The Top 5 Best Meal-Replacement Bars for Weight Loss or Muscle Gain in 2019

Two columns of the best meal-replacement bars.

Sometimes life can be too busy for you to get a full meal, or maybe you just can’t be bothered to cook. Perhaps you want to lose weight for that upcoming family wedding, but fasting is not the answer. Even if you don’t feel you have time, skipping meals is not a recommended option, it’s like trying to run your car on an empty tank of gas.

The best meal-replacement bars can have enough calories to stop your stomach from making those strange sounds as you sit at your desk. They can also give you the energy and nutrients you need to get through the busy day ahead. Meal-replacement bars offer a healthier alternative to just grabbing a Snickers from the office vending machine.

But how do you choose the right bar without ending up with a piece of candy or something with more calories than that tempting lunchtime burger? Hopefully, here we’ll give you some tips and look at some of the best meal-replacement bars available today.

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Product
Product Details
Our #1 Rated

Probar

Superfood Slam

Superfood Slam
370 calories provide a convenient and filling meal, including flax and chia seeds to boost energy.
Our #1 Rated

Probar

Superfood Slam

370 calories provide a convenient and filling meal, including flax and chia seeds to boost energy.

thinkThin

High Protein

High Protein
A sugar-free bar, which has a chunky peanut butter flavor. It’s low in carbohydrates but high in protein.

thinkThin

High Protein

A sugar-free bar, which has a chunky peanut butter flavor. It’s low in carbohydrates but high in protein.

Luna Protein

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Low glycemic index means that these bars digest slowly, giving long-lasting energy. Contains 12 grams of protein.

Luna Protein

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Low glycemic index means that these bars digest slowly, giving long-lasting energy. Contains 12 grams of protein.

Clif

Builder's Protein

Builder's Protein
Ideal for fitness enthusiasts. Designed with essential amino acids to boost workouts and assist recovery.

Clif

Builder's Protein

Ideal for fitness enthusiasts. Designed with essential amino acids to boost workouts and assist recovery.

Nature Valley

Protein Chewy Bars

Protein Chewy Bars
Made from roasted peanuts, almonds and coconuts. Without gluten, it provides high levels of fiber and boosts energy.

Nature Valley

Protein Chewy Bars

Made from roasted peanuts, almonds and coconuts. Without gluten, it provides high levels of fiber and boosts energy.

How to Choose the Best Meal-Replacement Bars

Meal-replacement bars may look similar to many of those dreaded candy bars, but they’re packed with high amounts of protein. Often called protein bars, the protein usually comes from soy, milk or whey protein with some companies even adding powdered protein for a more protein-dense bar. It’s the protein which fills you up and stops your hunger pangs when skipping a meal.

Ingredients

The first thing you should look at when choosing the best meal-replacement bar is the quality of ingredients. Ingredients added for flavor and consistency like sugar or corn syrup can pile on those empty calories. Try to choose a bar that uses as natural ingredients and sweeteners as possible.

Many of the best meal-replacement bars will be gluten free, with more now becoming plant based and vegan friendly. Check for potential allergens like soy or peanuts before choosing a bar.

Taste

Just as important as the ingredients is the taste of the bar. Nobody wants to feel like they’re eating a protein-loaded piece of cardboard. Natural fruit and sweeteners can add to the flavor without adding too many calories. A chocolate or chocolate coating will also add to the flavor without being as unhealthy as a normal full-fat chocolate candy bar.

Meal-Replacement Bars and Your Dietary Goals

The other key factor is what you expect from your meal-replacement bars. If you want to lose some weight, you should be opting for a low calorie meal replacement bar. Various studies have shown that meal-replacement bars can help you as part of a calorie-controlled diet.

Some bars will offer a decent balance between weight loss and muscle building. These can be used as a snack bar for bulking up or meal replacement when trying to lose some weight. For more specific needs you can even make your own homemade meal-replacement bars tailored to your specific needs as shown in the following YouTube video.

Meal-replacement bars for Men Versus Women

A close look at the ingredients on a meal-replacement bar will reveal substances that are meant for specific purposes. The different compositions will depend on how your body is constructed, your level of fitness and how much muscle you want (or don’t want) to gain.

The larger your body is the more protein you’ll need to keep it going. A bodybuilder using a low-protein bar may find his muscles are actually shrinking rather than growing. Likewise if as a woman you go for bars with high protein used by bodybuilders you’ll put weight on rather than lose it.

Men generally require around 10 grams of protein while most women only need about 8 grams. Fiber requirements for men and women also vary, with men needing 38 grams of fiber a day compared to the 25 grams which is enough for women. Some bars have even be designed to meet the specific nutritional needs of women.

The Best Meal-Replacement Bars

We’ve looked at some top selling meal replacement bars from leading brands available today. In our opinion these are the five best meal-replacement bars, just choose which one meets your goals, or even which sounds tastiest!

Our #1 Rated
Our pick our #1 rated

Probar

Superfood Slam

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    Our rating

With 370 calories packed into a 3-ounce bar, the Superfood Slam meal bar offers a small meal’s worth of nutrition in just a few bites. Meal-replacement bars aim to provide a balance of carbs, proteins and fats with this bar doing it all with real foods. A Probar Superfood Slam meal bar features flaxseed, oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, chia and many other healthy ingredients.

The bars are certified to use non-GMO ingredients and have 70 to 95 percent organic content. The addition of fruit and natural sweeteners ensure the bar tastes great too—ideal when replacing that lunchtime burger!

Pros
Pro Organic
Pro non-GMO ingredients.
Pro Soy and gluten free for Celiac patients.
Pro All Probar meal-replacement bars are vegan friendly—100 percent plant based.
Cons
Con Higher calories than traditional meal-replacement bars.
Con High sugar content; 23 grams in an 85-gram bar.
 
 

Our #2 Rated
Our pick our #2 rated

thinkThin

Peanut Butter Bar

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For people looking to lose weight, these bars are an ideal choice. Using whey and soy protein they combine nutritious ingredients with tasty ones. If used for breakfast or lunch, you’ll get all the protein, minerals and vitamins your body needs through the day.

At 230 calories a bar they’ll help you with weight loss if used as a meal replacement. Snacking on the bar between meals will give more calories than you should eat if you’re on a weight loss diet. Contains no gluten, so you don’t have to worry about any intolerances, but they use natural milk which makes them unsuitable for vegans—a plant-based minty chocolate option is also available.

Pros
Pro No added sugars.
Pro Highly nutritious.
Pro Peanut butter base tastes great.
Pro Gluten free.
Pro Inexpensive.
Cons
Con Potential allergens in soy and peanut.
Con Unsuitable for vegans.
Con Only contains 1 gram of dietary fiber.
 
 

Our #3 Rated
Our pick our #3 rated

Luna Protein

Gluten free Protein Bar

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Luna Bars have been especially formulated by women to meet a woman’s nutritional needs. Each bar has only 170 calories so you can use it as either a snack or meal-replacement bar as long as you don’t overindulge between meals. With 3 grams of dietary fiber and 12 grams of protein, it’s also a good source of calcium, iron and vitamin D.

A chocolate chip flavor with a hint of vanilla in a nougat composition, it’s a low-glycemic bar meaning it’s broken down slower for a prolonged level of energy.

Pros
Pro High intake of vitamins and minerals.
Pro One of the best-tasting meal-replacement bars if you love chocolate.
Pro Good for weight loss.
Cons
Con 14 grams of sugar in a small bar.
Con May cause gas or bloating in some people.
 

Our #4 Rated
Our pick our #4 rated

Clif Builder’s

Chocolate Mint Protein Bar

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This bar packs 270 calories and is perfect for men wanting to bulk up their muscles. The bar can also be munched on by ladies looking for a meal-replacement bar if trying to lose weight.

A refreshing chocolate mint flavor makes a pleasant change from the usual peanut butter taste and is far too good to be saved for post-workout energy. The bars have a low glycemic index and are also free of high-fructose corn syrup and GMO ingredients or hydrogenated oils.

Pros
Pro Refreshing mint chocolate taste.
Pro Beneficial amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals.
Pro 40 percent of your daily recommended protein allowance.
Cons
Con Too much sugar with 20 grams per bar.
Con Coating can melt if exposed to heat.
Con Not suitable for vegans or people with gluten intolerances.

Our #5 Rated
Our pick our #5 rated

Nature Valley

Coconut Almond Protein Bar

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If chocolate doesn’t float your boat, these bars from Nature Valley offer a lighter granola-style selection with almonds and coconuts. The bars only pack 190 calories which makes them ideal if watching your figure. With 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber they provide a perfect boost for your metabolism.

This chewy snack is filled with nuts and flavored with toasted coconut for a flavoursome meal replacement or snack. Provided in bulk packs of six boxes with five individual bars, they’re perfectly portable.

Pros
Pro Chocolate free with roasted peanuts and almonds flavored with toasted coconut.
Pro High fiber content.
Pro Light and chewy texture.
Pro Low calories for weight watchers.
Cons
Con Contains gluten
Con not vegan friendly.
Con Many people find the taste to be too processed.
Con Contains canola oil and corn syrup.

Our Choice

Many of the bars we’ve looked at are advertiseddifferently from each other. Some are advertised for weight loss, some for energy and others for post-workout muscle repair. When choosing the best meal-replacement bars you should check hey have the correct nutritional value for your needs.

The Probar Superfood Slam bar uses only natural plant-based ingredients to meet your nutritional needs. It’s our choice for the best meal-replacement bar as the 370 calories it provides can replace a meal for even the larger of appetites. As long as it isn’t used as a snack bar, it can provide the extra nutrients you need for the busy day with no extra empty calories.

Always remember, that although the best meal-replacement bars provide protein and vitamins, you shouldn’t base your diet on them. Protein bars should be balanced with a healthy diet and only used once a day as a meal replacement. Eating a protein bar but then gorging on burger and chips won’t result in miraculous weight loss—unless it’s a turkey burger and sweet potato oven fries, which may help!

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