Our bodies need fuel to produce energy and power us through long days, mornings or even particularly dull meetings that seem to drag on forever. There are a few different ways to help your body and mind sustain peak performance throughout the day — whether it’s a protein bar, breakfast bar first thing in the morning or even an invigorating juice in the afternoon. Sure you could zap your brain cells with caffeine and become a zombie later in the afternoon, or you could get a sustained energy boost from an energy bar. Energy bars are a quick and easy way to boost your body’s energy levels through healthy fuel that’s nutritional and convenient.
As with many snack items these days — there are plenty of options when it comes to energy bars. Some are made with super clean ingredients, some are very low carb, some cut down on sugar and some are made kid-friendly. I’ve combed through the virtual aisles of energy bars online and found my favorites that each satisfy a different need, and compiled them into the list below. If you’ve got a big hike coming up, a flight or simply want to build a stash in your desk drawer for those impossibly long work afternoons I’ve got you covered. Here are the best energy bars of 2021.
1. Quest Nutrition Bars
These quest nutrition bars have off-the-charts ratings on Amazon with over 34,000 (!!) reviews and tens of thousands of 5-star reviews. The flavor is delicious cookie dough and they’re gluten-free for all the celiac folks out there. Each bar has 21 grams of protein to power you up for the dat with only 4 grams of carbs and 1 measly gram of sugar. Yes please! Each bar has 14 grams of fiber and dairy-based proteins and supply your body with 9 essential amino acids. This bar is sweetened without added sugar and is a great treat to have any time of day.
2. RXBAR Chocolate Sea Salt Protein Bar
RXBAR is known for their clean ingredients and being delicious at the same time. This bar only contains ingredients you can pronounce, which is reassuring, like dates, egg whites, almonds, cashews, 100% chocolate cacao and sea salt. Each bar has 12 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber — they’re also gluten-free. These bars taste really great and all of the protein comes from real food that’s perfect for eating at any time of day. These bars are also paleo and whole30 friendly with no added sugar.
3. KIND Healthy Grains Bars
Another great thing about energy bars? They tend to be cheaper, and these KIND bars are quite the bargain when you think about all of the nutrition packed inside. These energy bars are made with 100% whole grains and five super grains — oats, millet, buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa. These are all combined with tasty dark chocolate for a healthy on-the-go snack that’s gluten-free, kosher and contains no genetically engineered ingredients. These bars are also gluten-free, and come in a wide variety of flavors. I’ve tried a bunch of them, and the dark chocolate is by far my favorite.
4. CLIF KID ZBAR Energy Bars
BEST FOR KIDS
Kids tend to be picky eaters, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice nutrition in order to fuel them up. These kids Clif bars are made to be tasty while still containing essential nutrition like whole grains and fiber. These snack bars are soft baked to be chewy and have 8-11 grams of whole grains inside each one. These bars are organic and certified non-GMO, and are free from high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and synthetic preservatives.
5. Power Crunch Protein Energy Bars
These power crunch bars pack 13 grams of fiber inside and contain only 5 grams of sugar — they’re a great snack if you’re looking for something light. They come in peanut butter fudge and triple chocolate flavors, and 83% of their reviews on Amazon are 5-star ratings. These bars are great for those who prefer a wafer-like texture to a chewy one. They don’t contain as much fiber as other bars so they’re not as filling — this makes them perfect for a between-meals snack or a healthy dessert option.
6. LARABAR Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
Believe it or not, LARABARs have fewer ingredients than RXBARs do making them an even cleaner option. The ingredient list for these peanut butter chocolate chip bars is as follows: dates, peanuts, semisweet chocolate chips and sea salt. That’s it! They stand by their motto “real life calls for real ingredients” and I’m here for it. All of their bars are also gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, kosher and non-GMO — so those with dietary restrictions don’t have to worry.
7. Pure Protein Bars
These gluten-free energy bars are packed with protein — with at least 20 grams in each one and less than 3 grams of sugar. They come in three different flavors — including chocolate peanut butter, chocolate deluxe and chewy chocolate chip — and are made with high-quality ingredients for fueling you throughout the day. They’re great for providing muscles carbs and protein before or after a workout. These bars, while being gluten-free, are not made with a short, simple, clean ingredients like some of the other options on this list, so factor that into your decision.
8. CLIF BARS Energy Bars
Say what you will about nutritional value, but I think CLIF BARS taste fantastic. They’re always my go-to bar for road trips, hikes or midday snacks if I don’t have time to make something more elaborate. Each one is formulated with a mix of protein, fat and carbs and give a significant boost of energy. They definitely fill me up and their wide variety of flavors also adds to their appeal as a brand. I love the chocolate brownie bar as well as the peanut butter banana. Each bar is also made with sustainability in mind — and have plant-based ingredients like almonds, peanuts and organic rolled oats inside.
9. Bearded Brothers Vegan Organic Energy Bar
These vegan energy bars from Bearded Brothers are delicious and made with a variety of ingredients like nuts, fruits and seeds that shake up the standard chewy energy bar texture. All of the ingredients they use in their bars are clean, simple and organic — and their bars contain no added oils, fillers, extracts or artificial sweeteners. They have a bunch of flavors available to try that are more unique than other brands including coconut mango, ginger peach, raspberry lemon and vanilla pecan — so we recommend getting the variety pack so you can sample them all.
10. IQBAR Brain and Body Protein Bars
BEST KETO BARS
IQBAR energy bars are one of the most popular keto energy bars available, made with simple ingredients and six brain nutrients they’re designed to sustain you throughout the day. They contain 12 grams of plant-based protein and less than 1 gram of sugar, and only 3 grams of carbs. These bars boost your brain with ingredients like Lion’s Made, MCTs, Omega 3, Flavanoids, Vitamin E and Choline. I love these bars because they’re about both the brain and body, and come in delicious chocolate-y flavors like chocolate sea salt, peanut butter ship and almond butter chip.
11. Verb Energy Bars
These energy bars will give you the same boost as a cup of coffee, but in a delicious 90-calorie package instead of a hot cup. They’re energy bars made with as much caffeine as an espresso from organic green tea so the buzz is long-lasting and doesn’t come with afternoon jitters. They’re made with all-natural, gluten-free, pure ingredients and come in a ton of delicious flavors including lemon raspberry, coconut chai, maple blueberry and strawberry rose hibiscus.