When you’re on the go, grabbing an RXBar feels definitively better than a sugary CLIF bar or a candy bar. But are RXBars healthy? Their simple ingredients list and “no B.S.” policy would lead you to think so, but it’s the back of the label that really counts. Here’s everything you need to know about RXBars, according to registered dietician Imashi Fernando MS, RD, CDCES.
About the Expert:
Imashi Fernando works in a large hospital system as a clinical dietitian and provides one-on-one nutrition counseling through her virtual private practice, Brown Sugar Nutrition PLLC. She holds a master’s degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Washington.
Are RXBars Healthy?
For the most part, yes. “While RXBars are considered a packaged snack, they aren’t ultra processed like many alternative bar options,” says Fernando.
RXBars are made with whole ingredients, and don’t contain any added sugar, artificial flavors, or preservatives. They also run comparably low in saturated fats and sodium, and are a good source of fiber.
At around 200 calories, an RXBar is the perfect amount for a snack—which Fernando previously told The Edge should range from 100 to 300 calories based on your goals (on the lower end for weight loss, higher for weight gain, and right in the middle for weight maintenance).
What’s in an RXBar?
RXBars have a better ingredients list and nutrition profile than most packaged bars, but there’s more to it than the short list on the front of their labels may imply.
RXBars claim to prioritize simple, whole food ingredients. The brand smacks most of the ingredients on the front of the label. The ingredients vary per bar and flavor, but in general most RXBar flavors contain egg whites, dates, nuts, and chocolate. However, many of the bars contain other additives like natural flavors, too.
“Natural flavors are a highly processed, complex mix of extracts from various foods, oils, herbs, and spices all put together in a lab,” explains Fernando. “Additives, preservatives, and solvents are often used during this process, but food manufacturers are able to still call it a natural flavoring as long as the source of flavor is derived from a food.” The company claims that this isn’t the case and that its natural flavors are derived only from plants, fruits, and spices; but, the only proof we have is its word.
While each RXBar contains a range of ingredients, the macros are pretty consistent across the board. Take the Chocolate Sea Salt flavor, for example. It contains 23 grams of carbs, 12 grams of protein, 8 grams of fat, and 5 grams of fiber. “Around 2:1 carbs to protein is a great ratio to look for in a snack,” says Fernando. She also likes that most of the fat is heart-healthy polyunsaturated fat from nuts.
While the sugar content in RXBars is high for a snack (averaging 14 grams of sugar per bar), RXbars contain no added sugar. All of the sugar content comes from the natural sugar found in dates. According to Fernando, dates are nutrient dense with a low glycemic index that provides multiple other nutrients like fiber, potassium, and B vitamins.
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When Should You Eat RXBars?
RXBars cover most of the bases for when you would want something grab-and-go:
As a snack
Because RXBars are nutrient-dense and contain a balanced blend of macros, they’re a great hold-me-over until your next meal. “If you struggle with hunger between meals, RXBars can be a quite filling snack because of the fat, protein, and fiber,” explains Fernando. “Plus, you won’t need to pair it with anything else to minimize glucose spikes for that very same reason.”
Before or after a workout
RXBars also work well as a pre- or post-workout snack as they contain both carbs and protein for fueling before a workout and for building muscle and replenishing muscle glycogen stores after a workout.
“Eat it at least one to two hours before your workout to digest the fiber and protein and avoid any GI distress,” says Fernando. “If you eat it after your workout, just keep in mind that depending on the intensity of your workout the macros may not be high enough for a complete post-workout meal.”
How to Pick the Healthiest RXBars?
“RXBars are pretty consistent in their nutrition and macro content, but in general check the calories per serving and serving size, to ensure the nutrition facts are for the whole bar,” says Fernando.
You’ll also want to look for saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars (three things she recommends limiting), as well as fiber (something to maximize).
You have questions about RXBars, we have answers.
Are RXBars good for weight loss?
“RXBars are more energy dense than some other snack options, so may not always fit into a calorie deficit diet plan for weight loss,” says Fernando. For example, if you’ve allotted 200 calories to a snack then great. But if your plan is 200 calories between a few snacks daily, then an RXBar won’t work.
Can RXBars replace a meal?
Ideally not, says Fernando. “RXBars don’t contain enough calories to be considered an adequate meal.” A meal should also revolve around real, whole foods if possible.
Which is better: CLIF or RXBars?
RXBars are a healthier option than CLIF bars since the latter contain more added sugar, carbs, calories, and additives, and less protein than the former.