Energy Bar Wars: Which energy bars are the best?

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I’m not a big candy bar eater. I have read about energy bars from many fellow health & food bloggers though and I became curious. I usually prefer to have real meals for my breakfast and lunch, I usually don’t opt to energy bars. Why not, though, I thought? Maybe there are some good ones out there. I though I would give it a shot. So I went to Trader Joe’s and picked up one of each over a course of few weeks and decided to compare all of the energy bars I found appealing or was curious about. These are all my thoughts and they might obviously be rated differently by different people. I know there are people out there that think “which energy or protein bar is the best for me?” or “which energy bar or protein bar tastes the best?” I know I asked myself that question. I don’t want to be stuck eating cardboard. I also don’t want to make the mistake of eating an energy bar thinking it’s healthy when it’s really not. So here is my mission: Comparing all different energy bars that Trader Joe’s offers.

Ratings are all out of 5 stars. They are rated based on the flavor indicated. I realize that some flavors might be better than others. If there are any brands of the bars that you think taste much better in a different flavor, don’t hesitate to let me know – I’d be open to trying it out and possibly re-evaluating the product.

These are my own opinions, for my own reference. Based on taste and nutrition combined. Not out to trash talk any company or sweet talk anyone either.

Luna Bar

Luna – for the 13 grams of sugar, I expected the bar to be sweeter. It tastes pretty bland, but it is also my first time ever trying an energy bar so I don’t have much to compare it to. It is directed specifically at women, why I’m not sure. Maybe women are in more need of calcium, folic acid, vitamin d, and iron than men? I guess I’d have to do more research on that. The bar also contains 9 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber which is great. I’m not exactly a big fan of the flavor though, it leaves a strange aftertaste. It doesn’t taste like cardboard but I can’t say it tastes like s’mores either. The taste does’t resemble s’mores whatsoever, actually. Additionally, the gigantic list of ingredients on the back kind of scares me. There shouldn’t be that many ingredients in a “health” bar. Organic or not.

Rating: 

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Clif Bar (white chocolate macademia nut) – I knew I wasn’t going to like this bar before I even bit into it. I’ve read numerous articles about energy bars which are actually no better for you than candy bars.. I had a feeling Clif bar is going to be one of those notorious candy bars in disguise. The bar has a whopping 23 grams of sugar! I think that is way too much for a health bar. Energy is energy, but shouldn’t we get that energy from a healthy source rather than processed sugar? Exactly. Now more about the bar itself: the bar is obviously too sweet and it leaves an annoyingly persistent overly sweet aftertaste. It bothered me and the only way you can get rid of it is by taking another bite or drinking water. It doesn’t really go away by itself, it just gets worse. The bar itself is very chewy and has a good texture to chew. It is also aesthetically pleasing with the nice frosting on top. The bar starts melting in your hand though along with the white chocolate chips.

Rating: 

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Larabar (peanut butter chocolate chip) – This bar is smaller than I expected but the taste and quality definitely made up for the small size. At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect – everyone is raving about this energy bar, but the calories are up there (230 cal) as well as the sugar (19 grams). I have to admit, I was skeptical. However, upon further investigating of the nutritional facts, it turns out there are only 4 ingredients in the whole energy bar – all of which are made of whole natural foods! The sugar comes from dates! That is just awesome. Now the bar itself: the texture of it is just right, it isn’t super chewy but it is just chewy enough. It isn’t overly sweet either, it has a nice subtle sweet taste with prevalent peanut and chocolate flavors. I can’t even taste the dates.

Rating: 

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Think Thin (brownie crunch) – This is most certainly a good post-workout bar. It has 20 grams of protein, which is a bit too much for my personal needs per meal, but it also has 0 grams sugar which I’m a fan of. Not sure how sugar alcohols act in the body, but the bar has 13 grams of those. I gotta do more research on that (mental note). It’s gluten free, but not vegan. The bar itself is big and it took me quite a long time to finish it, compared to the others. Flavor wise, even though it has 0 grams of sugar, it still has a sweetness to it. It also has a slight weird aftertaste, but it doesn’t really bother me that much. Upon tasting, you can tell right away that this is a high protein bar. I don’t know how to describe it…. cakey, maybe? Chalky? I don’t know, it’s not necessairly a bad thing. It’s also a bar that’s drier than any other ones. Post exercise snack – perfect. Any other time – too much protein for my own needs.

Rating: 

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Balance – Wow this bar is delicious, I feel like I am eating a candy bar right now. It’s soft but with a crunch and very sweet. It might taste better than smores actually. It also melts in your hand rather quickly. Unfortunately, the 14g of sugar come from processed sugars (theres a lot of different ingredients that are sugars) in the bar, but the amount isn’t that huge compared to some other bars. The protein amount is also just right at 14g.

Rating: 

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Clif Kid Z Bar – Okay, seriously? No, this post isn’t made to hate on the Clif bar. I wanted to try the kids size bar because of it being lower in calories and still organic. Why not, right? But honestly, why do they think the kids will find this even remotely tasty? It’s not. At all. Kids are the picky ones, adults are much easier to please. The regular Clif bar is so much more tasty! This is just so strange to me, I’m really wondering how they’re doing with sales on this one.

Rating: 

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Organic (chocolate brownie bar) – The stats on this baby are amazing – organic, gluten free, vegan, raw, with a short list of ingredients – all wholesome, with sugars coming only from dates and agave. I really wanted to like this bar. However, for the 16 grams of sugar, although I realize this isn’t processed sugar, the bar begins as not sweet enough. Then after eating half of the bar, I can feel the prevalent sweetness, that is almost too sweet once the bar is all done. It’s weird. Like I began thinking it’s not nearly sweet enough for 16 grams and then now that I’m done I think it’s too sweet and my teeth can feel it (yeah, when something is too sweet, my teeth feel weird). The brownie bar doesn’t entirely taste like a brownie, it’s not chocolatey enough, in my opinion. While the bar overall is awesome – it’s just not for me.

Rating: 

Kammie wants to know:

  • What’s your favorite energy bar?

  • What’s your least favorite energy bar?

Let me know in the comments below!

19 Comments

  1. I want to try those balance bars! I never have before … they sound delicious 🙂 I’m usually a Luna or Clif bar girl.

    • You should definitely try it! I’ve tried the S’mores and some other flavor.. I think it was chocolate chip? I say go for S’mores it was much better than the other flavor. Haha I know this comment wasn’t very helpful!

  2. This was really very helpful! I’ve spent good money on expensive bars only to find them disgusting to eat. Now I know which ones to buy! Thanks!!

  3. Wow, you’ve been doing your research! We have something similar to a Larabar over here called Nakd bars. They’re my favourite I think, but then I do try to stay away from the heavily processed ones. My brother has a labour-intensive job and takes huge Costco packs of Clif bars with him to sustain him!

    I really love the convenience of bars. Thanks for this post, Kammie!

  4. I’m a big fan of Larabars, but generally avoid energy bars. Like you, I’d rather just have a real snack or meal. This post helps, though, for those times when I forget to pack a snack and I need something quick!

  5. I like Larabar but mostly the banana bread one. And you have to try the Cliff Mojo ones, they are awesome! Those and ones that Isagenix {I distribute their products} makes are the only ones I eat, exactly because of that, is hard to find a real healthy tasty one. Oh! and the kiddos love the CliffKids but only the chocolate chip one.

  6. That is why I try to recreate my own. I made the Clif coconut chocolate chip and it came out so good. Not overly sweet. I don’t understand why they have to put so much sugar. Here is the recipe if anyone wants to try it. 🙂
    http://wp.me/p1nMbd-hR

  7. I love Lunabars and larabars. Larabars are great because I feel like I am eating the best “processed” bar I can, and lunabars have such great flavors and stats to them, I cant help but fall in love!

  8. I love energy bars! I’m not a fan of Cliff bars, but I do love me some Lunas! I recommend the nuts over chocolate flavor or chocolate peppermint stick! I am dying to try a larabar though!

  9. Chelsea @ Chelsea Runs

    I am a big fan of peppermint Lunabars and some Larabars, but I only eat them on the run or for dessert. I love snicker’s marathon bars because they are glorified candy bars, haha. Great reviews!

    • I haven’t tried that flavor, maybe I’ll give it a go! I didn’t even know Snickers had a special marathon bar. haha I already love Snickers but I just can’t do it with the processed sugars! :/

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