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The Best Meal Replacement Bar

Last updated on March 8, 2024

Our Review Process

Don't Waste Your Money is focused on helping you make the best purchasing decision. Our team of experts spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing, and researching products so you don't have to. Learn more.

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Our Picks For The Top Meal Replacement Bars

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Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Top Pick

SlimFast Naturally Flavored Meal Replacement Bars

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SlimFast

Naturally Flavored Meal Replacement Bars

If you love chocolate, nougat and creamy caramel, you'll want to pick up this meal replacement bar. It's keto-friendly and free of gluten and artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors. The formula uses whey protein, which will help you feel full longer.

Overall Take

Tastes Like DessertThis meal replacement bar is packed with 24 essential vitamins and minerals.

 Runner Up

No Cow Dipped Certified Gluten Free Meal Replacement Bars

No Cow

Dipped Certified Gluten Free Meal Replacement Bars

With this box of meal replacement bars, you get a total of 12 bars in six different flavors. Chocolate sea salt, chocolate mint cookie and chocolate peanut butter cup are just a few of the varieties. All of the bars are designed to offer high plant-based protein without high carbs and sugars.

Overall Take

Six Different FlavorsIn addition to being vegan-friendly, these meal replacement bars are also perfect for Keto, gluten-free and dairy-free diets.

 Strong Contender

REDCON1 Dessert-Like On-The-Go Meal Replacement Bars

REDCON1

Dessert-Like On-The-Go Meal Replacement Bars

If you love dessert for breakfast, grab this meal replacement bar. It tastes just like German chocolate cake! The box contains a total of 12 bars, each of which are individually wrapped, so you can quickly grab one when you're on the go.

Overall Take

Big FlavorThis meal replacement bar offers 20 grams of protein that is derived from real whole foods.

 We Also Like

Special K Kellogg’s Portable Fiber Meal Protein Bars

Special K

Kellogg's Portable Fiber Meal Protein Bars

Thanks to this meal replacement bar variety pack, you'll be able to switch between flavors. The set features mouth-watering chocolate peanut butter, decadent brownie batter and sweet strawberry. There are 18 bars in total, each of which offers 12 grams of protein to get your day started off right.

Overall Take

Economical PickYou won't have any trouble sticking to your budget when you opt for this meal replacement bar.

Buying Guide

Preparing a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner for yourself or your entire family may not always be possible. You might wake up a little later than expected with no time to cook bacon and eggs, or you might need to run your 10-year-old from band practice to soccer camp without any time to stop for dinner. When life gets busy and you can’t cook, there’s always the option of utilizing a meal replacements bar instead.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Meal replacement bars are designed to be more than just a quick snack. They contain the nutrients you would have received if you had consumed a traditional plate of food. Some bars are marketed to help people lose weight, while others even promote an increase in energy after consumption.

While the United States does not have any specific regulations for meal replacement bars, there are a few things you’ll want to look for when shopping for one. The first is calories. Check to see that the bar has between 200 and 400 calories, as this is where you’re going to get your energy.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Next, review the meal replacement bar’s protein content. The higher the protein, the fuller you’ll feel for a longer period of time. Some bars have protein content that’s as much as 30 grams per bar.

The nutrition label will also specify how many vitamins and minerals are in the meal replacement bar. If you know you are deficient in a certain vitamin, or that you’re not getting enough of a certain mineral in the foods you eat, you can scroll through the label to check for that information. You’ll notice there are bars that are loaded with 19 vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Selenium.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Fiber is another key ingredient often found in meal replacement bars. Like protein, the fiber will help you feel full until your next meal. It also has the added benefit of keeping your digestive system running smoothly, so that you don’t suffer from uncomfortable constipation. Some ingredients to look for that are excellent sources of fiber include chia and flax seeds.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Finally, when shopping for the best meal replacement bar, it is essential that you check the sugar content. This is true whether you suffer from diabetes or not. Too much sugar will provide a temporary burst of energy. But afterward, you’ll suffer a sugar crash that will inevitably leave you feeling tired and moody.

What to Look For

  • Always read the product label if you have any known food allergies or sensitivities. Most meal replacement bars clearly label whether they are gluten-free, soy-free or contain common allergy ingredients, such as peanuts. You may also find wording like “manufactured in a plant that processes peanuts.” So even if the bar doesn’t contain peanuts, you’ll know that it may have come in contact with the legume.
  • Additional information you may wish to be aware of when choosing a meal replacement bar is whether the ingredients are organically sourced and whether they are Non-GMO Project Verified. If this is important to you, the product label is where you will find the facts.
  • Check that there are no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners added to the bars. You want to get your nutrition from natural sources when possible. The MRE Bar is a good example of a meal replacement bar that is made from real food only.
  • Perform a taste test. There are so many different meal replacement bars on the market and each company offers a selection of flavors. You may come across such flavors as chocolate pretzel, caramel cluster, peanut butter cup, banana nut bread, almond crunch and blueberry cobbler. Try purchasing a few different bars to discover your likes and dislikes before you decide on your go-to bar.
  • Consider the texture of the bar. Some bars are chewy, while others have a crunch. The bars may also be smooth or have chunks of peanuts or pretzels sticking out.
  • Verify which type of meal replacement bar you are buying. Is the bar simply for taking the place of lunch or dinner when you’re on the run, or is the bar made for weight loss? Is the bar touted as a sports nutrition bar that replaces energy after a vigorous workout? You want to make sure the bar you buy will meet your specific needs.
  • Keep a few bars in your purse, gym bag or car so that you always have one available when life gets busy. This will save you from being tempted to head to the nearest fast food joint, that may or may not have healthy food options.
  • Meal replacement bars can be a lifesaver if you are the designated snack mom for your child’s sports team. Pair each bar with a water bottle or natural juice box and you’ll feel good about restoring the kids’ energy after a well-played game.
  • While you can purchase a single meal replacement bar, it is more cost-effective to buy in bulk. When comparing prices, you’ll need to pay attention to how many bars are being sold as a unit.

More to Explore

While meal replacement bars may seem like a modern trend from our fast-paced culture, they have actually been in existence for quite some time. The first known nutrition bar designed to replace a full meal was created back in the 18th century by the native Indians of North America. The meal replacement bar was called Pemmican, and it contained a mixture of a lean protein and a rendered fat. Also commonly added to the meal replacement bars were a variety of fruits.

In addition to providing sustenance, Pemmican didn’t expire. That made it ideal for European settlers and polar explorers that were always on the move. The meal replacement bar could be wrapped and then consumed later when food was scarce.

Meal replacement bars have evolved over time. They have been used for everything from feeding the men and women who travel through space via a NASA shuttle to filling the stomach of busy moms who don’t have time to stop and prepare a healthy lunch. There’s even a product called Nutriloaf used as a punishment to feed prisoners who have not behaved according to jail rules. Today, we need only visit our local grocery store to find meal replacement bars in a host of flavors that will meet our dietary needs.

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