Which nutrition bars are truly healthy and which are more like candy in disguise.
Worst Pre-Workout Bar: Myoplex Lite
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At first glance this nutrition bar may look like a smart choice before you hit the gym, but if you take a closer look at the label, you'll see your pre-workout energy boost comes in the form of 15 grams of sugars. And we're not talking pure, natural sugars. The first listed ingredients are corn syrup, fructose, polydextrose, high fructose corn syrup, rice flour, sugar, and fractionated palm kernel oil! It reads more like a candy bar label than a nutrition bar. You'd be lucky to make it through the first ten minutes of Zumba!
Best Pre-Workout Bar: Kind Bar
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Through the natural energy of nuts and dried fruits, these tasty bars ensure you'll power through your workout without a sugar crash in the middle. Don’t be put off by the 11 grams of fat. Kind Bars are full of healthy and natural fats that your body needs for optimum performance.
Worst Post-Workout Bar: PowerBar Recovery
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After an intense workout the best thing you could possibly do for yourself (other than slipping easily into your skinny jeans) is to provide your muscles with the fuel they need to recover properly. Primarily, that means feeding them enough protein. At 12 grams of protein, PowerBar Recovery is not an awful choice, but there are certainly better options out there. The added concoction of corn syrup, maltodextrin, and fructose isn’t the best way to follow up your hard work!
Best Post-Workout Bar: FucoProtein Bars
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In terms of recovery, this high-protein bar is much more helpful. FucoProtein Bars actually help your body continue to burn fat naturally, thanks to its 9 simple ingredients and fucoxanthin: a natural thermogenic (fat burner) found in marine vegetables that's considered extremely nutritious.
Worst Tasting Bar: PowerBars
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Few nutrition bars are known for their delicious taste (we've heard comparisons to cardboard, chocolate covered erasers, dog food, and more) but PowerBars seem to take the cake—and not literally! It's hard enough when your crazy schedule makes you miss a meal, but it's even harder to have to replace it with something you can barely stand to swallow. No bar is ever as good as eating a healthy meal, but we've all had days when we need to reach for a convenient bar, so they should still taste like food!
Best Tasting Bar: Luna Bars
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Luna Bars are formulated with women's specific nutritional needs in mind, and they never skimp on creative flavors and combinations. When you want a bar that won’t offend your taste buds, Luna bars promise to give pleasure to your palette every time!
Worst Snack Bar: Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Peanut
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On an A to F grading scale, this Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Peanut snack bar is in the D range. At 250 calories, 13 grams of fat (20 percent of the daily recommended value), and 18 grams of sugar, its only redeeming quality is that it's low in cholesterol. Not the best option for a healthy snack.
Best Snack Bar: Gnu Foods Flavor & Fiber Bar
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These healthy bars come in seven enticing flavors and provide nearly 50 percent of your daily recommended fiber intake. With 12 grams of fiber per bar, you're more likely to stay full without breaking the calorie bank (130-140 calories each). Plus, they taste great!
Worst Meal-Replacement Bar: Balance Gold Caramel Nut Blast
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If given the choice between a candy bar and the Balance Gold Caramel Nut Blast, choose the Balance bar, but this bar doesn't pack much of a nutritional punch. While it's low in cholesterol, it's high in sugar (13 grams), low in protein, and contains almost no fiber (0.5 grams), which means you'll be hungry an hour after you eat it (thus defeating the purpose of a meal-replacement bar).
Best Meal-Replacement Bar: Probar Superfood Slam
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With half the amount of sugar (17 grams), this Probar satisfies your hunger with healthy fats (omega 3 and 6) and 70-percent raw ingredients. Although this bar may appear to be high in fat, they're the healthy fats required to keep you feeling full until your next meal. Just remember, this is a total meal replacement, not a snack!
Worst Chocolate Nutrition Bar: Zone Perfect Double Dark
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f you really want a good chocolate bar, why not go for the real thing instead? Dylan’s Candy Bar Almond Dark Chocolate satisfies your sweet tooth for only 100 calories. The antioxidant-packed treat is "bigger than one of those fun-size candy bars but small enough that I don’t feel like I’ve thrown off my entire diet by eating the whole thing,"said one SHAPE staffer.
Best Chocolate Nutrition Bar: Pure Organic Chocolate Brownie Bar
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Have a brownie without guilt! This bar has an amazing texture—very similar to mom's home-baked brownies. The saturated fat content is a measly 0.5 grams; not to mention it is completely made with organic (gluten-free, raw, and vegan) products.
Worst Fruit Bar: Atkins Day Break Apple Crisp Bar
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The only trace of apple in this bar is in its "apple paste," a delightful blend of concentrated apple puree, sorbitol, palm kernel oil, corn starch, natural flavor, malic acid, pectin, calcium lactate, ascorbic acid, and sunflower lecithin. The point: An Apple Crisp Bar a day certainly won't deliver the same healthy results as the real fruit.
Best Fruit Bar: Odwalla Berries GoMega
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This Odwalla bar is made with real fruit (cranberries, dates, figs, raisins, and blueberries) and provides a healthy dose of fiber, folate, calcium, and vitamin E. It's the nutritional equivalent of carrying around a carton of berries in your purse!
Worst Protein Bar: Detour Lean Muscle
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Even with 32 grams of protein, there's nothing lean about this bar that packs 7 grams of saturated fat and 27 grams of sugar alcohols (sugars engineered to be used as additives, which are not only hard to digest but may cause bloating, diarrhea, and flatulence. Not cute!) With an ingredient list about a mile long full of unpronounceable additives, the only thing this bar can guarantee is to cause a huge fight with your stomach!
Best Protein Bar: Greens + Natural Protein Bar
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Greens + Natural Protein Bar delivers 20 grams of protein via completely organic ingredients. There's no processed sugar, salt, corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, synthetic sweeteners, preservatives, or genetically-modified foods. The pure ingredients will help to build lean muscle and balance your body’s blood sugar at the same time. That means sustainable energy for even your longest days.