If you’re looking for the best protein bars to buy this year, then you’ve come to the right place.
You can also get more info by jumping to our Protein Bars Guide.
Top 10 Protein Bars
If you buy anything using the links below, we get a commission.
|#1||Met-Rx Big 100||More Info|
|#2||Quest Nutrition Quest Bars||More Info|
|#3||MusclePharm Combat Crunch Bars||More Info|
|#4||Promax: Pro Series Bars||More Info|
|#5||ISS Research OhYeah! Bars||More Info|
|#6||Chef Robert Irvine FortiFX FIT Crunch Bars||More Info|
|#7||BioNutritional Power Crunch Bars||More Info|
|#8||Pure Protein Bars||More Info|
|#9||Lenny & Larry’s Muscle Brownie||More Info|
|#10||Caveman Foods: Caveman Primal Bar||More Info|
When that gap between breakfast or lunch is too long or you need a snack to satisfy your post-workout hunger pangs, you want something that’s quick and easy yet full of protein so that you can go on with your day. A popular option is to snack on a protein bar, which can end up being a double-edged sword.
A healthy protein bar will satisfy your hunger and boost your energy levels, while others will crash your blood sugar and leave you reaching for another one after just an hour. To help you understand how to implement them into a healthy diet, below is information on what are protein bars, their benefits, side effects, how to incorporate them into your routine, and things to look for when choosing a protein bar.
What Is a Protein Bar?
According to WebMD, protein bar doesn’t refer to just one thing. It’s actually an entire world of products meant to serve people with a variety of needs, and not all of them are created equally. People take protein bars for a diversity of reasons depending on their lifestyle and health goals: bodybuilders use them to gain muscle mass, on-the-go professionals use them as meal replacement bars, and dieters use them to help them achieve their weight loss goals.
Protein bars have risen in popularity in recent years because they are quick, convenient, and typically provide a healthier alternative than reaching for a cookie or donut. It is also easy to find a protein bar to suit different dietary needs. You can easily find sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan, low-carb or allergy-friendly protein bars in stores or online.
Benefits of Protein Bars
As Livestrong points out, protein bars have a number of benefits. The biggest benefit of protein bars is their convenience. You can have all of the calories and protein of an entire meal without having to cook an elaborate dish or get in your car and drive to a restaurant. They are especially convenient for those who have food sensitivities or allergies, as meal prep can be even more time-consuming. Protein bars are also convenient because they are easy to store—just keep them in your pantry until you need one and then just toss it into your bag or pocket. You don’t need to keep them cool and you can store them for months without them spoiling.
Another benefit of protein bars is nutrition. While your typical vending machine fare is high in sugar, carbohydrates, and sodium and low in nutrients, protein bars can provide a healthier alternative. You can easily find low-calorie varieties and many are high in other important nutrients that can be hard to get into your diet such as iron and B-vitamins. These nutritive benefits in turn help fuel your workouts so you have more energy and recover more quickly.
Protein bars can also serve as a weight loss aid because they help with portion control. When people snack between meals, they may not keep track of exactly how much they are eating and accidentally consume hundreds of calories between meals. Snacking on a protein bar is an easy way to keep track of how much you are really eating between meals so that you don’t end up overindulging.
Are There any Side Effects?
Despite their overwhelming popularity, protein bars can have some downsides. The first concern is that even though they can be a great source of protein and certain vitamins and minerals, you can’t rely on them for all of your nutrients—you need to be getting the majority of your nutrition from natural sources such as fruits, vegetables, and fresh lean meats. These natural food sources contain nutrients that cannot be simulated in a protein bar.
Another potential pitfall with protein bars is that many options are extremely high in sugar and calories comparable to those found in sugary snacks. If you aren’t careful about selecting the right protein bar, this can lead to the very blood sugar crashes and hunger pains that you are trying to avoid, prompting you to eat more snack bars between meals and start the cycle over again. A potential side effect of protein bars, then, is weight gain.
Always speak with a medical professional or doctor before taking any supplements. Always read the product label for instructions and directions.
How to Take Protein Bars
The key to taking protein bars while maintaining a healthy diet is to use moderation. While the majority of your calories, protein, and other nutrients should be coming from whole food sources, you don’t always have time to be cooking full meals, which is when you can also supplement with a good protein bar.
A lot of how you take protein bars will depend on your lifestyle. If you hit the gym regularly, for example, you can take one as a post-workout snack. If you are on a diet or lead a busy lifestyle, you can take one as a snack between meals or as a meal replacement to help with portion control.
What to Look for in a Good Protein Bar
To include protein bars as a part of a healthy diet, you need to know how to select a good protein bar. BodyBuilding has some great insights on how you can find a protein bar that meets your needs. Here are some things to look for in a good protein bar:
- More grams of protein than carbohydrates: This might go without saying, but the star of the show in a healthy protein bar should be the protein. Protein is what keeps you fuller for longer, whereas carbohydrates only temporarily spike you blood sugar, which is followed by a blood sugar crash. Subtract the grams of fiber from the overall carbohydrate count and then compare to the amount of protein to decide if a protein bar has enough protein.
- Sugar content: A common trap people fall into when choosing a protein bar is forgetting to check how many grams of sugar is contained in each serving. Unfortunately, many snack bars are extremely high in sugar to the point where you might as well eat a candy bar. A good rule of thumb is to keep the number of grams of sugar in the single digits.
- Calories: Different protein bars can vary wildly in calorie counts, so always check how many calories are in a serving. Your calorie needs will also depend on your fitness goals. If you want to lose weight, then you probably want to aim for under 200 calories, but if you are trying to build muscle then you will want a higher-calorie bar.
- Unsaturated fat: Contrary to popular belief, some measure of fat is necessary to maintain a healthy diet. Fat helps your body absorb minerals and regulate the release of carbs into your bloodstream. Make sure the bar is higher in healthier unsaturated fats and as low as possible in saturated and trans fats.
- Fewer ingredients: If you are stuck between two protein bars, a good rule of thumb is that the fewer the ingredients, the better. In addition to counting the number of ingredients, make sure you understand and can pronounce each ingredient. You will also want to opt for more natural ingredients and lower levels of high fructose corn syrup.
In short, protein bars are extremely convenient, especially in today’s fast-paced world. While they were formerly the domain of bodybuilders needing to bulk up, they now make for an ideal on-the-go snack for anyone.
However, buyers do have to beware: some options can be high in sugar, calories, fat, and carbs and can completely derail your health and fitness goals. To include protein bars into your diet in a healthy manner, you have to be clear about your current health and pay attention to labels so that you can find the protein bar that meets your needs.