Protein bars are a great quick snack especially when you have a tight schedule and no time to cook breakfast. Most protein bars claim that they are packed with essential nutrients that will hold you over until lunch.
Unfortunately, not all bars are created equal. Some protein bars may hold to their healthful claims, but others are low in nutrient density and high in sugar.
To avoid picking up the wrong protein bar, we have rounded up the top 10 best protein bars for you.
How to choose the best protein bar
When choosing a protein bar, consider the following contents:
The best protein bar is naturally expected to contain a high amount of protein. Sadly, many protein bars contain the same amount of protein you’d get from a serving of chips – which means, not much protein at all.
As a rule of thumb, only consider protein bars with protein content that is at least 30 percent of the total calorie content, which is for one good reason. The USDA suggests that your diet should be 10 to 35 percent protein.
A protein bar that is high in protein will help balance out your diet. According to Karen Ansel, MS, RDN, author of Healing Superfoods For Anti-Aging: Stay Younger, Live Longer, it’s a good idea to look for a protein bar with 6 to 12 grams of protein.
Many protein bars are loaded with sugar which is not good for your overall health. If a protein bar is high in sugar, its carbohydrate and total calorie content is most likely to be high as well.
It is like eating a candy bar. Eliminate protein bars that contain 12 or more grams of sugar from your options. The lower the sugar content, the better it is for your health.
Fiber makes you feel full. The USDA recommends 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories in your diet. This is an important benchmark when choosing a protein bar. Karen Ansel also suggests looking for a protein bar with at least 3 grams of fiber.
Your protein bar should be low in carbs. Consuming foods that are high in carbs causes a sudden spike in your blood sugar which leads to an increased appetite or feeling of hunger. Dr. Joe Feuerstein, associate professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University says that ideally, the net carbs should not be more than 15 grams.
The best protein bars are those that contain whole ingredients including fruits, oats and nuts. Avoid protein bars that contain sugar alcohols such as mannitol, xylitol, sorbitol and others.
These sweeteners keep the sugar count low but they may cause bloating, gas or gastrointestinal discomfort.
It’s good to find a protein bar that is both healthy and delicious. Protein bars come in many different flavors. You may want to consider getting different flavors if you are having one every day.
With an overwhelming selection of protein bars in the market, it can be challenging to choose the best one to suit your needs. That is why we’ve rounded up the ten best protein bars with their pros and cons and why you’ll love them.
Smart for Life
Smart for Life protein bars are ideal for those with a busy and active lifestyle. They are also great for post-exercise hunger.
Different flavors are available including chocolate chips, peanut butter, gluten-free banana, oatmeal raisins, caramel almond and blueberry cookies, among others.
These protein bars have no preservatives, no GMO, no artificial sweetener, no cholesterol and no trans fat. Each box contains three different flavors which is great for variety.
Each Smart for Life protein bar contains about 18 to 20 grams of protein and 180 to 200 calories, offering more protein per calorie than most other brands.
Moreover, these bars also provide a balanced amino acid blend for muscle development. Smart for Life protein bars use canola oil which is rich in omega 3 fatty acids and is good for the heart.
- High in protein
- Low calories
- Low sugar
- Uses healthy ingredients
- Some flavors are a bit dry and bland.
Quest Nutrition Protein Bar White Choc Raspberry.
Low Carb Meal Replacement Bar w/ 20g+ Protein. High Fiber, Gluten-Free (24 Count)
Quest is also one of the established brands when it comes to protein bars. One of their popular flavors is the white chocolate raspberry flavor.
This protein-packed bar adds real dried raspberries for better taste and health benefits. Each bar contains 20 grams of protein, 5 grams of net carbs, 15 grams of dietary fiber and 1 gram of sugar. It is also gluten-free.
With more than 20 flavors to choose from, Quest offers a protein bar to suit your every taste. Other popular flavors include vanilla almond crunch, peanut butter and more.
- High in dietary fiber
- Low in sugar
- Gluten and soy free
- More than 20 flavors to choose from
- May contain almond and milk-derived ingredients which are not suitable for those who are dairy intolerant or are allergic to nuts
Collagen Protein, Perfect Snack for Keto Diet, Paleo, Gluten-Free, for Men, Women, and Kids (Lemon Cookie)
If you are looking for a keto-friendly protein bar, Bulletproof Bars Collagen Protein is a good choice. Each bar uses carefully chosen ingredients such as collagen protein from grass-fed cows, providing the essential amino acids which are the building blocks of skin, joints and bone.
It also uses brain octane oil which is a high-energy brain boosting fat extract from coconut. To achieve that perfect lemon cookie flavor without using sugar, flour or shortening, this protein bar uses organic lemon oil.
All ingredients are non-GMO and \gluten-free, and do not contain dairy or grain.
Each bar of Bulletproof Bars Collagen Protein contains 14 grams of quality fats, 2 grams of sugar, 5 grams of dietary fiber and 12 grams of protein.
- Uses quality ingredients
- Uses quality fats
- Low in sugar
- Protein is just 12 grams which is considerably lower than most other protein bars in this list
- Contains cashews and coconut which some people may have an allergy to.
Detour Lower Sugar Whey Protein Bar
Caramel Peanut, 3 Ounce (Pack of 12)
Do you fancy peanut butter flavored protein bars? You may want to try Detour’s peanut butter cream. They also have other popular flavors including caramel peanut and chocolate chip caramel which give a twist to the traditional chocolate chip bars.
Detour protein bars are body shaping so they are great for those who are fitness enthusiasts. Each protein bar of Detour contains 30 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar and 340 calories.
- One of the highest in protein content
- Helps in rebuilding lean muscle
- Contains 5 grams of sugar which is considerably high compared to the other best protein bars in this list
- Contains peanuts, soy and milk products which some people are allergic to
- Contains 340 calories which is somewhat high
FITCRUNCH Protein Bars
Designed by Robert Irvine | World’s Only 6-Layer Baked Bar | Just 3g of Sugar & Soft Cake Core (18 Bars, Peanut Butter)
Want a unique tasting protein bar? Fitcrunch boasts of their six-layer baked protein bars to suit your taste. Each bar is made from a protein blend consisting of whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate. To achieve the perfect taste, they combine peanut butter and chocolate in a bar.
Fitcrunch protein bars are gluten-free and contain 16 grams of protein and 3 grams of sugar.
- One of the highest protein content
- The combination of peanut butter and chocolate makes this protein bar have a great taste
Come Ready Nutrition Clean Protein Bars 24 pack
For those who are looking for a protein bar that comes with all-natural ingredients and nothing artificial, Come Ready Nutrition Clean protein bars are among the best choices.
All ingredients are also non-GMO and gluten-free with no additives. You have three flavors to choose from including Dark Chocolate Blueberry Almond, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt and Chocolate Peanut Butter.
Each protein bar of Come Ready Nutrition contains 15 grams of protein, 7 grams of dietary fiber and 10 grams of sugar.
- Great flavors
- High in dietary fiber
- Gluten-free and no additives
- Contains 10 grams of sugar which is considerably high compared to other protein bars in this list
Ultimate Healthy Fitness Box
Protein & Healthy Granola Bars Sampler Snack Box (56 Count) – Care Package – Gift Pack – Variety of Fitness, Energy Bars and Premier Protein Bars
The Ultimate Healthy Fitness Box is perfect for those who want to try a different variety of great-tasting protein bars without spending more.
This fitness box comes with 56 packs of healthy protein bars and snacks from brands such as Nature Valley, Quaker, Nature Bakery, Kirkland, Kelloggs and Premier Protein among others. This box also makes a perfect gift for any occasion.
While the nutritional content of each bar and snack in the box varies, most of it is low in carbohydrates and calories and is non-GMO. Gluten-free options are also available.
- More flavors to choose from
- Most packs are made from non-GMO and gluten-free ingredients
- Nutritional content varies and some bars are low in protein and dietary fiber
Signature Variety Protein Bars 20 count | 21G Of Protein, 4G Of Carbs & 1G Of Sugar | Chocolate Brownie and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (20 Bars)
Each box of Kirkland protein bar contains two different flavors: chocolate chip and chocolate brownie. It is ideal for those who are always on-the-go and are looking for a healthy protein-rich treat.
Kirkland protein bars use whey protein isolate as the primary source of protein and fortified with dietary fiber. If you are on a keto diet and need a sweet treat, this protein bar makes a good choice.
Each bar contains 21 grams protein, 6 grams net carbs and 1 gram of sugar.
- High in protein
- Low in sugar
- Low in net carbs
- May contain cashew nuts which some people are allergic to
- Only chocolate flavors are available; no option if you don’t like chocolate
ONE Protein Bars
Best Sellers Variety Pack, Gluten Free with 20g Protein and only 1g Sugar, Includes Birthday Cake, Almond Bliss, Maple Glazed Doughnut & Peanut Butter Pie
The Best Sellers Variety Pack is a mix of some of the most popular decadent flavors from ONE brand. Flavors include Birthday Cake, Almond Bliss, Maple Glazed Doughnut and Peanut Butter Pie which are all gluten-free.
Each pack of these delicious protein bars contains 20 grams of protein, 210 to 230 grams of calories, 8 to 10 grams of fiber and 1 gram of sugar.
If you are looking for a pre-workout snack, a quick bite before work or a treat just when you want it, you could grab a ONE protein bar with no regrets.
- High in protein
- Low in sugar
- Great flavors to choose from
- A bit high in calories
- Contains peanuts, almonds, milk and Soy (Lecithin) which some people are allergic to.
Atlas Protein Bar
Keto Friendly, Variety Pack (9-Pack) — Grass Fed Whey, Low Sugar, Clean Ingredients, All Natural, Gluten Free, Soy Free, and GMO Free
Atlas protein bars boast of using some of the finest ingredients including Himalayan pink salt, monk fruit extract, fresh almond and peanut butter.
No junk and artificial ingredients are added, so you can be assured that every bar you eat has no added sugar, gluten, soy, GMOs, hormones, pesticides or chemicals.
There are different flavors to choose from including vanilla almond, peanut butter chips and chocolate cacao. Each bar also contains 16 grams of protein, 3 grams of sugar and 9 grams of net carbs.
- Uses fine ingredients not available in many protein bars such as Himalayan pink salt
- Free from gluten, soy, GMO and other artificial ingredients
- Protein content is considerably lower than many protein bars in this list
Our top choice is the Smart for Life protein bar as it is high in protein per calorie than most products we have reviewed.
Moreover, while these bars are made from natural and healthy ingredients, they don’t lack in taste, unlike other protein bars that don’t taste as good as they look.
Also, canola oil is a great addition to its ingredients as it is high in omega 3 fatty acid and is good for the heart.
Are protein bars better than real food?
Experts do not recommend eating protein bars as replacement for natural protein sources. It’s best to incorporate foods that are high in protein in your diet such as lean meat, dairy products, poultry, beans and legumes and soy products among others.