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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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 :)

I happen to love LUNA bars; the company has brilliant marketing and a great product to back it. I believe they taste great and are quite filling for when I am on the go. They obviously can't replace fresh fruit and other healthy foods, but I believe they can supplement a healthy diet. The one thing I can easily agree with you upon is the lack of fiber. I do wish they had more fiber considering they pack almost 200 calories. But in their defense, if you are going to eat them prior to workout, you don't want a fiber packed nutrition bar. Energy bars that are high in fiber are hard to digest. It takes energy to digest, leaving you tired. Just my view on a great product, but keep up the great posts and motivation Snack Girl!

Well I for one like Luna Bars. It's a bit misleading to say that because something has more than 5 ingredients it's bad. If you look at the ingredients in a Luna Bar; they are mostly organic, there are no toxic preservatives, flavors, colors, or random chemicals. Sure, they could take the route of grocery store brands and add fiber artificially, but I think that defeats the purpose. Yes, the sugar could be lower. But I'll take a Luna Bar over grocery store brand bars any day. Ditto for those store brand breakfast cereals. And yes, I do like the taste!

I have always thought of snack bars as adult candy bars. I carry in my purse a snack size bags of nuts, just in case. on outings we always bring our own food. Hard boiled eggs, salads with dressing in a seperate container, whole fruit or orange segments in a bag, cut kiwi, a mix of cut strawberries and blueberries. So simple, the more you do it, it becomes a way of life.

I just can't imagine eating one of these protein bars for breakfast. How can this be satisfying?

@Emily The carb and sugar count are together (Sugar + starch= total carbohydrates), but sugar is a componenet of the carb count, not vice-versa. For example a Nutz Over Chocolate Luna bar has 25g carbs and 10g sugar. So the 10 grams of sugar is always 10 grams of sugar, but 10 grams of the carbohydrates is sugar and 15 grams of carbohydrates is starch.

I also don't care for "nutrition" bars. They are so processed and all of the ones i've seen have some sort of sweetener listed among the first few ingredients. Lara bars are OK, as they are just dates + nuts/fruit, but I rather just grab some almonds and prunes and put them in a little bag. That way I can eat as much or as little as I want, i'm not wasting excess packaging, and I can customize exactly what nuts/fruits I want,.

It sounds to me that the company thinks that using the word 'organic' would carry a lot of marketing weight! It doesn't 'cut' it with me, though. Then, palm oil, whether 'organic' or not, is a real no-no. Oil palms are currently being cultivated throughout Asian countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia ( Sumatra and Borneo esp) which involves the clearing of VAST tracts of pristine jungle, destroying the habitats of Asian elephants, gibbons, tigers and orangutans ALL of which are now endangered. Inulin which is a source of useful fibre is usually included to increase the sweet taste although too much sugar is already in these bars.

I actually buy these for my husband (and no he doesn't grow boobs) as a different flavor combo. He's diabetic. He needs a 200 calorie or so bar in between meals (he also gets "real food" snacks as well like an apple with cheese, but needs something that balances carbs and protein for a little staying power and Clif bars, luna bars, and the Zone or Balance type all work okay. I prefer the higher protein/low sugar bars but he doesn't do well with sugar alcohols and they don't raise his blood sugar enough.) So there is a use for these things if you're stuck in an office and need to balance things out.

FYI, since soy=estrogen he probably WOULD grow breasts after eating enough of them. hee. No one needs soy except menopausal women in any case. The only bars I've found with clean ingredients are Lärabars (coconut cream pie and chocolate chip are the best tasting) and KIND bars. I like the taste of Luna's (well, the white choc macadamia and something that's chocolate coconut, forget the name), but the ingredients=ick. I'm iffy about Kashi btw, knowing they're owned by Kellogg. I tend to like smaller or at least 100% "crunchy" organizations.

for some fat/protein/carb loaded quick breakfast you could premake little balls of whole grain cereal or baked oatmeal and mix it/hold it together with peanut butter + honey.

I like blending bananas (specially if they are browny) and it gives a creamy gooey taste to it.

I premake these and grap them in balls in clear wrap. It's messy. It's effort. But it's clean and hardly processed food. And when I make it I make a bunch of little balls (they don't take much shape to make bars or whatever but I don't care for shape) I put them in the fridge easy to grab.

Sometimes it's a snack or breakfast with a big glass of milk.

sorta agree with you. I like LARA bars.

I used to eat these and like them but I do agree that eating an apple or oats is healtier. I also saw these in a list of foods made with palm oil, which is currently a big factor on the deforestation/extincion of animals in Asia.

I really like these bars when I just don't have time to eat a balanced breakfast or need a quick snack. I am a working mom (my daughter is 18 months and I am pregnant with my second). The sugar content is higher than I would like because I am a gestational diabetic, but the protein content is high and I do not get the stomach upset I get from some of the lower/no sugar options. I have had other bars that have a far worse taste than the Luna bar and are less satisfying.

I like the coconut and the almond Luna bars. I tend to be a junk food junkie especially when I feel stressed and these seem to satisfy when nothing else sounds good, too. I will definitely try some of the other bars mentioned and of course the more raw food snack ideas always make sense.:)

I tried a few of the flavors and I was disappointed. They were far too sweet for my liking and made me crave more sugar. It tasted like a candy bar though, so I think I'll probably have it when I want a candy bar, not as a healthy snack.

I happen to love the Honey Pretzel Luna Bar. I always have an 1/8th of a piece with coffee before my morning workout a little mix of crunchand sweet is perfect for me. What suggestions do you have for a pre workout snack. Open to trying something else.

Snack Girl, have you reviewed Lara Bars? These are a MUCH better choice for when you get in a punch. Here is the ingredient list for my favorite (cashew cookie) : Dates, cashews. That is it!

Bu-butt!! Yuuuummy :,(

You can make and freeze sandwiches in advance. Just pop one in the fridge to thaw overnight for the next morning. Or core an apple, slice it into coins sideways. Slosh it in some water and lemon juice, or just apple juice, to prevent browning, then make little sandwiches with PB and raisins or nuts or seeds. You can make these the night before.

The only time I eat these is if everyone else is having something decadent for dessert and I want something sweet. Nutz over chocolate will satisfy my craving, and the caramel brownie ones too. I ate a box through out this whole summer because I worked at an overnight camp with no design and I can't go near them ever again.


Great review, thank you for sharing with us your point of view. To be hones, I am not a big fan for this kind of products, because usually the calorie count is high and they do not satisfy me. a shake with banna and peanut butter sounds much better for me :)


I think they are designed for after a workout. Your muscles need readily available protein within the hour or so after working out and proteins like chicken take too long to digest. Of course they aren't going to taste like candy bars. But I agree, the less ingredients the better. Happy snacking

I'm surprised so many people don't like them .I dig them lol. I keep some in my mailbox at work and when I need something sweet or just a little something I'll have one during my break. I wouldn't say it should be a habit to eat these but they're definitely not the worst thing I've ever had. Yes an apple with peanut butter would be much better, but ain't nobody got time to always eat a pb apple these days!!!!

Snack Girl, these elements in Luna Bars that involve for instance soy — I notice the ingredients are said to be only 70% organic, though that may be 70% more than most bars — is there any way to learn whether these ingredients, I have read online that the VAST majority of US soy is now GMO. When I try to learn about gmo the companies tend to clam up.

Do you have a comment?

Thanks for reviewing these. I doubted they were The Ideal Food, but we have been having a VERY rough time and they were better than either nothing or brute sugar.

my very sick roommate's medical specialist recommended them as snacks to less weight loss, but I'm not enthusiastic about her medical suggestions (e.g. Prilosec) etc., either.


I hated Luna bars until I tried...Peanut Honey Pretzel. SO GOOD!

The first luna bar I tried was the lemon zest one and I hated it, it was like chewing soap or something. After a while I saw them on the super market and actually read the label, I know most people is worried about sugar, fiber and protein on a bar, but what I did understand from the product is that this is a bar for women, providing the necessary daily intake of calcium, 100% folic acid, iron and vitamin d. I think is an option for the afternoon sugar craving, (myself I don't really care how much sugar it has... If I don't eat those grams of sugar on the bar, I'm def going to eat them on other food) some flavors are really weird, I ate the peanut pretzel and is nice, s'mores too, the coconut one has a stange aftertaste. Overall I think this bar is suitable for women who want to input some nutrients into their diets while having a snack.

The title of this article includes the phrase "is it marketing hooey?" and yes the article does not address this point. Having spent a few minutes on, I have to say this about the marketing hooey:

Luna Bars are marketed with a strong feminism vibe without being anti-man. Bars are marketed to support women ideologically, as well as nutritionally, while providing a sense of belonging to a community of successful women and indulging in the pleasure of eating. After reading their website, I came away with the sensation that this is the company a national marketing company would recommend starting to capitalize on the nutritional bar market amid rising feminism.

In other words, I think this bar is more about targeting a growing and educated population than it is about making nutritious food.

I love the Luna Bars!!!I love all the regular chocolate bars such as Mars,Big Turk but now hands down I would take the Luna Bar over all them!!!Live the taste!!!

I think the key that's missing here is beyond the carbs vs proteins vs calories part. Look at the vitamins and minerals of Luna bars. While it's easy to get protein, it's not easy to find calcium, iron, vit A, potassium, etc. Iron is especially difficult for most women who have a higher tendency towards iron deficiency. There's 40% dv in one bar. I think the extra vitamins and minerals in Luna bars are what I like. Plus frankly I don't think they taste bad at all.

I love Lemon Zest Luna Bars and I eat 3 a day as my meals because they taste great, are fast, inexpensive and healthy. I'm doing it because I prefer it to regular food. And, no. I'm not in cahoots with them, never was contacted by them, didn't receive any free. I just love Luna bars.

I used to just a few years ago love Luna bars. Now they have changed the formula and they taste nasty. I use to buy them online by the case. now I will not even buy a few at my local Kroger store.

Several times I ate these Lina bar things because they were given to me. I had no clue about them being for women. Turned my stomach, latest severe cramps until I drank water.

I make my own pies, an improvised concoction of fruit coctail, rice, quaker oats cereal and coconuts and the dough part I uee banana in place of lard..... tons of energy AND DEFINITELY NO STOMACH CRAMPS!!!!

Trying to stay away from soy anything with the emergence of statistics on GMO and glyphosates. it mentions organic in front of everything except for the soy protein. That makes me very suspicious. I like Luna bars but will not continue to buy them.

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