FITNESS 2012 Healthy Food Awards: Best Breakfast Bars

By Juno DeMelo

Craving an energy boost? We ate our way through dozens of contenders to bring you the best.

Raise the Bar

When you’re on the go, an energy bar is one of the handiest and healthiest snacks around. But it can be tough to tell the good ones from the candy bars in disguise. No worries — we did the work for you, enlisting a team of nutritionists to find options with minimal added sugar, 200 or fewer calories, and at least three grams of both fiber and protein per full-size bar¬≠. And then we taste-tested every one! Keep these winners in your purse, gym bag, or desk drawer for a satisfying bite wherever you are.

Luna Bar Chocolate-Dipped Coconut

This 70-percent-organic bar “taste like a Samoa,” the classic chocolate-drizzled Girl Scout cookie, testers told us. No need to pair it with a glass of milk, though: It contains 35 percent of the 1,000 milligrams of calcium you need in a day, plus vitamin D. (190 calories)

Clif Crunch Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bar

The generous portion — you get two bars in a serving — and extra-crunchy texture make this bar a standout. Try crumbling it over low-fat plain Greek yogurt for a delicious, healthy breakfast. (190 calories)

Balance Bar Bare Blueberry Acai

With 15 grams of protein — more than any other contender — this yogurt-coated bar is perfect for post-workout refueling. (200 calories)

ThinkThin Crunch Fruit & Nut Cranberry Apple & Mixed Nuts

Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan of this gluten-free line of snacks, and it’s no wonder: The variety we sampled has nearly half the sugar and about twice the protein of many fruit-and-nut bars. (170 calories)

Corazonas Blueberry Oatmeal Squares

“Yum! This tastes more like a baked good than a bar,” one tester said. Even better, each contains natural plant sterols and 17 grams of whole grains, both of which may help lower LDL, or bad, cholesterol. (180 calories)

Pure Naturals Peanut-Raisin Crunch Bar

¬†Kill two cravings with one of these salty-sweet snacks. They have a chewy texture that’s “like a Snickers bar,” testers said, but without the chocolate or the additional 21 grams of sugar. (200 calories)

Rise Raspberry-Pomegranate Energy + Bar

¬† Numerous testers likened the consistency and “fruity, but not too sweet” flavor of this date-based bar to the filling of a Fig Newton. It’s ideal for those who don’t eat gluten, dairy, soy, or peanuts. (200 calories)

Kind Fruit & Nut Delight Mini

Four kinds of nuts give this petite pick a surprising amount of staying power. Eat one a couple of hours before a big meal, when you need to take the edge off your hunger. (108 calories)

What Makes a Winner

Companies submitted more than 60 new bars to FITNESS. Our experts — Anar Allidina, RD, a dietitian in private practice in Toronto; Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet; and Marissa Lippert, RD, author of The Cheater’s Diet — analyzed the nutrition facts and ingredients to help us determine which ones deserved to move to the next round of judging. Those finalists were sampled and voted on by dozens of staffers in a blind taste-test.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, May 2012.

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