Clif Bar vs. Kind Bar—Which Is Really Healthier?

A nutritionist explains how to choose the healthiest snack, protein, or food bars.

It's not every day that two of the largest snack bar brands in the country publicly battle it out over how healthy (or not healthy) their products are. But that's exactly what happened between Clif Bar and Kind Bar in 2019. Their jabs at each other were printed in national newspaper ads, aired on social media, and put on full display for everyone to see.

Clif vs. Kind Battle Begins

It all started when the co-founders of Clif Bar ran a full-page ad in the New York Times that was an open letter challenging Kind to do something, well, kind, by switching to organic ingredients (a step Clif Bar prided itself on taking back in 2003).

The letter read: "We would like to issue a challenge: Do a truly kind thing and make an investment in the future of the planet and our children's children by going organic." Clif also called on Larabar and RX Bar to do the same. Shots. Fired.

In response to the snarky letter, Kind called out Clif for having too much sugar added to its bars, though it ignored the call to go organic. Kind wrote on Twitter: "It's deceptive to try to pass off organic brown rice syrup as healthy. We'd be happy to meet with you and share why we focus on making snacks that always lead with nutrient-dense ingredients like whole nuts, whole grains & whole fruit - instead of sugar."

The Difference Between Bars

As a nutritionist, I have to say Kind Bar got the knockout this round.

Clif Bars are significantly higher in calories (they're much bigger) and added sugar than Kind Bars, Larabar, or RX Bars. But that's because original Clif Bars are considered energy bars, developed for endurance athletes, not workaholics seeking a satisfying snack. As an everyday snack, the original Clif Bar may have too many calories and added sugars for non-athletes.

Plus, organic certification sets strict criteria around how food ingredients are grown and processed, but it doesn't directly address nutritional quality. Organic sugar is still sugar—and it's just as bad for you as conventional table sugar.

When picking a bar, choose one with around 200 calories, fewer than 6 grams of added sugars, and at least 6 grams of protein and 3 grams fiber. Try Larabars as a healthier yet still energizing alternative to Clif Bars. They're actually closer in size, calories, and added sugar to Kind Bars.

Snack Bars Are Processed Foods

As the bar wars continue, remember that all snack bars are processed foods that should be limited to special occasions, like when traveling. The absolute best snack choices for both your health and the planet are always whole, natural foods, like fresh veggies with hummus, fresh fruit, nuts or nut butter, hard-boiled eggs, edamame, or roasted chickpeas.

To help you get into the habit of doing your own nutrition label sleuthing, here's how some of the more similar flavors across these brands compare:

Clif Energy Bar (68 grams)

  • Dark Chocolate Almond With Sea Salt ($17 for 12;
  • 260 calories, 7 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 21 grams sugar, 9 grams protein, 4 grams fiber
  • Main ingredients: organic brown rice syrup, organic rolled oats, soy protein isolate, organic cane syrup, organic roasted soybeans

Clif Luna Bar (48 grams)

  • Creamy Dreamy Peanut Butter ($19 for 15;
  • 210 calories, 10 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 7 grams added sugar, 8 grams protein, 3 grams fiber
  • Main ingredients: protein grain blend, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, peanuts, peanut butter

Kind Bar (40 grams)

  • Caramel Almond & Sea Salt
  • 200 calories, 16 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 5 grams sugar, 6 grams protein, 7 grams fiber
  • Main ingredients: almonds, chicory root fiber, honey, palm kernel oil, sugar

Larabar (45 grams)

  • Almond Butter Chocolate Chip
  • 210 calories, 12 grams fat, 2.5 grams saturated fat, 4 grams added sugar, 5 grams protein, 4 grams fiber
  • Main ingredients: almonds, dates, semisweet chocolate chips, apples, cocoa powder

RX Bar (52 grams)

  • Chocolate Sea Salt
  • 210 calories, 9 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 0 grams added sugar, 12 grams protein, 5 grams fiber
  • Main ingredients: egg whites, almonds, cashews, chocolate, cocoa
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