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The Healthiest Protein Bars: Convenient, Muscle-Building Snacks

- Written by on January 31st 2016

Protein is quite trendy these days. We've all figured out by now that protein is important for feeling full and satisfied, and of course for building muscle. Food manufacturers are using our desire to eat more protein to their advantage - high protein snacks, smoothies, cereals, and other products are flooding the market. On the one hand, that's awesome. As much as I love my favorite protein cookie recipe, I eat them so quickly that sometimes I run out before I have time to bake another batch. When that happens, I'm definitely down for a convenient snack that supports my fitness goals. On the other hand, these protein-rich foods might be high in protein, but they might also be high in sugar, highly processed, etc.

We decided to have a look at the protein bars in our product database to find the healthiest protein bars based on your goals.

Protein Bars with the Most Protein

The proteiniest (I should trademark that) protein bars we found have 30 grams of protein. Unfortunately, some bars, such as the Eas Myoplex 30 Bars and Clif Builder's bars, contain nearly as much sugar as they do protein! It seems like these really high protein bars tend to be more processed too; reading those ingredient lists makes you feel like you're back in high school chemistry. Nonetheless, if you're determined to get at least 30 grams in your protein bar, we do have a product to recommend:

Premier Protein Bar

  • 30 grams of protein
  • overall good reviews
  • 10 grams of sugar

Premier Protein's bars scored 9/10 on and 4/5 on Amazon. They contain whey and soy protein and are sweetened with sugar and the artificial sweetener sucralose. The ingredient list isn't quite what we'd hope; we could do without the artificial flavors, for example. Looking at the other bars packing 30 grams, though, it could definitely be worse.

If you're willing to go down to 20 grams of protein, you could go with Quest bars instead. These come in a wide variety of flavors, contain just 1 gram of sugar, and can be warmed up/softened in the microwave or oven so that they really come close to the flavor of a chocolate chip cookie or brownie (at least much closer than any other protein bar boasting those flavors!).

Their ingredient list is also a bit cleaner, a plus when looking for the healthiest protein bars:

"Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate), Isomalto-Oligosaccharides (Prebiotic Fiber), Almonds, Water, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Erythritol. Contains Less than 2% of the following: Sea Salt, Stevia, Natural Flavorings, Sucralose."

Quest bars are also one of the only soy free protein bars available.

Note: sugar alcohols like erythritol can cause gastrointestinal discomfort in some individuals, particularly if consumed in large quantities.

Lowest Sugar Protein Bars

Many protein bars use artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols to keep their carb and sugar content low. If that lines up with your goals, and if your definition of healthy allows for those ingredients, we'd suggest thinkThin's line of protein bars. Several of their bars have 0 grams of sugar and come in flavors like Cookies & Creme, Caramel Fudge, and Brownie Crunch.

thinkThin High Protein Bar

  • 0 grams of sugar
  • contain sugar alcohol maltitol, which can cause digestive issues in sensitive individuals

Cleanest Ingredient List Protein Bars

Even though we tried to find protein bars without too many questionable ingredients, if you think the healthiest protein bar should really only contain whole foods, we get that. For you, we might suggest Larabar ALT bars (also available on Amazon). They are higher in sugar and lower in protein than the other bars, but contain ingredients you really recognize: "dates, pea protein, peanuts, brown rice syrup, brown rice flour, dried pumpkin, sunflower oil, spice."

Larabar ALT

  • no GMO, gluten free
  • 10 grams of protein
  • 18 grams of sugar

Another good option, especially if you'd like something on the savory side, is STRONG & KIND protein bars. They come in flavors like roasted jalapeno, honey smoked barbecue, and, the most appetizing to us, Thai sweet chili. They have 6 grams of sugar, but no artificial sweeteners.

STRONG & KIND Almond Protein Bar

  • no GMO, gluten free
  • 10 grams of protein
  • clean ingredient list

All in all, homemade protein bars are the healthiest protein bars. You can control exactly what goes in them and ensure that they contain high quality, whole food ingredients and not too much sugar. Still, in a pinch, there are so many protein bars out there that you can certainly find one that meets your requirements for a healthy protein bar.


Crystal Schlegelmilch

Written by on January 31st 2016

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