When you're working out, the last thing you want is to feel your energy drain and leave you wishing you could just get one more rep. At the same time, you want that hard work to go as far as it can. That's why you want to look for the best protein bars available.
Picking the right protein bar is a matter of choosing the bar that gives you a boost without boosting your sugar consumption.
A lot of bars are aware of this now, with many deciding to limit their ingredients and added sugar to what they can list on the front of the packet.
A little added sugar may make the best protein bars taste better, but these companies know that a quick sugar rush is not the goal.
You want something healthier or what's the point?
Picking The Best Protein Bars For Your Goals
The best protein bars should fit your diet and your workout. They give you the protein you need to build stronger muscle and the ability to recuperate your lost energy.
That's why it's important to pick one that works with both. The right bar should be packed with muscle-building protein but without unnecessary extras such as sugar or sodium.
It's also helpful that there are bars that fit with your dietary restrictions. Protein in bars usually comes from whey or casein, neither of which are animal products. If you're vegan, for example, they can be a good source of protein. Of course, there are plenty of other ingredients which may not fall under your diet's guidelines.
Other protein bars come with significantly more protein than their counterparts. Make sure you pick a protein bar that fits your body's needs and maximizes your workout.
How Do Protein Bars Work?
Protein bars can fill a lot of different roles. Many people use them to power up their workout, giving them more muscle gain for the same amount of work. Others use high-calorie protein bars as meal replacements. Different bars have different uses.
As a workout supplement, protein bars can come before or after your workout. Beforehand, the best protein bars give you a boost of energy, so you don't flag while you're going all out.
Afterward, a protein bar can help your body regenerate muscle and build new tissue.
Many protein bars are also high in fiber, meaning they help suppress appetite. This makes them a popular choice for weight loss. However, if you choose to supplement your diet with protein bars, make sure you are getting a balanced blend of nutrients.
How We Chose The Best Protein Bars
The best protein bars were chosen based on customer reviews and selection by experts on fitness sites such as GearHungry and BarBend. There are dozens of bars on the market, and they all offer the protein you need to get through your workout.
But since a lot of bars can have unneeded calories from fat and sugar, we made sure to focus on those which gave you the cleanest ingredients with the most protein.
How Much Will You Pay For Protein?
For our selection of the best protein bars available, all but one product came in packs of 12. For all of these, the price stayed pretty close together. The range was between $ and $$ for each pack.
Regarding the outlier, EPIC bars come in packs of 9 for around $ . While this is unusual in terms of box size, it does not put them that far off in terms of price from other protein bars which normally come by the dozen.
For example, RXBARs come in packs of 12 but cost around $$ per pack. This is close to the price per bar of EPIC bars.
The main aspect tying the more costly bars together is their focus on minimal, whole ingredients. While all of the bars on this list advertise quality, the most expensive bars take it to another level.
Our Top 7 Best Protein Bars
Our selection for the best protein bars cover bars that work for snacking, meal replacement, and working out. We have listed them here in alphabetical order.
BumbleBar focuses on two things in regards to their bar recipes: certified organic, and certified gluten-free.
BumbleBar's entire philosophy centers on ethical business practices and sourcing, which translates to their protein bars. Their organic ingredients come from co-ops and independent farmers from across the world.
As for the bars, BumbleBars are also vegan and certified Kosher. That means just about any dietary restriction you have will be satisfied with these bars. These bars have 5 grams of protein, which makes them better for a filling snack than a workout boost.
These bars received 3.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, as some customers did not like the nutty texture of these bars. However, they were also praised by professional reviews, earning them a spot among the best protein bars. BumbleBars are available at Amazon and the BumbleBar website for $ to $$ for a 12-pack.
- Two classic flavors come together in this deliciously powerful way to work protein into your recovery regimen or long...
- NEW LOOK. SAME 20g PROTEIN: CLIF Builders protein bars have a bold new look. If the amazing new designs aren’t in your...
- ENERGY FOR WORKING OUT OR WORKING HARD: 20g of complete protein with essential amino acids to help build and repair...
Clif's Builder's Bar is a foray into protein bars from the popular Clif Bar company. While Clif Bars are known for creating organic power bars targeted at outdoor athletes, the Builder's Bar focuses on providing protein for recovering muscle.
Clif targeted this bar at bodybuilders. It maximizes protein expressly for a post-workout bar. Because the Builder's Bar's purpose is replenishing you after working hard, it also has high levels of sugar. The 21 grams of sugar and 10 grams of fat per bar are likely a turnoff for some buyers.
However, this bar was given the Amazon's Choice Award and rated 4.0 stars out of 5. One reviewer appreciated the lack of a chemical taste in the bar. Some liked the taste and texture of the bar, although generally were not happy with the sugar levels.
The Clif Builder's Bar is available on the Clif Bar website and on Amazon for $ to $$ per 12-pack.
Detour bars are some of the most recommended protein bars out there right now. Their various bars, especially the Simple bar, are recommended on sites like GearHungry and Men's Health.
It is worth noting that the Simple bars are in the process of rebranding to Protein Boosts.
That should indicate the bars' emphasis on high protein content. The highly-edible protein bars have 10 grams of protein. Their Lean Muscle bars have an incredible 32 grams as well.
The bars also received the Amazon's Choice award and an overall rating of 4.3 stars out of 5. This is partly due to the bars' high protein count. The Lower Sugar bars have 30 grams of protein.
Detour Bars are available on the Detour website and on Amazon. They cost $ to $$ for a box of 12.
- SAVORY SNACK BAR: a perfect on-the-go snack featuring 100% grass-fed bison, bacon and cranberries with 7 grams of...
- CONVENIENT: EPIC Meat Bars are the perfect mid-day or afternoon snack to keep on-hand
- GRASS-FED: 100% grass-fed bison used
EPIC bars are unique among the other bars, primarily because their claim to fame is using real meat. Often this meat is sourced from animals like bison and elk, as well as more common sources such as beef.
This is sure to appeal to those who value flavor over pure protein quantity -- their meat bars have around seven grams of protein.
EPIC also has bars without meat, which focus on greater protein content and fewer ingredients. These bars are vegetarian, although they do contain eggs and nuts, which restricts them from some diets.
EPIC's Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars were rated 4.2 stars out of 5 on Amazon from only three reviews. However, they were also ranked favorably by BarBend.
The Peanut Butter Chocolate bars are available for around $ to $$ for a box of 9 on the EPIC website. They cost $ to $$ for a box of 4 on Amazon.
- MULTI-LAYERED PROTEIN BAR: MusclePharm’s Combat Crunch Protein Bar is a multi-layered Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup bar...
- 20 GRAMS OF PROTEIN: This protein bar is packed with 20 grams of protein, is gluten-free, contains no GMOs, and is low...
- AMAZING-TASTING PROTEIN BAR: The Combat Crunch Protein Bar is the three-time recipient of Protein Bar of the Year. Vegan
Quest bars are well known for their flavors and their protein content. Their brand, Quest Nutrition, set out with the goal of helping people fill their protein and dietary fiber needs while limiting the amount of sugar they consume.
Quest bars are similar to candy bars in a lot of ways and come in flavors that other bars do not. These include blueberry muffin, birthday cake, and chocolate chip cookie dough.
To make them taste even better, Quest bars usually come with add-ins like blueberries or chocolate chips. This makes you feel more like you're eating the real thing.
On Amazon, the chocolate chip cookie dough bar earned 3.7 stars out of 5 from over 14,000 reviewers. While this is low for our list, its sheer popularity and review from BarBend helped Quest Bars keep their spot.
Quest Bars are available on the Quest website and Amazon. They cost $ to $$ for a box of 12.
- 20G PURE WHEY PROTEIN ISOLATE- Easy to digest and with high bioavailability, our bar is a great source of protein and a...
- JUST 3 WHOLE FOOD INGREDIENTS- Our clean, simple ingredients are a testament of the quality you can expect from every...
- SMALL-BATCH HANDMADE- Artisanally crafted, every bar is hand-mixed and packed in small batches daily in our very own...
Rise advertises its products as the simplest protein bar. Its bars focus on having high protein counts with few ingredients, always leaving out common allergens such as gluten, soy, and peanuts.
Rise bars are also free of artificial ingredients and preservatives and are non-GMO.
As for the taste, one reviewer on Breaking Muscle advised only getting one Rise bar at a time. This wasn't to keep you from buying too much of a bad product, though. It's to keep you from eating all of them at once.
Because of its completely vegetarian whey protein, Rise bars offer significantly more protein than other whole food bars. Often their bars have 15 to 20 grams of protein.
Rise's Almond Honey bar earned 3.9 stars out of 5 on Amazon, as well as the Amazon's Choice award. While this is below our usual threshold, its Amazon award and praise from review sites made it one of our best protein bars.
You can purchase Rise Bars at Amazon and the Rise Bar website. The Almond Honey bars cost $ to $$ for a pack of 12.
- A REAL FOOD PROTEIN BAR: Our Chocolate Sea Salt RXBAR is the perfect protein bar for any brownie lover; Made with real...
- ANYTIME HIGH PROTEIN SNACK: It's always the perfect time for chocolate; That's why we suggest trying this real food...
- GLUTEN-FREE AND GUILT-FREE SNACK: Pre workout, check; Post workout, check; Guilt and gluten free, double check; Our...
RXBAR is proud of its low ingredient count, so much so that it lists them right on the package.
While this usually leaves out some of the ingredients that make the bars unique, like chocolate or mint, it covers the basics. These are egg whites, peanuts, and dates.
RXBARs contain a consistent 12 grams of protein across the board, landing them squarely mid-range among our best protein bars.
RXBARs' Peanut Butter and Berries flavor received 4.1 stars out of 5 on Amazon, as well as Amazon's Choice award. They cost $ to $$ per box of 12 on Amazon and the RXBAR website.
Which Of The Best Protein Bars Will Build Your Muscle?
It's not easy to prescribe one bar that will be the best for every reader. Most of the bars on this list are general use so that they can be a filling snack or a post-workout supplement.
To pick one that works across the board, one of the best protein bars for anyone are Quest bars. These bars have a range of delicious flavors that will keep you interested.
They also focus on keeping the sugar down while keeping giving you the protein you need. The best part is they won't ruin your budget.
What you choose as the best protein bar is up to you. But, of the seven on our list of best protein bars, there's sure to be one that will keep you going, no matter what you need.