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Best Meal Replacement Bars (2023)
Updated on April 23, 2023
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Diet / Weight Loss
Meal Replacements
Best Meal Replacement Bars (2023)

A meal replacement bar is a great substitute for any meal. It provides your body with the equivalent nutrients of a complete meal.

You can eat it if you’re too busy to prepare food or don’t have the time to shop for ingredients or stop by a restaurant. Since it’s portable, you can eat it anywhere.

Whether you’re vegan, have a food intolerance, are someone who wants to lose weight, or simply want a quick way to eat—there’s a meal bar for you.

Best Meal Replacement Bars (2023) 7

However, just because it’s “nutritious” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy. 

Our in-house expert, Dr. Rizza Mira, weighs in on the matter:

“Relying on these meal replacement bars as your sole meal for a long time can also have deleterious effects on health. There is no substitute for eating a well-balanced nutritious meal.”

Many meal replacement bars are full of sugar and ingredients that you either can’t eat or won’t eat. So we rounded up some of the best meal replacement bars to fit your lifestyle.

Everything We Recommend

Why Trust Us

KnowYourDNA is dedicated to providing readers with reliable information on products that help them achieve their health goals. 

We pick products based on:

  • Brand reputation
  • Product quality
  • Safety for consumption
  • Customer reviews

Our in-house medical experts ensure the accuracy of our information.

5 Best Meal Replacement Bars of 2023

Best Meal Replacement BarsCalories per servingProteins (g)Carbohydrates (g)Fats (g)Fiber (g)Sugar (g)
Jimmy Joy Plenny Bar v2.04002038 to 4215 to 186 to 7.91
Soylent Squared100610521
SlimFast Meal Bar180152410131
KaChava Chocolate Meal Bear200111913132
Huel Bar v3.12001223858

Jimmy Joy Meal Bar — Best Full Meal Replacement Bar

Best Meal Replacement Bars (2023) 8
Nutritional InformationJimmy Joy Plenny Bar v2.0
Calories per serving400 calories
Protein20 grams
Carbohydrates38 to 42 grams
Fats15 to 18 grams
Fiber6 to 7.9 grams
Sugar1 gram

Why We Recommend It

Jimmy Joy’s Plenny Bar has enough calories to replace a 400-calorie meal. 

It provides the “right amount” of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and essential nutrients as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).1

What we like most about this meal bar are its heart-healthy ingredients. Each serving contains up to 15.3 grams of healthy unsaturated fats.1

It also has phytonutrients and omega fatty acids, which can prevent heart disease and lower your risk for certain cancers.1,2,3  

“These phytonutrients are a good source of antioxidants. They protect the heart, brain, and liver from damage,” says Dr. Mira. 

Jimmy Joy Plenny Bar Pros

  • Low-sugar plant-based meal bar rich in dietary fibers
  • Balanced distribution of macronutrients
  • Has 26 essential vitamins and minerals
  • You can choose from five yummy flavors

Jimmy Joy Plenny Bar Cons

  • It isn’t vegan-friendly even though it has plant proteins
  • Some Jimmy Joy bars have artificial sweeteners and flavors
  • Contains ingredients that can trigger food allergies and intolerances

Read our full review of Jimmy Joy meal bar.

Soylent Meal Bar — Best Meal Replacement Bar for Snacking

Best Meal Replacement Bars (2023) 9
Nutritional InformationSoylent Squared Meal Bars
Calories per serving100 calories
Protein6 grams
Carbohydrates10 grams
Fats5 grams
Fiber2 grams
Sugar1 gram

Why We Recommend It

If you’re after a quick snack rather than a complete meal, you should give Soylent a try. Each bar contains half the amount of calories of a typical 200-calorie snack.

The low-calorie meal bar gives you better control of your calorie consumption. You can easily pair it with a calorie-restricted diet.

Unlike most meal replacement bars on our list, it doesn’t contain milk. Its dairy-free formula makes it great for people who are lactose-intolerant.

Soylent Bar Pros

  • Low-sugar meal bar with plant-sourced proteins
  • Balanced macronutrient split, with little saturated fats
  • Provides 26 vitamins and minerals
  • You can choose from two flavors

Soylent Bar Cons

  • Low fiber content (2 g)
  • Contains soy and artificial sugars
  • Manufactured in a facility that contains nuts
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip flavor uses peanuts

Read our full review of Soylent Bar here.

SlimFast Meal Bars — Best Meal Replacement Bar for Weight Loss

Best Meal Replacement Bars (2023) 10
Nutritional InformationSlimFast Meal BarsSlimFast Intermittent Fasting Complete Meal BarsSlimFast Keto Fat Bomb Meal Bars
Calories per serving180 calories180 to 190 calories180 to 200 calories
Protein15 grams15 grams7 to 9 grams
Carbohydrates24 grams20 grams15 to 21 grams
Fats10 grams8 to 9 grams12 to 16 grams
Fiber13 grams10 grams9 to 13 grams
Sugar1 gram1 to 2 grams1 to 3 grams

Why We Recommend It

SlimFast is our favorite meal bar for weight loss, mainly because it’s designed for some popular weight loss diets—like intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet.

It provides 180 to 200 calories and up to 100 percent of your daily recommended intake for 20+ nutrients. It’s rich in dietary fiber, which can reduce your appetite.4 

When paired with a calorie-restricted diet, SlimFast can decrease your daily caloric intake without depriving you of nutrients.

Slim Fast Pros

  • Offers three meal bars with different macro splits
  • Has a gluten-free and vegan meal bar
  • Provides up to 27 vitamins and minerals
  • Available in several flavors

Slim Fast Cons

  • Not a good choice if you have common food intolerances 
  • Has ingredients that can trigger food allergies
  • Contains sugar alcohols which can cause digestive upset
  • Has more sodium per serving than most meal replacement bars
  • SlimFast Intermittent Fast Meal Bar isn’t GMO-free

Read our full review of SlimFast meal bars.

KaChava Meal Bar — Best Meal Bar for Dietary Restrictions

Best Meal Replacement Bars (2023) 11
Nutritional InformationKaChava Chocolate Bar
Calories per serving200
Protein11 grams
Carbohydrates19 grams
Fats13 grams
Fiber13 grams
Sugar2 grams

Why We Recommend It

KaChava Meal Bars are compatible with many diet restrictions. It’s a good option if you’re vegan or have a food intolerance to gluten or soy.

KaChava is also keto-friendly and the only meal bar on our list that uses real food for its ingredients—sans the artificial stuff.

KaChava Bar Pros

  • Plant-based soy-free meal bar with little sugar and plenty of fiber
  • Calories are evenly divided across macronutrients
  • No added sugars, artificial ingredients, or sugary binders
  • Natural flavors and sweeteners (e.g., Monk fruit extract and cocoa)
  • Available in two flavors

KaChava Bar Cons

  • It doesn’t provide any vitamins
  • Only contains calcium, iron, potassium, and sodium
  • Peanut butter flavor isn’t for people with peanut allergies
  • May contain eggs, wheat (gluten), and milk

Read our full review of KaChava Bar.

Huel Bars — Best Meal Bar for Complete Nutrition

Best Meal Replacement Bars (2023) 12
Nutritional InformationHuel Bar v3.1Huel Complete Protein Bar
Calories per serving200 calories200 calories
Protein12 grams18 to 20 grams
Carbohydrates23 grams16 to 18 grams
Fats8 grams7 to 9 grams
Fiber5 grams5 to 6 grams
Sugar8 grams1 to 2 grams

Why We Recommend It

Huel Bars are some of the most nutritionally complete, providing up to 58 percent of the daily recommended intake for 27 vitamins and minerals.

Like Jimmy Joy, each serving contains healthy fats like omega fatty acids.

You can choose between the more balanced Huel Bar or the high-protein Huel Complete Protein Bar.

Huel Bar Pros

  • Vegan and gluten-free meal replacement bar
  • Contains fewer saturated (unhealthy) fats compared to others
  • Choose from four to six delicious flavors

Huel Bar Cons

  • Original Huel Bar contains more sugar than usual (8 g)
  • All flavors of Huel Complete Bar have peanuts

Read our full review of Huel Bars.

How Often Can I Eat A Meal Replacement Bar?

It depends. For example, if you intend to replace meals because you’re traveling or too busy to prepare food, you should only eat them occasionally.

In this case, you should strive to eat more whole foods with a balance of proteins, carbs, fats, and essential nutrients.

But if you’re replacing meals to lose weight, you can eat a meal bar once or twice a day and pair it with a calorie-restricted diet to reduce your calorie intake.

It’s important that you talk to a doctor before you replace meals with nutrition bars. They can determine your needs based on your current health and lifestyle.

You also have to note that some replacement bars do not work for everyone or are even harmful to those with underlying conditions like Diabetes Mellitus, so always consult your doctor. 

Can I Eat Protein Bars As A Meal Replacement?

Yes. You can eat a protein bar to replace a meal. But if you want to ensure that you maintain a balanced diet, you have to be discerning about your diet choices.

“Eating only these meal replacement bars as a sole source of macro and micronutrients for a long time can pose more harm than good,” says Dr. Mira.

Protein bars are rich in protein. Studies show that protein effectively reduces appetite and helps reduce the amount of food you eat.5

However, most protein bars don’t provide enough dietary fiber. You’ll have to get your fiber from whole food sources, like fruits and vegetables.

Alternatively, you can opt for high-protein bars made with plant-based ingredients, such as pea protein and brown rice protein, so you’ll get more fiber.

Are Meal Replacement Bars Better Than Meal Replacement Shakes?

Yes and no. Whole foods are generally more satisfying than beverages.6 So it’s possible that you will feel more full with a meal bar than with a meal shake.

Consuming whole foods as snacks also provides better appetite control.6 In theory, this means that if you drink a meal shake for a snack, you’re more likely to eat sooner than if you had a meal bar.

That said, the best meal replacement shakes can provide the same nutrition as meal bars. At the end of the day, it all boils down to your preference.

How We Picked The Best Meal Replacement Bars

People have their own reasons for wanting to replace an actual meal. So our team looked for meal bars that would meet different needs, namely:

  • Complete meal replacement
  • Snacking
  • Weight loss
  • Nutrient supplementation
  • Dietary restrictions

We asked our nutrition expert, Dr. Rizza Mira, what she believed were good criteria for choosing a healthy meal replacement bar. Then we compared products based on these criteria:

  • Calorie content – the number of calories it contains
  • Macronutrient distribution – how calories are divided across proteins, carbohydrates, and fats
  • Fiber content – how much fiber is in the meal bar
  • Vitamins and minerals – the amount and variety of nutrients
  • Ingredients – the types of ingredients used in the meal bar
  • Product quality – the overall quality of the ingredients 

Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all meal bar. 

“Choose a meal replacement bar with the right amount of protein and fiber. It should also supply about ⅓ of your daily needs for vitamins and minerals. You can pair this with another healthy snack like yogurt or low-fat milk,” says Dr. Mira.

While some products are bound to have better quality ingredients, it all boils down to choosing the best meal bar that’s tailored to your needs.

Calorie Content

While each person has different nutritional needs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates the daily caloric intake for Americans should be:7

  • Adult women: 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day
  • Adult men: 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day

If you snack twice a day and stick to the recommended 150 to 250 calorie limit7 per snack, it leaves you 1,100 to 2,100 calories (if you’re a woman) and 1,500 to 2,700 calories (if you’re a man)—which you can divide into three meals. 

“This requirement is true for those who have a sedentary lifestyle. If you exercise, this calorie limit also increases,” says Dr. Mira.  

This means a nutrition bar needs at least 360 calories to replace a meal. For weight loss, the European Union (EU) recommends 200 to 250-calorie products.8

Macronutrient Distribution

A balanced meal consists of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. 

The number of calories you consume each day and with every meal are divided across these macronutrients, depending on your health goals.

For most active adults, the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) recommends a macronutrient distribution of:9

  • Carbohydrates: 45 to 65 percent
  • Protein: 10 to 35 percent
  • Fat: 20 to 35 percent fat

We used this as a guide for choosing the best meal bars for replacing full meals. But when it came to weight loss, we held products to a different standard.

According to the EU, meal replacements intended for weight loss should have 25 to 50 percent protein and no more than 30 percent fat.8

So if a meal bar contains 360 calories per serving, it should have 22.5 to 45 grams of protein and no more than 108 grams of fat.

Research shows that a high-protein meal can suppress appetite and increase satiety or the feeling of fullness. This can help decrease your food intake, leading to weight loss.10  

Protein also moves slowly along the intestines, adding to this feeling of fullness. While fat isn’t as effective at reducing hunger, it has satiating effects.10 

Fiber Content

Fiber is important to any healthy diet. Unfortunately, more than 90 to 97 percent of Americans do not meet their daily fiber requirements.11

Men and women require 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day.12 Alternative sources of fiber (like meal bars) can contribute to your daily intake.12

“A meal replacement bar should contain at least 3g of fiber per serving. Fiber adds to the feeling of fullness,” says Dr. Mira.

Vitamins and Minerals

A healthy meal will have macronutrients, such as essential vitamins and minerals. It shouldn’t be any different for a bar that replaces meals.

EU regulations state that meal replacements designed for weight reduction should provide 30 percent of the daily values for 12 vitamins and 10 minerals:8

Vitamin A
Vitamin CCalcium
Vitamin DCopper
Vitamin EIodine
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)Iron
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)Magnesium
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)Manganese
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)Phosphorus
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)Selenium
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)Sodium
Vitamin B9 (Folate)Zinc
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

This helps prevent nutrient deficiencies, which can happen if you’re constantly substituting whole foods with meal replacement products.

Meal replacements may have more or less of the nutrients in this list. In general, you want a product that provides the most nutrients per serving. At least 33% of your daily requirement should be supplied by these meal replacement bars.


If there are certain foods that you can’t or won’t eat, you should carefully review the ingredients of a meal replacement bar before committing.

Make sure that a meal bar only includes ingredients that are compatible with your dietary restrictions. 

For example, a lactose-intolerant person may want a dairy-free bar. Someone who follows a vegan diet will want a vegan option, and so on.

Product Quality

Many bars are loaded with sugar and sodium. This can put you at risk for diabetes, hypertension, and other health conditions.

Eating too much sugar isn’t good for weight loss, too. After the initial rise in blood glucose (sugar spike), your blood sugar levels will eventually crash.

A sugar crash can leave you hungry and cause you to eat more food.13 It increases your calorie intake, which is the opposite of what you need to lose weight.

“A meal replacement bar should ideally contain less than 10 grams of sugar,” says Dr. Mira.

If you don’t take the time to read the nutrition labels, you may also find yourself eating meal bars that contain too many saturated fats. 

Unfortunately, diets rich in saturated fats may lead to weight gain.14

We found that the best meal replacement bars contain healthy fats and have little to no added sugars. Amino acids also improve their nutritional quality.

Updated on April 23, 2023
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14 sources cited
Updated on April 23, 2023
  1. Plenny Bar v2.0.” Jimmy Joy. 

  2. Health effects of omega-3,6,9 fatty acids: Perilla frutescens is a good example of plant oils.” Oriental Pharmacy & Experimental Medicine, Springer.

  3. Phytonutrients: Paint your plate with the colors of the rainbow.” Harvard Health Publishing. 

  4. Unravelling the Effects of Soluble Dietary Fibre Supplementation on Energy Intake and Perceived Satiety in Healthy Adults.” Foods, National Center for Biotechnology Information.

  5. Effects of high-protein vs. high- fat snacks on appetite control, satiety, and eating initiation in healthy women.” Nutrition Journal, BioMed Central.

  6. The Science of Snacking.” The Nutrition Source, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

  7. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.” Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

  8. COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) 2016/1413 of 24 August 2016.” Official Journal of the European Union.

  9. Exercise and the Institute of Medicine recommendations for nutrition.” Current Sports Medicine Reports, PubMed. 

  10.   “Effects of high-protein vs. high-fat snacks on appetite control, satiety, and eating initiation in healthy women.” Nutrition Journal, BioMed Central.

  11. Most Americans are not getting enough fiber in our diets.” American Society for Nutrition.

  12. I find it difficult to eat enough fruits and vegetables. Is there any harm in taking a fiber supplement every day?” Mayo Clinic.

  13. Short-term impact of sugar consumption on hunger and ad libitum food intake in young women.” Nutrition Research and Practice, National Center for Biotechnology Information. 

  14. Facts about saturated fats.” Medline Plus, National Library of Medicine.

Dr. Rizza Mira
Dr. Rizza Mira
Medical Reviewer
Dr. Rizza Mira is a medical doctor and a general practitioner who specializes in pediatrics, nutrition, dietetics, and public health.

As a pediatrician, she is dedicated to the general health and well-being of children and expecting parents. She believes that good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, and prevention of illness are key to ensuring the health of children and their families.

When she’s not in the hospital, Rizza advocates and mobilizes causes like breastfeeding, vaccination drives, and initiatives to prevent illness in the community.
Ada Sandoval
Ada Sandoval
Content Contributor
Ada Sandoval is a B.S. in Nursing graduate and a registered nurse with a heart for abandoned animals. She works as a content writer who specializes in medical-related articles and pet health.
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