The Top 5 Best Meal-Replacement Bars for Weight Loss or Muscle Gain in 2023

Two columns of the best meal-replacement bars.

Sometimes life can be too busy for you to get a full meal, or maybe you just can’t be bothered to cook. Perhaps you want to lose weight for that upcoming family wedding, but fasting is not the answer. Even if you don’t feel you have time, skipping meals is not a recommended option, it’s like trying to run your car on an empty tank of gas.

The best meal-replacement bars can have enough calories to stop your stomach from making those strange sounds as you sit at your desk. They can also give you the energy and nutrients you need to get through the busy day ahead. Meal-replacement bars offer a healthier alternative to just grabbing a Snickers from the office vending machine.

But how do you choose the right bar without ending up with a piece of candy or something with more calories than that tempting lunchtime burger? Hopefully, here we’ll give you some tips and look at some of the best meal-replacement bars available today.

How to Choose the Best Meal-Replacement Bars

Meal-replacement bars may look similar to many of those dreaded candy bars, but they’re packed with high amounts of protein. Often called protein bars, the protein usually comes from soy, milk or whey protein with some companies even adding powdered protein for a more protein-dense bar. It’s the protein which fills you up and stops your hunger pangs when skipping a meal.


The first thing you should look at when choosing the best meal-replacement bar is the quality of ingredients. Ingredients added for flavor and consistency like sugar or corn syrup can pile on those empty calories. Try to choose a bar that uses as natural ingredients and sweeteners as possible.

Many of the best meal-replacement bars will be gluten free, with more now becoming plant based and vegan friendly. Check for potential allergens like soy or peanuts before choosing a bar.


Just as important as the ingredients is the taste of the bar. Nobody wants to feel like they’re eating a protein-loaded piece of cardboard. Natural fruit and sweeteners can add to the flavor without adding too many calories. A chocolate or chocolate coating will also add to the flavor without being as unhealthy as a normal full-fat chocolate candy bar.

Meal-Replacement Bars and Your Dietary Goals

The other key factor is what you expect from your meal-replacement bars. If you want to lose some weight, you should be opting for a low calorie meal replacement bar. Various studies have shown that meal-replacement bars can help you as part of a calorie-controlled diet.

Some bars will offer a decent balance between weight loss and muscle building. These can be used as a snack bar for bulking up or meal replacement when trying to lose some weight. For more specific needs you can even make your own homemade meal-replacement bars tailored to your specific needs as shown in the following YouTube video.

Meal-replacement bars for Men Versus Women

A close look at the ingredients on a meal-replacement bar will reveal substances that are meant for specific purposes. The different compositions will depend on how your body is constructed, your level of fitness and how much muscle you want (or don’t want) to gain.

The larger your body is the more protein you’ll need to keep it going. A bodybuilder using a low-protein bar may find his muscles are actually shrinking rather than growing. Likewise if as a woman you go for bars with high protein used by bodybuilders you’ll put weight on rather than lose it.

Men generally require around 10 grams of protein while most women only need about 8 grams. Fiber requirements for men and women also vary, with men needing 38 grams of fiber a day compared to the 25 grams which is enough for women. Some bars have even be designed to meet the specific nutritional needs of women.

The Best Meal-Replacement Bars

We’ve looked at some top selling meal replacement bars from leading brands available today. In our opinion these are the five best meal-replacement bars, just choose which one meets your goals, or even which sounds tastiest!

Our Choice

Many of the bars we’ve looked at are advertiseddifferently from each other. Some are advertised for weight loss, some for energy and others for post-workout muscle repair. When choosing the best meal-replacement bars you should check hey have the correct nutritional value for your needs.

The Probar Superfood Slam bar uses only natural plant-based ingredients to meet your nutritional needs. It’s our choice for the best meal-replacement bar as the 370 calories it provides can replace a meal for even the larger of appetites. As long as it isn’t used as a snack bar, it can provide the extra nutrients you need for the busy day with no extra empty calories.

Always remember, that although the best meal-replacement bars provide protein and vitamins, you shouldn’t base your diet on them. Protein bars should be balanced with a healthy diet and only used once a day as a meal replacement. Eating a protein bar but then gorging on burger and chips won’t result in miraculous weight loss—unless it’s a turkey burger and sweet potato oven fries, which may help!

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