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Protein Bar Reviews Guide

Best Protein Bar Reviews and Comparisons 2018

Ever thought about topping up your whole food protein intake with a protein cookie, ready-to-drink protein shake, protein powder, or protein bar? Each uses their own protein blend, which typically includes a combination of whey protein isolate, milk protein isolate, and soy protein isolate.

Protein intake is essential for workout recovery, muscle building, fat loss, and maintaining a healthy diet. But it’s not always easy to reach your target daily intake from whole foods alone.

So what do you need to look for to find the best protein bars on the market?

It really comes down to finding the nutrient balance to match your fitness goal. If you’re on a bulking diet this could mean more carbs, whereas weight loss diets might require more protein and less carbs. Taste, texture, and sugar level are also important.

By the end of this guide you’ll know which protein bars have the nutrient balance you need. It includes everything you need to know about the best brands, cost-per-serving, flavors, protein blends, and how to find the lowest price.

We also analyzed the ingredients from more than 50 protein bars, then created a top 10 list of the best on the market. This includes individual protein bar reviews, and products that are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

What is a Protein Bar?

Protein Bars

Protein bars are a quick and easy way to boost your daily protein intake. Weighing 100 grams or less, they usually provide at least 20 grams of protein per bar.

To create a recipe that’s so high in protein, most supplement companies use a protein blend. This often includes 2 or more types of protein from the following; whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, milk protein isolate, milk protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, and casein.

But not all protein bars use protein blends. Some bars derive their protein content directly from a mix of whole foods, such as with KIND bars or RXBAR protein bars (egg whites and nuts).

Some of the best protein bars are high in fiber and low in sugar, which helps you to avoid cheat meals by keeping you feeling full for longer. Bodybuilders and other athletes often use protein bars as pre or post-workout snack.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

Before buying any protein bar or meal replacement bar, it’s worth considering how they’ll fit in to your daily nutrition program.

While many appear to have balanced macronutrient and vitamin profiles, it’s important that the bars are not your main source of protein. This should always come from whole foods.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

It’s important to point out that the official protein RDA from the Institute of Medicine is a minimum to help prevent you getting sick. It doesn’t factor in any heavy resistance training or large amounts of physical activity on a regular basis, such as if you have a job that involves a lot of manual labour.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) suggests that the average American isn’t getting enough protein in their diet. Their recommendation was to consume up to twice the RDA, which equates to around 25% of your daily calories.

Daily protein intake guidelines also tend to vary for bodybuilders, with no end of articles and research papers into the subject.

As a general guideline, 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (2.2 g/kg of BW) is a good starting point. Higher levels of protein intake, usually in the range of 1.2 – 1.5 grams per pound of body weight (2.6 – 3.3 g/kg BW) per day, can also be beneficial if your goal is to lose fat.

Top 10 Best Protein Bars

After reviewing 50+ of the top protein bars on the market, from companies including MuscleTech, MusclePharm, and Quest Nutrition, we’ve managed to create a top 10 shortlist.

Whereas some buying guides include multiple listings of the same bar in different flavors, we’ve selected the 10 best protein bars based on their overall nutrient profile, protein content, and price.

Taste and texture were also important factors in our decision.

1

Quest Bar Protein Bars

Quest Bar Protein Bar Review

Review rating: 4.5 Star Review Rating

  • 21g protein, 21g carbohydrates, 8g fat, 14g fiber, 1g sugar
  • All bars are gluten and soy free, with no added sugar
  • Protein blend: Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate
  • Best flavors include Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and S’mores
  • Serving size: 60g. Bars per box: 12
  • Contains almonds and milk-derived ingredients
  • 22 Flavors to choose from
2

MusclePharm Combat Crunch

MusclePharm Combat Crunch Protein Bar Review

Review rating: 4.5 Star Review Rating

  • 20g protein, 26g carbohydrates, 8g fat, 14g fiber, 6g sugar
  • Baked protein bars for superior taste and a softer texture
  • Protein blend: Partially hydrolyzed whey protein isolate, milk protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate
  • Best flavors include Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Cookies n’ Cream
  • Serving size: 63g. Bars per box: 12
  • Contains milk and tree nuts (almonds)
  • 7 Flavors to choose from
3

Pure Protein Bar

Pure Protein Bar Review

Review rating: 4.5 Star Review Rating

  • 20g protein, 24 carbohydrates, 7g fat, 16g fiber, 3g sugar
  • 34g carbs – 16g fiber – 2g sugar alcohol = 6g net carbs
  • Protein blend: Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate
  • Best flavors include Apple Pie and Birthday Cake
  • Contains milk and tree nuts (almonds)
  • Serving size: 50g. Bars per box: 6 or 12
  • 4 Flavors to choose from
4

thinkThin High Protein Bar

thinkThin High Protein Bar Review

Review rating: 4 Star Review Rating

  • 20g protein, 24g carbohydrates, 8g fat, 1g fiber, 0g sugar
  • 24g carbs – 1g fiber – 21g sugar alcohol = 2g net carbs
  • Low GI, Kosher, Gluten free and GMO free
  • Protein blend: Soy Protein Isolate, Calcium Caseinate, Whey Protein Isolate
  • Best flavors include Brownie Crunch and Chunky Peanut Butter
  • Contains milk, soy, and tree nuts (almonds)
  • Serving size: 60g. Bars per box: 10
  • 10 Flavors to choose from
5

RXBAR Whole Food Protein Bar

RXBAR Whole Food Protein Bar Review

Review rating: 4 Star Review Rating

  • 12g protein, 23g carbohydrates, 9g fat, 5g fiber, 13g sugar
  • 23g carbs – 5g fiber = 18g net carbs
  • No dairy, soy, or gluten
  • Protein sources: Dates, egg whites, almonds, cashews, pecans
  • Best flavors include Chocolate Sea Salt and Chocolate Chip
  • Serving size: 32g. Bars per box: 12
  • 21 Flavors to choose from
6

BSN Protein Crisp Protein Bar

BSN Protein Crisp Protein Bar Review

Review rating: 4 Star Review Rating

  • 230 calories, 20g protein, 23g carbohydrates, 7g fat, 0g fiber, 2g sugar
  • 23g carbs – 6g sugar alcohol = 17g net carbs
  • Gluten free
  • Protein blend: Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Milk Protein Concentrate, Soy Protein Isolate
  • Best flavors include Chocolate Crunch and Peanut Butter Crunch
  • Contains milk, soy, and egg
  • Serving size: 57g. Bars per box: 12
  • 6 Flavors to choose from
7

MuscleTech Mission1 Clean Protein Bar

MuscleTech Mission1 Clean Protein Bar Review

Review rating: 4 Star Review Rating

  • 220 calories, 21g protein, 22g carbohydrates, 9g fat, 17g fiber, 1g sugar
  • 22g carbs – 17g fiber = 5g net carbs
  • Sweetened with stevia
  • Protein blend: Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate
  • Best flavors include Chocolate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Brownie
  • Serving size: 60g. Bars per box: 12
  • 4 Flavors to choose from
8

MET-Rx Big 100 Meal Replacement Bar

MET-Rx Big 100 Meal Replacement Bar Review

Review rating: 4 Star Review Rating

  • 400 calories, 30g protein, 46g carbohydrates, 10g fat, 2g fiber, 32g sugars
  • 46g carbs – 2g fiber = 44g net carbs
  • No artificial flavors or colors
  • Protein blend: Soy Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Dried Egg White
  • Contains MET-Rx’s exclusive METAMYOSYN protein blend
  • Contains milk, egg, tree nuts (almond, coconuts), peanut, and soy
  • Serving size: 100g. Bars per box: 12
  • 6 Flavors to choose from
9

PowerBar Protein Plus Protein Bar

PowerBar Protein Plus Protein Bar Review

Review rating: 4.5 Star Review Rating

  • 330 Calories, 30g protein, 40g carbohydrates, 9g fat, 5g fiber, 27g sugars
  • 40g carbs – 5g fiber = 35g net carbs
  • Gluten free
  • No artificial flavors or colors
  • Protein blend: Soy Protein Isolate, Calcium Caseinate, Whey Protein Isolate
  • Serving size: 65g. Bars per box: 12
  • 6 Flavors to choose from
10

KIND Bars

KIND Bar Review

Review rating: 4 Star Review Rating

  • 200 Calories, 8g protein, 16g carbohydrates, 13g fat, 3g fiber, 9g sugars
  • 16g carbs – 3g fiber = 13g net carbs
  • Protein sources: Almonds, soy protein isolate, peanuts
  • Contains peanuts, almonds and soy
  • Best flavors include Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate and Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt
  • Serving size: 40g. Bars per box: 12
  • 25 Flavors to choose from

Protein Bar or Protein Shake?

Protein Bars or Protein Shakes

The top protein bars on the market contain 30 grams of protein, but most are limited to between 10 and 20 grams. In contrast, protein powders like MuscleTech Mass Tech contain up to 63 g of protein, and even more if you make them with milk instead of water.

Protein bars also have a much more limited ingredient list. This means they may not be viable as a long-term feature in your diet.

For example, if you wanted to consume a high amount of protein and carbs, alongside BCAAs and creatine after your workout, you could do this with a single protein shake. But with protein bars, you’d have to buy the BCAAs and creatine separately.

If you need a high protein snack and it isn’t practical to make a protein shake, protein bars are a great tasting snack to fuel your muscles. Just be aware that protein shakes include a wider range of beneficial ingredients, such as complete multivitamin and mineral complexes, BCAAs, glutamine, and creatine.

Who can benefit from eating protein bars?

Anyone who is struggling to reach their daily protein intake target with whole foods alone could benefit from protein bars.

  • Weightlifters
    Protein is the building block of muscle. gym. protein bars. pre or post-workout snack
  • Both men and women
    Eating protein bars. great meal replacements. best protein bars for women have no difference to best options for men
  • Vegetarians, vegans
    Most protein-rich foods are in meat and dairy categories. Makes protein bars convenient way to top up. vegan protein bars that use soy protein. also low sugar protein bars useful for diabetics and people on low-sugar diets
  • Dieters
    Low carb protein bars are an energizing snack and meal replacement

When’s the best time to eat a protein bar?

Not sure which is the best protein bar for your nutrition goals? It’s worth considering when you plan on eating them.

If they’re simply a way to increase your daily protein intake, then your best option would be low carb protein bars. These can be enjoyed any time of the day, but preferably in the evening when you’re likely to be less active.

A casein protein shake would be your best option directly before bed, as the protein breaks down slower and provides a constant flow of aminos to your muscles throughout the night.

Protein bars can also be enjoyed pre-workout and post-workout. To bulk up and gain muscle, you’ll want a high carb, high protein bar pre-workout for a boost of energy, or post-workout to boost muscle recovery.

A popular myth is that eating more meals throughout the day speeds your metabolism and can assist with fat loss. But there simply aren’t enough studies to prove this is the case.

The benefit of eating smaller meals on a regular basis is that you’re less likely to boost your caloric intake with unhealthy snacks. Drinking enough water and eating high fiber protein bars is an excellent solution to stop you feeling hungry during the day.

Health Benefits of Protein Bars

If you’re following a calorie-controlled diet, it can be difficult to avoid snacking between meals. This is when protein bars can be a healthy, low-cost, convenient alternative to snack foods that can be high in sugar and saturated fats.

Protein bars also:

  • Provide your body with essential amino acids from high-quality proteins.
  • Provide natural energy from protein, carbohydrates, fiber, fats, and sugars.
  • Helps with weight loss: Healthy nutrition bars with high protein, low carbs, and low calories are available. This can make dieting easier, and help you gain lean muscle or reach your weight loss goals. Bars high in protein and fiber also fill you up more.
  • Great for muscle building: High calorie protein bars are available from companies such as MET-Rx (Big 100). These have been formulated to help during bulking cycles.
  • Convenient: Protein bars can be enjoyed at your desk at work, in the car, or while travelling. There’s no need to worry about mixing powder with milk or water, and remembering to wash up the protein shaker after.

Protein Bar Side Effects

Some bodybuilding supplements contain a complex combination of ingredients that lead to mild side effects with some users. These side effects are usually clearly labelled.

Fortunately, there are no side effects to taking protein bars. As with eating any type of food, you just have to check the ingredients label for allergy information.

As a side note for anyone starting a high protein diet, it’s important to drink lots of water. This helps your kidneys to dispose of the waste products created when your body digests protein.

How to Choose a Good Protein Bar

Low carb protein bars are perfect for weight loss

Some of the best protein bars have a very similar macronutrient profile. This usually means 20-30g of protein, 20-30g of carbs, and less than 10g of fat per bar.

Two ingredients that vary massively between supplement companies are fiber and sugar.

Most protein bars include less than 5g of fiber, but some, such as MuscleTech Mission1 Clean or Quest Protein Bars, include 15g+.

That’s why it’s important to identify the best protein bar brand for reaching your nutrition goals.

You might also want to only source your protein from whole foods, which would limit you to just a few brands, such as RXBAR and KIND. These are supplement companies whose ingredients mostly include whole foods, like nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fruits.

5 Tips for Choosing the Best Protein Bar

  1. Quality of ingredients: what type of protein are they using? what type of sweetener?
  2. Brand reputation: reviews of protein bars
  3. Value for money: cheap protein bars are worth avoiding. protein bars should cost between $1 and $3
  4. Taste/flavor: protein bar reviews, eat the bars so make sure good flavor
  5. Application to your goals: meal replacement bars for weight loss, high calorie protein bars for workout fuel and bulk up

Most protein bars contain between 150 calories (low carb, high protein) and 400 calories (high carbs, sugars, and protein). There can also be a big difference in the net carbs per bar, which is calculated as: total carbs – dietary fiber. e.g. 50g carbs – 18g fiber = 32g net carbs.

Checking the protein source is also important.

Protein blends are typically from a dairy-based source, like whey, casein or a combination of both. But the protein content of some bars comes from whole foods (nuts and egg whites) or soy protein.