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A Quick Look at Clif Bars and Larabars
You can pick either of these bars up at most grocery stores, health food shops, and even some convenience store and drugstores. Each brand has branched out into different lines to appeal to a wider variety of shoppers.
- Fruit + Greens
- Nut & Seed
- Organic with Superfoods
Clif Bars come in:
- Nut Butter Filled
- Trail Mix Bar
- Whey Protein Bar
- Organic Energy Food
- Builder’s® Protein Bar
- Crunch® Granola Bar
One major difference I noticed right off the bat was the addition of protein powder to some of the Clif Bars. Larabars don’t have that option, so if you’re following an IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) approach and need more protein in a quick, convenient bar, Clif Bars may be the best bet.
If you’re trying to focus only on whole foods and don’t look at macro counts too much, you’ll probably largely prefer the Larabar line. I prefer the Larabars because of food sensitivities. Clif bars tend to have a longer list of ingredients and more opportunities to go wrong for me, but I used to enjoy them.
Larabar keeps the list of ingredients on all their bars short and sweet. I love this because I recognize everything in them, don’t have to worry about what anything means, and, as I mentioned before, don’t have to wonder too much about how certain ingredients will affect me.
This doesn’t mean Larabar are free of sweeteners, but they tend to be sweetened with things like dates and maple syrup rather than cane syrup, tapioca syrup, or brown rice syrup, and they’re generally further down the list (other than dates, which are frequently the first ingredient listed on Larabars). By contrast, organic brown rice syrup is the first ingredient on the Apricot Clif Bar® Energy Bar, and there’s dried cane syrup further down the list as well.
I thought that might have just been an extra boost of sugar because it’s an energy bar meant to help you fuel up for endurance activities, but the Clif Mojo Dark Chocolate Almond Coconut Trail Mix Bar’s first ingredient is also organic brown rice syrup. I won’t hold the additional organic dried cane syrup against it since that’s part of the organic chocolate chunks.
Let’s compare the original bar from each line. Since they each have a Carrot Cake flavor, I’ll use that one:
|Ingredients||Dates, almonds, walnuts, raisins, dried pineapple, unsweetened coconut, carrots, cinnamon, extra virgin coconut oil||Organic brown rice syrup, organic rolled oats, soy protein isolate, organic cane syrup, organic dried apples, organic roasted soybeans, organic dried cane syrup, organic soy flour, organic raisins, dried carrots, organic oat fiber, rice flour, organic high oleic sunflower oil, cocoa butter, soy flour, rice starch, natural flavors, sea salt, barley malt extract, nutmeg, soy lecithin, organic cinnamon, cloves|
Since the Clif Mojo Trail Mix Bar and Nuts and Seeds Larabar sound like they would have a lot in common and they both have a dark chocolate almond flavor, let’s compare those side by side, too. Since the range is so varied, I’d like to compare more than one bar from each.
|Polyunsaturated Fat||Not listed||Amount not listed, but 1.5%DV|
|Monounsaturated Fat||Not listed||Amount not listed, but 4.5%|
|Ingredients||Almonds, honey, sprouted chia seeds, cacao nibs, unsweetened coconut, maple sugar, coconut oil, cocoa powder, sea salt||Organic brown rice syrup, organic almonds, soy rice crisps (soy protein isolate, organic rice flour, calcium carbonate), organic chocolate chunks (organic dried cane syrup, organic unsweetened chocolate, organic cocoa butter, organic soy lecithin, organic vanilla), organic coconut, almond butter, organic roasted soybeans, organic oat syrup solids, vegetable glycerin, organic coconut oil, sea salt, organic gum arabic, natural flavor, natural vitamin E|
Unless you’re counting macros and trying to hit specific numeric goals, the Larabars look like the winner here based on ingredients alone. The higher sodium levels in the Clif Bars could be concerning for some people; others may not mind so much, depending on what the rest of their diet looks like.
People who have a tough time getting enough protein into their diets and look to bars and shakes to help them supplement may still have a preference for Clif Bars, especially the ones that contain whey protein powder (14 grams of protein per bar). People who are sensitive to soy, though, will want to keep their distance, stick with the Larabars, and supplement with protein differently.
People with nut allergies will also have better luck with some flavors of Clif Bars. They don’t all contain nuts. Most, if not all, Larabars do contain nuts. Check the Clif bars’ labels, though. There is an allergen warning, and depending on how sensitive you are to products made in the same facility as the things you’re allergic to, they may still not work for you. For many people, this isn’t a problem, but I feel I should point it out just to be safe.
RXBARs are a happy medium between the two. They have clean ingredients and extra protein from egg whites (but do contain nuts). Tone It Up’s Plant-Based Protein Bars are another option, with 10 grams of protein (mostly pea protein) and a slightly longer ingredient list than the Larabars have.
If you enjoy trail mix type bars but you’d like to see an alternative, you might like Kind Bars.
Clif bars and Larabars are roughly the same in price. You can get a package of twelve Clif Bars for about $10.98 on Amazon (Check out the latest prices here!). A box of five Larabars is around $4.98 (Check out the latest prices here!). Prices will vary based on sales and which type of bar within the Larabar or Clif Bar line you want, of course, but overall, Larabars are slightly more expensive.
Both types of bars can be purchased individually or in larger boxes. You’ll usually need to buy the individual bars in person and larger boxes online.
Flavors and Texture
Though they both tend to taste fine overall—delicious, even, for a “healthy” bar—Larabars and Clif Bars differ in texture.
Most Larabars are soft, moist, and seem fresh, like something you could’ve made a batch of at home. I’ve rarely been disappointed by a flavor, and I’ve tried them all. I highly recommend the Coconut Cream Pie, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Tart Cherry.
The “with Superfoods” line might be more of an acquired taste, so if you’re new to healthy eating and looking for something healthier to replace sweet snacks, I recommend starting out with the original or Nut & Seed line. The Nut & Seed line has a crunchy texture.
Some bars are drier and less appealing than others (even within the same flavor), but I’ve never pinpointed exactly why. I don’t know if it simply varies from batch to batch or if the drier ones are closer to their expiration dates. Even when they’re drier than usual, however, they’re far from inedible. They’re still good.
Clif Bars tend to be a little drier overall, but their texture doesn’t suggest “protein bar” or “health food bar” either. You won’t get the taffy-like texture of Quest bars, for example. Clif Bar textures do, however, vary based on the type you buy.
The Builder’s Bar, for example, is more like a candy bar or your typical protein bar (it tastes better than your average protein bar, in my opinion). The original, Nut Butter Filled, and Nuts & Seeds Clif Bars are chewy, dense, and have a texture more similar to Larabars.
Just as Clif Bars offer a wider variety of textures, their available flavors may be more appealing to the average person. Both lines have some delicious flavors in common (dark chocolate almond and carrot cake, for example), but Clif Bars stand out with options like cookies and cream, the whole nut butter filled line, peanut toffee buzz, and white chocolate macadamia, to name a few.
Which One Wins?
Either one is great if you’re trying to replace a sweet, unhealthy snack or even breakfast. They could both count as a step in the right direction. Overall, I have to say Larabar wins for the short, easy-to-understand list of ingredients on each bar. Clif Bars aren’t far behind.
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Health enthusiast, runner, protein nut. Owen likes to write about protein, particularly alternatve supplementation and supplement comparisons.