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I Tried 11 Popular Protein Bars & There Are Only 3 I'll Be Buying Again

These convenient snacks can be a great way to get more protein into your diet, but which ones taste best?
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman
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I recently decided that 2024 is the year I'm going to focus on increasing my protein intake. I'm in my thirties, which feels like the perfect time to start forming healthy habits as part of my routine. But eating enough protein-rich foods can be somewhat challenging. It's not that I struggle to find options—I eat plenty of meat, poultry, dairy, and vegetable proteins like legumes—but I often eat out, and I struggle to find time to prepare snacks or meals with enough of this essential nutrient.

There are multiple reasons I want to increase my protein intake. Protein can help you feel more full and satisfied after eating, it is necessary for building muscle after exercise and weight training (something that I do consistently), and it is crucial for healthy bones, faster metabolism, and weight maintenance.

How much protein should you eat? The recommended daily allowance is about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, but this number is only the minimum that you need to avoid a protein deficiency. Some research shows that for active adults, this number should increase to around 1.4 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight and that most active adults should aim for about 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal.

For these reasons, I've been on the hunt for more convenient ways of getting enough protein. What instantly comes to mind are products like protein powders, shakes, and bars. I've already found powders and shakes I like (such as Orgain, Ghost, Bloom, and Vital Proteins), but I have yet to tap into the world of protein bars.

That's why I volunteered to test 11 popular protein bars and report back on how they stack up. My only prior experience with protein bars was the gross, chalky Atkins bars I used to eat in college, so needless to say I was excited to try something better. A handful of the protein bars I tried were tasty and contained trustworthy ingredients, and I'd certainly buy them again. Others…not so much.

Read on for my honest review of 11 popular protein bars, and find out which ones I'll definitely buy again and which ones were just plain disappointing, plus a few that were somewhere in the middle. And next, check out the 38 High-Protein Breakfasts That Keep You Full.

The best protein bars I'll be buying again

Barebells Caramel Cashew Protein Bar

Protein Bar Barebells
Samantha Boesch
Per serving: 200 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 80 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (3 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 5 g sugar alcohols), 20 g protein

I want to preface this by saying every bar on this list had a bit of that familiar 'protein-y' taste that we know from bars, powders, and shakes. Some just do a much better job of hiding it.

Barebells does an excellent job of masking any weird aftertaste, and the flavor of the Caramel Cashew Protein Bar was among my favorites. It reminded me a little bit of a Snickers Bar, with a caramel layer on top and chocolate coating around the whole bar.

This one has 20 grams of protein and only 1 gram of sugar, which I also really appreciated. All in all, I'd definitely repurchase this one and enjoy it when I'm craving something chocolatey and sweet.

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Robert Irvine's Fit Crunch Peanut Butter and Jelly

Protein bar Fit Crunch
Samantha Boesch
Per serving: 210 calories, 11 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 220 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 9 g sugar alcohols), 16 g protein

If you're a fan of PB&J, then you'll love his baked protein bar by Fit Crunch. I loved how much it reminded me of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, packed into a bar that is layered with fruit cream, peanuts, and a topping of peanut butter coating.

It has 16 grams of protein and only 1 gram of sugar, but it also contains only 2 grams of fiber and 7 grams of saturated fat, which is a little high for just one snack.

The ingredients list is also a tad long, which isn't usually ideal, but I love that this one doesn't use any artificial coloring, and instead uses natural color sources like beta-carotene, beet extract, and turmeric extract. I loved the flavor and texture of this one so much that I'd absolutely purchase it again.

Perfect Bar Dark Chocolate Almond Protein Bar

Protein Bar Perfect Bar
Samantha Boesch
Per serving: 310 calories, 19 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 40 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (5 g fiber, 17 g sugar, 11 g added sugar), 12 g protein

I've had the Dark Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter flavor from Perfect Bar and loved it, so I was excited to try their Dark Chocolate Almond. And although I didn't love it quite as much as the peanut butter flavor, it was still tasty and satisfying.

Admittedly, it does have a little bit of that artificial aftertaste, and the bar itself is slightly dry, but it certainly satisfied my sweet cravings. Ultimately I think I'd prefer a bar with a bit more than 12 grams of protein, but the taste was so enjoyable and I'd be excited to snack on it again.

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The protein bars I might buy again

Luna White Chocolate Macadamia Bar

Protein Bar Luna
Samantha Boesch
Per serving: 200 calories, 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 170 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (3 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 7 g added sugar), 8 g protein

Clif Bars were my go-to in high school and college when I was playing sports for hours after class, and frankly, years of eating these protein bars made me never want to eat them again.

But even though I grew a bit tired of the original Clif Bars, I've been curious about the brand's Luna Bars, which are lower-calorie protein snack bars that are entirely gluten-free.

They don't have as much protein as other bars on the list, with 7 to 9 grams per bar. I tasted their White Chocolate Macadamia, which has 8 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of sugar.

I really enjoyed the flavor of the macadamia combined with the white chocolate drizzle. But they don't make my list of the ones I'll buy again because of the relatively low protein content. I would rather opt for a protein smoothie or shake instead.

MET-Rx Big 100 Vanilla Caramel Churro

Protein Bar Met-Rx
Samantha Boesch
Per serving: 380 calories, 11 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 460 mg sodium, 47 g carbs (1 g fiber, 22 g sugar, 20 g added sugar, 14 g sugar alcohol), 30 g protein

It's hard to tell from the photo, but this Met Rx bar is massive compared to the other bars I tried. Overall, I enjoyed this bar a lot. The protein flavor wasn't too strong, and I loved that it had a crispy and chewy inside with a layer of caramel and a coat of chocolate all around the outside.

If I were just rating this on flavor alone, I might have ranked it in my top category. However, when it comes to whether or not I'd buy this one again, I'm just not sure. The Met Rx Big 100 Bar is a meal replacement—which explains the 380 calories, 11 grams of fat, 47 grams of carbohydrates, and 30 grams of protein—but I honestly don't see myself using a meal replacement bar instead of just eating a meal. I am also a bit wary of the 20 grams of added sugar because it wouldn't leave me much wiggle room throughout the rest of my day when it comes to sugar intake.

Overall, I think this bar is a tasty choice for people who are looking for meal replacement bars, but I don't think this one aligns with my goals.

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Quest Hero Protein Bar Cookies & Cream

Protein Bar Quest
Samantha Boesch
Per serving: 150 calories, 6 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (6 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 3 g Erythritol), 18 g protein

I like a few of Quest's protein powders and premade shakes, so I was curious about their protein bars.

I grabbed their Cookies & Cream Bar and immediately liked what I saw on the nutrition label. Not only does it have 18 grams of protein for only 150 calories, but I love that it contains 6 grams of fiber and only 1 gram of sugar. Not bad at all!

The problem was that the actual taste of the bar was a bit mediocre. It had a fairly strong aftertaste that I didn't love and it was a bit chalky, though I did like the cookies and cream flavor for the most part.

I don't know if I'd buy this bar over one of Quest's powders or shakes, since I already know I like those. Even though the flavor was okay, I don't think I'd be very excited to eat another one.

GoMacro Vegan Macrobar Salted Caramel + Chocolate Chips

Protein Bar Go Macro
Samantha Boesch
Per serving: 270 calories, 10 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 110 mg sodium, 37 g carbs (2 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 13 g added sugar), 10 g protein

The first thing I noticed after biting into this GoMacro bar was that I could immediately taste the salted caramel and chocolate, which I appreciated! But it was a tad too chewy and chalky for me, and a bit dry overall.

It does provide a nice 14 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber, but a potential downside here is that it has 13 grams of added sugar. If you're eating this bar before a workout, having some sugar may be beneficial in giving you a boost of energy. But I'd rather buy something with less added sugar to get some extra protein. It really depends on your own health goals and what you're looking for in a protein bar.

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The protein bars I won't be buying again

BHU Foods Chocolate Mint Cookie Dough Protein Bar

Protein Bar Bhu Foods
Samantha Boesch
Per serving: 260 calories, 22 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (8 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 11 g protein

I wanted to like this refrigerated bar from BHU Foods because Dark Chocolate Mint Cookie Dough sounds like an amazing flavor, but unfortunately, this was one of my least favorite of the bunch.

The flavor was bitter and hard to swallow, and it had a weird "melt in your mouth" texture that I don't want from a protein bar. I think it wanted to resemble a Thin Mint, but it just wasn't working for me.

Because of its low carb count, this one is keto-friendly, which is a plus for some people, but that doesn't fit with my personal health goals. Add the fact that it only has 11 grams of protein and a higher saturated fat count, and it's clear this just isn't the protein bar for me!

Pure Protein Birthday Cake Bar

Protein Bar Pure Protein
Samantha Boesch
Per serving: 200 calories, 5 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (0 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 2 g added sugar, 8 g sugar alcohol), 20 g protein

I love chocolate, but I'll always be a birthday cake girl at heart. This is why I was intrigued by the Pure Protein Birthday Cake Bar.

This bar has a chewy texture and is covered in a white frosting and sprinkles. At first bite, it tasted OK, and I did get a hint of birthday cake. But after a few seconds, I was hit with a terribly strong aftertaste that kept me from taking any more bites of this one.

I also don't love that this bar has so many artificial dyes, like Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, and Blue 2.

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Raw Rev Plant-Based Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Protein Bar

Protein Bar Raw Rev
Samantha Boesch
Per serving: 190 calories, 13 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 140 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (3 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 1 g added sugar), 12 g protein

The Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Bar from Raw Revs is another protein bar I was excited to try, if only because I like the packaging (sorry!) and my nearest bodega keeps it in stock. But even though it would be convenient, I don't think I'll be purchasing this one again.

It was very dry and chalky, and had almost no flavor at all. I like that it has 3 grams of fiber and only 2.5 grams of saturated fat, but I'd go with any of my top picks before grabbing this one again.

One Bar Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Protein Bar One
Samantha Boesch
Per serving: 230 calories, 8 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 130 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (3 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 6 g sugar alcohol), 20 g protein

When it comes to both flavor and texture, this One Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar was my absolute least favorite.

It had a super funky aftertaste and extremely bitter flavor, and it tasted nothing like cookie dough. The texture was also so dry that I didn't want to take more than just a bite or two.

The nutrition information is appealing, with 20 grams of protein, 230 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and only 1 gram of sugar, but for me, none of that is worth the unpleasant taste of this one.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha
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