Everyone is different in terms of their health and fitness goals. Some want to gain muscle, others want to lose fat and some just need a protein bar that serves as a meal replacement.
Regardless of their goal, they all have something in common: They want delicious-tasting choices that will keep them slim and full. So we’ve nailed down not only the top items to notice when picking out a protein bar, but also the best ones for you!
Quite often, our eyes go right to the calorie count, determining if it’s “too much” or “just right,” and grab the 150 low-calorie bar without looking at anything else. But in reality, the sugar, fat, fiber and carb counts are usually the deciding factors of how it will benefit your workout, muscle growth and overall weight.
When the protein count begins to drop, you’ll notice the sugar and/or fat content increases! While dairy-derived proteins may have a higher advantage, there are also great soy alternatives to fit your dietary needs
The first few ingredients on the list are the most prominent, so beware of bars that begin with white flour or various forms of sugar, and opt for ones that begin with whey or soy protein isolate, whole-grain flour, whole-wheat flour or nut butter bases.
Nuts are high in heart-healthy fats and protein, and dried fruits are often high in fiber. Just watch the carb and sugar counts, as some brands add more sweeteners to these already tasty bars.
Did you just have a great workout? Don’t ruin it by ingesting bars that are packed with 15 grams of sugar or more! They’ll leave you feeling groggy and end up packing on the pounds.
They’re 100% natural, with no artificial flavors, additives or sweeteners. Each bar has a nut-butter base with added protein, fiber and sweeteners like agave nectar, fruit or dark chocolate. They’re low-glycemic, so they won’t cause a spike in your blood sugar and actually end up keeping you feeling full for longer.
Best of all, they’re perfect for those with restrictive diets since they’re gluten-free, wheat-free and soy-free. Be sure to try the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip — it tastes like raw cookie dough! — or one of their awesome fruity flavors, like Cashew Cranberry Orange or Almond Blueberry. (gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free)
Quest Bars take the cake in our list due to the fact that they contain 20 grams of protein, 5 active carbs and only 2 grams of sugar. How is this possible? Because it’s created with erythritol, a sugar alcohol that does not upset your stomach or impact your blood-sugar levels. Their ingredient list — which includes milk and whey protein isolate, cocoa and nut butters — will also put you at ease when you see how it was made with your health in mind.
Best of all, you can actually bake with Quest bars. Chop one up, put it in the oven at 375°F for 4 minutes and you end up with mini, guilt-free cookies. In flavors like Apple Pie and Cinnamon Rolls, these are definitely worth the try. (gluten-free)
Regular Luna Bars may not have made the cut, but the new Luna Protein Bars do! Containing the “4 core elements” that Luna is known for — being high in calcium; folic acid; antioxidant power from vitamins A, C and E; and fiber — these bars are more geared toward women, but have a taste anyone will love.
They have 12 grams of protein and still maintain their low sugar count and delicious taste. You can choose from yummy flavors like Mint Chocolate Chip and Lemon Vanilla. (gluten-free and kosher)
These come in two sizes: one for snacking and one for a meal replacement. With a whey blend as their first ingredient — plus other good stuff, like soy protein crisps, coconut and soybean oil, and a unique Glycerlean complex — these aim to provide natural ingredients and essential nutrients that will keep you full and help you burn fat. With 15 to 30 grams of protein (pending which size bar you choose), 6 grams of sugar or less, and added BCAAs, you can’t go wrong. Try the Neapolitan or Caramel Peanut.
Unfortunately, when something has “healthy,” “organic” or “nutritional” on it, you may be tricked into eating them, but beware: Many can contain empty calories! Instead, opt for one of these protein-packed bars, which will keep you feeling full and give you the energy to get through the day or pump up your workout.