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Nutritionists’ 8 Favorite Energy Bars for Travel

A few of the country's leading dietitians and metabolism and gut health specialists share their personal favorite picks for easy-to-grab, all-day fuel. (Plus, here's what you want to avoid!)

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Are energy bars healthy?

From summer hikes to long car rides, easy-to-grab snacks, like energy bars, can be a healthy way to keep your blood sugar steady when you’re bound to your desk at work, or fuel and replenish your body when you’re out adventuring.

But, some energy bar choices are way better for you than others, says Cassie Madsen, MS, RD of Gut Health and Nutrition in Duluth, MN. As she explains, “Many energy bars are loaded with sugar and not much else.”

Madsen told us the best energy bar contains the following for a pick-me-up that’s nutrient-dense:

  • less than 10 grams of added sugar
  • at least three grams of protein
  • at least three grams of fiber

And when it comes to the ingredients themselves, whole foods are the way to go. “[Look for] things you recognize like oats, nuts, and dried fruit versus highly processed food chemicals and additives,” Madsen suggests. That means avoiding the bar with added sweeteners, preservatives, or chemical-sounding ingredients that you can tell just aren’t all-natural.

There are some other considerations that may vary from person to person, too. For one, Madsen says that if you have diabetes, it’s important to pay attention to the total carbohydrates listed on the label (she suggests between 15 to 30 grams as a good benchmark). She also says that many lower-sugar options use dates as a sweetener, which is far more nutritious than sugar or corn syrup—but, it’s important to note, dates can send some people running for the bathroom.

On that note, Madsen says, “Another thing that some people may need to watch out for is the type of fiber [included in a bar],” such as inulin or chicory root, she says. Both are great ingredients to boost fiber intake, but can cause bloating or other digestive side effects for some people.

So, since there’s a little bit of detective work required when it comes to healthy energy bars, The Healthy @Reader’s Digest tapped nutrition experts for their personal faves.

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KIND Bars

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Another perk of whole-food ingredients? “They actually tend to take longer to eat and absorb, which will keep your feeling satiated longer,” says Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, a senior dietitian at UCLA Medical Center and author of Recipe For Survival. Dr. Hunnes points to KIND bars as a prime example, which include ingredients like whole grains, peanuts, dried fruits, and cashews.

The caramel, almond, and sea salt Kind bar contains:

  • 6 grams of protein
  • 7 grams of fiber
  • 4 grams of added sugars
  • 16 grams of total carbohydrates

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Larabars

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“I like Larabars because they have very simple ingredients,” says Athens, GA-based registered dietitian nutritionist, Courtney Vickery, RDN.

With around five grams of fiber, few added sugars, and some healthy fats, Vickery says the Larabar is the perfect combination for someone who needs a quick and easy boost of energy on the go.

The Cherry Pie Larabar contains:

  • 5 grams of protein
  • 4 grams of fiber
  • No added sugars
  • 28 grams of total carbohydrates

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ALOHA Bars

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ALOHA bars have an ideal percentage of protein, carbohydrates, and fats compared to calories per serving, Vickery says. We love that they’re made with great whole food ingredients, like pumpkin seed protein, cashew butter, monk fruit, and brown rice protein.

The Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip ALOHA Bar contains:

  • 14 grams of protein
  • 10 grams of fiber
  • 3 grams of added sugars
  • 24 grams of total carbohydrates

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RX BARS

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“In my experience as a dietitian, people often have trouble reaching their protein requirements,” says registered dietitian Brenda Peralta.

RX BARS are a great way to boost your energy while upping your daily intake, and the protein punch also helps you feel fuller after eating. The bars are also made with simple, whole ingredients you’d find in your fridge or pantry, Peralta says.

The Blueberry RX BAR contains:

  • 12 grams of protein
  • 4 grams of fiber
  • No added sugars
  • 24 grams of total carbohydrates

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Skout Organic Bars

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“I really like Skout Organic Bars,” says Megan Barnett, MS, CNS, functional medicine practitioner. “They’re made with only real food ingredients, high in fiber, and packed with protein to stabilize energy.”

Skout bars are also free from gluten, dairy, soy, and grains, and each bar includes only a handful of plant-based ingredients.

The Peanut Butter Skout Organic Bar contains:

  • 10 grams of protein
  • 5 grams of fiber
  • No added sugar
  • 29 grams of total carbohydrates

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Health Warrior Bars

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Health Warrior bars “are some of my favorite bars,” Vickery says. “The chia seed versions are a great source of small, quick energy and fiber, while the pumpkin seed version gives you a bit more protein.”

Both chia seeds and pumpkin seeds are also a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids (and considered superseeds).

The Acai Berry Health Warrior Chia Bar contains:

  • 3 grams of protein
  • 5 grams of fiber
  • 3 grams of added sugars
  • 16 grams of total carbohydrates

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Bulletproof Fudge Brownie Collagen Bar

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Bulletproof bars “are made with the highest quality grass-fed collagen, which provides building blocks for healthy skin, bones, and joints,” says licensed dietitian nutritionist Rebecca Washuta, MS, CNS. This collagen delivers a good dose of protein and may help promote skin, bone, and heart health as well.

The bar also contains MCT oil, which Washuta says is a healthy, easily-digestible fat that boosts energy levels quickly (while also creating a rich, fudge-like texture).

The Bulletproof Fudge Brownie Collagen Bar contains:

  • 12 grams of protein
  • 6 grams of fiber
  • No added sugars
  • 13 grams of total carbohydrates

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That’s It Fruit Bars

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“These ingredients are as minimal as they can be—just fruit!” says registered dietitian Marissa Meshulam, MS, CDN of That’s It fruit bars. “It’s the most unprocessed option on the market, filled with antioxidants and fiber from fruit.”

In fact, each flavor combination contains two full servings of fruit at just 100 calories.

The Apple, Mango, Chili That’s It Fruit Bar contains:

  • 1 gram of protein
  • 3 grams of fiber
  • No added sugar
  • 27 grams total carbohydrates

For more wellness wisdom, keep reading:

Sources
People: Cassie Madsen, MS, RD of Gut Health and Nutrition Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, a senior dietitian at UCLA Medical Center and author of Recipe For Survival Courtney Vickery, RDN Brenda Peralta, RD Megan Barnett, MS, certified nutrition specialist, functional medicine practitioner, and cofounder of Florasophy Rebecca Washuta, MS, CNS, LDN Marissa Meshulam, MS, CDN, RD

Leslie Finlay
In addition to The Healthy, Leslie has written for outlets such as WebMd.com, Fodors.com, LiveFit.com, and more, specializing in content related to healthcare, nutrition, mental health and wellness, and environmental conservation and sustainability. She holds a master's degree in Public Policy focused on the intersection between public health and environmental conservation, and an undergraduate degree in journalism. Leslie is based in Thailand, where she is a marine conservation and scuba diving instructor. In her spare time you'll find her up in the air on the flying trapeze or underwater, diving coral reefs.