An energy bar should never replace a healthy, well-balanced meal made from whole foods. But if you're stuck at the office or in a traffic jam, a properly designed meal replacement bar is a better option than fast food or other quick-fix meals.
"Look for a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat and fiber with added vitamins and minerals," says Clark. For a meal, you need more calories than a snack bar, so choose one with at least 300. But your meal-in-a-wrapper shouldn't be weighed down by large amounts of refined sugars and saturated fats. Look for dried fruits, whole grains and nuts. "For a more balanced meal, try complementing these bars with other on-the-run foods like fruit and yogurt," says Gidus.
What We Like
ProBar Superfood Slam (theprobar.com)
350 calories, 46 grams carbs, 17 grams fat, 9 grams protein, 6 grams fiber
Organic Food Bar Active Greens Chocolate (organicfoodbar.com)
310 calories, 35 grams carbs, 14 grams fat, 12 grams protein, 7 grams fiber
Tri-O-Plex Very Berry (trioplex.com)
390 calories, 45 grams carbs, 8 grams fat, 30 grams protein, 4 grams fiber
Bars marketed with an XX chromosome audience in mind are usually lower in calories, smaller in portion and often include nutrients women are commonly deficient in--iron, vitamin D or calcium. But are they more beneficial for you than other bars? That depends on your diet. Eat a well-balanced, whole-food diet and there's no reason to choose these bars over others. But if your nutrition is coming up short on a particularly hectic day, then the extra nutrients certainly can't hurt.
What We Like
Luna Sunrise Vanilla Almond (lunabar.com)
180 calories, 29 grams carbs, 4.5 grams fat, 8 grams protein, 5 grams fiber
Oh Mama! Chocolate Peanut Butter (ohmamabar.com)
190 calories, 26 grams carbs, 6 grams fat, 9 grams protein, 3 grams fiber
Matthew Kadey is a registered dietitian, freelance writer and photographer. For more info, visit mattkadey.com.