The Best Healthy Protein Bars 2021
I get asked at least once per week what the best healthy protein bars are that I recommend. Since so many were asking I felt it was time we had a permanent post for you to reference when looking for a protein bar. I know that not everyone will agree and some will be sad their favorite is not on the list but just know that this is my expert opinion and not meant to shame or judge you for what you do or do not eat on a regular basis. This guide is meant to help you find a protein bar that works for you should you need or want one.
Since the landscape of the food industry is constantly changing, I will likely have to update this or add a new post every so often to reflect what is on the market. These are the best healthy protein bars that I could find and that also dont taste like crap . This list is reflective of what is on the market as of July 2021.
Red Flag #: Carrageenan
Carrageenan is a thickening agent derived from seaweed. The research is unclear with mainstream food scientists with supported by the big food companies claiming it as OK and then international experts not having their pockets padded by the food companies stating we need to proceed with extreme caution with this food additive.
In examing the research, most studies performed on carrageenan used animals, others had small sample sizes, and no one has examined its effect on the microbiome environment or bacteria in the colon.
So, here are a few facts about carrageenan:
Best Vegan Protein Bars
Vegans need protein too!
You get asked about it enough, right?
Well, the thing is, most protein originates from plant sources anyway so it makes sense to cut out the middleman / middle-cow!
Here are some of our favourite vegan protein bars:
Here to change the game, PhD Smart Bar Plant is the first low sugar protein bar to deliver more than 20g of plant powered protein AND great taste.
Each bar is vegan, gluten free and totally delicious!
Ok, so technically this isnt a protein bar, but MaxiMuscle protein dippers are a gorgeously nostalgic way to help you hit your protein goals.
Enjoy dipping these crispy batons into creamy chocolate hazelnut spread for a totally sweet way to up your protein intake.
Again, these protein bites are not technically a protein bar, but they do the same job.
You can snack on these tasty treats to help reach your protein goals without really realising.
With just 180kcal per serving and around 20g of protein , you could take this resealable bag anywhere and enjoy guilt-free snacking all day.
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The 12 Best Energy Bars Of 2020 According To Nutritionists
Always have one handy.
Enter the energy bar. Note: They’re not the same thing as a protein bar, explains Acacia Wright, RD, CD. Energy bars are designed for athletes to replenish calories they’ve burned, she says, and are typically higher in carbs. “Carbohydrates are absorbed faster than protein and fats, making them an ideal energy source for fueling endurance activities,” Wright says. Protein bars usually have a lower carb count and pack more protein.
Aja Gyimah, MHSc, RD, owner of Compete Nutrition, recommends reaching for an energy bar if you don’t have a whole food snack handy, like berries or nuts. Choose energy bars made with nuts, oats, dried fruits, and whey protein isolate to keep you full. Protein crushes hunger, so look for a bar that contains at least 5 grams of protein for around 100 to 200 calories. Avoid hydrogenated oils and bars with more than 10 grams of added sugarotherwise, you might as well be eating a candy bar. Make sure you check the caffeine content before you bite: “Many energy bars contain caffeine, and its important to know that before you grab an energy bar to eat with your morning coffee,” adds Gyimah.
Here are the best energy bar brands that should be on your radar, and in your gym bag.
Super Pop Snacks Peanut Butter Chocolate
The Ingredients: This Super Pop Nut Butter Bar is made with all natural, organic and non-GMO ingredients such as peanut butter, honey, quinoa and brown rice crisps, pea protein, and flax meal. The chocolate in this bar is dairy free, making it an allergen friendly option.
The Flavor: The flavor profile of this bar is a fan favorite. Who doesnt love chocolate and peanut butter? The sweet tooth satisfying flavor coupled with the softness of the bar and the added crunchiness of the organic quinoa and brown rice crisps check a lot of boxes.
The Nutrition Facts: For a total of 260 calories, this bar provides 10g of plant-based protein, 4g of fiber, and heart healthy unsaturated fats.
$34.99 for a box of 12,
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Best Value For The Money: Signature Protein Crunch Bars
When youre looking for a product that has real results, look at what people who are passionate about those results are using. Signature Protein bars are made by Bodybuilding.com, the worlds premier source of bodybuilding products and information.
These bars are made with bodybuilders in mind. Thats to say, they were made for people who a) really care about nutrition, b) know what to look for in a protein bar, and c) have to be smart about meal budgeting. The result is a bar that has close-to-ideal macronutrients at a price thats hard to beat.
At 20 grams of protein, these bars have enough protein to supplement the average diet. Five grams of sugar and nine grams of fat round out the macronutrients for a total of 230 calories per bar. Thats not quite enough to make it a meal replacement bar, but these work great as a snack.
Bodybuilding.com promises full transparency on all its Signature products. That means they dont put anything on the label that isnt actually in the product and they dont hold back anything either. They avoid buffering and stuffing their ingredient list and only use effective doses of every ingredient. In addition, all the ingredients they use are backed by time-tested research and experience.
The one drawback that some people find is that the flavors arent all that consistent. Some flavors are great and issue-free, but others are way too sweet and dont resemble the stated flavor at all.
Over Easy Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars
The Ingredients: Over Easy breakfast bars are made with just 8 simple ingredients that pack a variety of nutrients and benefits. Organic oats are the first ingredient, providing antioxidants such as vitamin E and avenanthramides . These antioxidative compounds are unique to oats, and have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
The Flavor: If youre a peanut butter lover, this bar is the one for you. A plus? It doesnt get crumby like other oat bars do.
The Nutrition Facts: In just 220 calories, the Peanut Butter Breakfast Bar provides 11g of protein, 220mg of potassium, 6g of fiber and healthy unsaturated fats.
$2.19 per bar,
$29.95 for a box of 12, overeasyfoods.com
Variety Pack Of Protein Bars By Rxbar
A bar that proudly lists its main ingredients on the front, so you know exactly what you’re getting. There are no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or fillers, plus most of the bars are gluten-free with no soy or dairy. Its 12 grams of protein come largely from egg whites, an ingredient offered by precious few other bars. Nutritional info varies bar to bar, so you’ll want to check the online label for each flavor. Protein: 12 grams Sugar: 14 grams Fiber: 4 grams Fat: 8 grams Carbs: 22 grams Calories: 210
Primal Kitchen Coconut Lime Protein Bar
The Ingredients: This bar is loaded with real-food ingredients and natural sweeteners. Flaxseed comes in at number six on the ingredients list, providing protein, iron, calcium and alpha-linolenic acids. The natural sweeteners are similar to other bars on the list and this bar also has organic rosemary extract. These ingredients will satisfy the keto and paleo audiences as well.
The Flavor: This bar is another favorite for when youre looking for a tropical treat.
The Nutrition Facts: At 210 calories, this bar provides 6g of fiber, 8g of protein and 47mg of calcium.
$28.99 for a box of 12,
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Best Tasting Protein Bars: Rxbar Protein Bar Coffee Chocolate
RXBAR Protein Bar, Coffee Chocolate
These protein bars display all of the ingredients on the label, which is great for consumers who are especially concerned about eating anything artificial. The unique thing about these bars is that they are the best kosher option on the market.
RXBARs are made with whole foods that are both clean and simple. Egg whites, dates, and nuts are used in every flavor in conjunction with other delicious flavors to create a protein bar full of nutrition. The coffee chocolate bar allows you to have the taste of your favorite cup of coffee combined with the rich flavor of 100% unsweetened chocolate, giving you a boost of energy during the day.
These bars contain no added sugar, gluten, dairy, soy, artificial flavors, preservatives, or filler. They are non-GMO, perfect for people who follow the Whole 30 diet, and kosher. Each bar has 12 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and 210 calories.
Wild Zora Meat And Veggie Bars
Most of us have heard or know already how important it is to incorporate a lot of plants and color in our diet. Well, how do you do that with snacks on the go that still fill you up? Wild Zora is the answer. These are meat bars mixed with organic vegetables and fruit such as spinach, apricots, dates, rosemary, turmeric, basil, kale, cilantro, sage, thyme, and more depending on which variety you order.
Started by a husband-wife team, when Zora Tabin struggled to find clean snacks for her kids, hence why these are one of the cleanest protein bars you will find and likely the ONLY ones available with real organic vegetables inside.
Available in several varieties all with grass-fed or free-range meats such as Mediterranean Lamb Bars with Spinach, Rosemary & Turmeric and Curry Masala Turkey Bars with Spinach, Dates & Cardamom, Wild Zora Bars are well worth checking out. All their bars are gluten/dairy/soy/dairy/nut free, Autoimmune Protocol Friendly, Paleo Certified, and Whole30 approved. Start with a variety pack of 7 different flavors to find your favorite.
Who Should Buy Protein Bars
Protein bars are stereotypically connected with weightlifters and bodybuilders, and indeed they are very useful for adding on muscle mass if you are an athlete, but thats not the only kind of person who can benefit from a protein bar.
Protein has incredible benefits for weight loss, and if you want something more substantial than a meal replacement shake for a mid-day meal, a protein bar is a great way to go.
On top of that, even if you arent looking to lose weight, a protein bar can be an easy way to get a boost in energy while on the go, without dealing with the unhealthy sugars and refined carbohydrates that youd find other processed foods.
If you know you have a busy, unpredictable lifestyle, it never hurts to have a supply of protein bars in your office, your car, or your backpack. Watching out for your own wellbeing in this way in particularly important if you are trying to gain muscle or lose body fat, because both of these endeavours are reliant on your ability to consistently take in healthy food and avoid overindulging in processed carbohydrates, low-fiber foods, and sugary snacks.
Luna Bar Caramel Walnut Brownie
Luna bars are a quality, plant-based protein bar with soy protein isolate, roasted soybeans, soy flour, and as a protein grain blend. Rolled oats and a blend of sugars make up the carbohydrates.
There are no artificial flavors or high-fructose corn syrup and you cant go wrong with any of the flavors. But, caramel walnut brownie is a definite favorite!
Nutrition facts: 200 calories, 8g of protein, 26g of carbs, 8g of fat, 0mg of cholesterol, 3g of fiber, and 10g of sugar which may be a bit much for some people.
Luna Bar is a whole nutrition bar, which contains 8g of protein, gluten-free, non-GMO, low glycemic index. No high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors.
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Zing Coconut Cashew Crisp
The Ingredients: Zing Bars have a significant amount of more ingredients than other bars on this list, but are included for their flavor variety and that theyre created by twobusy parents plus full-time registered dietitians who understand the need for a healthier grab and go alternative. The ingredients to highlight are the plant-based protein blend of rice protein and pea protein, cashews, organic quinoa, cashew butter and almond butter.
The Flavor: This flavor is unique and the perfect blend of sweet and creamy meets nutty and crunchy.
The Nutrition Facts: These bars contain 10g of protein, 5g of fiber and contribute to 10% of the recommended Daily Value for iron.
$26.40 for a box of 12,
Though It’s On The Pricier Side The Rsp Whole Bar Offers An Excellent Balance Of Protein And Fiber While Keeping Carbs To A Minimum Making It Ideal For People On A Keto Diet
Pros: Outstanding taste, no unpleasant aftertaste, easy to transport, no added sugars, no artificial sugars, high fiber, made with grass-fed whey
Cons: Expensive, only 11g of protein
I’ve tried several RSP products and its keto-friendly Whole Bar is my go-to. The small, 50-gram bar is resilient enough to handle being lugged around in a gym bag without crumbling and its rich flavoring and light texture are outstanding. I actually look forward to tearing these open after workouts.
Right now, RSP only offers the Whole Bar in one flavor: Coconut Cashew. The coconut flavor is pronounced and enjoyable in my opinion but if coconut doesn’t appeal to you, you might want to pass on this bar.
I also like that the bar tastes clean. You aren’t struck by an overpowering sweetness or any chemical tastes, and after eating one, there is no off-putting aftertaste, either. This is thanks to an ingredient list you can actually pronounce and understand. The protein content is lower than I would have liked with only 11 grams per bar but it comes from whey produced by grass-fed cows.
The Whole Bar is gluten- and grain-free, too. There are only 14 grams of carbs and 10 of those grams are fiber, which helps you feel full. There are no added sugars, sugar alcohols, or artificial sugars.
We considered many brands of protein bars while researching this guide, and there are several we almost included. These five are great alternatives that barely missed the cut:
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Best Vegan: Gomacro Macrobar Protein Paradise Cashew Caramel
Asche notes that “excellent option for athletes looking for a vegan protein bar.” You can thank the vegetarian dynamic duo of organic sprouted brown rice protein and organic pea protein for those 11 grams of protein. This bar is also loaded with healthy fats from cashews and flax seeds, which are a great plant-based source of anti-inflammatory omega-3s. Plus, it’s really one of the tastiest protein bars out there.
Pure Protein Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter
Pure Protein bars are not the best when it comes to quality ingredients but they sure taste good.
Each one contains 20g of protein from Milk protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, and whey protein isolate. And Sucralose is used as a sweetener if this is a concern for you.
But, if you want a tasty bar with good quality protein and low sugar then this is a relatively cheap way to go.
Nutrition facts: 190 calories, 20g of protein, 17g of carbs, 6g of fat, 15mg of cholesterol, < 1 of fiber, and 2g of sugar .
Pure Protein Bar
Pure Protein Bar is gluten-free, contains 20g of protein and 2g of sugar This bar helps fuel your super busy day.
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Most Wholesome Ingredients Protein Bar: Risebar Lemon Cashew High Protein Bar
RiseBar Lemon Cashew High Protein Bar
These protein bars are made with the highest quality wholesome ingredients. They are considered to be a clean food, with only four ingredients: cashews, coconut nectar, lemon extract, and 15 grams of pea protein isolate per bar. This health snack is made using pure pea protein isolate, which is easy on the digestive system, Paleo-friendly, and completely vegan.
Every Rise bar is individually made in a small batch each day to ensure top quality. They are made using only all natural and non-GMO ingredients that cause small variations in each bar, making every bite a new experience from the last.
This is a great option to eat for a pre-workout energy boost, recovery after a workout, afternoon snack, or even a meal replacement if you’re in a rush. Each bar is high in protein, fiber, potassium, vitamins, and minerals.
- Doesn’t include any junk or filler ingredients.
- Free from gluten, soy, peanuts, sugar alcohol, and artificial ingredients.
- Has a short and recognizable ingredient list.
This option is the best tasting protein bar out of all of the choices, so it is great to have on a regular basis. This bar uses only wholesome ingredients to create a powerful snack that is rich in protein and fiber to help your body stay nourished while also crushing your sweet cravings.