Paddle Healthy: Top Meal Replacements

Photo: Will Taylor

Photo: Will Taylor

Paddle Healthy: Top Meal Replacements

It used to be that meal replacement drinks and bars were chock full of high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils and a bevy of other artificial ingredients, plus sugar—lots and lots of sugar. Thumbs up for convenience, but a big thumbs down for nutritional content.

Although such unhealthy options still line supermarket shelves and people are still spending millions of dollars each year on them, the demand for healthier fare has led to the development of new offerings that give paddlers worry-free meal replacement choices. Unlike the first generation of SlimFast and the like, which were created in a lab with largely synthetic ingredients, new products include superfoods, naturally sourced vitamins and organic, non-GMO fruit and vegetable extracts. There are also plenty of Paleo and allergen-free products for those with special dietary needs. Take a look at our picks for top meal replacement options that you can throw down before or after a workout, or in place of a meal when you’re on the go:

UB Super Shakes

Scott Kanyok almost died when he was hit by a truck while cycling near his home in 2008. Though he fought his way back physically, Kanyok’s immune system was shot and he kept getting sick. To overcome this, he started eating only ‘clean’ foods, which meant organic fruits and vegetables and superfoods such as acai and camu camu. Working with nutritional scientist Jason Mitchell, Kayok eventually came across the ideal formula to re-set his immune system and, wanting to share the benefits with others, founded UB Real shortly after.
The company’s UB Super shakes mix easily with milk, water, and just about any other liquid, and will soon be available in a whey-based variety as well as the vegan version that sources its 15 grams of protein from chia and other plant sources. If you’re interested in getting a broad range of superfoods, prebiotics and probiotics into your diet, plus fulvic minerals that act as a transport system for efficient metabolism, follow the lead of pros like Travis Grant and Connor Baxter and check out UB Super.

Papa Steve’s No Junk Raw Protein Bars

As we recently discussed in our Paddle Healthy article on going gluten free, food allergies are more prevalent than ever before. That’s one of the reasons Steven Diebold founded Papa Steve’s. He also believed that, “Most protein bars are just disguised candy bars covered in chocolate with some protein thrown in.” Not the case for the bars that Diebold and his family started making by hand in a Southern California kitchen that’s certified by the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals.
Each bar—whether you choose almond coconut crunch, apple cinnamon, banana oat, or one of six other flavors —is free of gluten, wheat, dairy, soy and GMO ingredients, so there’s no better option if you have food allergies. The dates in Papa Steve’s have unique phytonutrients that lower the bar’s glycemic impact, meaning you won’t get a sugar spike and crash as with many meal replacement options. And, with 20 grams of complete vegan protein per bar, they’ve got the perfect amount of muscle building power for your post workout fix. Heck, even the brown paper packaging is good for the environment (although we don’t recommend you eat it!).


Whether you agree with its principles or not, the Paleo Diet is here to stay. And while firing up some eggs or a steak with veggies is a fine paleo option, it’s not going to work when you’re on the run. Enter Alex Bonesteel, creator of PRIBARS. The “No BS, just real food” slogan is legit, as these 276-calorie bars contain none of the additives, preservatives or artificial sweeteners you’ll find in most meal replacement bars.
Instead of a long list of unknown chemicals that are difficult to pronounce, Bonesteel and his team jam a list of simple, whole food ingredients into each bar, such as hemp seeds, tart cherries, and almonds. The hemp is high in anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids, and the tart cherries—an underrated superfood—help promote restful sleep, reduce soreness and lower stroke risk. And, from a taste perspective, there’s a unique twist: a pinch of sea salt that not only makes PRIBARS palatable, but also helps you replenish sodium after a long paddle or tough gym session. If you’re into localism as well as the Paleo Diet, you’ll like the fact that each PRIBARS ingredient is sourced from the Western US, too. —Phil White

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  • Sean Smithson

    I am sorry but meal replacements no matter how good people think they are, are no substitute for real food. It just requires a bit more planning, I don’t believe this should be advertised towards people trying to improve with SUP. And if you’re classed as elite SUP then surely you’re planning nutrition better than this. A shake or bar is no replacement for proper nutrition!

  • Alex Bonesteel

    That’s what makes PRIBARS so great. They are real food, not only that but a complete food that provides protein, fiber, complex and simple carbs, as well as 12 essential vitamins and minerals. Almonds, Dates, Hemp Seed, Tart Cherries, Sea Salt. Not your typical nutrition bar that has chemicals to replicate real food. The whole point is to provide a bar that really does serve as complete, natural, paleo nutrition.PRIBARS are not a replacement for proper nutrition, they are proper nutrition.

  • Sean Smithson

    They may be good products, I have not researched them enough to say otherwise, however they are not real foods they have been processed in what ever form (small or big) and therefore cannot be classed as real food, and to claim they are proper nutrition is a bold statement for a product that has been processed! I thought paleo was none processed foods so nothing from a packet? I am more than happy to be proved wrong if there is any research you can point me too to read and change my opinion !

  • Alex Bonesteel

    PRIBARS process involves taking whole, organic, locally, sourced ingredients, processing them in their proper ratios, then forming the bars by hand and packaging in environmentally friendly, minimalist packaging.

    The “processing” is not something that negatively affects the whole foods, think of it like blending. Or just cutting the ingredients up into tiny pieces.There are no chemicals or non paleo ingredients involved. There are many paleo recipes that call for the same methods of preparation. a kale and fruit smoothie made in your own kitchen is processed more than PRIBARS. You could make pribars yourself with the ingredients and a morter and pestle, so they are truly paleo.

    Many paleo enthusiasts don’t have time to cook or prepare every meal from scratch, so these bars are a great help for primal folks on the go. I’m paleo myself and extremely picky about what I’ll put into my body, but PRIBARS are my snack of choice.

  • Sean smithson

    Alex thanks for the reply appreciated hearing more of an insight into their production

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