The 40 Best and Worst Protein Bars
There's no denying it: protein is the name of the game when it comes to health and nutrition these days.
However, even for the most dedicated healthy eaters among us, the idea of toting around grilled chicken and egg whites everywhere we go is even less practical than it is appealing. The alternative for those who want to keep their energy levels high without reaching for the nearest convenience food, comes in the form of protein bars, the ubiquitous health food store staple that promises better health in every bite.
While the convenience of these snacks makes them enticing, what's under the wrapper varies wildly from company to company. Major brands that sit side-by-side on your favorite store's shelves can be like comparing apples and oranges, with one so-called health food relying on artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and toxic preservatives to achieve its flavor, while another might be little more than a brick of organic fruit and nuts perfect to enjoy in place of a full meal on a busy day.
So which should you choose? After reading up on the 45 Sources of Protein You Should Be Eating — But Aren't, find out which protein-packed snacks make our list of the 40 Best and Worst Meal Replacement Bars!
Quest White Chocolate Raspberry Protein Bar
Worst: With just 200 calories and 9 grams of fat, Quest's White Chocolate Raspberry Bar seems like it should be able to help you slim down, but not all of its ingredients are as healthy as you might have hoped. Despite the resveratrol-rich red raspberries in this protein bar, it's also packed with sucralose, an artificial sweetener that has been suggested as a culprit for weight gain. For more reasons to get red fruit (without the artificial sweetener) in your diet, discover the 40 Ways Red Fruits Burns Fat and Boosts Health!
Bariatric Health and Wellness Cinnamon and Raisin Bar
Best: Packing only 150 calories and 7 grams of sugar, this protein bar is relatively light compared to other similar products on the market. Thanks to the fat-fighting cinnamon and and resveratrol-rich raisins in the formula, this bar is one of the better meal replacement bars on the market. However, if you're susceptible to irritation from soy products, this is one to avoid.
Quaker Protein Baked Bars — Peanut Butter Chocolate
Worst: This bar's oatmeal base may make it seem like a good option, but its health benefits are undeniably dampened by the intense amount of sugar it contains, with 13 grams per bar. This granola bar also contains xanthan gum, an additive that has been shown to increase the water in the intestines of animals by 400%, potentially leading to bloating. To relieve the discomfort this bar may cause, turn to the 40 Foods That Beat Belly Bloat!
Kellogg's FiberPlus Antioxidants Protein Chewy Bars — Mixed Nut
Worst: This bloat-promoting soy-based bar is doing no favors for your waistline. Not only does it pack a whopping 8 percent of your RDA of sodium, it's also preserved with BHT, consumption of which may increase your risk of stomach cancer, according to a Dutch study.
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Glutino Gluten Free Blueberry Breakfast Bar
Best: Packing just 140 calories and 45 milligrams of sugar, Glutino's Blueberry Breakfast Bar is one of the least calorific on the market. Even better, this gluten-free brand relies on easily digestible flours, like chickpea and potato, to fill it with protein and fiber without causing belly bloat. To find out why you should say goodbye to gluten for good, find out the 40 Reasons You'll Want to Go Gluten-Free!
Zone Perfect Classic Nutrition Bar — Chocolate Coconut Crunch
Worst: Corn syrup, palm oil, sugar, and soy combine for a perfect storm of unhealthy "health" food this so-called nutrition bar. While it does boast 19 vitamins and minerals, Zone's Chocolate Coconut Crunch Bar also contains 220 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of sugar, and 4.5 grams of saturated fat.
Annie's Double Chocolate Chip Bar
Best: Gluten-free, non-GMO, made with no high-fructose corn syrup, and full of blood-pressure lowering, heart disease-fighting oats, Annie's Double Chocolate Chip Bar is a reasonably healthy way to power up during the day without loading your diet with junk. For more ways to help improve your heart health, Cut Your Heart Disease Risk With These Foods!
Julian Bakery Paleo Protein Bar — Glazed Donut
Best: Made using healthy ingredients like almonds, coconut oil, stevia, and bio-available protein from grass-fed beef, these protein bas are among the healthiest you'll find anywhere. In addition to the healthy ingredients, this bar has just 170 calories while packing 93 percent of your daily fiber.
Kashi Soft N' Chewy Bars Apple Cobbler
Best: With whole grain flour and plenty of fat-fighting apples, this delicious diet bar is one you can feel good about tucking into. Even better, this dessert-like snack has no high fructose corn syrup, unlike countless other meal replacement bars on the market. To find out where HFCS might be hiding, discover the 25 Sneaky Sources of High Fructose Corn Syrup!
Nutri Grain Cereal Bars Strawberry
Worst: Don't let this bar's name mislead you — it's anything but full of fresh fruit. With an ingredient list that packs sugar, corn syrup, wheat gluten, bloat-inducing carrageenan, potentially carcinogenic artificial dyes, and only strawberry puree concentrate mixed with corn syrup and sugar instead of real fruit in the center, this is one cereal bar you don't want on your plate.
Balance Gold Caramel Nut Blast
Worst: Sensitive stomachs, beware! This breakfast bar is a one-way ticket to a bloated belly. With soy, gluten, corn syrup, sugar, carrageenan, butter, palm oil, and added tocopherols to preserve flavor, this protein bar just isn't the healthy snack you may have hoped for. To find out more about which flavor-saving ingredients could be harming your health, read up on the 40 Scariest Preservatives and Additives in Your Food!
Gnu Flavor and Fiber Bars Cinnamon Raisin
Best: Low in calories, with just 130 per bar, but loaded with healthy ingredients, like rolled oats, Kamut, millet, flax, raisins, apples, plums, and cinnamon, this all-natural bar is as tasty as any snack you'd make at home, only more convenient. To discover why this bar's multi-grain formula has such dramatic health-boosting effects, read up on the 15 Best Grains For Weight Loss!
MET-Rx ProteinPlus Protein Bars — Creamy Cookie Crisp
Worst: While just one of these MET-Rx bars provides you with 60 percent of your RDA of protein, at 320 calories, it's also one of the higher-calorie bars out there, and full of less-than-healthy ingredients to boot. With each of these bars, you'll get 20 grams of stomach cramp-causing sugar alcohol, 13 percent of your daily sodium intake, and both sugar and sucralose used as sweaters, doubling your risk of belly fat accumulation.
Cascadian Honey Roasted Nut Bar
Best: This organic granola bar may taste like a decadent treat, but it's actually one of the healthier protein bars you'll find on the shelf. With 250 calories, just 5 percent of your daily sugar, and satisfying, protein- and fiber-filled peanuts and pea protein, this granola bar is a healthy choice when you're in a hurry. For more ways to add protein into your diet at every meal, try the 45 Proteins You Should Be Eating — But Aren't!
Odwalla Nourishing Food Bar — Chocolate Chip Peanut
Best: If you're in a rush, this Odwalla bar is one of the better bars you can grab to calm your rumbling belly. With 230 calories, 7 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber, this bar is filling enough to keep you from grabbing a donut at the office, but not so calorie-packed it will throw your diet off pace. With healthy ingredients, like cholesterol-busting oats, and low-glycemic sweetness like date paste and plum puree, there's little not to like about this protein bar.
18 Rabbits Jr. Organic Granola Bar — Chocolate Cherry
Best: The powerhouse belly fat-fighting duo of cherries and dark chocolate come together in one delicious bar, thanks to 18 Rabbits. Although it's lighter on protein than many of its counterparts, with just 3 grams per bar, the combination of disease-fighting vegetarian protein sources, like pumpkin seeds, almonds, and coconut, and resveratrol-packed ingredients, like dark chocolate and cherries, make this bar a great one to grab when you're on-the-go.
Greens Plus Natural Energy Bar
Best: Gluten-free, non-GMO, and packed with organic ingredients, this brownie-like bar may just be the best thing to happen to pre-packaged meals. Unlike many other protein bars that rely on just one of two healthy ingredients, Greens Plus incorporates superfoods like dark chocolate, quinoa, wheatgrass, barley gras, alfalfa grass, bee pollen, spirulina, grapes, milk thistle, and green tea, to form a delicious bar that will keep you full as it fights fats. For more ways to incorporate superfoods into your everyday meal plan, try out the 100 Superfoods That Double Weight Loss!
Kind Roasted Jalapeño Almond Protein Bar
Best: If you like a little kick along with your protein bar, look no further than this spicy-sweet snack from Kind. Part of the brand's Strong & Kind line, this bar has 10 grams of protein, no refined sugar, and plenty of heart-healthy ingredients, like almonds, pumpkin seeds, pea protein, and hemp seeds, as well as metabolism-boosting jalapeño. Discover more ways to give your metabolism a boost by enjoying the 6 Best Spices For Weight Loss!
Myoplex Deluxe Bar — Chocolate Peanut Butter
Worst: Chocolate and peanut butter may be one of the all-time greatest flavor combinations, but they're far from their best selves in this high-calorie protein bar. Packing 340 calories and a list of ingredients that includes obesogens like high fructose corn syrup, milk protein, sugar, and soybean oil, all the vitamins and minerals crammed into this bar still don't make it worth your while.
Health Valley Strawberry Cobbler Multigrain Cereal Bar
Best: Low in calories, sodium, and sugar, this snack bar is packed with organic ingredients proven to melt fat. Unlike many other cereal bars on the market, Health Valley's strawberry center is made from actual fruit, including both organic strawberries and apples, and the bar's exterior crust is made without high fructose corn syrup, trans fat, or harmful preservatives.
Gatorade Whey Protein Bar — Mint Chocolate Crunch
Worst: Corn syrup, sugar, soy, and milk make this protein bar a definite no-go for anyone whose stomach is on the sensitive side. Despite the 20 grams of protein this bar packs, you'll also get 360 calories, making this one to-go meal you'll want to leave at home. To help reduce the effect ingredients like milk and soy can have thought your body, try the 40 Foods That Fight Inflammation!
Atkins Mocha Almond Bar
Worst: Atkins may be the number one name in low-carb products, but low-carb doesn't always mean high-quality nutrition. Ingredients like fiber filler polydextrose, artificial sweetener sucralose, and milk protein all have potentially bloat-inducing effects, so if you want to keep your belly flat, steer clear.
Clif Organic Trail Mix Bar — Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt
Best: Organic, low-glycemic, and gluten-free, Clif's Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt bar tastes like a dessert but gives you the energy of a healthy, well-balanced meal. These bars are made up of protein-packed ingredients, like almonds, pecans, cashews, almond butter, and dark chocolate, and free of any preservatives, artificial sweeteners, or dyes. For more delicious snacks that can help you achieve your weight loss goals, try the 45 Healthy Snacks For a Slimmer Body!
Planters Original Peanut Bar
Worst: While its name may make it seem like an energy bar, this is more candy than health food. Packing 240 calories and a brief ingredients list that includes only peanuts, sugar, corn syrup, salt, peanut oil, and preservatives, you'd be better off just eating a handful of nuts than this snack bar. Find out why peanuts (when they're not packed in sugar) should earn a permanent spot on your diet by discovering the 40 Ways Nuts Fight Fat.
Oh Yeah! High Protein Bar — Peanut Butter and Caramel
Worst: Although Oh Yeah! does deliver on its promise of high protein, with more an 27 grams per bar, it's also chock-full of ingredients that could potentially sabotage your path to a Zero Belly. In addition to both sucralose and sugar in the recipe, the Oh Yeah Peanut Butter & Caramel bar also contains maltitol, an artificial sweetener that has been shown to have a laxative effect, according to research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Nature Valley Energy Granola Bars — Cranberry Almond
Worst: A combo of corn syrup and sugar make this bar a treat that's not-so-sweet when it comes to your waistline. While this bar does include some healthy ingredients, like whole grain oats, dried cranberries, and almonds, the 15 grams of sugar you'll get in each bar are hardly worth it.
Detour Simple Whey Protein Bar — Simple Caramel Peanut
Best: Gluten-free, non-GMO, and sweetened with only stevia, these bars are protein-packed without any of the nasty stuff you'll find in other meal replacement bars. With just 230 calories and 6 grams of fiber, these bars will keep you full without derailing your diet.
General Mills Food Should Taste Good Real Good Bar — Macadamia Chai
Best: Just 210 calories and loaded with healthy ingredients, like almonds, only, macadamia nuts, coconut, cashews, and cocoa, this bar is a tasty way to load up on protein without adding inches to your waistline. Even better, it's packed with ginger, cinnamon, and allspice, three powerful anti-inflammatories. For more foods with an anti-inflammatory effect, turn to the 40 Foods That Fight Inflammation!
Larabar Cashew Cookie
Best: With just two ingredients, cashews and dates, you can't get much healthier than this health and delicious energy bar. In addition to the 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber you'll get in each Cashew Cookie bar, you'll get 10 percent of your daily iron, 20 percent of your daily magnesium, and 25 percent of your RDA of copper, essential for healthy bones and muscles.
Zing Almond Blueberry Nutrition Bar
Best: Full of antioxidants, gluten-free, and full of belly fat-blasting resveratrol, Zing's Almond Blueberry Nutrition Bar is one on-the-go snack you can feel good about. Add in the 11 grams of protein in each bar and you're looking at a healthy snack neither your brain or your belly will regret the next day.
PowerBar ProteinPlus — Chocolate Brownie
Worst: With both sugar and belly-bloating artificial sweeteners, PowerBar's Chocolate Brownie Bar is one snack you can cross off your list. Despite its high protein content, with 30 grams per bar, the laxative maltitol syrup, canola oil, sugar, and artificial coloring in this bar make it one "health" food we can easily say no to. Discover which other so-called health foods you can ditch from your diet by reading up on the 25 "Health" Foods That Are Actually Terrible For You!
Health Warrior Superfood Protein Bar — Honey Almond
Best: A soy-free formula packed with healthy sources of fiber, protein, and fat, like chia seeds, peas, quinoa, oats, and almonds, this tasty bar is one you can feel good about eating. Perhaps the best thing about Health Warrior's formula is that it eschews both sugar and artificial sweeteners, opting for just honey and brown rice syrup to keep it sweet.
Pure Organic Banana Coconut Bar
Best: If you're looking for a protein bar that cuts out all the chemical ingredients in favor of healthy, whole foods, look no further than the Pure Organic Banana Coconut Bar. A mixture of brown rice protein, dates, cashews, walnuts, almonds, bananas, coconut oil and flour, and agave nectar, this vegan, gluten-free, soy-free bar is as much a treat for your health as it is for your taste buds. Discover why more and more people are going organic by asking Is Organic Food Really Better For You?
Fiber One Protein — Coconut Almond
Worst: Although it's low in calories, with just 140 per bar, Fiber One's Coconut Almond Protein Bar isn't the health food you might have hoped for. Ingredients like soy protein, sugar, palm oil, corn syrup, artificial color, and propylene glycol, which you'll also find in antifreeze, make this a less-than-ideal pre- or post-workout snack. Find out why propylene glycol is such a diet don't by reading up on the 40 Scariest Preservatives and Additives in Your Food!
NuGo Smarte Carb Bar Peanut Butter Crunch
Worst: While you'll find little sugar in this low-carb bar, it's been replaced with artificial sweeteners that can bloat your belly and may even cause you to gain weight. This bar has both sucralose and maltitol in it, making it a prime suspect for weight gain — research published in Lancet suggests that replacing natural sugars with artificial ones can actually increase appetite.
Pro Bar Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bar
Best: With a host of healthy ingredients, like oats, peanuts, almonds, flaxseed, pineapple, and papaya, this is one meal replacement bar you can feel good about digging into. While it is higher in calories than many other protein bars, with 390 per package, this organic, gluten-free, non-GMO bar has enough protein and fiber (10 and 6 grams, respectively)in it to actually keep you full until your next meal.
FucoProtein Peanut Butter Crunch Bar
Best: Give your inner peanut butter lover something to smile about by digging into this healthy protein bar. Made from a short list of organic ingredients, including peanuts, peanut flour, peanut butter, coconut oil, honey, and salt, this may not be a great choice for anyone with a nut allergy, but it's one of the healthiest bars (and tastiest snacks) on the market for anyone else. For more reasons to make peanuts a priority in your diet, find out the 40 Ways Nuts Fight Fat!
Ginnybakes Health Bar — Love and Nuts
Best: Keeping it simple has enabled Ginnybakes to create a nutrition bar that's as healthy as it is delicious. Coconut, dates, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and agave nectar combine to create a satisfying snack that doesn't have to rely on artificial ingredients for its great taste.
22 Days PB and Chocolate Chip Nirvana
Best: Organic food never tasted so good. This gluten-free, soy-free meal replacement bar has 20 grams of protein, all of it from organic plant-based sources, like brown rice, sesame seeds, and flaxseeds. For more ways to enjoy plant-based protein in your diet, dig into the 45 Sources of Protein You Should Be Eating — But Aren't!
SimplyProtein Cocoa Raspberry
Best: With 15 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, and just 150 calories, you may be wondering what's in SimplyProtein's tasty Cocoa Raspberry bars. While the low calories may make it seem like it's packed with chemicals, this bar is actually just a combo of nut butters, tapioca starch, soy protein, chicory root, cocoa, and raspberries. For those with specific dietary restrictions, it's also low-carb, low-glycemic, non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegan.