Nutritional content: We looked for bars with at least 10 grams (g) of protein, 3 g of fiber, and 12 g or less of added sugar per serving. Because calorie needs vary, we included bars with 180–270 calories.
Ingredients: We paid close attention to ingredient lists, prioritizing bars with minimal amounts of artificial additives such as flavorings, sweeteners, and preservatives.
Availability: All the bars below are available throughout the United States and can regularly be found in at least one nationwide grocery store.
Taste test: We tested multiple flavors from 25 brands over the course of 2 weeks. During testing, we considered whether the overall taste and texture made a bar satisfying to eat. We also noted whether the bar kept us full for more than an hour.
Price: We included products to suit a range of budgets.
A note on price
General price ranges are indicated below with dollar signs ($–$$$). One dollar sign means the product is rather affordable, whereas three dollar signs indicate a higher cost.
Generally, prices range from $1.80 to $3.20 per count, though this may vary depending on where you shop and whether you get a discount for bulk orders.
People often use protein bars to increase their intake of protein, an important nutrient involved in processes such as immune function, growth, and tissue repair.
Protein is also essential for building muscle, especially for athletes and people who are physically active.
Protein bars are a great way to help round out your diet, particularly if you have increased protein needs or might have trouble getting enough protein in your diet, which might be the case if you’re vegan or vegetarian.
They’re also a convenient and portable snack option that you can bring almost anywhere, whether you’re traveling, hiking, or simply short on time when you leave the house in the morning.
You may want to consider several factors when purchasing a protein bar, including:
Ingredients: Check the label carefully and look for protein bars that are free of artificial ingredients, fillers, and preservatives whenever possible. Some people may also want to avoid certain ingredients, such as sugar alcohols, which can cause digestive issues like gas and bloating.
Protein sources: Ideally, choose a protein bar made from high quality protein sources, such as whey or protein derived from whole foods like nuts, seeds, or egg whites.
Dietary needs: Whether you’re following a vegan, gluten-free, ketogenic, or low carb diet, it’s important to look for a protein bar that caters to any dietary restrictions or food allergies you have.
Flavors: Protein bars are available in a wide range of flavors, so be sure to take your taste and personal preferences into account.
Budget: Because protein bars can vary quite a bit in price, consider your budget before you start shopping.
In addition to the criteria listed above, it’s important to check the nutrition label of your protein bar carefully.
In particular, pay close attention to the amounts of calories, protein, added sugar, and fiber in each serving.
Here are some general guidelines to follow:
Calories: For a high protein snack, you may want to opt for 250 calories or less per serving, though individual calorie needs vary. For a meal replacement, look for a bar with 300 calories or more.
Protein: Most protein bars contain 10–20 g of protein per serving. Some people, such as athletes and bodybuilders, may have higher protein needs and might want to select a protein bar with a larger amount of protein. For others, a protein bar with 10–15 g of protein can suffice for a healthy snack.
Added sugar: When possible, look for bars with less than 12 g of added sugar per serving. To help keep the amount of added sugar in check, opt for bars that are sweetened naturally with ingredients such as dates, fruit, dark chocolate, and stevia.
Fiber: Look for a protein bar with at least 3 g of fiber per serving. In addition to supporting gut health and regularity, high fiber foods can help keep you feeling full between meals.
Keep in mind that nutritional needs can vary depending on many factors, including your age, sex, activity level, and health status.
Be sure to take these factors into account when looking for a protein bar or consult a registered dietitian for more detailed guidance on your nutrient needs.
No Cow Chunky Peanut Butter is our pick as the best protein bar for weight loss, as it’s low in calories but high in protein and fiber.
TRUBAR Smother Fudger Peanut Butter and think! Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Keto Protein Bar are two other good options for weight loss, both of which contain less than 200 calories per serving.
Is it OK to eat a protein bar every day?
It is OK to enjoy protein bars in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Swapping a protein bar in for other snacks in your daily diet is fine and can be a great way to bump up your protein intake.
However, it’s best not to use protein bars to regularly replace more nutrient-dense whole foods like fruits and vegetables.
For best results, opt for a protein bar that is low in added sugar and free of artificial ingredients and preservatives.
What is the best protein bar for women?
Aloha Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is a great choice for women, as it contains a good amount of protein and fiber in each serving, along with 35% of the Daily Value (DV) for iron, a nutrient that women typically require in higher amounts.
Are protein bars good for building muscle mass?
Protein bars can be an easy and convenient way to bump up your protein uptake, which is important for increasing muscle mass. In fact, it’s often recommended to consume a high protein snack or meal, such as a protein bar, within 1–2 hours of exercise to support muscle growth.
Protein bars also contain carbohydrates, which can increase strength and improve body composition when paired with protein as a pre- or post-exercise snack.
Protein bars can be a great addition to a healthy, well-rounded diet and an easy way to increase your protein intake and support your wellness goals.
However, not all protein bars are created equal, and many varieties may be high in calories, added sugar, and artificial ingredients.
Check the nutrition label and consider your budget, dietary needs, and personal preferences to find a protein bar that’s right for you.
Last medically reviewed on September 19, 2023
How we reviewed this article:
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Mäkinen KK. (2016). Gastrointestinal disturbances associated with the consumption of sugar alcohols with special consideration of xylitol: Scientific review and instructions for dentists and other health-care professionals. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5093271/
Miketinas DC, et al. (2019). Fiber intake predicts weight loss and dietary adherence in adults consuming calorie-restricted diets: The POUNDS Lost (Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies) Study. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31174214/