Kosher” cons=”-Organic products tend to mold faster than others so always check yours.
-Watch out for expired products especially if buying from a third party supplier
-Fairly expensive option
-Sugar grams are higher than protein grams.” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/2YN1eUt” color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”Luna Protein Gluten Free Meal Replacement Bar” /]
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EFlavors%20include%3A%20chocolate%20chip%20cookie%20dough%2C%20berry%20Greek%20yogurt%2C%20chocolate%20peanut%20butter%2C%20chocolate%20salted%20caramel%2C%20chocolate%20walnut%20fudge%20and%20mint%20chocolate%20chip.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-Good source of iron and Vitamin D
-Several flavors to choose from” cons=”-Very high in sugar despite the label’s claim of being on the low glycemic index. Sugar is higher than protein grams per serving and is both the second and third ingredient listed.
-Not very high in calories and should be supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables to count as an actual meal.” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/3jrwal2″ color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”Nutrisystem On the Go Meal Replacement Bars” /]
Nutrisystem is a popular meal delivery system that is supposed to help people lose weight by taking all of the guesswork out of their meals for them. Meals and snacks are planned according to caloric and nutritional needs, tastes and preferences and then shipped directly to the person’s home. Each meal is labeled so there is never a question of what you are going to be eating for each meal. There are plenty of flavors and variety packs are an option. Each bar has between 150 and 200 calories with around 5 grams of fiber, 11 grams of protein and between 7 and 12 grams of sugar.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EFlavors%20include%3A%20fudge%20graham%20bar%2C%20cinnamon%20bun%2C%20harvest%20nut%2C%20double%20chocolate%20caramel%2C%20apple%20strudel%20and%20peanut%20butter%20granola.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-Nutrisystem is a trusted name in healthy dieting options
-There are assorted flavors so that you can always have choices” cons=”-Sugar grams are higher than protein grams for some flavors
-Calorie counts are all too low to count as a meal on their own
-Some flavors are described as bland while others have “too much” of one flavor or another.
-There are no clear listings of ingredients and/or other nutrients anywhere. If you have to click on more than 1 site to find this information there is a problem. Information was searched for on 3 different web pages with no luck at all.” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/3bke0PD” color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”Odwalla Meal Replacement Bars” /]
The Odwalla meal replacement bars come in a number of flavors including: banana nut, blueberry swirl, chocolate chip peanut butter, chocowalla, dark chocolate walnut, strawberry pomegranate, super food.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EEach%20bar%20has%20around%20210%20calories%20with%2016%20grams%20of%20sugar%20and%205%20grams%20of%20fiber.%20Each%20bar%20has%201000%20mg%20of%20Omega%203%20fatty%20acids%20from%20flax%20seeds.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-Several flavors to choose from
-High amount of Omega 3s from flax seeds
-Organic ingredients” cons=”-Very high in sugar
-Some items may have been discontinued through some sources while others are just difficult to find in general.
-Calorie count is fairly low” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/3hJ5yvm” color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
Meal replacement bars can be a great way to keep on track when you are on the go and just do not have time to stop for a good meal. They are great to eat while you are stuck in traffic or as a quick boost after the gym. The problem with some is that they are either too low in calories or are too low in good nutrients to make them worth it. They can also be the wrong texture to be a sustainable part of a nutritious eating plan because you may miss the mouth feel of real food.