The Best Protein Bars That Won't Sabotage Your Diet

best-protein-bars-carousel


Pill Organizers | Electrolyte Drinks | Protein Bars | Energy Gels | Hydration Packs | Food Storage Containers | Eating Healthy While Traveling

Take a look in any grocery store and you'll probably see dozens of different brands of protein bars all making claims about being a healthy snack. Protein bars are an attractive option for anyone looking for snacks that can help them meet their macronutrient goals without consuming too many calories. However, if you've been working hard tracking your fitness and investing in weight loss, you have to be careful about what protein bars can actually deliver.

It is true that protein-heavy snacks can satiate your hunger and help you lose weight or build muscle. However, unlike protein powders, many of these bars also have filler ingredients that outweigh the positives. But don't worry, we're here to help; the ACTIVE Reviews Team has done the research and compiled our list of the best protein bars that won't sabotage your diet or fitness goals.

Why Trust Us?

The health and safety of ACTIVE's readers is of the utmost importance to us. To ensure your well-being when consuming nutritional supplements, the ACTIVE.com editorial team prioritizes products that are independently tested by a third party. We've also consulted with a team of nutritionists and dieticians to ensure the products we feature are of the highest standard. This helps us create the most accurate, authentic review content for our readers. More importantly, fitness may be our job, but it is also our passion. Therefore, we strive to bring you products that we trust and would personally use.

The Best Protein Bars - Our Top Picks

By clicking on the product links in this article, we may receive a commission fee at no cost to you, the reader. Read the full affiliate disclosure here.

A Quick Look at Protein Bars

Protein bars are a relatively inexpensive way to supplement your nutrition. Typically, a protein bar will have as many grams of protein as possible while minimizing other nutrients like calories, carbs, and sugar. The intended effects of protein bars can vary depending on the brand, but generally speaking they fall into three categories: help you lose weight, help you build muscle, or as a healthy snack to curb cravings. All of these are worthy goals that consuming protein bars can help you reach. However, it is always best to consult your doctor or a registered dietician before making any major dietary changes.

It is important to note that some people confuse energy bars with protein bars. These products may have crossover ingredients, but their nutrient content has very different goals. Energy bars are made to give you access to quick energy, so there will be a higher number of carbs and sugars. We bring this up because many protein bars have nutrient profiles that look more like energy bars and will actually sabotage your fitness rather than supplement it. But don't worry, we've left these types of products off our list.

What to Look for When Shopping for Protein Bars

Besides what's already been mentioned, there are a handful of things you need to consider when buying protein bars:

  • Price: The ACTIVE reviews team uses our own rating scale for cost that rates a product $-$$$. We determine the ranking based on cost per serving. If a product is under $1 per serving it is rated $. If a product is between $1-2 per serving it is rated $$. If a product is over $2 per serving it is rated $$$.
  • Flavor options: Similar to the price rating, we have our own flavor rating system that rates the product on a scale of 1-3. If the product is not flavored it will be designated with an N/A. If a product has 1-2 flavor options, it will be rated a 1. If a product has 3-4 flavor options it will be rated a 2. If a product has 5 or more flavor options it will be rated a 3.
  • Protein to sugar ratio: You want your protein bars to have at least a 1:1 sugar to protein ratio. If a protein bar has more sugar than protein, you're not getting the optimal effects and it will likely sabotage any weight-loss efforts as the sugar is converted to energy and any excess is stored as fat.
  • Allergens: This may seem obvious to some, but most protein bars are able to offer the amount of protein they do because they extract it from different sources like peanut butter, soy, milk, etc. We have designated the potential allergens on our list, but they should also be clearly labeled on any product you buy in the store.

Best Overall - Vital Proteins & Jennifer Aniston Protein and Collagen Bar

Vital Proteins & Jennifer Aniston Protein and Collagen Bar

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 2
  • Calories: 200
  • Protein: 14g
  • Carbs: 11g
  • Fats: 8g
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Serving size: 1 bar
  • Allergen warning: Milk, peanuts, coconut, and almonds

Check Price

Vital Proteins is our pick for best overall protein bar for several reasons. The best part of this bar is that the protein to sugar ratio is 14:1, which is the highest on our list. The sugar is also not added, it comes directly from other ingredients that naturally have sugar. In place of sugar, these bars use the sugar alcohol maltitol, which adds a sweet taste without the effects of cane sugar or syrups. This allows the bar to have flavors like peanut butter fudge, cold brew, and dark chocolate coconut while keeping the calories below 200.

Another unique ingredient in these bars is collagen. Collagen is typically associated with skin or joint health, but it is also a protein that you have in your body as a connective tissue.

PROS

  • High protein to sugar ratio
  • Rich flavors despite using a sugar substitute
  • Low calorie

CONS

  • Some people won't like the taste of the sugar substitute
  • High price per serving

BUY: Vital Proteins & Jennifer Aniston Protein and Collagen

Best for Weight Loss - Fast Bar Intermittent Fasting Bar

Fast Bar Intermittent Fasting Bar

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 3
  • Calories: 200-210
  • Protein: 5g
  • Carbs: 13g
  • Fats: 17g
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Serving size: 1 bar
  • Allergen warning: Tree nuts (almonds, coconut, macadamia nuts, pecans)

Check Price

The Fast Bar Intermittent Fasting Bar is a great bar for those trying to lose weight. Specifically, Fast Bar's clinical study claims that you can eat these bars while fasting without raising your glucose levels, essentially tricking your body into thinking it is still fasting. This bar is gluten free, keto friendly, and has no dairy (although it is manufactured in a facility that also processes dairy products). These bars have around 200 calories and a good portion of fat that should help satiate your hunger.

Fast Bar's sugar content comes from honey which doesn't trigger the same response in your body as cane sugar or syrups, so you won't be sacrificing taste in the same way you might be with a sugar substitute. If you're trying to lose weight, Fast Bar is a great option for you to try.

PROS

  • Fits within gluten-free, non-dairy, and keto diets
  • Claims to trigger no glucose response so your body still uses fat stores for energy
  • Protein is all plant-based

CONS

  • Only 5g of protein
  • May not satiate hunger well if you're just starting your diet plan

BUY: Fast Bar Intermittent Fasting Bar

Best Vegan - Rise Bar Vegan Protein Bar

Rise Bar Vegan Protein Bar

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 2
  • Calories: 260-280
  • Protein: 15-20g
  • Carbs: 21-25g
  • Fats: 13-15g
  • Sugar: 12-14g
  • Serving size: 1 bar
  • Allergen warning: Cashews and coconut

Check Price

Rise Bar Vegan Protein Bars are packed with macronutrients and they're all derived from plant ingredients. Each bar has only four or five ingredients—depending on flavor—and they're all organic. The sweetener of these bars is coconut nectar which is rich in vitamins and minerals with a low glycemic index. These bars are also a good source of iron and potassium which gives them an edge over other similar protein bars. And at 260-280 calories, these bars will sit heavy on your stomach and keep you feeling full for a longer period of time than other bars. However, these are dense calories with a good portion of fat, carbs, sugar, and protein, so make sure you are accounting for those numbers as you're tracking your diet.

PROS

  • Made with only 4-5 organic ingredients
  • Vegan
  • Good source of vitamins and minerals, particularly iron and potassium

CONS

  • High calories
  • Limited flavor options

BUY: Rise Bar Vegan Protein Bar

Best Tasting - MyProtein Layered Protein Bar

MyProtein Layered Protein Bar

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 3
  • Calories: 220
  • Protein: 20g
  • Carbs: 19g
  • Fats: 9g
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Serving size: 1 bar
  • Allergen warning: Almonds, coconut, milk, peanuts, and soy (depending on flavor)

Check Price

MyProtein Layered Protein Bars have some of the most unique flavors on the market, and the kicker is that they've made these flavors with sugar substitutes like maltitol so they are able to keep sugar content low. Sometimes you have to sacrifice nutrition to get flavors like Cookies and Cream or Birthday Cake, but with these you can have those flavors and 20 grams of protein—a 5:1 protein to sugar ratio that is very high compared to other protein bars with similar flavors.

If you haven't noticed by now, around 200 calories is a sweet spot for the best protein bars, and MyProtein keeps all of their Layered bars within 20-30 calories of that number. These bars are a premium product, so they are one of the most expensive on our list. However, the unique flavors, the protein to sugar ration, and the vitamins and minerals you get from the formula make them worth the cost.

PROS

  • Unique flavor options
  • 5:1 protein to sugar ratio
  • Low fat

CONS

  • Premium price per serving
  • Sugar alcohol content is high and can affect taste for some people

BUY: MyProtein Layered Protein Bar

Best Protein Cookie - Naked Nutrition Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie

Naked Nutrition Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 2
  • Calories: 200
  • Protein: 10g
  • Carbs: 24g
  • Fats: 12g
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Serving size: 1 cookie
  • Allergen warning: Almonds and milk

Check Price

OK, so this is not exactly a bar, but let's be honest, some people don't want to eat protein bars to supplement their nutrition. They don't like the texture or they don't like the flavor—for whatever reason, they just prefer other products. Enter the protein cookie. Naked Nutrition's protein cookies are a great compromise for people who want to feel like they're eating dessert while staying true to their diet plans. With a 10:1 protein to sugar ratio, these cookies will help you feel satiated and give you the macronutrients you need without sabotaging your efforts.

One of the surprising features of these cookies is that they are gluten free. Naked Nutrition uses almond flour as a substitute for wheat to accomplish this and they keep their formula free of artificial colors, sweeteners, or preservatives. If you like to eat clean but also have a sweet tooth, these cookies may be for you.

PROS

  • 10:1 protein to sugar ratio
  • 0g of added sugars
  • Gluten and soy free

CONS

  • Not very many flavor options
  • Some people don't like the almond flour texture

BUY: Naked Nutrition Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie

Best for Muscle Gain - Transparent Labs UNCUT High Protein Energy Bars

Transparent Labs UNCUT High Protein Energy Bars

SPECS

  • Price (scale of $-$$$): $$$
  • Flavor options (scale of 1-3): 1
  • Calories: 280
  • Protein: 16g
  • Carbs: 24g
  • Fats: 14g
  • Sugar: 19g
  • Serving size: 1 bar
  • Allergen warning: Milk, soy, and almond

Check Price

When it comes to muscle building, the macronutrients that you regularly consume—namely protein—are just as important to generating mass as lifting heavy in the gym. Whether you're new to mass gain or a bulking veteran, it's easy to become overwhelmed with having to eat larger meals every 2-3 hours in order to maintain your muscle gains. So, having a supplemental bar for those occasions when you can't stop and consume a small feast is a game-changer.

Transparent Labs' UNCUT High Protein Energy Bar has got you covered with a 2:1:1 macronutrient ratio of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to keep you satiated until your next meal. These bars also rank high among users for their great taste without the use of artificial sweeteners—the 19 grams of sugar comes from all-natural honey. These bars are an excellent choice for the on-the-go lifter who hopes to keep their bulk clean.

PROS

  • High in protein and carbs
  • Taste is popular with reviewers
  • No artificial sweeteners

CONS

  • Higher price point
  • Not a lot of flavor options

BUY: Transparent Labs UNCUT High Protein Energy Bars

FAQs About Protein Bars


What protein bars should I eat to lose weight?

There are plenty of protein bars that can help you lose weight. Some things to consider when you're looking for weight loss specifically are calories, protein, and fat content. If you want to lose weight with protein bars, you're going to want a bar that satiates your hunger (higher fat and protein content) while being as low calorie as possible. We recommend you give the Fast Bar Intermittent Fasting Bar a try!

What is the best protein bar?

Choosing the best protein bar depends on what you're hoping to gain from adding them into your diet and what, if any, dietary restrictions you have. A good protein bar will have a protein to sugar ratio at or over 1:1, but beyond that you can go in many different directions.

Are protein bars healthy?

Most protein bars you'll find in big-box grocery stores wouldn't necessarily be considered "healthy" because they are typically high calorie and have a high sugar content. However, the best protein bars make an effort to offer the highest quality ingredients and the biggest nutrient bang for your buck. These bars can be consumed regularly as part of a healthy diet to help you hit your macros, satiate hunger, curb cravings, supplement calories, or any number of other healthy living goals.

Should you eat a protein bar every day?

You can eat protein bars every day if you want to because high-quality bars are not likely to have any negative side effects. However, whether you should eat a protein bar every day depends on your goals. If you have an uncontrollable sweet tooth and you want to try an alternative, a protein bar might be able to help you with that. If you're trying to lose weight and satiate your hunger between meals, a protein bar is a great option. However, it is always best to consult your doctor or a registered dietician before making any major dietary changes.

Pill Organizers | Electrolyte Drinks | Protein Bars | Energy Gels | Hydration Packs | Food Storage Containers | Eating Healthy While Traveling

Discuss This Article