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Best Energy Bars, AMT top picks

Energy bars may have been created to fuel athletes through grueling training sessions and endurance races, but over time these tasty nutrition bricks have evolved into a favorite snack, meal replacement, and/or emergency food for those on the go. And with a mind-boggling selection of bars to choose from, there is likely a bar for you--no matter your nutrition requirements and taste preferences.

Whenever anyone on the Athletic-Minded Traveler editorial staff hits the road, the second thing packed (after the gym shoes), is the energy bar collection-.yep that's right, "collection." Different cravings require different bars!

Here's our "Best in Show":

Best Candy Bar Impersonator: Premier Nutrition's Odyssey Bar (Caramel Nut)
With 30 grams of protein and only 7 grams of sugar, this bar's 300 calories deliver. Paula comments that "It tastes like a Milky Way Candy bar; Not like an engineered nutrition/vitamin bar."

Runner-Up: Powerbar Triple Threat (all flavors)
These tasty treats also receive kudos for their candy bar like taste. At about 230 calories and 10-12 grams of protein, these bars surpass the nutrition profile of a Nestle Crunch, but don't quite stack up to the Odyssey.

Best Traveler: The Greens+ Energy Bar in Natural
This uber healthy bar is a unique cold-pressed, alkaline-forming green food bar. There's nothing processed in this all natural 40-30-30 bar. Despite its rather unappetizing appearance (It's green.), the bar's soft texture and medium sweet flavor make it a winner. With no chocolate or yogurt coating or crumbly ingredients, this thing can take the rumble and tumble of travel. At 240 calories, 10 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber, it's not as protein rich as the competition, but for those looking for something different, give it a whirl. You can buy single bars at Whole Foods in the supplement area (for some reason you won't typically find these bars with the others). For those who are already fans of the Greens, they've engineered a little calorie bait and switch. The older models list the bar's calories at 162 and protein at 12 grams-hmmmm?

Best Cookie Impersonator: Odwalla Chocolate Chip Peanut
This carb heavy bar (38 grams) resembles an oatmeal, chocolate chip cookie with a peanutty taste. Its 250 calories yield a paltry 7 grams of protein so it likely won't pass muster for hard-core athletes. But for those who really need a treat, and want to avoid a total calorie explosion, this all natural comfort food bar with its chocolate chips and cookie like texture is just the thing. One of our staff recommends enjoying this bar with a cup of Peet's coffee.
Caveat: we enjoyed the previous formulation which was a little more firm. For some reason, Odwalla just recently reformulated the bar making it softer.

Best Breakfast: Balance Bar+ Yogurt Berry
With a yogurt coating and fruity flavor this 200 calorie bar offers 14 grams of protein and antioxidants. However sugar watchers may balk at the 17 grams and the big zero for fiber. Still, you can't overlook that protein.

Best Old-Timer: Tiger's Milk
This bar has been around since the 1960s and truly warrants the healthy "snack" label. With only 140 calories, 7 grams of protein and a pretty good chocolatey taste, it's the perfect pick-me-up.

Best Meal Replacement: Atkins Advantage Smore's Bar
The Atkins Bar misses the calorie punch of the Odyssey, but with 17 grams of protein, low sugar, high fiber and 9 grams of fat, the bar's 220 calories will satisfy. It won't win any taste awards, but it's pretty darn good. The South Beach Diet crowd swears by this bar. Also see Best in Size below.

Runner-Up: PureFit Nutrition Bar (230 calories, 18 grams protein)

Best Diet Bar: Genisoy's Low Carb Crunch, Chocolate Chip
This chocolate chip bar has cookie dough taste and lots of crispies for a crunchy texture. Our staff like this bar for its healthy snack profile (160 calories, 15 grams protein, low sugar), visible chocolate chips and ease of transport and consumption (no coating means no mess).

Best in Size: Various
One universal winning trait of any bar: a decent size. No matter how wonderful the nutrition profile and taste, if the bar is puny, it's a loser. We all want a bar that takes some time to enjoy. Some bars are just too small! Bigger bars mentioned: Kashi's Go Lean, MLO's Bio Protein, Premier Nutrition's' Odyssey, Promax Protein Bar, and weighing in at 400+ calories, the Big Whey Bar. Another favorite big boy, Met-Rx Big 100 in chocolate graham cracker chip. At 360 caloires, 27 grams protein and little fat, this bar earns raves for its taste and hunger alleviation.

The list of bar options seems infinite. Our best advice, maximize protein and fiber and minimize sugar and then sample away to find a few you like.

Buying Tip: Order in bulk online to save big. We've used Vitamin Shoppe and Vitaglo. Both offer free shipping over a certain amount spent. (I even order my tea online and save over 40% versus Whole Foods' pricing on Yogi Teas.)

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the problem with bars like

the problem with bars like the chia bar is the cost and shipping. it's not like they're sold at trader joe's. i prefer more protein (try for 10 grams). it's hard to beat Clif for $1 or some of the other bars. but at least some of your dough goes to charity and the bars are tasty!!

When I decided to lose weight

When I decided to lose weight (30 pounds), and start working out in the gym again, I looked for an energy/protein bar that would be a good meal replacement, provide a high whey protein content, be low in sugar, and keep the fats down to a reasonaable level. It also had to taste very good (no cardboard please). I tried every energy/protein bar that I could get my hands on (over 30), and rated them according to the above, including cost per gram of protein. The Odyssey Bar wasn't the cheapest, but it by far tasted the best....hands down!

Labrada Nutrition's Lean Body Cookie Twist Hi-Protein Energy Bar is another nutritious bar that I like.....high protein, low sugar and fat. It doesn't taste quite as good as the Odyssey Bar, but if you are trying to keep your fat consumption down, percentage wise it is one of the better bars out there.

I love the PureFit bars.

I love the PureFit bars. They are packed with 18 grams of protein, but do not contain hydrogenated oils, trans fats, artificial sweetners or sugar alcohols. They also DO NOT MELT! I am not a celiac, but I've been told they are the #1 choice for people who cannot eat wheat or gluten.

I've tried most of the bars mentioned and PureFit bars are the best. They were voted "Nutrition Bar of the Year" and I have to agree!

Try the Greens+ Energy Bar in

Try the Greens+ Energy Bar in Chocolate! I'm 22 and love these bars -- they are surprisingly the best tasting bars I have ever had and they really fill me up along with a glass of water. They contain a lot of organic ingredients and they're not afraid to print them right on the package! But it does have soy, so be careful!

Addition to the list:

Addition to the list: Powerbar Protein Plus with 20g protein/32g carbs and the CLIF Builder's, also with 20g protein and 30g carbs. Tons of energy packed in a tiny package.

I agree with the previous

I agree with the previous poster, Perfect 10 Bliss Bars are the best tasting healthy bar I've tried. I'm allergic to soy and am gluten intolerant/celiac so these are great.
And no preservative after taste like many other bars.

You have not tried Perfect 10

You have not tried Perfect 10 Bliss Bars or they would totally be on this list.
They are Canadian but are available in the United States and also at quite a few online stores I think. Not available in Britain yet - :(
They are just fruits, nuts and seeds (including flax - total bonus) with dark chocolate chips mixed in instead of in a messy melt all over the place coating.

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