CLIF BARs are portable, high energy snacks suitable for people doing physical activity. However, due to their high sugar and carbohydrate content, eating them without exercising may result in weight gain.

In this article, we look at the nutrition in CLIF BARs and advise who can eat them and who is best to avoid them. We also suggest alternative healthy snacks that people can eat at home or while exercising.

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CLIF markets its bars as energy snacks for use during hikes, sports, or other outdoor pursuits.

The company claims to prioritize organic, plant-based ingredients from sustainable sources, using 70% organic ingredients in their bars and avoiding high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors.

Most of the bars that CLIF offers are vegan, although a few contain whey protein or honey.

The ingredients in a CLIF BAR vary depending on the flavor, but they typically include:

  • brown rice syrup
  • rolled oats
  • soy protein isolate
  • cane sugar
  • soy flour
  • rice flour
  • oat fiber
  • sunflower oil
  • sea salt

The bars also contain vitamins and minerals, such as:

The macronutrients, in grams (g), and calories in five popular CLIF BAR products are as follows:

CLIF BAREnergy
per bar
Protein per barFats per bar Carbohydrates per bar Sugars per bar
Chocolate Chip CLIF BAR250 calories9 g5 g45 g21 g
Crunchy Peanut
Butter CLIF BAR
260 calories11 g7 g40 g19 g
Blueberry Crisp CLIF BAR250 calories9 g5 g44 g22 g
Coconut and Almond Butter Nut Butter Bar230 calories6 g11 g28 g10 g
Vanilla Almond Builders Bar290 calories20 g11 g29 g16 g

Macronutrientsfats, carbohydrates, and protein — are the essential nutrients the body needs to function and stay healthy. We look at each of these in more detail below:

Carbohydrate and sugar content

CLIF BARs contain an average of 40–45 g of carbohydrate per bar. Therefore, a single CLIF BAR provides about one-third of the 130 g of carbohydrate per day that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend for an adult.

The bars contain sugars in the form of cane sugar and brown rice syrup. The company points out that it does not use high fructose corn syrup, which some research links to obesity and diabetes. However, even natural added sugars contribute to a person’s total added sugar intake.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting the amount of added sugars to 36 g per day for males and 25 g per day for females. CLIF BARs contain, on average, 20 g of added sugars, which is not far off the daily limit for females.

Therefore, a person eating a CLIF BAR should try to avoid consuming too many other foods and drinks containing added sugar during the same day. The AHA warns that just one 12-ounce can of soda can contain 32 g of added sugar, which is more than a day’s allowance for females.

Eating too much added sugar puts people at risk of various health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Learn more about the risks of eating too much added sugar.

Fat content

A Crunchy Peanut Butter CLIF BAR contains 7 g of fat, which equates to 63 calories — just over 3% of a person’s daily calories if they eat 2,000 calories per day.

Current guidelines advise that adults ages 19 years and above consume 20–35% of their daily calories as total fats. Less than 10% of this should be from saturated fat.

CLIF BARs do not contain any trans fats.

Protein content

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adult females and males eat 46 g and 56 g, respectively, of protein per day. Therefore, a Crunchy Peanut Butter CLIF BAR would provide about 20% of a male’s daily protein requirement.

CLIF BARs use soy protein isolate, which some research suggests is beneficial for regulating weight, synthesizing muscle protein, and supporting weight and bone health changes in menopause. However, other research indicates that soy protein may cause allergic reactions in some people.

The company website advises people to eat CLIF BARs before and during physical activity lasting more than 1 hour. For instance, the bars could be suitable for replenishing glycogen stores when someone is hiking, cycling, or climbing.

However, they may not be suitable for a snack just before or during high intensity exercise, as they could cause digestive discomfort. A person could eat a CLIF BAR to replenish energy following a high intensity workout of more than an hour, though.

According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, athletes who have a larger body or engage in high volume or high intensity exercise may not eat enough food to meet their daily calorie needs. For these people, a CLIF BAR may be a convenient way to consume more calories and macronutrients.

CLIF BARs have a high carbohydrate and sugar content that could cause someone to gain weight if they are not exercising regularly.

Some people may choose to eat CLIF BARs as a regular snack or dessert. If they are sedentary, this could take their added sugar intake over the recommended daily limit and increase their risk of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Less active people should choose healthy whole food snacks instead. The “Healthy Alternatives” section later in this article gives some options.

People with a nut allergy may also wish to avoid some flavors of CLIF BAR. They should check the ingredients lists carefully before trying any of the bars.

There are various types of CLIF BARs.

CLIF BAR

Best for all physical activities

This is the original bar that CLIF claims is an ultimate energy bar suitable for any physical activity. It contains sustainable and nutritious ingredients such as organic rolled oats.

Flavors include:

CLIF BARS cost $16.20 for a pack of 12. CLIF also sells mini and thin versions. Various multipacks are available, including seasonal flavors, a trial pack, and coffee flavors.

CLIF Nut Butter Bars

Best for hunger cravings

The company states that these bars are a quick and easy snack that satisfies hunger. They contain 5–7 g of protein to provide an energy boost.

Flavors include:

CLIF Nut Butter Bars cost $8.25 for five bars or $19.80 for 12. Variety packs are available with 18 bars.

CLIF Builders

Best for muscle support

CLIF claims these bars may help support and build muscles because they contain essential amino acids and complete plant protein.

Flavors include:

  • chocolate
  • chocolate peanut butter
  • chocolate mint
  • chocolate chip cookie dough with caffeine
  • crunchy peanut butter
  • vanilla almond
  • cookies ‘n cream

CLIF Builders cost $21.60 for 12 bars. Mini versions and variety packs are also available.

CLIF BAR Minis

Best snack

These mini CLIF BARs are a snack-sized version of the original energy bar.

The company claim they contain an optimal blend of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

Flavor options include:

  • chocolate brownie
  • chocolate chip
  • crunchy peanut butter
  • white chocolate macadamia nut
  • espresso
  • cappuccino

These mini bars are available in a pack of 20 for $13.80. Variety packs are also available.

CLIF Thins

Best low calorie

These thin versions of original CLIF BARs contain 100 calories and 5 g of sugar per two thins.

There are three flavors available:

  • chocolate chip
  • chocolate peanut butter
  • white chocolate macadamia nut

These thin bars are available in a pack of seven for $7.30. Variety packs are available.

Additional products

CLIF also sells cereals with whole grains, protein, and less sugar than other popular brands. Additionally, CLIF offers energy gels and chews in a variety of flavors.

Learn more about energy gels here.

CLIF also sells a children’s range of energy and protein bars.

Energy per barProtein per barFats per barCarbohydrates per barSugars per bar
CLIF BARs250–260 calories 8–11 g4.5–8 g40–45 g17–23 g
Nut Butter Bars220–230 calories 5–7 g10–11 g26–29 g9–11 g
Builders280–300 calories 20 g9–11 g29–31 g16–18 g
Minis100–110 calories 4–5 g2–3 g17–18 g8–9 g
Thins100 calories 2 g3–3.5 g15–16 g5 g

Whole food snacks are a healthier alternative to CLIF BARs. Options that someone could transport easily for hikes or sports include:

  • protein balls made from oats, peanut butter, cocoa powder, and a spoonful of pure maple syrup
  • a container of carrot and celery sticks with a spoonful of hummus
  • homemade trail mix with plain nuts, seeds, and dried coconut
  • a boiled egg and two oatcakes
  • a banana or apple

Healthy snacks to eat at home include:

  • Greek yogurt with fresh berries or grated apple and plain chopped nuts
  • mashed avocado with oatcakes
  • a small portion of olives and feta cheese

Learn more about what to eat for energy here.

A CLIF BAR can be a suitable snack for someone who is physically active. The bars may help replenish glycogen during exercise that lasts for at least an hour. Athletes who perform high intensity exercise and find it challenging to eat enough calories may also find CLIF BARs helpful.

However, for people who do less activity or have a sedentary lifestyle, eating CLIF BARs could lead to weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes. Anyone trying to manage their weight should choose whole food snacks instead.