Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Are Clif Bars Bad For You?



Short answer

On the occasion that you need a calorie pick-me-up, Clif Bars are an OK option, but they should not be consumed regularly, as some of the ingredients can pose serious long-term effects.



Recommended Alternative

Long answer

In comparing Clif Bars to other meal replacement or pre-packaged workout snacks, they rank far above in nutritional value and ingredient quality. It’s important you take them for what they are, though - an occasional energy boost while out on an adventure or exercising. They are not a meal replacement and they are not meant to be consumed daily.

Most of the ingredients used in Clif Bars are organic which is good! That means no pesticides or fertilizers were used in growing these foods. It also means no genetically modified organisms are contained in the seeds used to grow those foods. GMOs, pesticides, and fertilizers can cause toxin build-up in your body leading to many unwanted health conditions. 

These bars offer a variety of vitamins and minerals along with a good amount of protein and carbohydrates to give you energy. Depending on the bar flavor you choose, you will be receiving roughly 45 grams of carbohydrates and 9 grams of protein. One bar contains roughly 10% each of the recommended daily value of vitamins A, E and C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, and B12. There is also 20% of the RDA of calcium and magnesium, 15% of the RDA of vitamin D and 25% of the RDA of phosphorus. 

If you’re using Clif Bars as intended, after putting your body through some tough work, aside from the energy replenishment, your body will need those B vitamins the most. B vitamins are necessary for producing energy through the Krebs cycle, especially thiamin, riboflavin, and B6. B12 also carries some weight as it is needed to repair cells damaged by the stress of exercise and to synthesize new red blood cells. The amounts of sodium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus in the bars will also help to balance your electrolytes from sweating.  

Some ingredients that can be concerning are the common allergens of soy and wheat. Many people have full allergies or sensitivities to these foods that can cause gastrointestinal distress, diarrhea, headaches or rashes. There is also roughly 24 grams of sugar in 1 bar, which is equal to 6 teaspoons (yikes), and is the entirety of the recommended maximum of sugar intake for the whole day! If you have gut bacteria balance issues, stay away as sugar will feed the bad bacteria such as Candida.

Clif Bars also contain soy protein isolate. This substance is made from defatted soybean flakes that are washed (sometimes with alcohol) to remove sugars and unfortunately also the fiber. Basically, this process leaves it devoid of any nutritional value. This ingredient has been linked to allergies, thyroid problems and brain damage, and if you regularly eat processed foods you are most likely eating this substance often. Soy intake has also been linked to breast cancer because of its estrogen-like effects in the body, which can accelerate cancer cell growth.

Possible short-term side effects

  • allergic reaction
  • diarrhea
  • headaches
  • rash

Possible long-term side effects

  • thyroid issues
  • dementia or other degenerative brain disorders
  • breast cancer

Ingredients to be aware of


  • great source of:
  • protein
  • fiber
  • carbs
  • vitamins
  • minerals

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

LÄRABAR Variety Pack

  • Gluten-free snack
  • Vegan friendly
  • Fruit & nut bars
  • Convenient size
  • Assorted flavors
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Kristin Brown, DC, MS
Published on: 07-22-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Kristin Brown, DC, MS
Published on: 07-22-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

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