The best nutrition bars you can buy

best nutrition bar

Whether you train at the gym, on the trail, or out on the road you’ll need to fuel your workout if you plan to be sweating for more than an hour or so. Even if you only train during your lunch break, it can be hard to balance eating and exercising to make sure you feel fueled up not full up.

Energy and nutrition bars make a great choice for athletes, adventurers, or anyone who can be too busy to sit down and snack. Gone are the days of the putty-like bar that required a significant jaw workout before you could swallow it, today’s energy bars use natural ingredients in delicious combinations and deserve a place in every pantry.

We’ve picked our favorite bars to stuff in our pockets for bike rides and keep handy in our gym bags and glove compartments.

Here are the best nutrition bars you can buy:

  • Best nutrition bar overall: Untapped Maple Waffle
  • Best pre-workout nutrition bar: Honey Stinger Organic Cracker N’ Nut Butter Snack Bars
  • Best filling whole food nutrition bar: Bonk Breaker PB and J
  • Best nutrition bar for sensitive stomachs: Picky Bar
  • Best nutrition bar for digestibility: Science in Sport Go Energy Bar

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The best nutrition bar overall

The best nutrition bar overall

Why you’ll love them: These Untapped Maple Waffles are just the right portion size, use natural ingredients, taste great, and have a solid nutritional composition.
Ten years ago, I was making a living racing bicycles in Belgium. If there’s one thing that bike racers know, it’s snacks. When races top out at over 130 miles, you really need to bring along something to chew on.

Back then, Untapped wasn’t around, and we’d roll over to local bakeries to buy stroopwafels, a kind of flat caramel filled waffle, to stuff in our pockets before races. On cold days, we’d warm the waffles up on top of our pre-race cups of coffee and enjoy a moment of delicious indulgence before several hours of riding over cobbles in the snow.

Ted King, one of the founders of Untapped was also a pro cyclist and has now retired in Vermont. It only makes sense then that he has combined his need for snacks with the local maple syrup to produce untapped waffles.

King brings years of experience eating sugary things out of packets to the company, which might be why their serving size is exactly right for a mid-exercise snack. Many bars are a bit large to eat all at once, and end up in our gym bag or backpack gathering lint. These waffles, at 140 calories each, are a perfect single serving.

These Untapped Maple Waffles are so delicious you’ll struggle to store them in your house for long. The delicious maple syrup based filling seems to be a favorite of purchasers on Amazon, one of whom said he could eat them “all day long.”

Expert testers agreed, with one saying “I would rather have a maple waffle in my pack than any other energy bar on the market.” These waffles only use natural ingredients and are organic and vegan, making them a healthy and delicious choice for nearly every diet.

I’m not getting paid to race bikes anymore, which is a good thing because after a few years of doing so I was running out of bones to break! If I was to make a return, as Untapped’s Ted King has done, it would be with a pocketful of these breakfast treats.

Pros: Organic, vegan, and natural, delicious, sensible portion

Cons: Can be hard to eat if you don’t have water, fewer calories per dollar than other options.

Buy a Box of 16 Untapped Organic Maple Waffles on Amazon for $31.95

The best nutrition bar for a pre-workout snack

The best nutrition bar for a pre-workout snack

Why you’ll love it: This Honey Stinger Organic Cracker N’ Nut Butter Snack bar tastes more like a treat than a healthy snack, but the natural ingredients and salty-sweet taste make it a great choice for health-conscious adventurers and athletes alike.
If you ever find yourself in a supermarket before a triathlon, century ride, or marathon, you’ll notice there’s not a jar of nut butter left to be seen. Peanut, almond, and other nut butters are the kind of protein and healthy fat packed fuel that endurance athletes crave.

Honey Stinger must have noticed this, because the company took those nut butters, sandwiched them between two crackers, and sprinkled on a little sea salt for the perfect pre-workout snack.

During a workout, nutritional wisdom suggests that you should stick to easily digestible carbs to avoid GI distress. But in the hours leading up to the workout, you’re going to want something that sticks with you a little more in order to keep hunger from ruining your performance.

This is where snacks like the Cracker N’Nut Butter bars come in. They make a great mid-morning snack if you exercise at lunchtime or a good breakfast choice if you tend to be rushing out of the door in the morning.

On a recent bikepacking trip in the Laguna mountains, I started every day with one of these bars and a cup of coffee and found myself comfortable riding an hour or two until I could find something more substantial to eat, and that’s never the case when I eat more sugary bars.

On Amazon, one happy shopper declared them a favorite snack for long bike rides, and another said they were “by far the most delicious ride food I have ever tried.” Snews declared them “crazy good” and noted the respectable 5 grams of protein and 9-12 grams of sugar.

The bars are also certified kosher and organic and don’t have any artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. With peanut butter and milk chocolate, Almond butter and dark chocolate, and Cashew butter and milk chocolate to pick from there is a flavor for everyone.

Pros: Delicious, a balanced snack

Cons: The chocolate coating can melt in high temperatures, higher fat content than some people can tolerate during exercise

Buy a 12-pack of Honey Stinger Organic Dari Chocolate Almond Butter Cracker N’ Nut Butter Snack Bars on Amazon for $26.40

The best filling whole food nutrition bar

The best filling whole food nutrition bar

Why you’ll love them: Bonk Breaker’s compressed whole food bars might look like a traditional energy bar, but the list of ingredients features healthy pantry favorites in delicious combinations.
Who among us has not felt the sort of hunger that yearns for a PB&J only to find themselves tragically distant from the nearest jar of Skippy? Well, you need suffer no longer! Bonk Breaker’s delicious Peanut Butter and Jelly energy bar contains real peanuts and delicious strawberry jam, but unlike the sandwich we all love, it isn’t going to get squashed in your backpack.

Bonking, if you were wondering, is the state you find yourself in when you underfuel for a long workout and are suddenly hit by an incredible hunger, sense of dizziness, and often a feeling of impending doom. I should know, I have found myself crying in a gas station parking lot more than once in my life. Luckily, consuming some carbohydrates and having a short rest is all you need to banish your bonk.

Jason Winn, the founder of Bonk Breaker, discovered what bonking was when he began training for an ironman triathlon. Unsatisfied with the bars on the market, he wanted something portable, delicious, natural and calorie dense. What he came up with was a home baked energy bar that used the same recipe as these bars today.

Bonk Breaker bars still have the taste and texture of a homemade snack and, unlike some of the bars we tried, don’t require a massive effort to chew and swallow even when you’re gasping for air.

Bonk Breaker mage a huge range of flavors but each bar only uses 9-12 ingredients. They’re all certified gluten free and dairy free and use fresh natural products. The bars themselves have a soft and chewy texture that should leave you full up but not bloated or stuffed.

Amazon reviewers loved their real-food taste and easy digestibility on long bike rides and runs, another said the PB&J flavor was an “absolute favorite.”

We loved the easily portable Bonk Breaker bars, which didn’t crumble or get crushed even when we stashed them in our carry on for a long flight. Much like the coaches at Carmichael Training Systems, we loved that the bars didn’t stick to the wrapper on warm days or get too stiff to bite in the cold. The cookie dough like texture and trustworthy ingredients made this a go-to for us on cold days and during long hikes and bike rides.

Pros: Short and natural ingredient list, portable and calorie dense, filling enough to serve as a meal replacement

Cons: Hard to digest in intense exercise, not suitable for people with nut allergies

Buy a 12-pack of Bonk Breaker Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars on Amazon for $24 or $25.26

The best nutrition bar for sensitive stomachs

The best nutrition bar for sensitive stomachs

Why you’ll love it: Picky Bar makes delicious real-food energy bars without any of the allergens or irritants that cause stomach issues for many athletes.
One of the most common reasons for abandoning an Ironman triathlon is GI distress. Often this distress is caused by overconsuming energy products that an athlete is sensitive to or unfamiliar with. First of all, you should always test everything several times in training, but if you do find in your testing that many products upset your stomach, then Picky Bars might be the solution for you.

Each 200 calorie bar contains 7 grams of protein and is Non-GMO, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Soy Free. Some are also Vegan. The ingredients list reads like something your grandma would bake, and the flavor isn’t far off, either.

We loved the “smooth caffeinator,” which was neither too dry, too sweet or too dense and contained a modest 1mg of caffeine. Amazon shoppers agree, with one calling it “a perfect snack bar.” One marathon runner who often experienced IBS symptoms during and after long runs felt “drastically different [ in a good way]” when using Picky Bars.

The bars are made by a team of pro runners and triathletes looking to better fuel their bodies and we certainly enjoyed picky bars on runs and bike rides. Alongside the flavors in the sample pack, we found the slightly-savory “Moroccan Your World” flavor really hit the spot on long hikes.

Pros: Sample pack available, good for sensitive stomachs, some are vegan

Cons: Pricey

Buy a 4 Bar Variety Pack of Picky Bars Real Food Energy Bars on Amazon for $10.99

The best nutrition bar for digestibility

The best nutrition bar for digestibility

Why you’ll love them: SiS’ Go Energy Bars have fueled Tour de France champions and weekend warriors alike with their perfect portion size and science-driven recipe.

When it comes to endurance sports, the Tour de France is the pinnacle. If I told you one nutrition sponsor had fueled three out of the last four winners for six out of the last seven years, you’d probably want to get your hands on whatever those champions were eating. Well, what they were eating was the Science in Sport GO Energy Bar.

GO bars are fruity in flavor and notably smaller than some of their competitors. This is because they’re designed with one specific purpose, fueling performance. Eating too much during hard exercise will cause indigestion, GI upset and poor performance.

Given SiS’ record in top level events, they clearly are not associated with poor performance. This focus on getting the best out of athletes’ bodies is why SiS pick maltodextrin and fruit juice concentrate, both easily digestible sugars, to sweeten their bars. Each bar contains 23g of carbohydrate, perfect for a single serving.

This focus on performance doesn’t come at the expense of taste. Reviewer 220 Triathlon described the bars as “zingy rather than sweet” and praised the fact that they slide easily out of the wrapper without leaving sticky residue which sticks the wrapper to cycling jersey pockets and running shorts.

Amazon shoppers felt the bars didn’t leave them “over-full or nauseous” and loved the natural flavors and simple ingredients.

We love SiS’ variety pack, which allows you to sample all the flavors they offer before diving into a bulk order of a hole box. We loved the fruity apple and blackcurrant bars on warm days and the chocolate fudge bars were a treat when it was colder outside.

Pros: Easily digestible, perfect serving size, sample box available

Cons: Smaller than other bars so be sure to pack more, hard to find in stores so stock up before traveling to a race

[“source=businessinsider”]