Nutrition is no easy business. If it were, there would be no reason for 4-year-long nutrition degrees and even longer Master’s program. And this is just when dealing with normal, everyday-person nutrition. If you are chasing a competitive physique or are trying to break your own weightlifting benchmarks, then meeting your macronutrient goals can become a full-time job.
A lot of our muscle gains depend on our plates almost as much as on our weight racks. After all, no matter how much you lift, your body will need the essential building blocks to ensure your muscles grow larger and stronger after a good fat-burning or tearing session. Even the best intentions and more conscientious plans can fail when faced with the reality of having to transport chicken breast everywhere – especially during those late evenings where looking for a healthy snack will directly cut back on your gym time.
Protein bars to the rescue! Whether you need a pick-me-up or simply want to feel like having a dessert-like indulgence without 50 grams of sugar, protein bars are as healthy as they are delicious. They have also become increasingly versatile. Even if you are trying to stick within the confines of a Paleo or allergen-free diet, there is now a crunchy, chocolatey fuel alternative available.
Take a few minutes to ensure you get one of these top protein bars. They may turn out to be the best possible, responsible indulgence to support your fitness goals.
If you are chasing the best tasting protein with the fewest unhealthy add-ons, these chewy bars by MuscleTech are a great option. Sure, they taste like dessert with a variety of sweet flavors, but, nonetheless, they have 22 grams of protein and five grams of fiber each, which is more than enough to feed your muscles and keep you full at once. Made from high-quality whey protein, they contain no added sugars and no gluten. Would you expect anything less from a big name like MuscleTech?
An important heads up: this bar is not suitable for those with milk or peanut allergies. This is a pity if you were hoping for a slice of high-protein cheesecake!
Soft and chewy often hits that craving for a Snickers Bar. But getting that crispy, wafery pleasure of a KitKat is sometimes more difficult when on a caloric budget – not only is it less popular, but also simply harder to make chemically. Crispiness tends to require flour, often enough of it to derail the best calorie-cutting plans.
It’s a good thing nothing is impossible in the realm of high-performance nutrition. The BSN Protein Crisp bar is a nut-based, crunchy blend that provides you with 20 grams of whey-based protein blends and 5 grams of fiber, all while keeping its sugar content under 4 grams. You may still want to keep this one for your cardio day reserves, but it is nonetheless a great portable snack. It usually comes in three flavors: chocolate crunch, cold stone mint, and salted caramel, and they all add a very satisfying tingly quality to their dessert potential. However, you can always up the indulgence game with their seasons S’mores presentation, one of our personal favorites.
Another big brand in the big guys market, Pure Protein bars are not actually 100% protein: someone with a Chemistry degree warns us that it would be chemically impossible to give such a thing a “Rich chocolate” flavor.
But isn’t this a rich one! And despite having two grams of sugar alcohols hidden away, the Pure Protein bar does provide you with a full 20 grams of the good stuff for just 200 calories – or even just 180, if you grab the Deluxe chocolate one instead of any that has the word “cookie” on the label. Their proprietary blend also contains a higher ratio of slow-digestion whey-based isolates that usual, which makes this bar a great option before or after the workout. To round it off, these bars are completely gluten free, and a steal of a deal for that.
Let it not be said that bodybuilders don’t care for their environment or for protecting their body long-term. Increading your protein intake while keeping it vegan often requires extensive juggling or superb price tags. Fortunately, GoMacro manages to keep their prices reasonable (especially if you get a 12-bar value pack) while still being 100% vegan, cruelty free, and GMO-free. It also has no artificial preservatives and a wide variety of flavors, which go way beyond the classic “chocolate vs. vanilla” dichotomy. Mocha, Blueberry, and Cashew will all provide you sweet and pleasant post-workout indulgences.
That being said, these bars do come at a high calorie cost. At 290 calories for only 15 grams of protein, they may be more suitable as a meal replacement than as a quick snack, especially if you are trying to lose weight.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have a high-performance protein bar that’s specifically designed for those of us who need to accurately replace a meal when trying to bulk up.
The Animal Snak bar has the highest protein count of all the bars we examined today: 25 full grams of crispy whey isolates. The Double Chocolate flavor feels rich and natural and made us think of good old homemade brownies without any hint of a bitter aftertaste.
This may be partly due to their “real foods” philosophy. The bar’s designers wanted to ensure that all ingredients sounded like something we would choose to eat regardless of our nutritional concerns. Rolled oats, almonds, milk, and peanut butter are all wholesome indulgences, and, therefore, the end result also tastes like many of our childhood favorites.
I’m pretty sure that THE ONE was aiming to recreate my soulmate in a convenient 12-bar box – or at least, to produce something as heartwarming as a kiss first thing on Sunday morning. These bars take a big leap away from the usual chewy “Supermarket bars” feel and dive into three different delicacy flavors: birthday cake that actually tastes like your birthday, old-school blueberry cobbler, and white chocolate truffles.
They would truly be a great way to break up any strict eating regime except that they have 20 grams of protein each and only 1 gram of sugar. Clearly this is THE ONE to keep going for.
They are also completely gluten-free, guilt-free, and cruelty-free.
Rarely do brands dare to name themselves “simple” anymore. In this high-tech, fast-paced life of ours, we all seem to be aiming for the most concentrated, latest generation product we can find.
Detour, however, has built its reputation on contradicting the whims of conventional wisdom and instant gratification, and their Simple Protein Bar shows that this can be a very successful gamble. This bar has topped several leading industry rankings, including the reputed 2017 #1 Spot awarded by Men’s Health.
Each bar provides 15 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber for only 170 calories. Completely GMO-free, this bar does contain some soy and several types of nuts. However, if you are lucky enough to enjoy an allergy-free system, then the Detour Simple Protein Bar is a hard to beat choice.
Any of us who are trying to keep our diets clean know the challenge posed by pre-packaged foods, even if they are supposed to be healthy: too many ingredients, too many additives, and no way to know what’s what without a Biology textbook on hand.
Rise Bar has chosen to prove that there is a different way to do things and return to the basics while still keeping your nutritional value at its best. Their whey protein bars only have three ingredients: almonds, honey, and whey protein. This rules out the possibility of a key lime pie or glazed donut version, but it does offer 20 grams of protein, low carbs, low fat content, and a proper breakfast feel to your post-workout snack.
These protein bars are hand-crafted in small batches, which allows Rise Bar to ensure that all their ingredients are GMO- and gluten-free. While those with nut allergies may not be able to enjoy them, anyone with other, less-deadly allergies can breathe easily around Rise Bar. Being manufactured in a small scale facility makes it easier to keep any potential cross-contamination in check. If you are up for experimenting with a bit more carbs, try their cacao banana alternative.
Sometimes, we just need to sacrifice a couple of protein grams to get the best possible gourmet experience in exchange. If that’s you right now, FITCRUNCH protein snacks may be exactly the indulgence you need. Their recipe was created by Chef Robert Irvine, which provides a soft-baked dessert with an extra layer of complexity for those who are seeking a restaurant-worthy palatable experience. So, what are you getting with this snack? Nothing less than six layers of actual peanuts and chocolate, held together by high-quality whey protein.
At only 16 grams of protein per serving, these protein bars fall a bit short compared to many of the other options on this list. However, they remain a superb choice for those who are looking to slim down rather than to bulk up. Per serving, they only have 190 calories, which keeps their waistline contribution very manageable. Just make sure you keep them somewhere cool. One of the downsides of real chocolate is the occasional melted mishap, after all.
Where was it written that protein bars MUST taste like the dessert you’re not having? Nowhere, really. Which is why we are always so eager to root for those who think outside the box and provide us with a completely different product.
KIND has done just that with their Sweet and Spicy protein bars. Completely gluten- and GMO-free, as well as kosher certified, these bars are available in zesty and spicy flavors like Thai Sweet Chili, Korean Chili, and Chipotle Honey.
If you’ve ever tried Mexican hot chocolate and realized that sugar and spice is really a match made in heaven, these bars are for you. As for their actual nutritional content, each one contains 10 grams of plant-based protein and 230 calories.
Nowadays, there is little shame in having a sensitive stomach or a potentially deadly food allergy – just the need to spend a bit more time whenever shopping for groceries.
You can cross the puzzling ingredient-vetting process when shopping for protein bars, at least. Go Raw’s new superfood-based protein bar is a great option for those who need to stay away from peanuts and tree nuts at all costs. Their crunchy appeal is provided by allergen-free, organic watermelon seeds, and are made from simple and natural ingredients.
Both Paleo-friendly and Vegan-certified, Go Raw protein bars provide 12 grams of protein each. They come in three flavors: dark chocolate, mint chocolate, and cinnamon spice.
If there is a trend that ought to be noticed in the protein bar market, it’s that the more certifications you seek, the fewer protein grams per serving you are likely to get.
After all, plant-based proteins are simply less dense, which can make juggling your macros a bit more difficult. Fortunately, PRO Bars has done the extra legwork for you and has launched the most protein-rich vegan protein bar available right now. No compromises here. You’ll get a full 20 grams without any GMO ingredients and zero gluten. In addition, thanks to their choice of chia seeds versus the normal peanuts ingredients, you will also be getting a superb serving of fiber and essential fatty acids.
This unique nutritional value has earned them the top-spot for competitive runners and fighters alike, who are the most likely to engage in high-impact activities. Knowing their audience, PRO Bar protein bars also have anti-inflammatory Omega 3 oils and a wide range of vitamins. Their only downside? They’re only available in two flavors: Mint Chocolate and Chocolate Bliss.