Reviews Protein Supplements

9 Healthiest Protein Bars In 2024

Torokhtiy is reader-supported. Some links are affiliate links, and we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. See our disclosure page for details.

Protein bars are a convenient snack for on the go, but they’re not always the healthiest option. While they will usually have a good amount of protein, they can also be filled with added sugar or other filler calories. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the healthiest protein bars available, so you can find an option that’s right for you!

Note that for all the products we’re covering nutritional value may vary slightly from flavor to flavor. If any macronutrients are listed as a range in the product descriptions, this means there is a difference between the flavors!

Healthiest protein bars

Top 9 Healthiest Protein Bars Reviewed

  1. Protein Puff Bars by Promix – Top Pick with the Lowest Calorie Content
  2. Kirkland Protein Bars – Runner-up
  3. RXBAR – Egg White Based and Best Tasting Option
  4. Protein Bars by Legion – Best for Gaining Muscle
  5. ALOHA Organic Plant Based – Best Vegan Option
  6. Rise Bar – Best with Real Food Ingredients
  7. Real Food Bar
  8. Garden of Life Protein Bar – USDA Organic and Highest in Fiber Option
  9. IQBAR – Best with Added Vitamin E
ProductTotalMacro
Breakdown
IngredientsFiber
per Serving
Micro
Breakdown
Taste +
Texture
Nutrition Label
Transparency
Price /
Quality
Promix66.59.59.599.5109.59.5
Kirkland66.5109.51099910
RXBAR66910999.5109.5
Legion65.599.59.59.59.59.59
ALOHA65.599.59.59.599.59.5
Rise6581099.59109.5
Real Food64.58.59.510999.59
Garden of Life64.59910999.59
IQBAR64999.59.58.59.59
Top Pick with the Lowest Calorie Content

1. Protein Puff Bars by Promix

Protein Puff Bars by Promix
  • Protein Source: Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate
  • Flavors: Vanilla, Snickerdoodle, Chocolate Chip, Mint Chocolate, Blueberries & Cream, Strawberries & Cream (+ Variety Pack)
  • Protein per bar: 15g
  • Fats per bar: 3-4.5g
  • Carbs per bar: 16-17g
  • Fiber per bar: 4-6g
  • Added Sugar: 3-4g
  • Sugar Alcohols: No
  • Calories per bar: 150-160
  • Sodium per bar: 50-60mg
  • Bars per Package: 24
  • Bar Weight: 40g
  • Price per Bar: ~$2.42
  • Recommended by Athletes: Odell Beckham Jr., Audrey & Nicole Nourse, Rashaad Slowley

Starting off our list of the best healthy protein bars is Promix’s Puff Bars. If you’re looking for the lowest calorie bars on our list, check these out. Not only do these have a unique Rice Krispie treat style texture, they’re also made of a high-quality, whole foods-based formula. Let’s take a closer look.

As mentioned, these are the lowest calorie option on our list with only 150 calories in each bar. Despite this, they’re still fairly high in protein with 15g per bar. You can also expect 3-4.5g of fat, and 16-17g of carbs in each bar. These macros make them ideal for part of a weight loss diet, although they could still be used as a healthy bulking snack as well!

Promix protein puff bars instagram
Photo by @promix

Promix’s bars don’t have any sugar alcohols, also being made from entirely natural ingredients. They also offer a solid amount of flavor variety with 6 unique options to choose from!

Finally, these fall around the average price for our list at around ~$2.42 per serving. Note that this is the price for the 24-bar box, and if you buy 12 instead it will be slightly more expensive.

66.5 EXPERT SCORE

Promix’s bars don’t have any sugar alcohols, also being made from entirely natural ingredients. They also offer a solid amount of flavor variety with 6 unique options to choose from!


Macro Breakdown:0
Ingredients:0
Fiber per Serving:0
Micro Breakdown:0
Taste/Texture:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

Positives:

  • Great low-calorie option
  • High-quality formula
  • Solid flavor variety

Could be better:

  • May not be the best option for those looking for a higher-calorie bar
  • Smaller package size is more expensive per bar
Runner-up

2. Kirkland Protein Bars

Kirkland Protein Bars
  • Protein Source: Protein Blend (Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate)
  • Flavors: Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunk
  • Protein per bar: 21g
  • Fats per bar: 6-7g
  • Carbs per bar: 23-24g
  • Fiber per bar: 10g
  • Added Sugar: 2g
  • Sugar Alcohols: Erythritol
  • Calories per bar: 180-190
  • Sodium per bar: 150mg
  • Bars per Package: 20
  • Bar Weight: 60gPrice per Bar: ~$1.70

Next on our list of the cleanest protein bars, and our best overall pick if you’re not as concerned about calories are Kirkland’s Protein Bars. Not only are these an excellent high protein pick, they’re also the most budget-friendly option on our list!

At 180-190 calories per serving, they’re around the average calorie content for our list. However, they also have the most protein content on our list with a solid 21g per bar. The rest of the calories in each bar come from 23-24g of carbs, and 6-7g of fat. They’re also a high-fiber option with 10g per bar. This makes them ideal for a wide variety of diet pland depending on your goals. 

Kirkland protein bars instagram
Photo by @nicole_ann86

Note that this is one of the few products on our list to contain sugar alcohols, like erythritol, which may cause digestive distress in some people and it is associated with major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE). With this being said, they don’t contain any artificial flavors. It’s also worth noting that they only come in 2 different flavors, which is fairly limited.

Despite some minor downsides, you can’t beat the price of these bars. At only ~$1.70 per serving, you’ll be hard-pressed to find higher-quality protein bars for cheaper.

66.5 EXPERT SCORE

Not only are these an excellent high protein pick, they’re also the most budget-friendly option on our list! At 180-190 calories per serving, they’re around the average calorie content for our list.


Macro Breakdown:0
Ingredients:0
Fiber per Serving:0
Micro Breakdown:0
Taste/Texture:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

Positives:

  • Best value for money
  • Solid macro breakdown
  • Good for all dietary goals

Could be better:

  • Does contain sugar alcohols
  • Limited flavor variety
Egg White Based and Best Tasting Option

3. RXBAR

RXBAR
  • Protein Source: Egg Whites
  • Flavors: Blueberry, Chocolate Sea Salt, Coconut Chocolate, Peanut Butter Chocolate
  • Protein per bar: 12g
  • Fats per bar: 7-9g
  • Carbs per bar: 23-24g
  • Fiber per bar: 4-5g
  • Added Sugar: 0g
  • Sugar Alcohols: N/A
  • Calories per bar: 210
  • Sodium per bar: 140-310mg
  • Bars per Package: 12
  • Bar Weight: 52g
  • Price per Bar: ~$3.11
  • Recommended by Athletes: Aliyah Boston, Artavious Marsh, Callie Gullickson 

Up next on our list of the best clean protein bars is RXBAR, which delivers an exceptionally high-quality all-natural bar with a great taste. This is also our choice for the best egg white-based protein bar in case you’re looking for a dairy-free option!

At 210 calories per serving, these are a similarly moderate calorie option to Kirkland. However, they are also slightly lower in protein with only 12g per bar. The rest of the calories in each bar come from 7-9g of fat and 23-24g of carbs. This makes them more ideal for bulking in our opinion, as you may want a higher protein-to-calorie ratio when cutting. Compared to Kirkland bars they have a similar amount of kcal but almost 2x less protein in a bar. Eating higher carb options like this may make it more difficult to stay in a caloric deficit. 

rxbar instagram
Photo by @rxbar

As mentioned, this is the simplest formula out of all the products we’ve covered so far, made up of only a few whole-food ingredients. This means RXBAR contains no sugar alcohols or artificial ingredients which lets the flavors of each ingredient shine through. There’s also decent flavor variety here with 4 different options to choose from.

Finally, this is one of the more expensive options on our list at about $3.11 per bar. However, considering these are some of the best-quality protein bars on our list, RXBAR still delivers solid value for the money.

66 EXPERT SCORE

RXBAR delivers an exceptionally high-quality all-natural bar with a great taste. This is also our choice for the best egg white-based protein bar in case you’re looking for a dairy-free option!


Macro Breakdown:0
Ingredients:0
Fiber per Serving:0
Micro Breakdown:0
Taste/Texture:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

Positives:

  • High-quality formula
  • Egg-white based for those after a dairy-free supplement
  • Reviews suggest an excellent flavor

Could be better:

  • Fairly low protein content
  • May not fit into a cutting diet as well as some other higher-protein options
Best for Gaining Muscle

4. Protein Bars by Legion

Legion protein bar
  • Protein Source: Protein Blend (Whey Protein Concentrate, Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate)
  • Flavors: Blueberry Muffin, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter
  • Protein per bar: 20g
  • Fats per bar: 11-12g
  • Carbs per bar: 24-29g
  • Fiber per bar: 7-9g
  • Added Sugar: 3g
  • Sugar Alcohols: Erythritol
  • Calories per bar: 240-250
  • Sodium per bar: 150-170
  • Bars per Package: 12
  • Bar Weight: 68g
  • Price per Bar: ~$3.33
  • Recommended by Athletes: Gage Clark, Grant Tinsley, Machaela Brabham

If you’re looking for natural protein bars to help you put on some size, we recommend trying out Legion’s Protein Bars. Not only do these have a high-quality, all-natural formula, they’re also one of the highest protein options on our list.

At 250 calories per serving, they’re also some of the highest-calorie bars on our list, making them an ideal fit for a bulking diet. While Kirkland has slightly more protein per bar, these are still some of the highest protein options on our list with 20g per bar. You can also expect 11g of fat and 29g of carbohydrates in each bar. 

Legion protein bar instagram
Photo by @legion

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed these macros don’t quite line up with the calories, instead suggesting a slightly higher-calorie bar! Keep this in mind when buying this product, as total calories may be slightly higher or lower than what’s listed on the label!

As mentioned, these are made with an all-natural formula, although similar to Kirkland they do contain the sugar alcohol erythritol. These also have the same amount of flavor variety as RXBAR with 4 different flavors to choose from.

It’s worth noting that these are also a fairly pricey option, costing slightly more than RXBAR at ~$3.33 per serving. However, similar to RXBAR, you can be confident you’re getting an excellent product for the price!

65.5 EXPERT SCORE

If you’re looking for natural protein bars to help you put on some size, we recommend trying out Legion’s Protein Bars. Not only do these have a high-quality, all-natural formula, they’re also one of the highest protein options on our list.


Macro Breakdown:0
Ingredients:0
Fiber per Serving:0
Micro Breakdown:0
Taste/Texture:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

Positives:

  • High protein option
  • Great macro breakdown for building muscle
  • All-natural formula

Could be better:

  • Contains sugar alcohols
  • Fairly pricey
Best Vegan Option

5. ALOHA Organic Plant Based

Aloha protein bar
  • Protein Source: Protein Blend (Brown Rice Protein, Pumpkin Seed Protein)
  • Flavors: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Caramel Sea Salt, Chocolate Caramel Pecan, Chocolate Espresso, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Chocolate Mint, Coconut Chocolate Almond, Lemon Cashew, Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Cup, Peppermint White Chocolate, Pumpkin Spice, Vanilla Almond Crunch
  • Protein per bar: 14g
  • Fats per bar: 9-13g
  • Carbs per bar: 22-25g
  • Fiber per bar: 10g
  • Added Sugar: 2-4g
  • Sugar Alcohols: No
  • Calories per bar: 220-260
  • Sodium per bar: 90-170mg
  • Bars per Package: 12
  • Bar Weight: 56g
  • Price per Bar: ~$2.08
  • Recommended by Athletes: Sam Does Her Best, Traveling Mainers, Juliana Folk

If you’re looking for the best organic protein bars on our list, we recommend checking out ALOHA’s Organic Plant-Based bars.

These are a slightly higher-calorie option at 220-260 calories depending on the flavor. At 14g of protein per bar these are one of the lower protein options on our list. They also contain 9-13g of fat and 22-25g of carbs per bar. These are an excellent option if you’re trying to prioritize fiber, with 10g per serving this will help you hit your daily fiber goals which is very beneficial for overall health! 

As with most of the products on our list, this is an all-natural protein bar. It’s also the first USDA organic option we’ve covered as well. Signifying the absence of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in the ingredients, this makes these some of the healthiest nutrition bars on our list. It also has exceptional flavor variety with 14 different flavors to choose from!

Even with an organic certification and outstanding flavor variety, ALOHA bars are still a great deal! While prices vary a bit from flavor to flavor, the cheapest option is quite affordable at ~$2.08 per bar!

65.5 EXPERT SCORE

These are an excellent option if you’re trying to prioritize fiber, with 10g per serving this will help you hit your daily fiber goals which is very beneficial for overall health! 


Macro Breakdown:0
Ingredients:0
Fiber per Serving:0
Micro Breakdown:0
Taste/Texture:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

Positives:

  • USDA Organic
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Fiber-rich whole foods-based formula

Could be better:

  • Somewhat low in protein for the calories
  • Not the best option for losing weight
Best with Real Food Ingredients

6. Rise Bar

Rise bar
  • Protein Source: Whey Protein Isolate or Pea Protein depending on flavor
  • Flavors: Almond Honey, and Chocolatey Coconut
  • Protein per bar: 15-20g
  • Fats ber bar: 15-16g
  • Carbs per bar: 21-25g
  • Fiber per bar: 4g
  • Added Sugar: 12-13g
  • Sugar Alcohols: No
  • Calories per bar: 270-280
  • Sodium per bar: 20-80mg
  • Bars per Package: 12
  • Bar Weight: 60g
  • Price per Bar: ~$2.18
  • Recommended by Athletes:  Lauren “Flora and Vino”, Matthew Alemany, Our Full Time Adventure

While RXBAR offers a great basic formula, if you want an even simpler choice, check out Rise Bar which only has 3-5 ingredients depending on the flavor, making these some of the least processed protein bars on our list. Let’s take a closer look!

Rise’s bars are 270-280 calories making them the highest calorie option on our list. With 15-20g of protein per bar, they have a fairly wide range in protein content. Note that the wide variation in protein content is because 1 of the flavors is vegan-friendly and has slightly less protein as a result. The rest of the macros in each bar are split between 15-16g of fat and 21-25g of carbs. 

As mentioned, these are super simple bars. The whey protein-based Almond Honey flavor only has 3 ingredients, while the pea protein-based Chocolatey Coconut has 5. It’s worth noting that Rise does have very limited flavor variety with only these 2 options to choose from. 

Although these are a high-quality, whole foods-based bar, they’re still fairly budget-friendly at only ~$2.18 per serving.

65 EXPERT SCORE

Rise’s bars are 270-280 calories making them the highest calorie option on our list. With 15-20g of protein per bar, they have a fairly wide range in protein content. 


Macro Breakdown:0
Ingredients:0
Fiber per Serving:0
Micro Breakdown:0
Taste/Texture:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

Positives:

  • Simplest formula on our list
  • Vegan-friendly flavor available
  • Solid protein content, especially in the Almond Honey flavor

Could be better:

  • Very limited flavor variety
  • High calories may not be ideal for those bulking

7. Real Food Bar

Real food bar
  • Protein Source: Pea Protein
  • Flavors: Cherry Cashew, Chocolate, Chocolate Sea Salt, Espresso Chip, Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Chip, Pumpkin Spice
  • Protein per bar: 15g
  • Fats per bar: 8-10g
  • Carbs per bar: 23-24g
  • Fiber per bar: 11g
  • Added Sugar: 7g
  • Sugar Alcohols: No
  • Calories per bar: 190-210
  • Sodium per bar: 80-130mg
  • Bars per Package: 12
  • Bar Weight: 60g
  • Price per Bar: ~$2.50
  • Recommended by Athletes: Sarah Randall, Jen Benston, Bethany Simko

Taking the next spot on our list goes to Real Food Bars which are another vegan-friendly, whole foods-based choice. Let’s see what these protein bars have to offer!

First, these are 190-210 calories depending on the flavor, making them one of the lower-calorie options on our list. They also have a decent amount of protein with 15g per bar. The rest of the macros are made up of 8-10g of fat and 23-24g of carbs. They are also one of the highest fiber options on our list with 11g per serving. 

These are great all-natural high-protein bars, and they also don’t contain any sugar alcohols. These also have some of the best flavor variety on our list with 7 different options to choose from!

Finally, Real Food Bars fall around the average price for our list at about ~$2.50 per serving. Considering the exceptional quality of this whole foods-based formula and the solid macros, Real Food Bars still offer some excellent value for money.

64.5 EXPERT SCORE

These are great all-natural high-protein bars, and they also don’t contain any sugar alcohols. These also have some of the best flavor variety on our list with 7 different options to choose from!


Macro Breakdown:0
Ingredients:0
Fiber per Serving:0
Micro Breakdown:0
Taste/Texture:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

Positives:

  • High-quality, all-natural formula
  • Good amount of flavor variety
  • High in fiber

Could be better:

  • Some people may find the flavor unpleasant
  • Fairly high amount of added sugar
USDA Organic and Highest in Fiber Option

8. Garden of Life Protein Bar

Garden of life organic fit bar
  • Protein Source: Pea Protein & Brown Rice Protein
  • Flavors: Peanut Butter Chocolate
  • Protein per bar: 14g
  • Fats ber bar: 8g
  • Carbs per bar: 27g
  • Fiber per bar: 13g
  • Added Sugar: 0g
  • Sugar Alcohols: Erythritol
  • Calories per bar: 240
  • Sodium per bar: 70mg
  • Bars per Package: 12
  • Bar Weight: 55g
  • Price per Bar: ~$5.00
  • Recommended by Athletes: Nate Diaz, Santia Deck, Lauren Reid & Kelly Collins

Next up is the second USDA organic option we’re covering, as well as one of the highest fiber options on our list, making these some of the most gut-friendly protein bars available. Let’s take a closer look at Garden of Life’s Protein Bars

These are some of the higher-calorie bars on our list at 240 calories per serving. With that being said, they don’t have exceptionally high protein content with 14g per bar. You can also expect 8g of fat and 27g of carbs in each bar. As mentioned, these are some of the highest fiber bars on our list with 13g per bar!

As mentioned, these are also USDA organic similar to ALOHA’s bars. As you’d expect, this is a very high-quality formula made up largely of whole-food ingredients. With that being said it does contain the sugar alcohol erythritol. It also only comes in one flavor on Amazon, which is very limited.

Finally, this is also easily the most expensive product on our list at ~$5.00 per serving. While this is a high-quality protein bar, it’s difficult to justify a price that’s more than double some of the other options on our list.

64.5 EXPERT SCORE

These are some of the higher-calorie bars on our list at 240 calories per serving. With that being said, they don’t have exceptionally high protein content with 14g per bar.


Macro Breakdown:0
Ingredients:0
Fiber per Serving:0
Micro Breakdown:0
Taste/Texture:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

Positives:

  • USDA Organic
  • High-quality formula
  • Good high-calorie option

Could be better:

  • Most expensive option by far
  • Contains sugar alcohol erythritol
Best with Added Vitamin E

9. IQBAR

IQBAR
  • Protein Source: Pea Protein
  • Flavors: Almond Butter Chip, Banana Nut, Chocolate Sea Salt, Lemon Blueberry, Matcha Chai, Peanut Butter Chip, Wild Blueberry
  • Protein per bar: 12g
  • Fats ber bar: 14-15g
  • Carbs per bar: 11g
  • Fiber per bar: 8g
  • Added Sugar: 0g
  • Sugar Alcohols: No
  • Calories per bar: 180
  • Sodium per bar: 95mg
  • Bars per Package: 12
  • Bar Weight: 45g
  • Price per Bar: ~$2.08
  • Recommended by Athletes: Angelena Minniti, Alice Likes Food, Ashley Kulbeck

Closing off our list is IQBAR which is a solid whole foods-based and vegan-friendly option. Let’s see how it compares to the 8 other bars we’ve covered so far!

First off, this is one of the lower-calorie choices on our list with 180 calories per bar. With that being said, it’s fairly low in total protein with only 12g in each serving, although this isn’t bad considering the smaller size of the bar. There’s also 15g of fat and 10g of carbs.

IQBAR instagram
Photo by @betterb_me

Like most of the other vegan options on our list, IQBARs are made up largely of whole food ingredients, although it’s not USDA organic like some other options. This is the only option on our list enriched with Vitamin E containing 90% of your DV. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that supports immune health and plays a role in preventing various chronic diseases, however keep in mind that more is not always better. IQBAR also offers a solid amount of flavor variety with 7 different options to choose from. 

Finally, this is also a fairly affordable option at ~$2.08 per serving. Although it does have a relatively low protein content, it’s still a great pick!

64 EXPERT SCORE

This is one of the lower-calorie choices on our list with 180 calories per bar. With that being said, it’s fairly low in total protein with only 12g in each serving, although this isn’t bad considering the smaller size of the bar.


Macro Breakdown:0
Ingredients:0
Fiber per Serving:0
Micro Breakdown:0
Taste/Texture:0
Nutrition Label Transparency:0
Price/Quality:0

Positives:

  • Vitamin E enriched
  • High-quality formula
  • Great flavor variety

Could be better:

  • You may be after an option with higher total protein content
  • Despite the low calorie count, the macro breakdown may not fit as well into a cutting diet

Subscribe!

The latest reviews of must-have home gym training equipment, apparel, and supplements that will enhance your performance and bring you new results.

Are Any Protein Bars Healthy?

As shown by the products on our list, there are plenty of protein bars available made of high-quality, whole foods-based formulas. While it’s up to you to decide what foods are right for you, in our opinion, protein bars can absolutely be part of a healthy diet. 

While we recommend getting the majority of your calories from whole foods, there’s nothing wrong with supplementing your diet with a protein bar if you don’t have the time to make a full meal, or if you just want a high-protein snack. 

While protein bars may not be as healthy as a well-balanced whole foods-based meal, they’re certainly a healthier choice than many highly processed snack foods. Especially if you’re dieting, protein bars can be a great way to satisfy cravings for sweets while still getting a solid amount of protein in and avoiding unnecessary calories from sugar. 

One thing to consider is micronutrient content. Most protein bars don’t have very many vitamins or minerals. So, if you’re eating a lot of protein bars, you may find yourself missing out on some necessary nutrients. This is why we recommend prioritizing more nutrient-dense whole foods above processed foods like protein bars. 

Eating protein bar before training

Overall, as long as you’re eating a diet primarily made up of whole foods, and ensuring you’re getting enough micronutrients every day, protein bars can make a great addition to your diet. If you want to make the healthiest choice possible, we’ll be covering a few things to look for down below.

Benefits of Eating Protein Bars

It’s worth mentioning that protein bars aren’t necessary for everybody. However, there are a few key benefits from these supplements that we’ll be including below. Use this as a general guide to determine if protein bars will be beneficial for you.

✅ Helps to Optimize Protein Intake

Whether you’re looking to gain or lose weight, it’s important to optimize your protein intake to either build or maintain muscle mass. For bulking, we generally recommend between 0.7-1g of protein per pound of body weight, and if you’re cutting you may want to eat at the higher end of this range. Keep in mind this is a general range and your individual needs may vary. Consider your personal circumstances and consult with a nutritionist for more tailored advice. 

Especially when eating in a caloric deficit, hitting these protein goals can be tough for some people. With most of the protein bars on our list having 15-20g of protein per serving, they’re a quick and easy way to boost your total protein intake for the day without taking in too many calories. 

✅ Satisfies Cravings for Sweets

As mentioned above, it can be tough to hit your protein goals when staying in a caloric deficit, especially if you’re a fan of sweets. This means another benefit to protein bars while dieting is that they can act as a healthier alternative to things like chocolate bars.

Good Protein bars are much better at regulating blood sugar levels when compared to traditional high-sugar snacks. On top of satisfying cravings, they will help with more sustained energy and better appetite control!

If you struggle to stay in a caloric deficit due to a lack of sweets, then you should strongly consider adding protein bars to your diet! Even protein bars made up entirely of whole food ingredients like RXBAR deliver excellent flavor without any added sugar or artificial sweeteners, instead getting their flavor from natural sweeteners like dates. 

✅ Easy and Convenient Snack

Finally, protein bars are just a convenient, healthy option if you spend a lot of time on the go. Whether you’re at work or school, you might not always have time to prepare full, healthy meals. This doesn’t mean you have to resort to fast food or other unhealthy options, because a protein bar is the perfect thing to pack with you when you leave the house. 

Not only are they easy to transport, but you can eat them in a matter of minutes making them the ideal snack for whenever you’re away from home. Again, while they may not be as ideal as a full, nutritionally balanced meal, they’re a great choice for when your options are limited.

How to Choose the Healthiest Protein Bars?

If you’re after a high-quality protein bar, it’s not always easy to tell which ones are healthier than others. Below we’ll be covering a few things to look for when making a decision, including the ingredients list and some key nutritional information. Let’s get into it!

1. Look for Bars With the Most Whole Ingredients

A great way to gauge if a bar is high-quality is by looking at its ingredients breakdown. Arguably the healthiest bars are those made up of just a few simple whole food ingredients. 

Athlete eating protein bar after training

Rise Bars are made up of just 3-5 ingredients depending on the flavor, and RXBARs are made of only 7. While more ingredients don’t necessarily mean a bar is unhealthy, you can have a better understanding of what you’re eating with a simpler formula. 

Similarly, consider if you want to prioritize organic ingredients as well as whole foods. When an option is certified as USDA organic, it ensures the ingredients used were not produced with any synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. The 2 options on our list that are certified as USDA organic are ALOHA bars and Garden of Life.

2. Choose With the Least Amount of Added Sugar

Another good way to gauge whether a bar is healthy is by checking its added sugar content. While you don’t need to demonize added sugar if you eat a mostly healthy diet, many people already eat too much sugar without adding in more through a protein bar. With a high sugar intake being associated with obesity and heart disease, it’s a good idea to be aware of how much added sugar you consume. 

This is also where it’s important to consider your goals. If you’re using protein bars as a bulking snack, there’s nothing wrong with picking a slightly higher sugar option. However, if you’re trying to lose weight, you probably don’t want a bar that’s going to skyrocket your daily sugar intake, as this can make it difficult to stick to a caloric deficit.

3. Look at the Amount of Fiber

While most people get plenty of sugar through their diet, most people could benefit from a higher fiber intake! Fiber has been shown to lower the risk of numerous diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and more. The recommended daily amount is between 25-35g with most people only getting ~15g per day. It’s also worth noting that fiber is very satiating, making it ideal for those looking to lose weight. 

While not all of the protein bars on our list are super high in fiber, there are a few that have a solid amount. If you’re looking to prioritize fiber when choosing a protein bar, consider going with Garden of Life, Real Food Bar, or Aloha Bar, as all these options have 10g+ of fiber in each serving.

4. Pay Attention to the Amount of Sodium

Finally, the last thing we recommend looking at to gauge the healthiness of a protein bar is its sodium content. Similar to sugar, sodium is something that people may get more than enough, in their everyday diet. 

Legion Protein Bars

Overall, this will come down to a matter of personal needs. If you eat a diet relatively low in sodium, this isn’t something you should be worried about. However, if you’re looking to limit your sodium intake, consider going with a lower sodium bar like Promix which only has ~50-60mg per serving depending on the flavor.

How to Make Protein Bars Part of a Healthy Diet?

As we’ve mentioned throughout this article, protein bars are a great choice as long as you’re eating an overall healthy diet. But, what does this look like? Below we’ll be going over a few tips to ensure you’re incorporating protein bars as a small part of a healthy diet.

1. Eat a Whole Foods-Based Diet

First, one of the best ways to ensure you’re eating a healthy diet is to prioritize whole foods. Think meats, legumes, whole grains, fruits, and veggies. Getting the majority of your calories from these sources will be the foundation of a healthy diet. If you have a strong foundation, there’s nothing wrong with adding in a few processed snacks like protein bars.

2. Consult With Your Doctor

As mentioned earlier, especially if you’re in a caloric deficit it can be tough to meet all your nutrition goals. Protein bars aren’t the most nutritionally complete foods, so they likely won’t help you address any possible deficiencies.  

Woman eating protein bar

This is why you may want to take a vitamin supplement to fill in any gaps in your diet. It’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor and get some blood work done. You may be deficient in one or more key micronutrients that you may have to address through supplementation or a change to your diet. 

3. Don’t Be Too Extreme!

Finally, a major part of sticking to a healthy diet plan is to not be too extreme. While we mentioned mainly eating whole foods above, it’s important to not be too hard on yourself and obsess over only eating the “healthiest” foods. The stricter you are with yourself, the more difficult a diet will be to maintain. It’s important to find a diet that you can stick to, as this is how you’ll see the most progress over time. 

Carrying on this point, we don’t recommend eating in too high of a caloric surplus if you’re bulking, or too low of a caloric deficit if you’re cutting. Eating in a moderate deficit or surplus will not only lead to better progress – less fat gain when bulking and less muscle loss when cutting – but it will also likely lead to a healthier, more sustainable diet!

FAQ

Is It Ok to Eat a Protein Bar Every Day?

Yes, while your diet should still largely be made up of whole foods, there’s nothing wrong with having a protein bar as a snack every day if it’s convenient for you. With that being said, if you’re planning on making protein bars a staple of your diet, we recommend opting for healthier options (high-quality ingredients, more fiber, less sugar, etc.).

Is it OK to replace breakfast with a protein bar?

Once for a while it won’t be bad. While protein bars can act as a breakfast substitute in a pinch, it’s important to remember they aren’t very rich in micronutrients. If you want to have a protein bar for breakfast, we recommend having it alongside some more micronutrient-rich foods (think a glass of milk and a banana for example) to make it a more complete meal.

Can I Build Muscle Without Protein Bars?

Protein bars aren’t at all necessary to get enough protein for building muscle. They are simply a convenient way to get some extra protein in, as well as being a protein-rich alternative to unhealthier options like chocolate bars.

Conclusion

While protein bars are a convenient and protein-packed snack option, it’s not always easy to decide on the healthiest options. In this article, we decided to prioritize bars with high-quality formulas so you can make a more informed choice on which protein bar is right for you. Overall, while it’s good to make healthier choices, remember that moderation is the key to adherence to any diet, and this will lead to more significant progress over time!

Our top pick for the best-quality protein bars is Protein Puff Bars by Promix for their excellent macros and budget-friendly cost. Hopefully, our healthy protein bar reviews can help you pick a bar that’s right for you!

Do you have a favorite brand of clean-ingredient protein bars? Are you planning on trying out any of the products on our list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Also read:

References

  1. David M Storey, et. al, “Gastrointestinal tolerance of erythritol and xylitol ingested in a liquid” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 61(3):349-54 (2007).
  2. Marco Witowski, et. al, “The artificial sweetener erythritol and cardiovascular event risk” Nat Med. Mar;29(3):710-718. (2023).
  3. The Nutrition Source, “Vitamin E,” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-e/ (Accessed Nov. 20, 2023)
  4. Everson A. Nunes, et. al, “Systematic review and meta-analysis of protein intake to support muscle mass and function in healthy adults,” Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle, 13, 795–810, (2022)
  5. The Nutrition Source, “Added Sugar in the Diet,” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/added-sugar-in-the-diet/ (Accessed Nov. 20, 2023)
  6. The Nutrition Source, “Fiber,” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/ (Accessed Nov. 20, 2023)
  7. The Nutrition Source, “Salt and Sodium,” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/ (Accessed Nov. 20, 2023)

Why Trust Us?

With over 20 years in Olympic Weightlifting, our team does its best to provide the audience with ultimate support and meet the needs and requirements of advanced athletes and professional lifters, as well as people who strive to open new opportunities and develop their physical capabilities with us.

All products we select are primarily approved and tested by the Olympic Weightlifting Champion Oleksii Torokhtiy. Under his guidance, we provide honest and reasonable assessments of the products we review by checking their characteristics, packaging, design, comfort and durability features, and general product rating. We select products from only high-quality and trusted sports brands, thus vouching for their quality.

The product testing process is described in more detail here

Jacek Szymanowski

Author: Jacek Szymanowski

Certified Nutritionist,
M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology
Performance Architect,
Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Experience: 20 years

With over 30 years of fighting experience, specialization in nutrition coaching for athletes, and expertise in metabolic health and dietary strategies, Jacek offers a comprehensive approach to optimizing your performance and well-being. Backed by a Master of Science degree in Biotechnology, Jacek remains at the forefront of scientific advancements, ensuring that his coaching is always evidence-based and up-to-date.

View author’s page


If you have any questions/suggestions/any other inquiries considering product reviews, you can reach out to us via email – [email protected]

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *