The Best And Worst Nutrition Bars

Protein and nutrition bars are booming right now. Whole sections of food markets are devoted to these products, all of which have packages that boast that they're the best. With a dizzying number of options to choose from, it's easy to leave the store feeling less than confident in your final bar purchase. We're all left questioning: Which nutrition bars are all they claim to be, and which are persuading us with empty promises?

Many bars on the market are full of sugar — so much sugar that you often would be better off eating a candy bar. An effective protein bar, for example, should have at least half the number of protein as it does carbs, and its sugar content should at most be 7 grams. Beyond that, a good product should have no more than 200 calories. If you can find something with all that and a short ingredient list, then count yourself lucky because you've hit nutrition bar gold (via Everyday Health).

With these standards in mind, there seem to be three top dogs in the world of nutrition bars. 

Nutrition bars: Best in show

Quest Bars are a great choice. Most of their bars have 200 or fewer calories, 21 grams of protein, only four net carbs, and most bars only have 1 gram of sugar. As a bonus, each bar packs around 50 percent of your daily need for fiber. The ingredient list is a bit longer than some competitors but the carb-to-protein profile of these bars lands them a spot on the podium (via Bar Bend). Beyond that, the bars apparently are ultra-tasty (via Just 4 Foodies).

Next in the winner's circle: Health Warrior Superfood Protein Bars. The company's product has 10 grams of protein and 25 grams of carbs which nearly meets the ratio requirement we established. But the bar also fills 20 percent of your daily need for fiber in a serving, and lands in at around 200 calories. What makes this bar impressive is that it bolsters its bars with all those nutrients using whole natural ingredients like ancient grains, almonds, and agave (via Health Warrior). Fans of the bars argue that the product is so delicious, it's easy to forget that they're good for you (via Spoon University).

And last but not least is Epic Provision's bison bacon cranberry bar. The bar surpasses all the requirements laid out by Everyday Health to be deemed an excellent product. The truth is in the numbers: one of their bars has 7 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbs, just 130 calories, and a very small list of ingredients. 

Nutrition bars: Worst in show

As for the sorry losers in last, the list is much longer than three, but the following contenders are products you should probably avoid.

Gatorade is a well-known company loved for its sports hydration products, but their protein bars aren't the best. Their whey protein bar meets literally none of our standards. It comes in at a whopping 350 calories and packs 50 percent of your daily limit of sugar in a single bar. It has 20 grams of protein, so that's at least something, but after you look at the gigantic list of ingredients, there's a good chance the bar will end up in the nearest trash can before it's even open (via Gatorade).

Another product you should leave on the shelf is Powerbar's Protein Plus Bar, especially the Chocolate Brownie flavor. The product has a long list of ingredients that all adds up to a 330-calorie bar with a shocking 20 grams of sugar. Sure, the bar has 30 grams of protein, but it still shows up with other worst place contenders when you factor in its excessive sugar content, and reviews on Amazon claim the product causes some uncomfortable and inconvenient stomach issues (via Amazon).

These nutritional bars are the worst

Last and certainly one of the least healthy bars on the market is the Luna bar. Yes, lots of reviews on Amazon say they taste great, but donuts and candy taste good too, and you might as well be eating them when you take a look at the bar's nutritional facts. The bar only has 8 grams of protein but more than three times that in carbohydrates at 26 grams (via Nutrionix). You know what else has 8 grams of protein? Actual cheesecake (via Fit Bit).

Hopefully, you aren't kicking yourself for the years you've been snacking on the bars in last place. Next time you're in the bar aisle, pick one of our top three and your body will surely thank you.