CLIF BAR Vs. SNICKERS: Are They BOTH Candy Bars?

July 12, 2011   58 Comments

Snack Girl recently visited one of her bestest buddies and she had a big cookie jar filled with CLIF BARs. I found myself munching on them and wondering if they were any good for me.

Clif Bar vs Snickers Bar

Why was I concerned? Well, the bar was called "Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch" and it tasted super sweet. It reminded me of another one of my favorite packaged snacks when I was a teenager.

Yes, dear readers, Snack Girl used to crave SNICKERS bars. I have no idea how many I ate over the years, but I LOVED them. I gave them up when I went to college - I can't remember why.

I just want to be clear that SNICKERS is a CANDY bar and CLIF BAR is defined as an ENERGY bar. CLIF BARs are targeted at athletes and active people, while SNICKERS is targeted to all of us looking for that late afternoon pick me up (and children in the line at the supermarket - argh).

I decided to toss in another comparison at the last minute. I added the nutritional information for SIX Newtons Fruit Thins (which I covered last week).

Total Carbohydrates413542
Sodium (milligrams)200140200
Size (Grams)6858.760

So, the SNICKERS bar is smaller and has less fiber, sodium, protein, and total carbohydrates. The CLIF BAR has fewer calories, less fat and sugars, and is larger.

It looks like CLIF BAR is a better choice based on these measures.

Take a look at the ingredients:

Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch CLIF BAR ingredients:

Organic Brown Rice Syrup, ClifPro® (Soy Rice Crisps [Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Barley Malt Extract], Organic Soy Flour, Organic Roasted Soybeans), Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Toasted Oats (Organic Oats, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice), Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Peanut Butter (Organic Peanuts, Salt), Chocolate Chips (Evaporated Cane Juice, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavors), Peanut Flour, Peanuts, ClifCrunch® (Organic Oat Fiber, Apple Fiber, Inulin [Chicory Extract], Psyllium, Organic Milled Flaxseed), Organic Date Paste, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt.

SNICKERS bar ingredients:

Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, lactose, skim milk, milkfat, soy lecithin, artifiical flavor), peanuts, corn syrup, sugar, skim milk, butter, milkfat, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, lactose, salt, egg whites, artificial flavor.

What I think is SO interesting here is the number of times that sugar is listed on these lists - though, in both cases SUGAR is the FIRST ingredient.

SNICKERS: sugar, lactose, corn syrup, sugar, lactose = FIVE TIMES

CLIF BAR: organic rice syrup, barley malt extract, organic evaporated cane juice, organic evaporated cane juice, evaporated cane juice, organic date paste = SIX TIMES

In case you are wondering, evaporated cane juice is SUGAR with trace minerals because it is less processed than regular sugar.

(I thought it was just marketing mumbo jumbo - then I looked it up).

You expect SNICKERS to have a bunch of sugar, and I suppose you should expect it in an energy bar, too.

You know what? The CLIF BAR isn't that different from eating 6 Newtons Fruit Thins.

My suggestion is to consider CLIF BAR and other energy bars in this category like a AMPED oatmeal raisin cookie. Keep in mind that the serving size is too big for it to be considered a healthy snack.

A good snack portion is between 100-150 calories (and CLIF BAR does make smaller versions).

CLIF BARs are healthier than a candy bar - but not that different from a cookie with whole grain ingredients.

What do you think of CLIF BARs?

Want to read about snacks?
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I like the taste of cliff bars. They are also chewy so it takes a while to eat them. At one point I was on a carb cycling diet and I ate one of these at night. The high fiber and protien amounts is a plus for me.

LOVING ur blog!

Just Curious...

Why did you compare 1 serving of Snickers & CLifBars, too SIX Newtons Fruit Thins, which is 2 servings according to pkg.?

Making them, if you stick to the 3 thins, WAY better 4 you, than both, right?

Just thinking.

Oh, & BTW Newtons Fruit Thins have been sold out everywhere I look since your post! So, stop telling everyone! LOL

Thanks, for all the Gr8 Info!

Cheers `*>~[

@Magic - I chose two serving sizes because it was the closer to the same size as the CLIF BAR - about 60 grams. It wouldn't have been fair to compare 3 cookies to a big CLIF BAR. Make sense? Thanks for your comment!

I used to eat Clif bars as meals! But I am cutting sugar out of my life and therefore old Clify is getting cut too. Thanks for the comparison. I'll remember that. almost as bad as eating a snickers bar!

I love Clif Bars, but I use them for exercise. I take the 100 calorie bars on long bike rides and sometimes use them in place of gels on my runs (I'm a triathlete). They are also a good post workout snack. I find the bigger bars to just be too much, but I agree, they taste great. My kids love the Z Bars and I let them have those when they are swimming or running around all day. It seems to stick with them better than other snacks and I'm not hearing, "Mom, I'm hungry" every 5 minutes. Heather

Just found your blog and I'm really enjoying it. I understand for the comparison to a candy bar you needed to use a Clif Bar containing chocolate, but now I'm curious how some of the other, just as tasty, less candy like Clif Bars measure up. As to the size, I will normally eat half and save half for later.

I agree with you about Cliff bars but I throw one in my diaper bag and use it as a meal replacement or a large snack to keep me from stopping at the food court or mcdonald's. It buys me time to keep me on track without starving myself and caving in and buying Mrs. Fields.

I love Clif bars for my marathon food. I'm glad they have the calories, sugar and the sodium I need to replace what I've lost without being too processed and artificial, like GU. Plus, they taste SOOOOOOO good and keep my mouth busy!

I just don't see the need to use sugar five times! Lara bars would probably be better as most of them only have 2 ingredients.

I easily give Clif bars to my 7 year old for a snack and would not have thought to hand him a snickers. Granted, he does not like chocolate and Clif bars come in blueberry and oatmeal. Thank you for the comparison. I will pull out the carrots and bananas more.

I grabbed a cliff bar for the first time during a long drive a week ago. When I stopped at the gas station it was one of very "healthy" options as far as food goes. I normally go for a Kashi Crunch bar because I like the taste and the fiber and protein content, but they didn't have them. I didn't enjoy the taste of the Cliff bar as much, and it was so filling that I wasn't hungry for dinner several hours later. More of a meal substitute than a snack.

I love them as a quick on the go breakfast with a hot cup of green tea. Very filling and satisfying. They don't have the health benefits though that i get from my old fashion oatmeal with cinnamon and walnuts.

I love Clif Bars! I don't think they're as bad as Snickers because you know where all the ingredients are coming from. The less processed they are the better your body breaks them down, right? That said, they're a little too bag for snacks, but they make wonderful meal replacements and meal supplements.

I think their Luna bars are too die for as far as snacks go :)

Lets be clear, all energy bars are bordering on candy bars, regardless of brand or labelling. They may have a bit more fibre or a bit less sugar, but they were never meant to be healthy. They are quick means to consume large numbers of calories in a pleasent tasting format and should never be seen as anything but that.

Wow good to know!! This is why I just stick with larabars..

We buy these from time to time and keep them in the freezer. They're so good to just gnaw on when they're cold and as a result I usually only eat half. Yummy!

My personal preference is to eat a Gnu Orange Cranberry Bar or a Vanilla Almond Crunch Quest Bar (The Quest Bars are amazing). I haven't tried the Clif Bars because I did read the ingredients and saw their resemblance to a candy bar.

Cliff bars will have a much lower GI do to the fact that the sugars are much less processed and the high protein content. This makes them healthier as they will be more satisfying for longer, have much less of an impact on insulin response and therefore better for cardio vascular risk factors and diabetes. Also, as the ingredients are more whole, it will have much more vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. The one I ate after I finished the Brighton Marathon was possibly the best thing I'd ever eaten!

i wonder if the snickers marathon bars are any better for you than the actual candy bars? it would be interesting to see them compared to the clif bars also

You can see a list of the Marathon bars here:…

Have you ever tried ThinkThin bars? I just had one for the first time and loved the taste plus they have 0g sugar and 20g protein. But do you think these are a healthy snack or a snack to use to lose weight?

When I was running around NYC, Seattle, Boston and St. Louis this last 6 months, I used Cliff bars for a meal replacement. I would get stuck in committee and ate one of these for lunch. When I would eat one for breakfast, I really felt full for a long time. I even started loosing weighg, but that was probably because I was traveling like crazy.

@Alyssa - I really like LARA bars because the ingredient list is SO simple. I am not a big fan of bars because I would rather eat something fresh or just baked.

I'll take a Clif bar any corn syrup, hydrogenated oils or artificial flavors...sure they're sweet and maybe not as good for you as an apple, but it beats Frankenfood any day!

I agree. It can be as simple as nuts, dates and banana mashed up together. And it's good too! I'll probably stick to them, even if they are super expensive and incredibly small.

All depends on what you are looking for. Clif is great for post-workout refuel with a little added protein. Organic is a plus.

Still processed, but better than most.

You can get them in a bunch of places in a pinch.

I like bars because you can carry them around, they usually have protein in them and they help when my blood sugar dives after a long workout or shopping for a few hours... I think regular Clif bars are too large but the mini bars are good as are the 80 calorie Luna bars or 100 calorie Think Thin Bites as a snack (avoid Think Thin if you get gas from sugar alcohols though.) The calorie count is much more meal like for a full sized bar, not snack like unless you're a guy or an athlete...

I think it is SO important to note, even more than you did, that Clif bars are for athletes doing athletic things, not for snack time. It's high in carbs and sugar because our bodies NEED carbs and sugar when they're active.


I know she mentioned that up there but I must have read right over it, not thinking too much. That's an excellent thing to point out from her post. I usually get them for snacks when I'm in class or at work, but I haven't worked out in months so I should probably consider something else! Ha.

LOL! both give me hot flashes!

Interesting comparison, but I do think that whether they make a good snack or not is very dependent on the person eating them. I know for me, I'm a [amateur!] distance runner and my problem tends to be that I'm not adequately replacing my calories - not the other way around. I try to focus on "real" foods to gain back the majority of my calories, but especially on a high-mileage day, I definitely turn to protein bars like Clif and Luna to give me some extra protein and calories. One of my favorite snacks (on any given day) is a Kind bar, and they generally have 150-190 calories. Again, very interesting post (and I love your blog!) but I don't think you can necessarily say as a blanket statement that Clif bars don't make a good snack for anyone.

If you like CLIF bars but hate the high sugar levels, you should try LARA bars. Most bars have between 190 and 220 calories and the ingredients are all natural. Literally on a "peanut cookie" bar the ingredients are: PEANUTS, DATES, SALT. and that's it. They have a bunch of different flavors- my personal favorite is the "apple pie" which has DATES, ALMONDS, UNSWEETENED APPLES, RAISINS, WALNUTS, CINNAMON and it's only 190 calories for 45 grams! I usually split these in half though so they're a snack not a meal! Happy snacking! :)

While we were on vacation we needed a pick-me-up so we stopped at a place that made their own donuts. They smelled so delightful, but we opted for a Clif Bars that were on the counter. My sister and I shared one, and I thought it was a wise choice over the donuts.

A very interesting comparison! I was intrigued. I usually like to look at the nutrients as a percentage of the whole. I started doing this when my children were a little younger because it had more meaning to them when I would say, "This cereal is nearly half sugar! Do you really want to eat that?" Of course, they would say "Yes!" ha ha ... but at least I had better ammo with which to talk them out of it. ;-)

With that in mind, I did a comparison of Clif Bars, Snickers, Newton Fruit Thins and Larabars (since so many people mentioned them) and came up with the following. I've uploaded it as an image so it would be easier to read. I highlighted each nutritional number with the worst (red) and the best (green). Take a look here:

No big surprise that Snickers loses.

I did a head-to-head comparison of LaraBars and Clif Bars ... they're not terribly far apart, except Larabars had a surprisingly higher amount of fat and considerably less sodium. You can see this comparison here:

None of them has a very good WW PointsPlus value if you're using them for a snack, but if you're in a pinch, 1/2 of one would work well, and a full one could make a meal replacement.

Personally, I try not to eat snack/energy bars very often, but truly, in a pinch, you could do a lot worse than a Clif Bar or Larabar.

Thanks, Lisa, for a thought-provoking topic!! :-)

I do love clif bars but it's the sugar that gives me the hot flashes in the same way as any other sugary candy...

Snack girl. I agree with your summary. For that reason I snack on low sugar protein bars. They are filling (appetite satiety), fairly nutritious and equally convenient

Larabars are a great all-natural bar but keep in mind they are very high in natural sugars (similar to raisins or juice). For example the apple pie flavor has 18g of sugar and it is tiny! I think they are fine on occasion though you are better off with a handful of nuts and a tablespoon of raisins.

I'm a stickler for reading ingredients and the Clif Bars taste really good. Unfortunately, my stomach doesn't like them so much. They sit like a lump and I feel heavy weighed down. I do like the Luna Bars which are supposed to be exclusively for women. They are lighter than the Clif Bars, too.

Does anyone know of a POWER BAR or PROTEIN BAR that does NOT say, "Processed in a plant that also processes peanuts and/or tree nuts"? My 16 year old daughter would like to carry around some protein bars, but she is allergic to tree nuts and we cannot find ANY. Any suggestions?????

Did you ever try the Clif MOJO Bars? They are the BEST and low glycemic and only 200 calorie and under! They only have 2 kinds: nuts/raisins/pretzel/choc chips OR nuts/peanut butter/pretzel

Interesting post, Lisa. I think it really comes down trying to always make the best choice you can in any given situation. And information like makes it a whole lot easier. I also try to live by this simple advice from respected nutrition professor - Marion Nestle -"Consider any product containing more than 15 grams of sugar per serving a dessert!" It's simple common sense guidelines like this that have helped me "get real" with myself and finally lose the weight I've struggled with for decades.

first off, clif arent just targeting athlees, theu are made specifically FOR athletes before or during long, hard practices. the sugar is good for fuel during my 90 minute runs, and the calories dont even matter because i burn almost 800 during that 90minutes. so i think this article is really unfair.

Clif bars are great tasting and have some good vitamins/ingredients. I would like to see them make the packaging fit the bar though. The bar has gotten smaller over the years, but the package has stayed the same size. Just kind of annoying. It makes me feel like the company wants the customer to believe the bar in larger. Also, several other companies are lowering the sugar content without compromising taste. I believe Clif could do this as well.

Is this really a fair comparison? Snickers marathon should have been tossed in the mix. It is more comparable, being an ENERGY bar. It has twice as much protein as the Cliff bar if your into that soy crap, which is seems you are since you don't mind the Cliff bars.

It's still a candy bar masquerading as "Healthy"

eat some Granola that has oats, nuts, honey and other goodness in it.

200 mg sodium? 21 sugars? come on!

Good stuff, thanks! It really all comes down to marketing- candy bars in the candy aisle, so-called "energy/health" bars in the health food aisle. And everyone is falling for it...

If you do a Weight Watchers Points Plus comparison there is almost no difference.

Cliff & Newton = 7 points

Snickers = 8 points

The plus is obviously the additional protein and fiber, but if you are looking for a real 'treat' I think I'd probably go with a Snickers bar and thoroughly enjoy every bite.

However, I also don't see wasting 8 points on a SNACK!

I'm currently making a good friend a snack idea reference book when I stumbled upon your blog which I'm loving. However, Clif Bar bashes bug me; as well, people who treat Clif Bars like granola bars bug me. Clif Bars are designed for backpackers, trekkers, bike tourers, and the like. They have an awesome calorie to weight ratio, furthermore when you're burning 2,000 calories a day or so you need the calories, protein, and yes, even sugar. I just thought it was interesting no one mentioned Clif's intended purpose.

So, I ended up on this older post from your more recent post about Fiber One bars. I just wanted to add my voice to those earlier ones who pointed out that your comparison fails to take into account the whole purpose behind Clif bars --to replace carbs, sugars and protein lost by someone who is VERY active and burning SERIOUS calories!As the mom of a teenaged athlete, who is currently being seriously recruited by various colleges, Clif bars have been a godsend for us. Almost 2 years ago, one of his trainers pointed out that my son wasn't eating enough calories and getting enough protein in those calories. While we have certainly stepped up things at mealtimes, Clif bars proved to be an easily portable way to fill the gaps during the day, especially after grueling 2 hour practices. So, while I usually feel your articles impart some great info, I think this one is essentially unfair because it takes the Clif bar out of its intended context.

I'm doing a research project on Cliff Bars and this article popped up.. just a little reminder, Cliff Bars were created with the sole intention of PURPOSELY being high in calories and carbohydrates to keep athletes fuller for a longer period of time. They're not meant to be a quick snack, just read the label. The high amount of sugar is intended for taste and to add carbohydrates; if you want a lower calorie snack (which means a lower amount of energy), than steer in a different direction than ENERGY bars..

I'm a HUGE fan of Clif bars. See, whenever I come home from school, I feel super hungry. I eat like everything; bananas, cottage cheese, smoothies, whole grains, nuts, cereal, eggs; but NOTHING seems to fill me up. However, Clif bars fill me INSTANTLY. Although it's high calorie, compare it to all the crap you eat because you're so hungry. I'll eat 500 cals sometimes before I feel full, but one 250 cal Clif bar always does the trick.

I am a serious athlete cycling on average 10 miles daily, with average mph from 15 -23 mph so my body & mind need energy, yesterday I rode 6 miles against the wind, which was both a physical challenge & psychological challenge, & so far clif bars really provide easily obtainable nutrition my body needs & demands to be next level, so I ate 4 clif bars 920 calories, but on the 6 mile ride home I was getting ini very energy demanding sprints , around 25 mph. So for sedentary people I will not reccomend eating them how I do, but for serious athletes & triathletes, people pushin themselves to their athletic boundaries physically, physiologically, spiritually . Eat your vegan clif bars. Also they are so condensed , I can fit them into my cycling jersey and snack in them while riding which is essential for 60+ mile rides. Take care humans , follow results from your own experiences, & to higher quality health. Anthony(((EARTH)))

I use Clif bars at work where my boss always brings cookies and candy. They're filling, tasty and reasonably nutritious. I've tried substituting fruit and vegetables but those aren't filling; I'd eat them AND the candy.

The reason I prefer clif bars over snickers is because they don't contain any animal products. I have found that when I eat foods that contain milk, whey, eggs, or any other animal products, I get more headaches.

The fact that there's no corn syrup in the Clif bar is a huge win. If you're going to have "candy", might as well make it as healthy as possible. Evap cane juice is also in Stonyfield's organic frozen yogurt,'s so much better for you than processed sugar and anything made of corn. But, yeah, Clif bars shouldn't really be eaten as just a snack for the heck of it; you should bring it on a long bike ride or even a long run for energy. Snickers? Don't bother.

Thanks for posting the comparison!!!

These are nice little "tips", that generally come from an army of "armchair dieticians". If you're looking to lose weight, check out Susan Thompson's "Bright Line Eating". She has done post-doctoral work as a neuroscientist on addiction, including food addictions, and seems to have the weight epidemic tied down to specific foods.

Really , your considering 21 grams of sugar in one bar healthier than Hersheys? A krispy kreme has 10 grams of sugar,you want energy for a hike eat a few donuts. Thats the problem with mis information,no wonder 1/3 of Americans are diabetic. Tell the truth its awful for you to anyone looking to lead a healthier life to eat Cliff Bars.

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