The Best Meal Replacement Bars, Recommended By a Dietitian

The SANS Meal Replacement Protein Bar will keep you fueled for hours

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Best Meal Replacement Bars

Verywell / Amelia Manley

When your intentions of eating a healthy, balanced meal fall through but you still need to eat something adequate, a meal replacement bar is a great option. A meal replacement bar is similar to a protein bar but usually higher in calories, fat, and fiber since it’s intended to replace a meal versus being a snack.

According to Lacy Ngo, MS, RDN, "Meal replacement bars come in handy when you are in a rush and need some quick nourishment. When choosing a meal replacement bar, I look to see if a whole ingredient is listed as the first ingredient. I also want the product to contain beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, or omega-3s. When the bar is meant to replace a meal, I want the bar to have at least 200 calories. If the bar is under 300 calories, I like to pair the bar with a healthy side like fruit or nuts."

Another important factor to consider when shopping for a meal replacement bar is your own preferences. Ideally, you should find a bar that has no added sugars or artificial flavors. You can look for natural sweeteners in the ingredients or pair your bar with fruits and nuts if you need to up the flavor. We researched a variety of options with these features in mind. We also had a registered dietitian nutritionist from our Review Board review this article for medical accuracy surrounding meal replacement bars, ingredients to look for, and the best way to evaluate them.

Here, the best meal replacement bars:

Best Overall

SANS Meal Replacement Protein Bar

SANS PB and J Meal Replacement Protein Bar

Courtesy by Amazon

  • Whole ingredients

  • Good source of fiber

  • No added sugar or artificial sweeteners

  • Dairy-, gluten- and soy-free

  • Some find the texture to be a bit dry

  • More expensive

SANS bars take the best overall spot since they were designed to be a meal replacement bar versus just a protein bar. That’s why they come in at 390 calories, which may seem high for a bar but is actually within the calorie range you would want for a meal. Each bar also has 15 grams of protein and 7 grams of filling fiber.

While a first glance at the sugar content, 23 grams, may be a shock to the system, take a closer look at the ingredients list, and you’ll see that the only sources of sugar in the PB&J bar are dates and strawberries.

SANS’ motto is “eat real food.” Their name, “SANS,” means “without,” after all, and all of their bars are "sans" added sugar, gluten, dairy, soy, and natural flavors. Most of the bars have just eight whole food ingredients like the PB&J bar, for example, which has peanuts, dates, egg whites, strawberries, oats, flaxseed, sea salt, and spinach powder.

If PB&J isn't for you, you can choose from a variety of other flavors, including pistachio and fig, peanut butter cacao, peanut butter lovers, or coconut almond butter.

Price at time of publish: $45 for a pack of 12

Key Specs:

Serving Size: 1 bar (85 g) | Protein: 15 grams Carbohydrate: 36 grams | Fiber Per Serving: 7 grams | Fat: 23 grams | Added Sugar Per Serving: 0 grams | Calories Per Serving: 390

Best Budget

Kind Protein Bars, Crunchy Peanut Butter

KIND Protein Bars, Crunchy Peanut Butter

Courtesy by Amazon

  • Can bite into actual whole pieces of ingredients, unlike most meal bars

  • Found in many convenience stores

  • Gluten-free

  • No artificial flavors or sweeteners

  • Contains added glucose syrup and sugar, which may not be suitable for all

KIND makes various bars, but their Protein Bars are your best bet for a meal replacement bar that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. The crunchy peanut butter flavor has 250 calories, 6 grams of fiber, and 12 grams of protein with 7 grams of total sugar (5 grams added sugar).

The leading ingredients in KIND Protein Bars are nuts—either peanuts or almonds—which provide protein, fiber, and healthy fats. If you're closely watching your sugar intake, note that these bars do have added sugar from ingredients like glucose syrup and sugar. They are gluten-free but contain soy and milk.

Price at time of publish: $21 for a pack of 12

Key Specs:

Serving Size: 1 bar (50 g) | Protein: 12 grams Carbohydrate: 17 grams | Fiber Per Serving: 6 grams | Fat: 18 grams | Added Sugar Per Serving: 5 grams | Calories Per Serving: 250

Best Whole Ingredients

RXBAR Chocolate Sea Salt Protein Bar

RXBAR Protein Bars

Courtesy by Amazon

  • Minimal, whole ingredients

  • Found in many convenience stores

  • Gluten-free, kosher, and non-GMO

  • Comes in a ton of different flavors

  • Texture may be too sticky for some

There are a ton of bars on the market, but RXBARs are always a top pick when searching for a bar with whole ingredients. These chocolate sea salt bars will have you feeling like you’re eating a salted brownie as a meal with 210 calories, 5 grams of fiber, 12 grams of protein and 13 grams of naturally-occurring sugar. 

While some RXBARs are made with peanuts, which may be a potential allergen for some, the chocolate sea salt is made with almonds, egg whites, cashews, and dates. Not a chocolate lover? Other flavors include mixed berry, maple sea salt, blueberry, and vanilla almond.

RXBAR protein bars are gluten-free, kosher, non-GMO, and contain no added sugars. They are a bit sticky so pack a toothpick or floss if you’re taking this to work or eating on the go.

Price at time of publish: $23 for a pack of 12

Key Specs:

Serving Size: 1 bar (52 g) | Protein: 12 grams Carbohydrate: 23 grams | Fiber Per Serving: 5 grams | Fat: 9 grams | Added Sugar Per Serving: 0 grams | Calories Per Serving: 210

Best Plant-based

ALOHA Organic Plant-Based Protein Bars

ALOHA Organic Plant Based Protein Bars


  • Great source of fiber

  • Organic and non-GMO

  • Soy-, gluten-, and dairy-free

  • Although sugar is low, some feel they taste too sweet

ALOHA Organic Plant-Based Protein Bars are a delicious and nutritious option for those looking for a plant-based bar.

The peanut butter chocolate chip flavor has a whopping 10 grams of fiber per bar, half the recommended daily amount, and 14 grams of protein. Fiber is key for weight loss and keeping you full for a longer period of time because it is digested slowly and slows the spike of blood sugar. Similarly, protein suppresses hunger hormones and keeps cravings at bay.

ALOHA has other flavors too, including coconut chocolate almond, chocolate chip cookie dough, and chocolate mint. All products are soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, organic, non-GMO, and never contain sugar alcohols, stevia, or anything artificial. ALOHA bars are also vegan.

Protein sources include peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and a protein blend of brown rice protein and pumpkin seed protein. If 240-260 calories is too low as a meal for you, trying cutting this bar into chunks and mixing it with plain Greek yogurt and fresh fruit.

Price at time of publish: $23 for a pack of 12

Key Specs:

Serving Size: 1 bar (56 g) | Protein: 14 grams Carbohydrate: 24 grams | Fiber Per Serving: 10 grams | Fat: 12 grams | Added Sugar Per Serving: 3 grams | Calories Per Serving: 240

Best Tasting

Perfect Bar Original Refrigerated Protein Bar

Perfect Bar Original Refrigerated Protein Bar

Courtesy by Amazon

  • Similar texture to cookie dough

  • Organic and non-GMO

  • Can stay fresh outside of fridge for 2 to 7 days

  • Contains some fruits/vegetables for added vitamins and minerals

  • Must be refrigerated, which may be inconvenient

  • Higher in added sugar

You’ll really feel like you’re eating dessert for dinner when you take a bite of these dark chocolate chip peanut butter Perfect Bars. These refrigerated bars have a cookie-dough-like texture that almost melts in your mouth. But, they are nutritious too. You won’t even believe that they sneak celery, tomato, kelp, and kale in the form of dried powders into these decadent bars. Don’t worry, all you can taste is peanut butter and chocolate.

Perfect Bars are a great meal replacement because they are on the higher end of calories with 330 calories per bar, 15 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber. They have 12 grams of added sugar, however, it comes from honey and the sugar in the chocolate chips.

Perfect Bars prioritize whole food protein sources like nut butters and egg whites. All bars are organic, non-GMO, and refrigerated. They stay fresh outside the fridge for 2 to 7 days, depending on the product.

Price at time of publish: $21 for a pack of 8

Key Specs:

Serving Size: 1 bar (71 g) | Protein: 17 grams Carbohydrate: 27 grams | Fiber Per Serving: 3 grams | Fat: 19 grams | Added Sugar Per Serving: 13 grams | Calories Per Serving: 340

Best Organic

Elemental Superfood Seedbar Dark Chocolate + Peanut Butter

Elemental Superfood Refrigerated Seedbars

Courtesy by Amazon

  • More of a crumbly texture, unlike the typical chewy meal bar

  • Can leave out of the fridge, but optimally should be refrigerated

  • Gluten- and dairy-free

  • Organic

  • Not as high in protein as others

  • More expensive

Elemental Superfood Seedbars were not organic when they first launched but have recently become USDA certified organic. They are also plant-based, gluten-free, and dairy-free, with organic buckwheat as the first ingredient in all of the bars. Buckwheat boosts the fiber and protein in Elemental bars, while hemp seeds, almond butter, or cashews add healthy fats, depending on which flavor you opt for. Some flavor options include dark chocolate and almond butter, blueberry cashew and lemon, or currant cacao and hemp seed, among others.

Elemental bars require refrigeration but can be kept out of the fridge for up to one week. Each bar contains approximately 230 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and 7 grams of protein. They’re on the lower end for fiber and protein, so consider adding a small handful of nuts, a hard-boiled egg, or string cheese alongside to make it more of a meal.

Price at time of publish: $38 for a pack of 12

Key Specs:

Serving Size: 1 bar (51 g) | Protein: 7 grams Carbohydrate: 16 grams | Fiber Per Serving: 4 grams | Fat: 16 grams | Added Sugar Per Serving: Only indicate total sugar (8 g) | Calories Per Serving: 230

Best Breakfast

Over Easy Breakfast Bars

  • Simple ingredient list

  • More of a chewy bar with pieces of whole ingredients

  • Highly rated for taste

  • Gluten-, soy-, and dairy-free

  • Contain common allergens, which may not be suitable for all

In case you can’t tell from the name, Over Easy bars were made to be a breakfast replacement for those days when you need something quick in the morning but don’t want to sacrifice nutrition or taste. They’d work just as well for lunch or dinner, though. The creators of Over Easy noticed that other breakfast bars were sugar-laden, filled with artificial sweeteners and didn’t taste good, so they sought to solve all of those problems by bringing a new breakfast bar to the market.

Over Easy bars are made with organic, gluten-free oats and are free of wheat, soy, dairy, refined sugars, added flavors, and preservatives. Plus, they taste good and will keep you full for hours. The texture can be described as chewy and not too sticky.

With flavors like apple cinnamon, banana nut, peanut butter, and vanilla matcha, each bar has about 220 calories, 7 grams of fiber, 9 grams of protein, and 9 grams of sugar. They only have eight whole food ingredients. The ingredients in the banana nut, for example, are organic oats, almonds, honey, almond butter, tapioca fiber, dried bananas, egg whites, vanilla extract, and salt.

Price at time of publish: $33 for a pack of 12

Key Specs:

Serving Size: 1 bar (52 g) | Protein: 9 grams Carbohydrate: 26 grams | Fiber Per Serving: 7 grams | Fat: 11 grams | Added Sugar Per Serving: 6 grams | Calories Per Serving: 220

Best New

Possible Meal Bar

  • Clean Label

  • No artificial sweeteners

  • Organic, non-GMO, plant-based

  • Gluten- and dairy-free

  • Larger bar

  • More expensive

  • High in added sugar

Eating the same things can get boring, so if you're looking for a new bar on the market, try the Possible Meal Bar. Made with whole foods, like almonds, cherries, pumpkin seeds, and oats, these bars have nibbles of some of these ingredients in every bite.

What makes these bars particularly interesting is the nutrition facts label; you get to see amounts of vitamins and minerals that are not typically included. The Possible bars are particularly high in iron, magnesium, selenium, manganese, copper, and biotin, among others. Biotin is most commonly associated with healthy skin, hair, and nails, although research is not strong. However, it plays an important role in helping break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Some of the additional vitamins and minerals come from ingredients such as beet powder, apple and banana flake powder. and cherries.

The Possible meal bars contain 20 grams of plant-based protein, and are definitely on the higher end of calories for a meal bar—390 calories. These are ideal on days you don't have time to pack a lunch or need breakfast on the go. While they are particularly high in added sugars, 17 grams, the sugar comes from maple syrup, agave and date paste.

Price at time of publication: $50 for a pack of 10

Key Specs:

Serving Size: 1 bar (92 g) | Protein: 20 grams Carbohydrate: 39 grams | Fiber Per Serving: 5 grams | Fat: 20 grams | Added Sugar Per Serving: 17 grams | Calories Per Serving: 390

What to Look For in a Meal Replacement Bar


Look for whole food ingredients like egg whites, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. Steer clear of bars filled with added sugars, oils, and too many artificial ingredients. The fewer the ingredients and the more whole food ingredients, the better.


Look for bars with about 200 to 400 calories. Anything lower likely won’t fill you up since this is serving as a meal replacement, not a snack. Also, if choosing a bar in the 200 to 300 calorie range, you may need to add something to it like an apple or ¼ cup of almonds to ensure you stay full until the next meal.


Protein needs are based on body weight but most adult men and women need about 55 to 65 grams per day. That’s about 20 grams per meal so any bars in this range are a good option. However, in reality, most meal replacement bars have closer to 10 to 15 grams of protein, which is okay.

Check the ingredients list for the type of protein if you have food allergies or don’t eat animal products, for example. Protein sources can range from nuts and seeds to egg whites to protein powder like whey.


The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines recommend that adult men and women consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day, depending on age and sex. If you divide that by three meals per day, that’s about 8 to 10 grams of fiber per meal. You’ll be hard-pressed to find many bars with this much fiber but look for at least 3 to 5 grams per serving. You can pair fruits or vegetables with the bar to boost fiber, or increase fiber at your next meal.


Less is best, but a good guideline is 10 to 15 grams of sugar or less. Another good rule of thumb is if the protein plus the fiber is more than the sugar. Look for bars that are sweetened with natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or dried fruit. Avoid bars with artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols like xylitol or erythritol, as these can cause gastrointestinal distress in large amounts. However, if you have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes and enjoy the sweet taste, opt for the artificial sweetener-containing bars.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How often can I eat a meal replacement bar?

    Whole food first is always best because you’ll get the most quality sources of protein, fiber, and fat. Plus, when you make an actual meal, you can control the portions of each food group to the amount needed to keep you full and fit your goals. But when that’s not possible, meal replacement bars are a great alternative and can be enjoyed by most people anywhere from a few times a month to a few times a week, depending on goals.

  • Can I eat a protein bar as a meal replacement?

    The short answer is yes. Most protein bars will suffice as a meal replacement because they tend to have at least 15 to 20 grams of protein per bar. Because protein suppresses hunger hormones and is digested slowly, you should be full until your next meal. However, most protein bars lack the amount of fiber recommended for a meal. If the bar has less than 3 to 5 grams of fiber, add a piece of fruit or some veggies to up the fiber. Plus, a 150 calorie protein bar might not suffice in terms of calories. If you'd prefer a particular protein bar over a meal bar, try pairing it with fruits or vegetables and a nut butter to increase calories to a more adequate meal.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

As a Registered Dietitian and weight loss expert, you can trust Lainey Younkin, MS, RD, to recommend the healthiest meal replacement bars to you. She prioritizes whole food ingredients, no artificial sweeteners or preservatives, and adequate nutrients to keep you fueled and satisfied throughout the day.

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3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Easy ways to boost fiber in your daily diet.

  2. Kaiser Family Foundation. Why older adults should eat more protein (and not overdo protein shakes).

  3. USDA. 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.