7 Best Protein Bars
These are the best protein bars you can buy, according to a registered dietitian.
Our Top Protein Bar Picks
Protein bars can make for easy post-workout fuel and on-the-go snacks. However, not all protein bars are created equal. Here, a registered dietitian who's also athletic trainer certified, breaks down the best protein bars you can buy and what to know about each.
Protein Bar vs. Granola Bar
There’s no formal definition for a “protein bar,” but the numerous bars boasting their protein prowess are not created equal. A typical snack or granola bar contains minimal protein, 2 grams or even less per serving. Some other bars may fall mid-range with 8 to 10 grams of protein per bar. For a bar to provide more substantial protein, look for one with closer to 12 to 25 grams per serving, depending on your needs. Protein requirements vary greatly from person to person; a 150-pound adult requires a minimum of 55 grams per day. Protein requirements for athletes and active individuals will be more generous.
How to Choose the Right Protein Bar for You
Proteins bars can be an ideal choice for post workout fuel, grab-n-go breakfast (with a piece of fruit or a smoothie), or a satisfying afternoon snack. While convenient, protein bars aren’t meant to replace whole food meals. Make these bars part of your pantry and gym bag arsenal to rely on when pressed for time or when in need of an energizing snack to sustain you for a few hours. Look for bars with protein from high quality sources, especially if being used for post workout recovery. Whey, soy, egg and pea, or plant-based blends of protein can all provide the proper balance of aminos acids to support muscle repair. Look for bars with low to moderate amounts of added sugars and be mindful of artificial sweeteners as they can cause stomach upset for some folks. Read ingredient lists carefully to choose the right bar for your needs.
Here is our list of winners.
From sustainability initiatives to high quality ingredients, Clif is an awesome all-around brand for all kinds of bars. In the protein department, the Builders bar packs in 20 grams of complete, plant-based protein to help build and repair muscle after exercise. Flavors include Vanilla Almond, Chocolate Mint and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough with Caffeine. They also offer a “mini” version with 50% less protein and calories for when a snack craving strikes.
This lesser-known brand is quickly gaining popularity and it’s easy to see why. An innovative blend of fava bean and brown rice protein stacks up to a vegan and gluten free bar with 15 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber per serving. The perfect amount of sweetness with no artificial sweeteners in the mix. They have a nice menu of flavors including Lemon, Birthday Cake, Cookie and Chocolate Peanut Butter.
KIND is great choice for a post workout snack as it contains a nice balance of carbs (18 grams) and plant-based protein (12 grams). Their bars are available in four delectable flavors including Almond Butter Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Nut, Crunchy Peanut Butter and Caramel Nut. This bar contains soy protein isolate which has a full range of muscle building amino acids.
This delightfully crunchy bar has 220 calories and only 5 grams of sugar. The coated wafer texture is reminiscent of a candy bar but way more satisfying. Highly digestible whey protein contributes 13 grams of protein per serving. Power Crunch comes in a wide variety of flavors including Chocolate Mint and Salted Caramel. They also offer a line of higher protein Power Crunch PRO with 20 grams of protein per serving.
Designed with recovery in mind this substantial bar boasts 350 calories, 20 grams of whey protein and 42 grams of carbs. This is what your muscles require after strenuous exercise. Available in several swoon-worthy flavors including Cookies and Creme, S’Mores and Chocolate Pretzel.
You can’t beat the simplicity of this bar. Made with egg whites, nuts, dates, fruit and spices, these gluten free bars have 12 grams of protein and 4 to 5 grams of fiber per serving and have a really wide variety of flavors to choose from.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. She is the author of four cookbooks First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers, The Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook, The Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook and Healthy Quick and Easy Smoothies.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.