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Best meal replacement bar 2023: Snack healthily and aid weight loss with these pocket-sized bars

If you want to lose some weight or just stop snacking on chocolate bars, then try one of these healthy meal replacement bars instead

Whether you’re trying to reduce your calorie intake, too rushed to grab a proper meal, or just want a more healthy option for that afternoon snack, then a meal replacement bar might be a good alternative option. Providing you pick one with all the right ingredients, that is.

Meal replacement bars can also be eaten as a supplement to your three daily meals, especially if you’re working out regularly and need those extra nutrients. Why pick a meal replacement bar? Simple. While these nutrient-conscious bars are typically low on carbohydrates, they’re often rich with muscle-feeding protein.

But like all bars on the market, there are many pretenders out there who claim to have all sorts of health benefits but are actually packed with processed sugar, additives and all the things your body most certainly doesn’t want – and especially not if you’re trying to lose weight. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you find the right bar for you, followed by a round-up of our favourites.

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Best meal replacement bars: At a glance

How to choose the best meal replacement bar for you

Can I replace all meals with a meal replacement bar?

No – definitely not. All medical experts are at pains to say that, whatever your dietary plan, there’s no substitute for a healthy, nutritionally balanced meal. Most nutritionists and health experts recommend you replace no more than one meal a day with a meal replacement bar, and do so only once or twice a week.

In reality, you should think of meal replacement bars as something to be used in an emergency. So if you find yourself working through your lunch hour, or you know you’ve got a long train journey ahead, having a meal replacement bar to hand will stave off those hunger pains and prevent you from feeling hungry or dizzy. Bottom line: going hungry is never a good idea – especially if you’re trying to lose weight, as your body assumes it’s being starved, and starts to store fat rather than burn it off.

Is a protein or energy bar the same as a meal replacement bar?

Supermarket shelves are positively flooded with bars of some kind or other – each and every one proclaiming all sorts of benefits. Protein bars are intended as a pre- or post-workout supplement to get you that additional protein to repair and build muscle. Energy bars contain high-calorie ingredients that deliver fuel to help you get through the day. Meal replacement bars will contain ingredients that overlap with both of these – but above all, they should give you (or at least go some way to giving you) a nutritional intake that reflects a typical healthy meal.

What should I look for in the ingredients of a meal replacement bar?

As always with processed foods, the devil’s in the details – so always make sure you ignore the hype on the packaging of a meal-replacement bar, and take a good look at the list of ingredients on the back. Most bars contain 200-250 calories – always remember that calories in themselves are no bad thing: you need them to function on a daily basis. Just be sure they don’t come from ingredients like processed, insulin-spiking sugars that are bad for you. Protein is an important ingredient, as are complex carbohydrates, fibres and small amounts of fats. All the meal replacement bars we’ve listed below contain varying levels of all these ingredients.

READ NEXT: Best protein bar: The best-tasting protein bars

The best meal replacement bars to buy

1. MyProtein Meal Replacement Bar: Best bar for protein

Price: £25 for 12 | Buy now from MyProtein

You’ll find MyProtein’s Carb Crusher bars on our best protein bar list – and while they’ll certainly serve you well as a supplement if you’re training, they’ll also do a good job as a meal replacement bar. Alongside 20g of protein bar, they also contain 22 essential nutrients that include vitamins A and C, zinc and calcium. The marketing blurb says that Vitamin A, in particular, is a good ingredient, as it helps aid your immune system – something that often suffers if you’re dieting and on a low-calorie meal plan.

Key specs: Weight of bar: 65g; Calories: 228; Flavours: Chocolate fudge; salted caramel

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2. Oatein Hype Bar: Best bar for counting calories

Price: £13 for 12 | Check price at Amazon

Available in three flavours, each containing 192 calories or less, the Oatein Hype Bar is perfect for people who are on a Very Low Calorie Diet (where you consume 600-800 calories a day). These tasty bars contain just 1.7g of sugar and 4.8g of fat, but still pack in an impressive 18g of protein. Without the dry and bland texture of many competitors on the market, this bar lives up to the hype — though the individual flavours could benefit from being a little more distinct.

Key specs: Weight of bar: 60g; Calories: 187; Flavours: Cookies and milk; salty caramel; hazelnutty

3. Clif Energy Bar: Best bar for energy

Price: £25 for 12 | Check price at Amazon

While these bars from Clif are marketed as energy bars, they contain enough nutrients to work as a meal replacement bar. Made with organic rolled oats, these bars a good shout if you’re working hard, and need some fuel in place of a square meal. They don’t contain any artificial sweeteners or fructose syrup – the sort of thing that usually heads straight to your waistband – and contain vitamins B6 and B12, which the Clif says are nutrients ideal for healthy energy release. We’ve linked through to the peanut butter bar, but you can also get a wide range of other flavours.

Key specs: Weight of bar: 68g; Calories: 260; Flavours: Chocolate chip; white chocolate macadamia nut; cool mint chocolate; blueberry crisp; peanut butter with dark chocolate; coconut chocolate chip; coconut almond fudge; alpine muesli mix

4. NewWeigh Meal Replacement Bar: Best gluten-free bar

Price: £15 for 7 | Check price at Amazon

With a mere 217 calories in each bar, the NewWeigh meal replacement bar is another solid candidate for those who are trying to regulate or reduce their calorie intake. Each bar contains 26 essential vitamins and nutrients, 16.2g of protein and 5.8g of fibre, so you can be sure it’s more beneficial for you than the dark chocolate orange flavour suggests. What’s more, NewWeigh’s bar is gluten-free, so if you are a coeliac, or just looking to pursue a gluten-free diet, then this bar might be for you.

Key Specs: Weight of bar: 60g; Calories: 217; Flavours: Dark chocolate, Bakewell, Fruity Oat and Seed

5. Slim & Save meal replacement bar: Best value for money bar

Price: £36 for 30 | Check price at Amazon

If you want to include meal replacement bars in your diet, but often find the uninspired flavour options an obstacle, then Slim & Save’s offering might be for you. Each box includes a whopping 10 flavours, so we doubt you’ll be getting bored of them any time soon.

Every bar contains 12g of protein, more than 10 vitamins and only contains 166 calories, so they’re a solid option if weight loss is your main goal. The £35 asking price might initially seem steep, but when you consider that you get 30 bars, three of each flavour, it works out to just over £1 per bar – the cheapest on this list.

Key Specs: Weight of bar: 45g; Calories: 166 Flavours: Apricot and Almond, Chewy Chocolate, Coconut, Crispy Caramel, Chocolate Orange, Dark Truffa, Milk Truffa, Praline, Lemon, Yoghurt Muesli