Energy bars play a number of roles in an athlete’s life. Sometimes we reach for them during hard workouts, sometimes as on-the-go meal replacements, and sometimes simply because we’re out of vitamin-infused gummy bears and need to convince ourselves we’ve chosen a snack with nutrients.
But these days there are so many different energy bar varieties that the choosy athlete finds herself at a crossroads: Which portable power choice will give me the most energy without tasting like a chemical spill?
In the interest of science, I assembled a crack team of energy-starved guinea pigs for a blind taste test to separate the power wheat from the power chaff. We dove deep into the catalogues of Clif and Larabar to see which bars taste like mouthwatering cake, and which bars you’d bribe a dog to bury in the back yard.
Out of a 15-bar sampling of top sellers, here are our top six energy bars—and the one bar whose name we dare not speak (but we’re A-OK with writing it out).
1. Clif Mojo Honey Roasted Peanut (Score: 9.75/10)
This crunchy delight (pictured above) was the clear winner. Tasters said, “The sweet and salty taste sensations came at my mouth like gangbusters!” And who could screw up peanuts and honey? Not Clif, apparently.
Calories: 200, Fat: 11, Carb: 26g, Sugar: 18g, Fiber: 2g, Protein: 9g
2. Snickers Marathon Energy Chewy Chocolatey Peanut (Score: 9/10)
Arguably healthier than Clif, Snickers Marathon Energy was nonetheless cheerfully rated and described as crunchy, not too sweet and chocolate and nuts marries energy; this hit me in the spot reserved for tasty afterthoughts.
Calories: 210, Fat: 8, Carb: 26g, Sugar: 15g, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 13g
3. Kind Blueberry Pecan + Fiber (Score: 8/10)
This energy bar is about as straightforward as a kick in the mouth (a delicious one, mind you). The simplicity of 10 simple ingredients shines through after the barrage of soy and whey-protein laden bars. The tasters gave the balance of fruit, nuts and honey five stars.
Calories: 190, Fat: 12g, Carb: 20g, Sugar: 9g, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 4g
4. Kashi Go Lean Crunchy Chocolate Almond
Tasters gushed over the combination of simple flavors (Chocolate and almonds? Yes, please!) and the crunchy, crispy texture. One comment about the "delightful lightness" of the crispy rice base received rousing affirmation from the other tasters.
Calories: 170, Fat: 5g, Carb: 27g, Sugar: 13g, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 8g
5. Clif Carrot Cake (Score: 7/10)
Tasters liked the spice and thought the bar was a good replica of carrot cake without icing, but were puzzled by the conflicting textures and questioned the value of a world without cream cheese icing.
Calories: 240, Fat: 4.5g, Carb: 44g, Sugar: 25g, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 9g
6. Kashi Go Lean Roll Caramel Peanut (Score: 7/10)
This reminded most tasters of a delicious, crunchy salted nut roll, though one confessed (somewhat dramatically) to feeling betrayed and assaulted by the mismatch of sweetness and peanuts.
Calories: 190, Fat: 5g, Carb: 27g, Sugar: 14g, Fiber: 6g, Protein: 12g
The Worst Energy Bar: SoyJoy Berry
This bar served as a bready affront to all taste sensibilities and inspired reviewers to pen angry screeds on various holes it should be jammed into and/or buried. No amount of energy in the world is worth another bite of this hateful, berry monstrosity, one ranted, while another simply scrawled, Soft. Ugly. Offensive.
Calories: 130, Fat: 4.5, Carb: 17g, Sugar: 12g, Fiber: 3g, Protein: 4g
Click here to see more of the best energy bars.
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