The 7 Best Natural Energy Bars of 2021, According to a Dietitian

Fuel up easily while on-the-go

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The term “natural” is used on many food labels, but what does “natural” really mean? The FDA has not established a formal definition for “natural,” but their policy states: “The FDA has considered the term 'natural' to mean that nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food.” It's important to know that the term 'natural' is not synonymous with "USDA Certified Organic," a regulated label with established criteria.

In our opinion, the best natural energy bars comply with the FDA guidelines of “natural” and are free from artificial sweeteners. Many of the products our nutritionist selected are USDA organic as well. They contain real, whole foods that fuel your body and support your overall health, so you can feel confident about adding them into your diet.

Here, the best natural energy bars:

Best Overall: RXBAR Protein Bars, Best Seller Variety Pack

RX bars take the best overall spot with a short, nutrient-packed ingredient list, including egg whites, almonds, cashews, and dates. Each bar contains 12 grams of protein (from egg whites and nuts), 7 grams of healthy fats (from almonds and cashews), and 5 grams of fiber to keep you feeling fuller longer. The natural flavors listed in the ingredients are not from artificial flavorings but rather from oils and extracts sourced from spices, fruits, and plants. These bars have a dense texture, so if you prefer a softer, less chewy bar, they might not be your best choice.

RX Bars come in various flavors to satisfy a range of taste buds, including Chocolate Sea Salt, Blueberry, Peanut Butter, Coconut Chocolate, and Mixed Berry. They also offer seasonal flavors, so you can skip the pumpkin spice latte filled with added sugars and fuel up on a Pumpkin Spice RX Bar. 

Best Budget: Earnest Eats Baked Whole Food Bar

Filled with whole rolled oats, almond butter, seeds, and nuts, Earnest Eats bars make for a great breakfast or snack on-the-go that's also budget-friendly. They are soft and less dense in texture than other energy bars on the market. Each bar contains 230 calories, 12 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of protein.

Thanks to the walnuts they contain, these bars boast 190 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help lower the risk of heart disease and support brain health. They also contain whole grains, providing fiber-filled carbohydrates to give you a steady source of energy.

Skipping breakfast can often lead to overeating later in the day, so make sure to stash some of these in your bag for the mornings when you don’t have time to make a meal before heading out the door. This product gives back too—a portion of the sales are donated to the International Rescue Committee, a refugee relief fund.

Best Gluten-Free: Rise The Simplest Protein Bar

Rise Bars contain just three ingredients: almonds, honey, and whey protein isolate. Whey protein isolate is an easily digestible, complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids—amino acids that we need to get from our diet because our body doesn’t make them. Compared to whey concentrate, whey isolate has less lactose, fat, and carbohydrates and more protein per serving.

With 280 calories, 16 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber, and 20 grams of protein per serving, these bars are a post-workout powerhouse. The ample protein is perfect for repairing muscle and refueling your body. Think of it as a healthy protein shake in a bar—without the unwanted additives found in many pre-packed shakes. Put this one in your gym bag for a satisfying post-calorie burn boost.

Best with No Added Sugar: Thunderbird Real Food Bar

Thunderbird bars check all the boxes—they are certified paleo, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and contain no sugar added. They are made with fruits, nuts, seeds, spices, and extra virgin coconut oil—wholesome ingredients to power you through your day. These real food ingredients work together to provide energy to get you through tough workouts or power you through those afternoons when you need an extra dose of energy.

The Hemp Sunflower Pumpkin Seed Bar provides 250 calories, 18 grams of fat, 20 grams of carbs, and 6 grams of protein. Try their Coffee Maca flavor as an afternoon snack and skip the cup of coffee. This bar contains 5 milligrams of caffeine per serving compared to the 95 milligrams in an 8-ounce cup of coffee, so you won’t feel a caffeine crash later in the day. 

Best Vegan: Bearded Brothers Energy Bars

Bearded Brothers Energy Bars are a great vegan option with minimal, raw ingredients. Each Blueberry Vanilla-flavored bar contains 190 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of protein, making it the perfect snack.

The stellar ingredients include dates, almonds, dried blueberries, chia seeds, raw vanilla, and sea salt. Chia seeds are a nutrition powerhouse ingredient, as they contain fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and important micronutrients. Also, blueberries offer some of the highest amounts of antioxidants of any fruit, neutralizing free-radicals and protecting DNA.

Try one of their unique flavors like the Ginger Peach to mix things up. The convenient variety pack also includes Raspberry Lemon, Vanilla Pecan, Almond Butter Chocolate, Coconut Mango, and Maca Chocolate.

Best Organic: GoMacro Organic Vegan Protein Bars

GoMacro MacroBar Organic Vegan Protein Bars

The GoMacro protein bars offer wholesome, organic, vegan ingredients, including seeds, nuts, nut butters, puffed rice, dried fruits, pea protein, and brown rice protein. With 270 calories, 9 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber, and 10 grams of protein, these bars can sustain you for longer periods of time between meals.

One thing to note on this bar is that organic brown rice syrup is first on the ingredient list. Brown rice syrup is a natural sweetener and binder made from breaking down the starches in cooked rice. While it is natural, it is still considered an added sugar and should be consumed in moderation. 

GoMacro makes it easy to select a bar that meets your individual needs. Their website offers a tool where you can select any dietary restriction you might have. It will direct you to the bars that fit your specifications, including nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and fodmap friendly options.

Best Tasting: Larabar Gluten-Free Snack Bar Variety Pack

LARABARs contain just two to eight ingredients depending on the bar—all of which are whole, real foods. Ingredients include dates, almonds, fruit, cocoa powder, coconut, vanilla extract, and sea salt. All of the bars are sweetened with dates, which provide a natural source of sugars plus the added benefit of fiber. When natural sugars are digested with fiber, they are absorbed into your bloodstream more slowly, so they won’t cause the same spike (and subsequent drop) in blood sugar like processed, concentrated sweets would.

With flavors like Cashew Cookie, Chocolate Coconut, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Cherry Pie, make this bar your go-to for when you’re craving a sweet treat. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavor contains 210 calories, 11 grams of fat, 25 grams of carbohydrates, and 3 grams of protein.

Final Verdict

Rx Bars (view at Amazon) provide protein, healthy fats, and fiber from whole real foods making them the perfect choice to fuel you on-the-go. They also come in a range of flavors and are widely available at grocery stores, gas stations, airports, making them a safe bet for a nutrient-packed snack wherever you’re headed.

What to Look for in Natural Energy Bars

Ingredients:

When purchasing energy bars, make sure to check out both the nutrition label and the ingredient list. Be sure to look for ingredient lists with whole, real foods like nuts, seeds, fruits, and spices, and remember that the order in which the ingredient list is written reflects the abundance of the ingredient in the product.

Sugar:

Choose products with less than 15 grams of sugar. Although these bars may have higher amounts of sugar than others on the market, it's best to choose products sweetened with natural sugars from dried fruits, like dates.

Protein and Fiber:

Select bars with at least 3 to 5 grams of protein and at least 5 grams of fiber to stay fuller longer.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

As a Registered Dietitian, Anne Carroll uses her clinical expertise to cut through marketing claims and get down to the science. These are all products that she has researched, vetted, and would recommend to her clients in private practice and incorporate into her own diet.

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Article 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.
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  2. USDA Organic. USDA. https://www.usda.gov/topics/organic.

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  4. Derbyshire E. Brain Health across the Lifespan: A Systematic Review on the Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acid SupplementsNutrients. 2018;10(8):1094. Published 2018 Aug 15. doi:10.3390/nu10081094