The Whole Nutrition Bar For Women (Luna) - Is It Marketing Hooey?

April 17, 2012   52 Comments

Snack Girl has to be honest with you. I have always hated Luna bars.

Luna Bar Review

This bias has meant that every time someone asked me about them I just say that I hate them. But this e-mail from Liza was too compelling not to answer:

I'm a busy working mom, and sometimes get into a pinch... My personal trainer recommended Clif or Luna bars for those mornings when I just don't have time to make anything before heading to the gym.

I tried the Luna bars (Nutz Over Chocolate), and really liked them. I did a little research on their site, but I'm no expert like you.

Have you tried these bars? Do you think they're safe to incorporate for my "in a pinch" mornings? Or should I keep looking?

Okay, Liza, I went ahead and bought 4 of the flavors that I thought I might like. In the past, my first Luna bar was given to me by a friend and it had a strange texture and taste. It was like a sweet and salty crunchy lemon cookie but without any of the true joy of the cookie.

I proceeded to give one of these to my friend Larry. He said, “I think this tastes terrible. I would rather eat an apple." For the record, he did not grow up breasts after eating them. he he :)

Since you are going to eat these for breakfast, I decided to put them up to the "Healthy or Crappy Cereal Test" as I did the BelVita breakfast bars.

Healthy or Crappy Cereal Test

1. Is the first ingredient whole grain? Maybe. It is not a good sign that the first ingredient is "LunaPro Soy Rice Crisps". I have asked the company if it is a whole grain and am awaiting an answer.

2. Is there 5 grams or less of sugar per serving? No! There is 11 grams of sugar per serving (yikes).

3. One serving must provides at least 4 grams of fiber. You can remember this one with Four Fiber. No! It has 3 grams of fiber.

Basically, I think you can do better with a less processed breakfast. Grab an apple, some peanut butter, a bag of whole grain cereal. How about a 100% whole grain bread peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

Here are the nutrition facts for a "Nutz Over Chocolate" Bar:
180 calories, 6 g fat, 25 g carbohydrates, 9 g protein, 3 g fiber, 190 mg sodium, 5 Points+

and the ingredients:
LunaPro ® (Soy Rice Crisps [Soy Protein Isolate, Organic Rice Flour], Organic Toasted Oats [Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Dried Cane Syrup], Organic Soy Flour, Organic Flaxmeal), Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Coating (Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Cocoa, Palm Kernel Oil, Organic Palm Kernel Oil, Organic Soy Lecithin, Organic Vanilla), Inulin (Chicory Extract), Organic Peanut Butter (Organic Peanuts, Salt), Organic Peanuts, Organic Peanut Flour, Natural Flavors, Organic Oat Syrup Solids, Vegetable Glycerine, Sea Salt.

There are a bunch of great ideas for "Grab and Go" breakfasts in the comment section of the BelVita breakfast bars post. Here is mine:

  • Bag of Kashi Heart To Heart Cereal, apple, and cheese stick
  • Hard boiled eggs, orange, whole wheat crackers

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 52 )

So glad someone else dislikes these things. Not only do they seem like 'fake' food to me, they taste terrible. I don't think there's a bar out there I would willingly eat. And why are they all sweet? If they made one that tasted like nacho cheese, I might reconsider. I'll take fruit, thanks!

SO agree with you on these things. Brilliant marketing. If I'm stuck and "need" a bar (as in, I'm at the zoo with my family and the only other options are popcorn (not the healthy kind) or hamburgers & hot dogs), I choose Kind, Gnu or Lara bars. More real ingredients, better flavor. But my go-to grab-n-go snack/small meal is an apple & a cheese stick. Quick & portable & doesn't require a utensil!

The only really bad ingredient I see in the bar is isolated soy protein. Isolated soy protein in not good for you.

I don't like to buy granola bars, protein bars or any kind of bar, because the calorie count is to high and they don't satisfy me. I just want more!! So like you said I have an apple with peanut butter. So much more satisfying!

I am such a fan of your test. I really dislike the texture of Luna bars. I've never really been a fan of energy bars in general, though. Snack Girl, I've also heard a rumor that protein power breaks down when it gets heated, so those protein bars don't really do much anyway? Can you confirm? Thanks!!

I stock "Think Thin" bars for when I'm traveling and can't have perishable items. No sugar, 20 g protein and the Choc Fudge Brownie ones are lower in sodium than any. The Creamy Peanut Butter ones are low in sodium, too.

I think that all of the comments on here are a bit biased. None of you liked the bars BEFORE the post, so why would you like them after. I DO like Luna bars. I don't eat them every day, but I occasionally have them with some fruit for a breakfast on the go. While there are only 3 grams of fiber, and apple would boost that fiber intake. Also, Luna bars have at least 9 grams of protein, which is beneficial if you need a protein rich snack after working out. While it is always better to eat as close to raw as possible, I believe that Luna bars are one of the better options when it comes to "health bars," especially calorie-wise.

My emergency go-to in a pinch is a Kashi chewy granola bar and a piece of string cheese, for about 230 calories and 4g of fiber and 5-7g of protein and about 5g of sugar per bar.

Lisa - I would love a TASTY recipe for homemade protein bars!!!

@Jackie - I am sorry I wasn't able to be more objective - but at least I let you know my thoughts. I did try them again for the post.

@Les - here are two homemade ones on the site. I am reworking the homemade energy bar as we speak with nutritional info. included.

Thanks for reviewing these! I do not like any type of protein bar or things like that. I did however try the Kashi ones. Have you ever tried those? They aren't that bad and I like the Kashi brand.

The ingredients list for Luna and Cliff bars are a mile long... most "protein" bars are loaded with (multiple) soy ingredients which aren't a good thing. If you can't make your own, I'd recommend Larabars. Personally I don't like them (too sweet for me) but they have a clean ingredients list.

Thanks for this post! I never really was a fan of protein bars in the past. However, since I started running, I will grab them to eat before I workout if I don't have another option.

This was eye opening to me. I've never really paid attention to the brands, just bought one that looked good if I'm in a pinch or bought a mixture if they are on sale.

I'm rethinking this now. Snack Girl... would love to see a post with a comparisons of protein/nutrition bars with the healthy or crappy test (since so many people are posting that certain ones are better) as well as a flavor test.

I really appreciate this post, I'm starting to look at these things more closely now...


Thank you for sharing this. Special K also parades itself as health food. I wish everyone understood what they were buying.

there are so many options for snack bars at natural grocery stores. many have 4 fiber and a good mix of protein/carb/fats which is needed to give your metabolism a kick start in the morning.

i don't think a simple piece of fruit is a good alternative since it is all carb and not protein/fat. balance is always better.

Only 3gm of fiber. There is fiber, and then there is fiber. Inulin is an isolated fiber extracted from a plant. There is no research to show that isolated fibers that are being used more and more in processed foods to bump up the fiber have any benefit. The kind of fiber we want is "intact fiber", fiber that is naturally present in whole grains and fruits and vegetables. That is why we look for the first ingredient to be a whole grain in breakfast bars.

I have never liked these, and I tried several flavors. I have yet to find a "meal bar" that works in terms of texture, flavor, and nutrition. Someone likes them, though; they're selling like hotcakes at the local grocer.

I also like Luna bars and I only eat them once in a while as well. I also like Thin thin and some of the special K bars but my most favorite bars are lind bars they are slightly sweetened with honey and have real fruits and whole nuts in them. I would highly recomened kind bars to your reader that asked the question. snack girl I enjoy your thoughts and opinions on products they are very well thought out articles even though at times which are very few I don't agree with you like today.

too sweet 4 me. absolutely love gnu bar's

newest flavor, blueberry. and 'the good

bean's fruit & nut trail mix bar. 5 gr fiber!

woot woot! chk it out!

Thanks for the review I eat Luna Protein bars as snacks some times. But after reading this I may opt for something better for a snack.

Sometimes, the sugar count isn't all sugar. I recently talked to a nutritionist about the high amount of sugar in Greek yogurt and she said that sometimes, the carb and sugar count are together. So, even tho there are 11 grams in a Luna bar, some of those might be because of the carbs. Just a thought :)

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