Quick, transportable, durable, and non-messy, energy bars are an item that can often help us keep our blood sugar stable when we don’t have easy access to other foods. And since the majority of bars tend to be sweet rather than savory, they can also stand-in as an alternative treat. However, so many contain up to 25 grams of sugar! So instead of eating an ‘energy’ bar, you may be eating a ‘sugar crash’ bar. One of the more notable examples are Clif bars, which I recall consuming in high quantities when they first arrived on the marketplace. These bars contain so much sugar, including the versions marketed to children, that the company recently faced a lawsuit for marketing its products as healthy and nutritious. Clif bars are not the only ones. Most “energy” bars have 10-20 grams of sugar and very little fiber (average 3-5 grams). In fact, my web searches on the “best low sugar energy bars” generated reviews of bars containing 8 grams of sugar, which is still a considerable amount.
I’ve spent a couple years scouring store shelves and sampling bars in a number of countries to find widely available bars besides KIND bars with KIND’s 5 grams of sugar—though ideally fewer grams—but many alternatives have simply not tasted good enough to eat. The low-sugar options that have tasted good are on the sweet (rather than savory) side, so I consider them to be healthy candy bars that can help sustain energy if need be, rather than energy bars. My favorites, like KIND, originate in the US and contain a variety of textures, which helps to keep things interesting.
First, Quest bars are very high fiber, with only 10 or so net grams, and less than 1 gram of sugar. While these whey-based bars do rely on erythritol for sweetening, they unfortunately also do contain some sucralose (one of the last ingredients), but given their ability to deliver filling protein in a host of tasty flavors in a slightly grainy, substantial texture, I still recommend them. Sadly, they discontinued what I considered to be their best and most natural flavor: banana. I bought up what bars I could and then had to say goodbye! Oatmega, another whey-based bar, has more sugar (5 grams), a smooth texture and contains fish protein as well, but it’s mild, not overly sweet flavors—if not as filling as Quest (about half the fiber and 2/3 the protein)—still satisfies.
Simply Protein’s soy based bars have a crunchy texture similar to a rice krispie treat without the marshmallow goo. They do contain some higher glycemic (as well as lower glycemic) starches, but are relatively high protein, high fiber (similar profile to Oatmega) and only use Stevia as a sweetener so contain only 1 gram of sugar. Finally, Power Crunch’s 5-sugar-gram bars are a very good option for when you truly want a dessert-like experience—as in the sweet, frosted wafer cookies you probably loved as a kid! Rather than being an everyday snack, to me these low-carb (but also low fiber) bars are for those moments like an afternoon tea or after a meal when all you crave is something sweet. Taken together, these 5 bars (including chunky, crunchy KIND) offer a range of reliable choices for indulging your sweet tooth without compromising your health—or your tastebuds.