Although our bodies were designed with movement in mind, keeping up an active lifestyle is no easy feat, even with a diet fueled by the occasional energy bar. The truth is that our bodies are predisposed to add weight and reserve energy for famine situations, and if we don’t exert our willpower in order to remain active, it’s all too easy to settle into a sedentary lifestyle that consists of a lot of desk-sitting and television watching.
It takes effort to get in the cardio and weight training required to keep our bodies functioning at peak health and performance levels, but it’s worth it when you don’t find yourself wheezing at the top of a flight of stairs. Plus, you’ll open the door to all kinds of adventures, whether you like to pound pavement in marathons, hit top speeds while cycling, or defy gravity by climbing sheer cliff faces.
Of course, you can’t leave fuel out of the equation. Performing these physical feats requires energy, and lots of it. If you’re not keen to carry messy PBJs or entire chicken dinners on your outings, portable and healthy energy bars could provide the perfect alternative, and there are literally hundreds to choose from. How can you find the best energy bars for your needs? Here are 15 of the best to get you started.
Clif Energy Bars
The Clif brand has become synonymous with energy bars that are compact, affordable, tasty, and filling – pretty much everything you want a portable snack to deliver. They also provide a whopping dose of protein to fuel your physical pursuits, whether you’re jogging, cycling, or climbing an inverted cliff face like guy on the packaging.
These bars also happen to include a hefty dose of sugar, which some avid athletes will not go for, but others are sure to appreciate. The protein and sugar content naturally vary by product. Organic ingredients and a slew of delectable flavors make Clif one of the most popular purveyors of energy bars.
R.e.d.d. Energy Bars
When you think of energy bars, you probably assume most of the boost comes from the quick surge associated with sugar and the lasting satisfaction and fuel from protein. This is often the case, but some bars deliver a bit more.
R.e.d.d. not only imbues their bars with superfoods and nutrients designed to keep your internal fires burning, but they also add 35 mg of caffeine, about a third of what you’d get in an eight-ounce cup of coffee, or about half of a one-ounce espresso shot. When you’re busy burning energy, this is one bar that’s sure to wake you up.
RXBar Real Food Bars
No, it’s not a prescription, but if you’re seeking treatment for your afternoon doldrums or a mid-hike slump, you can find your favorite “No B.S.” bars at just about any Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or even Starbucks.
The nice thing about these no-frills protein bars, besides the variety of flavors and options available, is that their simple packaging clearly states what they contain on the front, so you don’t have to go sifting through ingredient lists that requires a magnifying glass and a dictionary to decipher. You want egg whites, almonds, dates, and nine grams of protein? The Vanilla Almond Butter nut butter pack displays this information proudly on the front.
Larabar Snack Bars
Gluten-free bars are taking the energy market by storm, and Larabar is among the better products to consider for a couple of reasons. First, these minimalist bars promise no more than nine ingredients, including unsweetened fruits, nuts, and spices – whole foods that have undergone minimal processing. What you’re sure to love, however, is the wide range of flavor options.
There are 26 (original) flavors, to be precise, with classics like Chocolate Chip Brownie and Peanut Butter & Jelly, as well as delicious surprises like Apple Pie and Snickerdoodle. Then there are Fruits + Greens, Nut & Seed, Organic with Superfoods bars, and more. If you want choices, Larabar’s got them in spades.
Thunderbird Real Food Bars
The stylized thunderbird logo makes for some truly eye-catching packaging, but there’s definitely more than meets the eye to this energy product. For starters, it was conceived by endurance athletes with the goal of maintaining optimal health without compromising great taste. To this end, they opted for 100% natural ingredients and steered clear of sugars in general (natural, added, and otherwise) as much as possible.
The end result is certified paleo and vegan products that deliver a healthy dose of energy paired with indulgent and innovative flavors like Chocolate Mint Walnut and Cashew Fig Carrot, among others. They didn’t compromise, so you don’t have to, either.
High5 Energy Bars
It’s always best to be wary of the “natural” descriptor, as there really are no legal guidelines associated with it. That said, High5 promises vegetarian and vegan options, which are descriptors you can trust to mean no meat and no animal products, respectively.
Each bar is primarily composed of dried fruit, so don’t be surprised by the high sugar content (about 30+ grams per bar). The good news is that you’re sure to get a swift gut-punch of energy as a result, as well as a decent amount of fiber (although not much protein). They’re also reliably tasty, as a result.
Skout Backcountry Organic Energy Bars
If nothing else, folks from the Pacific Northwest are hardy, which is why you’ll find them out hiking and biking in torrential downpours that would cause other Americans to head for the nearest shelter. It is because of these intrepid outdoorsmen (and women) that companies like Columbia and Patagonia exist. It’s no surprise, then, that Skout’s line of organic energy bars originated in this heavily wooded, coastal region.
When the power of pumpkin seeds, dates, and superfoods combine to deliver powerful antioxidants and sustained, low-glycemic fuel, you’ll understand how the nature-loving Pacific Northwesterners brave the wet weather and give sasquatch a run for his money.
Soldier Fuel Energy Bars
If you’re wondering about the name, it apparently relates to the fact that these energy bars were designed for use by U.S. Special Operations Forces and are recommended for public servants like police, fire, and EMTs.
They tout a 3-year shelf life and “all-natural ingredients”, which is not the same as certified organic, FYI. Still, there are no trans-fats and no high-fructose corn syrup. You’ll get more protein than some bars (11 g), but also quite a bit of sugar (19 g). The claim that the superior taste is “1,000 times better” than expected sounds like hype, but that’s for you to decide.
ProBar Original Trail Mix
Have you ever wondered why you can’t get your favorite trail mix flavors in a convenient and portable bar form? Wonder no more. ProBar has made your dreams a reality with an energy bar featuring the nuts, grains, and fruits you love from trail mix. Complete with nine grams of protein and six grams of fiber, this bar is sure to sate your hunger for an extended period of time, and quite a few of the ingredients listed are organic.
There’s also a fair amount of sugar at sixteen grams, but this only ensures you’ll get a quick jolt of energy paired with your sustained, slow-burning fuel.
Bearded Brothers Energy Bars
There’s no denying the company name is awesome, and very specific. The bearded brothers in question, Chris and Caleb, were avid outdoorsmen looking to create tasty snacks that could keep up with their active lifestyles, but also deliver 100% organic ingredients.
The result was a range of mouthwatering fruit bars (Vanilla Blueberry, Ginger Peach, Raspberry Lemon, and more) featuring, on average, just seven ingredients. Gluten and soy-free, these healthy bars offer superior fuel for undeniable energy with plenty of protein and fiber, as well as low-glycemic ingredients. These compact snacks are made for endurance athletes that expect the best from every bite.
Hammer Nutrition Organic Energy Bar
The packaging looks like what you’d expect from an energy product, with images of triumphant athletes that let you know eating these bars will make you unstoppable. Hype aside, however, Hammer delivers the goods with bars that feature certified organic ingredients and an acceptable amount of protein (4-5 g, depending on the bar).
They don’t tend to have much dietary fiber, and they likely have more sugar than some customers would prefer, but with certified kosher, vegan, and organic options, this is one of the few products guaranteed to meet the restrictions of certain diets that can present difficulties when it comes to prepackaged foods.
Skratch Labs Anytime Energy Bar
Give this company points for offering both traditional flavors like Chocolate Chips & Almonds or Cherries & Pistachios, as well as off-the-wall options like Savory Miso. They may not be super stout when it comes to protein (just 4-5 g, depending on the product), but neither do they contain a ton of sugars (only 4-7 g), which makes for a nice balance.
Apparently, the company started out offering recipes for at-home bars, but found out that consumers would rather buy energy bars than make them. Thus was born the Anytime Energy Bar, designed to address intense hunger with plant-based ingredients for easy digestion.
No Cow Energy Bars
There certainly are a lot of digestive intolerances springing up lately and restricting the modern diet. No Cow looks to cater to the changing dietary landscape with high-quality protein bars that skip the dairy and cut way back on added sugars that deliver no nutritional value.
With ingredients like brown rice and pea protein blend paired with antioxidant-rich cacao, these bars pack a punch of energy and flavor that’s sure to please anyone suffering from lactose intolerance (or even those who don’t). Flavors are pretty run-of-the-mill – there’s a lot of chocolate and peanut butter on display. Then again, why mess with the classics?
Sakara Energy Bars
The black and white packaging of these energy bars is simple and austere. You therefore may not recognize it as an energy bar product. In fact, it looks a lot more like a typical high-end coffee product, and this is probably intended as it offers itself up as a coffee replacement product.
With organic raw cacao powder and nibs, paired with organic raw hemp protein, vitamin B12, and L-Theanine, this bar will give you not only an instant boost, but also sustained energy, along with a delicious chocolate flavor. As a bonus, you’ll get 10 g of protein and only 7 g of sugar (from low-glycemic dates), which is sure to please the clean eating crowd.
Honey Stinger Energy Bars
This buzzy brand aims to please a wide audience with a range of attractive products, some of which claim to contain 95% organic ingredients and some of which eschew common allergens like nuts, gluten, dairy, and soy. There are also a range of interesting flavors you’re not likely to find elsewhere, such as Pink Lemonade and Wildflower Honey.
That said, these bars contain a LOT of sugar (albeit organic) and very little protein, as compared to some other bars. This surely makes for a speedy power surge when you start to drag, but don’t expect sustainable energy from these tasty stingers.