Which nutrition bars provide the best combination of nutrition and taste and are accurately labeled? ConsumerLab.com recently set out to answer this question by purchasing popular bars in the U.S. and testing, tasting, and carefully comparing their ingredients. The results appear in the recently published Nutrition Bars Review, which includes ConsumerLab.com's top picks among 20 energy, fiber, protein, meal-replacement and whole-food bars.
ConsumerLab.com found that most bars were accurately labeled and all passed tests for potential contamination with the heavy metals lead, cadmium and arsenic. However, one bar contained 25 percent more fat and more than double the cholesterol listed, while another contained 30 percent more cholesterol than listed. ConsumerLab.com also found that most of the fat is saturated ("bad") fat in many high-protein bars, and a top ingredient in some bars is sugar alcohols, which can cause gas and bloating. Unfortunately, many bars don't tell you exactly how much sugar alcohol they contain.
"Bars can be a good occasional source of protein, fiber, and energy for people on the go, but they vary dramatically in their content," said Tod Cooperman, MD, president of ConsumerLab.com. He added, "Before eating a bar, a consumer should be sure it has what he or she needs without unwanted ingredients."
ConsumerLab.com's Nutrition Bar Review is available here.
It reviews 20 bars from the following brands: Balance Bar, Clif Bar Energy Bar, Fiber One Chewy Bars, Garden of Life fucoPROTEIN, Glucema Meal Bar, GNC Pro Performance Pro-Crunch, GNC Pro Performance Pro-Crunch Lite, GNC Total Lean Breakfast Squares, Gnu Foods Flavor & Fiber, Kellogg's Special K Protein Meal Bar, Larabar, Marked Protein Bar, MET-Rx Big 100 Colossal, Muscletech Nitro-Tech Hardcore, Oh Yeah!, P90X Peak Performance, Power Bar Performance Energy Bar, Probar Meal, Quest Bar Protein Bar, and Supreme Protein. Thirteen of these bars were selected by ConsumerLab.com and seven are included for having passed ConsumerLab.com's Quality Certification Program. The report includes test results as well as price, ingredient, and taste comparisons, as well as tips for deciphering nutrition bar labels, avoiding unwanted ingredients and estimating sugar alcohol content.