What is RXBAR?
Consumers are increasingly concerned about the ingredients in what they eat, and the RXBAR is one of many energy bars on the market today designed to make this decision easier.
According to the company website, these bars are designed to be as transparent on the outside as they are healthy on the inside. Each bar’s packaging highlights exactly what ingredients it contains, drawing attention specifically to what it doesn’t include, like dairy, soy, added sugars, gluten and artificial ingredients.
RXBARs got their start in CrossFit culture as a whole food alternative to processed protein bars, and the name “RX” comes from the CrossFit term for completing a workout to a high standard, which the company has appropriated to symbolize that they don’t cut corners.
The website makes it clear that they won’t make over-the-top claims about their bars or advertise them as a prescription for stellar health. Instead, they chose to be transparent about the ingredients they use to help consumers make more informed snack choices.
Do RXBARs live up to their pure food claims? Let’s look through the ingredients list to find out.
What are the Ingredients in RXBARs?
Looking at the ingredients profiles for different varieties of RXBARs, it's clear to us that most of the bars are nutritionally similar to each other.
The front of each RXBAR wrapper lists just a few ingredients, usually egg whites, nuts, and dates. However, the back lists the other ingredients specific to each flavor, which often includes different fruits, seasonings, and even natural ‘flavorings’ (more on that later in the article).
Below, we’ll go through the main nutritional advantages of the most common ingredients used in RXBARs.
Egg Whites: Each RXBAR relies on egg whites as its main protein source, evidently because they are cholesterol free and an easy form of protein for the human body to absorb. Egg whites are also a source of complete protein, meaning they provide the body with the amino acids it needs to build muscle, hair, and nails.
Dates: RXBARs rely on dates for their naturally sweet, sticky texture to keep them together. High in fiber and coming in at 10 percent of daily carbohydrate requirements, the dates in each bar are considered by the company to be a nutritious way to consume carbs.
Nuts: Most RXBARs contain either pecans, cashews, almonds, or peanuts to add essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats to each bar. They are also used to improve texture and keep you feeling full longer.
Cocoa and Cacao: Rather than relying on processed chocolate, many types of RXBARs are flavored with raw cacao powder and nubs to provide intense chocolate flavor without the added sweeteners.
Fruit: Besides dates, RXBARs are infused with fruits like apples, blueberries, and pumpkin to add texture and nutrition.
Spices and Natural Flavors: Many RXBARs are flavored with spices like cinnamon and sea salt. Some bars also include ‘natural flavors’ as a listed ingredient, which the company website claims come from purified extracts of spices, fruits, and vegetables, instead of synthetic or artificial sources.
However, we’ve found through the FDA that the term “natural” is not regulated for food products, so the term doesn’t have a legal definition that companies need to comply with when it’s used on an ingredients list.
Equally noteworthy is what these bars claim not to contain; namely, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and filler ingredients, which the overwhelming majority of nutritional experts (including Harvard Health, NutritonFacts, and the Mayo Clinic, to name a few) agree are bad for your body because they can lead to obesity, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.
The bars are also free of added sugar, dairy, soy, gluten, and all forms of ‘B. S.’ (bad stuff).
It’s important to note that RXBARs aren’t organic or vegan, though they are paleo and Whole30 friendly, as well as lactose-free and gluten-free.
Is There Clinical Evidence for RXBar’s Effectiveness?
The RXBAR website makes it clear that they don’t advertise their bars as a form of medicine and consequently make few claims about their health benefits. In fact, there isn’t any clinical evidence listed for the bars or the ingredients they contain.
However, the company chooses to let their ingredients speak for themselves, and we found the following nutritional information important to note.
- Most bars contain between 200-220 calories each (about thirty calories more than the other bars we looked at).
- Each bar has 12 grams of protein and provides more than 20 grams of fiber, (about a quarter of an average adult’s daily protein needs and almost two-thirds of the fiber).
- The bars contain little saturated fat, with the peanut butter chocolate flavor containing the most at 2.5 grams (or, 12.5 percent daily value).
According to our research on medical websites like the Mayo Clinic, the protein source in energy bars can make a major difference in their overall nutritional profile.
To this extent, the RXBAR relies on egg whites and nuts, which Melissa Wdowik, director of the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center at Colorado State University, recently told Wired that she considers the “gold standard” for protein because they contain all the amino acids your body needs and are easily absorbed.
How Much Do RXBARs Cost?
There are multiple ways to buy RXBARS on the company website. A single flavor box of 12 retails for $25.99, while a sample pack with six flavors goes for $27. There is also an option to sign up for a 30, 45, or 60-day subscription and pay only $24.69 per box with free shipping.
Besides their regular product line, RXBAR also makes a kids’ bar that is slightly smaller than the standard versions (130 calories and 7 grams of protein) and comes in kid-friendly flavors like chocolate chip, apple cinnamon raisin, and berry blast. These bars retail for $25 for 16, or $26 for a variety pack.
The bars are also available in a variety of stores like Walmart and Target where they retail for about $6.99 for boxes of four.
What Are User Opinions on RXBAR?
On the RXBAR website, each bar flavor has verified buyer feedback. Our survey of these found that most averaged about 4.5 out of 5 stars after several dozen reviews at the time of publishing.
Many customers left positive comments that the bar is one of the best they’ve had, one of their all-time favorites, and a staple on their pantry shelves. Others praised how full they felt after eating each one and how fresh and consistent the bars tasted. Some reviewers found them difficult to chew and reported that they made their jaws hurt and got stuck in braces and/or dental work.
On Amazon, the bars had four-star average ratings after over 2,000 reviews, though we noticed that several reviewers noted that all the flavors they tried tasted too similar, which the reviewers attributed to the bar’s reliance on natural flavors, not synthetic (and consequently stronger) flavorings.
Are There Potential Side Effects from Eating RXBARs?
Because RXBARs are formulated from natural ingredients, the nutritional consensus we found through Dr. Michael Gregor of Nutrition Facts is that there is little risk of suffering from negative side effects. That being said, anyone with allergies to soy, milk, eggs, peanuts and other tree nuts should avoid these bars because they all either contain these ingredients or are manufactured in facilities that contain them.
Unlike some varieties of protein bars, RXBARs don’t contain less expensive protein sources like soy protein isolate and chicory root. According to the reputable online medical sources we looked at, some people find these ingredients cause flatulence and are difficult on the digestive system.
What Products on the Market are Similar to the RXBAR?
Our research found a wide variety of pure ingredient-based protein bars on the market today. To make a comparison, we selected two with similar ingredients and marketing strategies to RXBAR.
The Larabar is a popular gluten-free protein bar that retails for about a dollar each (roughly half the price of an RXBAR). Like them, Larabars are also advertised as containing a handful of whole ingredients, like dates, peanuts, and other fruits and flavors.
While the bars are considered a quick, wholesome snack that’s gluten-free, dairy-free, and non-GMO, each bar contains just 5 grams of protein. Compared to the 12 grams in each RXBAR, this means eating Larabars will likely make you hungry again faster because your body will burn through the protein more quickly than the other bar.
Likewise, Kind Plus bars are significantly lower in protein than RXBARs (they have just 4 grams per serving). Of note, Kind Plus bars also contain about four grams of added sugar each (the American Heart Association recommends 30 grams a day or less) and over a dozen ingredients per bar.
The higher sugar levels aren’t necessarily viewed as a negative, as we also found through online reviews that many people preferred the taste and flavor options of Kind Plus bars over RXBARs. In general, these bars retail for $15 for a twelve pack.
Our Consensus: Should You Try RXBAR?
While we haven’t tried these bars for ourselves, we believe that they offer a smart snack alternative to processed foods because of their reliance on nutritious ingredients, which fit under the whole-foods philosophy that nutritionists like Dr. Gregor and Melissa Wdowik recommended earlier in the article.
As one of the few protein bars to rely on egg whites, these bars are a smart alternative for people that find cheaper protein sources to irritate their digestive system. While not vegan-friendly, the bars are free of gluten, dairy, and synthetic ingredients, and they get their sweetness from fruits and cacao rather than added sugar and chocolate.
Though RXBARs are more expensive than the other protein bars we studied, they provide a bigger bang for your buck with their impressive 12 grams of protein each, and in a form that’s more bioavailable than the soy protein and other forms that are commonly used.
The company doesn’t claim that their bars will solve your health problems, but their commitment to transparency and reliance on quality ingredients means we feel comfortable recommending RXBARs as an energy source that contains the kinds of ingredients that health practitioners and dieticians recommend.