Most major brands offer low-calorie energy bars. For instance, companies like Kashi make granola-type bars under 150 calories for consumers who desire lighter, less filling fare. However, experts say if you want lasting energy it's still important to look for a bar with a good balance of energy-fueling carbohydrates and filling protein -- a ratio of about 3-to-1 or 4-to1 -- that's also low in fat (no more than 3 grams of saturated fat and no trans fat), fiber (at least 3 grams), and has 18 grams of sugar or less. Protein and fiber slow the digestion of carbs to give you more sustained energy. Fiber can also be a boon to folks watching their weight, since this nutrient prompts you to feel fuller so you won't be tempted to eat more.
One Clif Bar product, the lower-calorie Luna Bar (*Est. $1.20), is marketed as an energy bar for women. It's smaller in size than a regular Clif Bar and is fortified with vitamins and minerals such as calcium and folic acid. The 14 Luna Bar flavors are made from 70 percent organic natural ingredients and they range from 170 to 190 calories. Their nutritional breakdown is 8 to 9 grams of protein, 25 to 30 of carbohydrates and 3 to 5 grams of fiber per bar. They're also lower in sugar, with 11 to 13 grams, and have between 0 and 3 grams of saturated fat. Six Luna Bar flavors are also available in a mini-size with 80 calories and about half the protein, fat and carbs of larger Luna bars.
Like Clif Bars, Luna Bars are very popular with consumers; they get an average rating of 4.3 out of five stars from over 220 users at Amazon.com. User comments range from "satisfies the desire to eat a lower sugar, higher protein snack" to "yummy and satisfying, but they don't feel heavy in your stomach." Experts rate them highly as well. About.com sports medicine guide Elizabeth Quinn picks Luna as one of the top four energy bars and says "They are crunchy, don't melt in hot conditions, and are still edible when frozen." Luna Bars are also described as having a lighter, crispier texture than other energy bars, a characteristic which appeals to many consumers. Taste testers for a Prevention magazine article like that they are "light, not dense." The Luna Bar is also the top-rated energy bar at Outside magazine, where over 350 users give different flavors an average score of 4.4 out of five.
Pria bars (*Est. 70 cents), PowerBar's low-cal offering, contain a mere 110 calories and are fortified with several vitamins and minerals. These bars have about 5 grams of protein and 15 to 17 grams of carbohydrates. Redbook magazine editors pick the Vanilla Chai Crisp flavor as one of their "favorite low-cal, energizing snack bars." Pria bars are rated 4.5 out of five stars by about 50 users at Drugstore.com. Reviews from close to 30 users at Amazon.com give Pria bars an average rating of four out of five stars, with several people saying Pria is a good pre-workout bar since it's low in fat and fiber.
Kashi's TLC Chewy Granola Bar (*Est. 90 cents), another solid pick, gets positive reviews from experts and users. Samantha Cassetty, registered dietician and nutrition director at Good Housekeeping magazine, writes, "They're a healthy choice since they're made from whole grains and are lower in sugar than most other granola bars I've seen. They also contain a good mix of fiber and protein." ShapeYou.com, a site for people into health and fitness, gives a 2009 Top Gear of the Year award to these bars as well, and users give them high ratings at Drugstore.com and on the Kashi website. One user writes, "good taste and keeps me full for a while"; another says they are "the perfect post-workout snack." The TLC Chewy Granola Bar's five flavors range from 120 to 140 calories, with 5 to 7 grams of protein, 20 grams or so of carbohydrates, and 4 to 5 grams of fiber per bar.
Individuals who want to incorporate more soy into their diet may be interested in SoyJoy bars (*Est. $1.00). The six SoyJoy flavors are made with whole soybean powder rather than the soy protein isolate other energy bars contain, along with other natural ingredients like dried fruit. Each bar rings in at around 130 to 140 calories, 4 grams of protein, 16 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of fiber. Over 100 users at Drugstore.com rate different flavors of SoyJoy bars an average of 4.2 out of five. Some, however, complain that the bars are too dry and not sweet enough. The reviewer at IAteAPie.net, a site where individuals post reviews of healthy foods, agrees saying "SoyJoy bars were tough, dry, and had a pasty taste."