Best Meal Replacement Bars

April 7, 2023
Best Meal Replacement Bars

Many meal replacement bars provide a convenient, nutritious way to get the nutrients you need when you can't find the time for a complete meal. With all the different products in the market, it can be hard to know which offers the most nutrition and taste.

We've put together a guide to the top meal replacement bars available so that you can make an informed decision regarding your snack choice.

What Are Meal Replacement Bars?

Meal replacement bars are nutrient-dense food bars that provide a convenient way to get the necessary nutrients without having to prepare an entire meal. They contain protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals and come in different flavors. What makes meal replacement bars different than your average protein bar is the amount of micronutrients included in the bar.

As a general rule of thumb, a meal replacement bar should contain a minimum of 10% of the recommended daily value for 15 or more vitamins and minerals. Anything less than that is typically just a protein or nutrition bar which usually aren't as nutritious or filling as meal replacement bars.

Most meal bars come in individually wrapped packages and can be eaten on the go, making them great option for busy lifestyles and anyone following a weight loss plan and being mindful about the foods and calories they consume.

Benefits of Meal Replacement Bars

Meal replacement bars offer several nutritional benefits. They provide an easy way to get essential vitamins, minerals, protein, and carbohydrates. Eating these bars can also help you maintain a healthy weight and keep cravings in check. Additionally, many brands offer vegan-friendly options for those looking for plant-based nutrition.

• Convenient way to get essential vitamins and minerals

• Help you maintain a healthy weight

• Keep cravings in check

• Provide quick energy

• Delicious flavors and quality ingredients

• Vegan-friendly options available

• High levels of protein and fiber

Types of Meal Replacement Bars

Different meal replacement bars are available, each offering unique benefits. Some are specially formulated for athletes or people with specific dietary needs, while others provide a way to get the nutrients you need. Some of the most popular types of meal replacement bars:

Protein Bars

If you're looking for a nutritious snack to power up your muscles, protein bars are a great option. However, most protein bars are don't provide complete nutrition and therefore are not the best option to use as a meal replacement. When trying to lose weight, consuming adequate amounts of protein is important because it helps you feel full and maintain lean muscle so that the weight you lose is body fat not muscle.

Although protein gets all the focus, it's really the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients that give meal replacement bars their magic and a clear advantage over the average protein bar. If all you're looking to do is boost your macros by squeezing in some extra protein then your run-of-the-mill protein bar might do the trick, just keep in mind that these are not the best choice for anyone on a calorie-restrictive diet or weight loss plan.

Another common mistake is that people often mix up energy bars and protein bars, but there are distinct contrasts between the two. As indicated by its name, most protein bars are packed with ample protein as the primary focus. On the contrary, energy bars normally focus on carbohydrates as the main source of "energy" which can be beneficial for endurance athletes and highly active individuals but not the best choice for the average person who is simply looking to replace a meal.

Protein bars come in various flavors, textures, and tastes. Popular types include:

  • Whey-based protein bars
  • Plant-based protein bars
  • Soy Protein Bars
  • Casein Protein Bars
  • Brownie Protein Bars
  • Peanut Butter Protein Bars
  • High-protein snack bars

Whey-Based Protein Bars are made from whey protein concentrate, a low-quality protein source. If you can find grass-fed whey protein that is a better option but still not a suitable option for anyone with a dairy intolerance, vegans, or anyone concerned about gut health. The upside is that whey protein bars deliver complete protein and provide a good amount of essential amino acids, making them a popular choice among those looking to build muscle or recover after intense workouts.

Plant-Based Protein Bars contain plant proteins such as soy, pea, rice, and hemp. Pea protein has become increasingly popular due to its high fiber and protein content, with one cup offering a whopping 25% of your daily fiber requirements along with 9 grams of protein.

Low-Calorie Meal Replacement Bars are made with healthy ingredients such as nuts and seeds. They contain fewer calories than regular meal bars but still provide the nutrition for an active lifestyle.

High Protein Snack Bars are packed with protein to provide an energizing boost during the day. They are usually low-calorie and contain healthy fats to help keep you full longer.

Fiber-Rich Bars

Fiber-rich bars are an excellent choice for increasing their daily fiber intake and also make for a good meal replacement bar alternative due to their filling nature. These bars are made with plenty of fibrous ingredients such as oats, nuts, and seeds that help you feel fuller longer. They're also packed with healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, making them nutritious snacks.

Fiber-rich bars offer several benefits. Eating these bars can help you stay regular, reduce hunger, and even aid in weight loss. They're also a great way to boost energy without added sugar or unhealthy fats. Fiber assists in promoting digestive consistency by preventing digestion from moving too quickly.

Energy or Sports Performance Bars

Energy or sports performance bars are specially formulated for athletes, bodybuilders, and active individuals. They're packed with carbohydrates and other energy-boosting ingredients to help sustain physical activity.

Some bars in this category also provide a range of essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to support muscle growth and repair. Sports performance bars come in various flavors and provide an easy way to get your body's nutrients after a tough training session or competition.

Energy or Sports Performance Bars

Low-Calorie or Diet Bars

Low-calorie or diet bars target those who want to burn calories without sacrificing taste. These bars typically contain synthetic vitamins and minerals and can be high in artificial flavors and ingredients because natural whole food ingredients (like fruits and nuts) typically contain higher protein content. Often position for people on a weight loss program, these bars usually do more harm then good because of their ultra-processed nature which can disrupt metabolic health and not actually make you feel full.

Be cautious of the "easy breakfast bars" that claim to help you stay on track with your weight loss goals. While they can be a convenient way to get a quick snack, the most popular brands have completely compromised on nutrition, making them no healthier than your average candy bar. Be sure to read the labels carefully, as some bars can be high in sugar and unhealthy fats.

Essential Considerations When Choosing Meal Replacement Bars

Look for bars with quality meal replacement bar ingredients and nutritional value. You may need to go to the brands website to find all the nutrients provided in the bar because, unlike supplements, the FDA restricts what goes on a bar's nutrition facts labels to just a handful of vitamins and minerals. Uncovering the most desirable ingredients when selecting your best meal replacement bar is essential so be sure to do your research and don't be afraid to ask the manufacturer the tough questions!

Nutritional Content

Look at the nutritional content of a meal replacement bar. Ensure you get enough protein, fiber, and healthy fats from your bar. Look out for added sugars and unhealthy fats that can add unnecessary calories, which you should avoid. Also, pay attention to serving size so you don't overindulge.

Quality Ingredients

Most meal replacement bars typically indicate if they contain common allergens, like gluten or soy, and whether they include ingredients that might trigger allergies, such as peanuts. When selecting a meal replacement bar, choose bars made with whole food sources such as nuts, seeds, fruits, grains, and natural sugars. Gluten-free bars are available in case of any allergies.

Avoid bars made with highly processed ingredients or artificial sweeteners and colors. Choose bars free from fillers, preservatives, and other unrecognizable ingredients.


The taste should also be considered when selecting a meal replacement bar. Finding something that satisfies your cravings and keeps you returning for more is essential. Try a few flavors and look for natural ingredients like dark chocolate, vanilla bean, maple, dried fruit, nut butters, and superfoods. Practice extra caution with any brand selling flavors that you wouldn't see in nature like birthday cake and sprinkled donuts.


For those with food allergies or who choose not to eat animal products, there are many options for obtaining protein. It's essential to be aware of any allergens a bar may contain. If you are sensitive or allergic to specific ingredients, read the label carefully to avoid any potential reactions.

For those with food allergies, brown rice should be the top-choice protein. Not only is this grain hypoallergenic, but its nutrient-richness and easy accessibility make it an ideal option for your daily meal plan.


Cost is one of the most significant factors to consider when selecting a meal replacement bar. Some bars can be more expensive than others depending on the brand and ingredients. Consider your budget and how often you plan to consume meal replacement bars before purchasing.

The cost of meal replacement bars can vary greatly, so be sure to shop around. Many affordable options on the market offer quality nutrition without breaking the bank. By comparing prices and reading labels, you'll be able to find a bar that fits your budget while still delivering the nutrients you need.

Some Common Mistakes to Avoid

Many people make the mistake of relying too heavily on meal replacement bars. These bars are not meant to be a sole source of nutrition but rather a supplement to a healthy diet. You must continue to watch your overall nutrient intake and ensure you're getting enough whole foods.

Some meal replacement bars are highly processed and contain artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and other unhealthy additives. Read the label carefully to ensure you get the healthiest, most natural options available.

Finally, be mindful of serving size! Some bars are packed with calories and sugar, so keep this in mind to avoid overindulging.

When used in moderation, meal replacement bars can be a healthy and convenient way to get the nutrients you need. With so many options on the market, you're sure to find the one that works best for you. So do your research and choose the bar that fits your health and nutritional needs.

Common Ingredients to Avoid

When selecting a meal replacement bar, the main thing to be aware of is certain ingredients that should be avoided. Look out for artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, sugar alcohols, hydrogenated oils like vegetable oil and seed oils, and trans fats, as these are typically unhealthy additives. It's also best to avoid bars with added sugars and chemical preservatives.

Some bars may also contain soy protein isolate, a highly-processed form of soy that should be avoided.

Tips For Finding Your Best Meal Replacement Bar

Now that you know the right qualities to look for when selecting a meal replacement bar, here are some tips to help you make the right choice.

  • Look for bars with natural food ingredients and real food sources like nuts, seeds, fruits, grains, and natural sugars.
  • Avoid bars with artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and trans fats.
  • The fewer ingredients, the better.
  • Read the label to ensure you get enough protein, fiber, and healthy fats for your needs.
  • Don't forget to check for allergens and choose gluten-free bars if necessary.
  • Look for bars that taste delicious and satisfy your cravings.
  • Choose organic and non-GMO options if possible.
  • Compare various meal replacement bars' prices and read labels to ensure you get the most nutritional value for your money.
  • Pay attention to serving size, so you don't overindulge.
  • Look out for allergens, like gluten or soy, and ingredients that might trigger allergies, such as peanuts.

Best Meal Replacement Bars on the Market

LyfeFuel Essentials Nutrition Bar

LyfeFuel has made it their mission to change the game in nutrition. Their Essentials Bar is derived from 100% real whole foods and contains the most nutrient-dense offering of both macro and micronutrients we've seen.

Made without soy, dairy, and grains, these bars are great for vegans and paleo dieters alike and are one of the best meal replacement bars you can find. The price point isn't the cheapest but considering the amount of nutrients they deliver and their effectiveness of keeping you full, they deliver a ton of value!

SANS Meal Replacement Bar

SANS stand by the motto "eat real food." Their name - Sans - is derived from French and translates to "without." All of their bars are free from added sugar, gluten, dairy-free soy, and artificial flavors; most with only eight ingredients made up of whole foods!

Take, for instance, one of our favorites – the PB&J bar, which consists solely of peanuts, dates, egg whites, strawberries, gluten-free oats, flax seeds, sea salt & spinach powder!

Gluten-free Luna Bars

This snack contains eight grams of plant protein and three grams of fiber, all for just 190 calories! Plus, it is gluten-free, so those with special dietary needs can enjoy it too. Take one along wherever you go to ensure you're covered if the food options don't work out.

Atkins Protein Meal Bar

If you're adhering to a low-carb diet, this meal replacement bar is worth sampling! Its subtle vanilla flavor and crunchy pecans make it an incredibly satisfying snack.

Even better, each bar contains 15 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber, and just 1 gram of sugar - perfect for those watching their carbohydrate intake.

RXBAR Protein Bar

As the paleo community continually searches for healthier bar options, RXBAR's Chocolate Sea Salt protein bars stand out as a unique source of fiber and protein. Unlike other brands that rely on peanuts.

This delicious snack is made with almonds, egg whites, cashews, and dates to provide an optimal balance of nutrients. Further amplifying its appeal among health-conscious consumers are certifications confirming it is gluten-free, soy free with no added sugars.

Final Thoughts

Meal replacement bars can make an excellent snack or meal addition when you are short on time or need a nutritious boost. When selecting the best bar for your needs, consider factors such as nutrition content, quality of ingredients, taste, serving size, allergens, and cost.

With so many options available, you're sure to find the perfect bar to fit your lifestyle. Be sure to shop around and read labels carefully for the best results. Enjoy your meal replacement bars experience!

The Protein Bar Team

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