The 12 Unhealthiest Breakfast Bars You Can Buy

When you're scrambling to get going in the morning you may not have enough time to stop and fix yourself a well-balanced and healthy breakfast. It's much easier to grab a quick something on your way out the door. Breakfast bars are perfect for busy mornings, which is probably why they have become so popular. Today, you have many choices of breakfast bars sitting on store shelves in the supermarket. Yet, consumers should know that while some breakfast bars may offer a nutritious start to your day, others aren't much better than eating a candy bar for breakfast.

What makes a breakfast bar a healthy choice? According to the Cleveland Clinic, here is what you should look for. A healthy breakfast bar should have no more than 4 grams of added sugar and no more than 4 grams of saturated fat. It should also contain at least 2 to 3 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein. (For further details on our criteria, see our methodology explained at the end of this article). We've scoured the grocery store shelves and found some bars to avoid if you want to begin your day on a healthy note. Read on for 12 of the unhealthiest breakfast bars you can buy.

1. Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Soft Baked Breakfast Bars

With a name like Nutri-Grain, you would think you are getting a healthy snack when you eat a Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Soft Baked Breakfast Bar. Kellogg's advertises its soft baked bars as made with "real fruit and whole grains." This sounds like a great combination for breakfast, but let's look at the nutritional content of a Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Soft Baked Strawberry Breakfast Bar. These bars contain 130 calories each with 3.5 grams of fat. They also have 12 grams of added sugar, 2 grams of protein, and only 1 gram of fiber.

While the amount of calories is fairly low, and the saturated fat content is well below the Cleveland Clinic's recommendation of 4 grams, the bars have too much added sugar and too little protein and fiber to be considered healthy. Although the bar does contain whole grain oats in its crust, its "real fruit" content is in the form of strawberry puree concentrate. A fruit concentrate destroys the fiber and nutrients that naturally occur in fruit. Overall, with its high added sugar content, plus the low protein and fiber, Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Bars aren't much more than just a sugary snack.

2. Market Pantry Apple Cinnamon Soft Baked Breakfast Bars

Target's brand, Market Pantry, offers a line of soft-baked breakfast bars, including strawberry, apple cinnamon, and blueberry flavors. The box claims the bars are made with "real fruit filling" and "whole grains." The nutritional content for the Apple Cinnamon variety includes 130 calories, 3 grams of fat, 12 grams of sugar (with 11 of those grams added), and only 1 gram each of protein and fiber.

While these bars have zero grams of saturated fat, which is a positive, they do contain quite a bit of added sugar. They are also low on protein and fiber. Experts agree that the morning is an important chance to get some protein in your diet. Eating enough protein for breakfast can help keep your blood sugar low and help you last until lunchtime without facing that sluggish feeling from a sugar crash. Market Pantry Soft Baked Breakfast Bars simply don't offer enough protein to get you through a busy morning.

3. Kodiak Soft-Baked Sandwich Breakfast Bars

Kodiak is known for its whole-grain pancake and waffle mixes. Based in Park City, Utah, Kodiak began as a family business selling homemade pancake mixes. Today, Kodiak has expanded to include a variety of products including oatmeal, baking mixes, granola bars, toaster waffles, and breakfast bars. Although the company prides itself on whole ingredients and healthy products, let's take a look at the nutritional content of its breakfast bars. Kodiak Breakfast Bars come in two flavors: Blueberry Oat and Cinnamon Oat & Apple. The Blueberry Oat variety contains 190 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 10 grams of sugar with 9 of those grams as added sugar. Further, the bars have a fair amount of protein (10 grams) and 4 grams of fiber.

The good news is that these bars have a good amount of protein and fiber, and not much saturated fat. However, they fall short when it comes to the 9 grams of added sugar. This number is unsurprising when you see that the first two ingredients in the filling are sugar and cane syrup. Unfortunately, the only fruit you will see is in the form of apple powder and blueberry puree, bringing Kodiak Breakfast Bars to number three on our list.

4. LÄRABAR's Original Fruit & Nut Bar

LÄRABAR's Original Fruit & Nut Bar comes in 26 flavors including tasty options such as lemon, blueberry muffin, almond cookie, and banana bread. The brand is known for products that contain few ingredients and are not overly processed, like so many other breakfast bars. However, let's take a look at the nutritional content of the Banana Chocolate Chip variety. The bar contains 190 calories and 9 grams of fat (2 grams are saturated). The bar also has 4 grams each of protein and fiber. However, it contains a lot of sugar at 20 grams.

Although the bar has a good amount of fiber, it falls short of Cleveland Clinic's recommendation for 10 grams of protein. The bar also is high in fat and sugar. The pros here are that the saturated fat is only 2 grams, and most of the sugar is natural and comes from the fruit. Still, consumers watching their fat and sugar intake will want to pay attention to the ingredient labels for Kodiak Breakfast Bars. While these bars may be a great option for someone who needs an energy burst from an intense workout, they may not be such a healthy option for a more sedentary person who is trying to limit their fat and sugar content.

5. KIND Breakfast Bars

Kind Snacks, an American company based in New York City, was founded in 2004. In 2020, founder Daniel Lubetzky sold his company to Mars, Inc. The brand is known for its healthy snack bars and social consciousness. However, some have questioned whether the philanthropic mission is less of a charity and more of a marketing strategy. Forbes reported in 2019 that Kind had donated around $2 million in total at the time, but that was out of $800 million in sales. The health value of the bars has been questioned as well. Let's take a look at the nutritional value of a Kind Peanut Butter Breakfast Bar. The bar contains 220 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 9 grams of sugar. It also has 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.

Within the 9 grams of sugar are 6 grams of added sugar, and tapioca sugar is listed second in the ingredients list. Tapioca sugar is considered a healthier alternative to sugar, but it's still an added sugar. This bar is also low in protein and high in fat. What do experts think of Kind bars? Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinology professor at the University of California, San Francisco, told Forbes, "On a scale of one to ten, one being Coca-Cola and ten being whole foods, Kind bars are likely a four," he said. "It's less unhealthy than others. That doesn't necessarily make something healthy."

6. Trader Joe's This Strawberry Walks into a Bar Cereal Bars

Trader Joe's is known as a more health-conscious grocery store, but that doesn't mean every item sold there is healthy. The store's cereal bars have many fans who enjoy its sweetness, texture, and flavor. However, are the bars healthy? Let's take a look at the nutritional content of "This Strawberry Walks into a Bar" cereal bars. Each bar contains 140 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, and a whopping 16 grams of sugar, while only having 2 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of fiber.

Unfortunately, Trader Joe's cereal bars are low in protein, almost nonexistent in fiber, and high in added sugar (15 grams). The first ingredient in the filling is organic cane sugar. Although organic, cane sugar has the same effect on your body as regular sugar. Although this bar may be a tasty snack, it's not a great option for those looking for a healthy breakfast to start their day.

7. Over Easy Toasted Coconut Breakfast Bar

The Over Easy brand was founded in 2020 by a former athlete and U.S. Army Captain. On the positive side, the brand's products contain few ingredients, and nothing artificial. But do they make a healthy breakfast bar? Let's take a look at the nutrition in the Over Easy Toasted Coconut Breakfast Bar. One bar contains 230 calories, 14 grams of fat, 9 grams of sugar, and 8 grams each of protein and fiber.

On the plus side, this bar has close to the 10 grams of protein recommended by the Cleveland Clinic, which is more than many of the other breakfast bars on our list. The bar also contains a lot of fiber. Perhaps too much fiber. The Cleveland Clinic suggests anything over 3 grams may cause "gastrointestinal distress," especially before a workout. Also, with 6 grams of saturated fat, the bars are over the recommended limit of no more than 4 grams. Another negative is the calorie content, which is higher than many other breakfast bars on the market. 

8. PROBAR Meal On-The-Go Oatmeal Chocolate Chip

The PROBAR brand, founded in Park City, Utah, is known for its plant-based, organic products. Its meal-on-the-go bars come in 12 flavors, including blueberry muffin, banana nut bread, and oatmeal chocolate chip. We've listed the nutritional content of one bar here, even though the serving size is half a bar. Realistically, most people eat a full bar and do not break it in half. Here is the nutritional content of the PROBAR Meal On-The-Go Oatmeal Chocolate Chip bar. Each full bar contains 410 calories, 22 grams of fat, 19 grams of sugar, 9 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fiber.

The pros of this bar are that it does have a simple list of natural ingredients, including nuts and seeds. However, it also has a lot of added sugar (15 grams out of 19 grams total) to be considered healthy. The first ingredient listed is the added sugar of tapioca syrup. At 410, the calories are high. It's more than you would get if you ate a Snickers Bar. which is 280 calories. Although the fat content is also high, the good news is that much of it comes from healthy nuts and seeds. Yet, the overall saturated fat is over 4 grams, exceeding Cleveland Clinic's recommendation. In all, these bars may have a good amount of protein, but the added sugar and fat content may be too much for some consumers and the fiber content is high as well. The bars may be better for endurance athletes looking for a convenient energy source and not as an everyday breakfast food for the average person.

9. Honey Nut Cheerios Treat Bars

Honey Nut Cheerios Treat Bars may be a tasty treat, but are they good for you? Cheerios cereal is made from whole grain oats with soluble fiber that has been found to lower cholesterol. A bowl of Cheerios contains 5 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and only 1 gram of added sugar. But how do the cereal bars stack up against a serving of Cheerios? Let's take a look at the nutritional content of the Honey Nut Cheerios Treat Bar. One bar only has 100 calories and 3.5 grams of fat. It also contains 9 grams of sugar, only 1 gram of protein, and even less than 1 gram of fiber.

Unfortunately, this breakfast bar is less healthy than a bowl of regular Cheerios. The bar contains very little protein and hardly any fiber. Although low in calories, it contains 8 grams of added sugar. Consumers may think they are getting a healthy bar with the brand name Cheerios, but these cereal bars don't stack up to the nutrition of a regular bowl of Cheerios.

10. Atkins Vanilla Macadamia Nut Soft Baked Energy Bar

The Atkins Diet is a low-carbohydrate eating plan that helps people lose weight by restricting carbs. Although people can lose weight on the diet, health experts have expressed concerns about the meal plan's high levels of fat and protein from animal sources. Atkins sells products designed to help people follow the Atkins diet. Here is a look at the nutritional content of the Atkins Vanilla Macadamia Nut Soft Baked Energy Bar. One bar is 190 calories with 10 grams of fat and 1 gram of sugar. The protein and fiber content is on the high side with 15 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber.

Though high in protein with no added sugar, is this bar a healthy choice? For one thing, the high fiber content may contribute to gastrointestinal issues, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Furthermore, as you can imagine, a vanilla macadamia nut product wouldn't be very tasty without some sweetness. To avoid carbohydrates, Atkins gets its sweetness from sucralose, which research has shown is linked with health problems. Overall, these bars are heavily processed with the first two ingredients being soy protein isolate and polydextrose. Soy protein isolate is a highly processed form of soy. Polydextrose is a synthetic soluble fiber often used to increase the fiber content of processed foods. Consuming highly processed foods can lead to a variety of health issues.

11. Anabar White Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl Crunch

This young company has only been around since 2021. Anabar is a brand known for high-protein snacks that come in tasty packages. The company says its bars are good for breakfast, afternoon snacks, travel, and post-workout snacks. Let's take a look at the nutritional content of its Annabar Cinnamon Swirl Crunch. One bar has 285 calories, 11 grams of fat, 17 grams of sugar, and only 1 gram of fiber.

At 20 grams, the bar is high in protein. It's quite a bit higher compared to other breakfast bars on the market. The reason for this is that the Anabar is meant for athletes building muscle, and not for the average person looking for a healthy breakfast bar. At 285 calories, it's on the high end of calories compared to other breakfast bars. It's also low on fiber and contains a high level of added sugar at 15 grams. If you're a bodybuilder or endurance athlete in need of a protein boost, Anabar may be for you. But if you're a regular consumer looking for a healthy option to start your day, you may want to rethink starting with an Anabar.

12. Nature Valley Oats 'N Honey Crunchy Granola Bars

Nature Valley was founded in 1973 when it launched its granola cereal. Today it makes a variety of products, including granola cereal and granola bars. The bars are made with whole-grain oats, nuts, and nut butter. They don't contain artificial flavors, colors, or high-fructose corn syrup. Let's dive into the nutritional content of Nature Valley's Oats 'N Honey Crunch Granola Bar. One bar has 190 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 11 grams of sugar. It also contains 3 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber.

The bar is doing okay in the fiber department with its 2 grams, as recommended by the Cleveland Clinic. However, its protein content at 3 grams is quite a bit less than the recommended 10 grams. This aside, the main problem with the bars is the amount of added sugar. The bar has 11 grams of sugar, and all of it is in the form of added sugars. The second ingredient listed after whole-grain oats is sugar. So is this bar a healthy option for breakfast? In comparison, a serving of three Chips Ahoy! Original Chocolate Chip Cookies contain less added sugar (10 grams), fewer calories (160), and nearly the same amount of protein (2 grams.)


We relied on criteria from the Cleveland Clinic to determine the healthiness of breakfast bars found on grocery store shelves. We examined the nutritional value of each bar by looking at products with high levels of added sugar and saturated fat. We also considered what the bar has to offer regarding the amount of fiber and protein. Finally, we paid close attention to ingredients and flagged bars in which the top ingredients listed were sugar or other forms of added sugar.