The Healthiest And Unhealthiest Nutrition Bars

The Healthiest and Unhealthiest Nutrition Bars

Nutrition bars are a great source of protein, healthy fats, and wholesome ingredients — that is, if you choose the right ones. A lot of nutrition bars are loaded with processed ingredients, unnatural sugars, and unnecessary fillers that make your nutritious bar not so nutritious. Reading nutrition labels sometimes seems like plowing through a foreign language, but we will make this a little easier. We selected the same flavor — peanut butter and chocolate — of different nutrition bars and compared the calories, fat, sugar, protein, fiber, and most importantly, the ingredients. All nutrition bars are not created equal and if you want to fuel your body the healthy way, considering what's in them should be a priority.

Healthiest – Larabar Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

220 calories
11 grams fat
19 grams sugar
6 grams protein
3 grams fiber

By looking at the sugar content, you may think that one of the ingredients is pure sugar. This bar only has four ingredients (all of which you can pronounce): dates, peanuts, chocolate chips, and sea salt. Most of the sugar from this bar is from the dates, which contain 4.5 grams of sugar each. In a study by the Nutrition Journal, researchers found that dates happen to be a low-glycemic index food, meaning that they did not raise the test subject's blood sugar levels after they ate them. Larabars come in many different flavors so if you are trying to watch your sugar intake (even the natural sugars), you can try the blueberry muffin Larabar, which only contains 17 grams of sugar and 190 calories. Keeping the calories between 150 and 250 for a snack and consuming your sugar from natural sources is a good way to give into your sweet tooth without overindulging.

Healthiest – Pure Organic Peanut Butter Chocolate Bar

160 calories
9 grams fat
8 grams sugar
5 grams protein
2 grams fiber

This bar has ingredients you should be looking for regularly at the grocery store because they are wholesome and not ultra-processed. The ingredients are all certified organic and consist of peanuts, quinoa, crispy brown rice, amaranth, flax seed, and hemp seed, among others.

Healthiest – ALOHA Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bar

270 calories
13 grams fat
12 grams sugar
18 grams protein
6 grams fiber

This high protein energy bar is made with nothing but pure ingredients. It doesn't contain any artificial or natural flavors, artificial colors, or fake sugars. This plant-based protein bar uses organic peanuts, pumpkin seed protein, and pea protein to give it the optimal nutrient density.

Healthiest – KIND Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Bar

150 calories
5 grams fat
7 grams sugar
3 grams protein
2.5 grams fiber

This low-calorie snack contains 18 grams of whole grains, and is perfect for keeping you full until your next meal. Most KIND bars now have only five grams of sugar with the first ingredients being oats, brown rice, millet, oat flour, buckwheat, amaranth, and quinoa. KIND also updated their newest bars to contain only five grams of sugar.

Healthiest – Quest Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar

170 calories
7 grams fat
1 gram sugar
20 grams protein
14 grams fiber

This low-calorie bar has a whopping dose of protein and is very low in sugar. Quest bars are sweetened with erythritol, which has a similar taste as sugar but does not spike blood sugar and does not feed the bacteria in the mouth. Unlike other sugar alcohols, erythritol does not cause digestive issues because of the way it is absorbed in the body. Also, this bar also has 14 grams of fiber, which can improve your digestion. You can enjoy flavors such as Cookies & Cream, Pumpkin Pie, and S'mores and feel zero guilt.

Healthiest – PERFECT Bar Carob Chip

310 calories
16 grams protein
18 grams sugar
18 grams fat
5 grams fiber

Although the calorie count starts to creep up, this high protein bar is a perfect meal replacement if you are running from the gym. The high fat content comes from the organic peanut butter, which happens to be the first ingredient. This chocolate bar even has dried organic whole food powders, which consists of kale, flax seed, tomato, celery, and kelp! All that in your chocolate bar! If you are looking for something lower in calories, sugar, and fat, the cranberry crunch flavor has only 200 calories, 10 grams fat, 13 grams of sugar, and still contains nine grams of protein.


Unhealthiest – Balance Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar

200 calories
7 grams fat
17 grams sugar
14 grams protein
1 gram fiber

Although Balance bars are reasonable in calories, the bars contain almost 40 ingredients, with names such as "heavy cream," "cellulose gel, "carrageenan," "sodium citrate," and "dextrose." This bar is not really health-friendly. The 17 grams of sugar is lower than some of the healthy options, but the sugar comes from unnatural sources, such as glucose syrup.

Unhealthiest – Clif Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch Bar

260 calories
7 grams fat
20 grams sugar
10 grams protein
4 grams fiber

Although Clif bars use 60 percent organic ingredients, the first ingredient on the list is organic brown rice syrup. Unfortunately, that means that the syrup is what makes up most of the bar. Although brown rice is a healthy addition to your diet, brown rice syrup is broken down by your small intestine the same way 100-percent glucose is processed, which raises blood sugar levels. The fourth ingredient on the list happens to be organic cane syrup.  If a bar has 20 grams of sugar, the sugar should come from whole ingredients and not processed syrups.

Unhealthiest – Luna Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar

190 calories
8 grams fat
13 grams sugar
12 grams protein
3 grams fiber

The first ingredient in this bar is soy protein isolate, which is different than whole soy, fermented soy, and other soy products. The safety of soy protein isolate has been questioned due to worry of metal contamination, pesticide risk, and concentrated isoflavones. Following soy protein isolate are organic cane syrup, peanuts, and organic dried cane syrup. In your chance to find a healthy bar, opt for whole ingredients in the beginning of the list (and hopefully all the way until the end of the list).

Unhealthiest – ThinkThin Creamy Peanut Butter Protein Bar

240 calories
9 grams fat
20 grams protein
0 grams sugar
1 gram fiber

With no sugar, 20 grams of protein, and only 240 calories, ThinkThin could easily act as a meal replacement bar or a high-protein snack. In terms of ingredients, this product does not come out the cleanest. The bar contains absolutely no sugar, which may be hard to believe, but the use of glycerin and a sugar alcohol called malitol is used to sweeten it. Glycerin is about 60 percent as sweet as table sugar but contains a few more calories. Due to a difference in chemical structure, it does not have to be listed as sugar in the label. Sugar alcohols can upset your stomach, so be aware if you are sensitive to certain ingredients.

Unhealthiest – Power Bar Peanut Butter Chocolate

210 calories
6 grams fat
12 grams sugar
20 grams protein
4 grams fiber

If the first ingredient of a nutrition far is glucose syrup, we have a problem. This Power Bar may be high in protein but it is lacking any nutritious ingredients. This bar is coated and filled with processed syrups and sugars that will lead you down the road of digestive issues.

Unhealthiest – Odwalla Peanut Butter Chocolate Bar

200 calories
6 grams fat
16 grams sugar
12 grams protein
2 grams fiber

While this bar is non-GMO and made with "whole cereal grains," the first four ingredients are isolated soy protein, inverted cane syrup, brown rice syrup, and peanut butter chips. The peanut butter chips are not made with natural peanuts but instead processed from a mouthful of different ingredients – cane syrup, fractionated palm kernel oil, partially defatted peanut flour, isolated soy protein, soy lecithin, and natural flavor. Peanuts are delicious enough on their own and the unnecessary processing with added ingredients throws you into a sea of health confusion.