The best protein bars are the perfect snack alternative: they are low on sugar, high in fibre and as expected, they are rich in protein too. Protein snacks also tend to taste better than some other types of health snacks you find on supermarket shelves. INdeed, even the last entry on this list is a better choice for a mid-afternoon snack than a Mars bar but compared to each other, there are subtle differences which can make them a better option for certain health goals.
Unlike the best protein powders or the best weight gainers, the best protein bars can be recommended to everyone who like sweet snacks and admittedly, that's most of human population. You can satiate your sweet cravings without the guilt by having one of these healthy protein snacks. Basically, you get all the good stuff and none of the bad stuff associated with snacking, so you can indulge without the feeling of guilt.
The catch? There is none. As long as you keep to a healthy, balanced diet and don't eat five protein bars a day, you shouldn't experience any side effects. Saying that, some of the below protein bars are better for people on the keto diet and there are vegan protein bars included as well for whoever pursues the vegan diet.
Which one is the best protein bar overall? Find out by reading on...
Fancy something high protein but maybe a bit more savoury? We have the list of the best jerky options, both beef and veggie/vegan.
In case you would like to know what the main differences are between protein bars and protein powder, you'd better read our comparison article here: protein powder vs protein bar.
What are the best protein snacks?
Protein shakes are a popular source of this essential macronutrient, as they are quick to make up and guzzle on the go but sometimes, it's favourable to have a proper snack to chew, rather than constantly relying on a liquid lunch.
Thankfully, the protein producers of this world have cottoned on to this fact and now serve up a bunch of tasty snacks, typically in the form of a bar, that cram in a load of protein and taste good. Apart from protein bars, there are a few other options to choose from when it comes to upping your protein intake throughout the day in a convenient way.
Protein balls are bitesize versions of protein bars and are really the ultimate finger food for bodybuilders and people on slimming diet.
As well as protein balls, you can also get high-protein flapjacks, another tasty snack you can have on the go. Protein flapjacks can be high in fat and sugars, due to the way they are made, so please make sure you read the label before you devour them.
You can also cover some of your protein needs with nut butters or protein spreads. Nut butters are generally way healthier than chocolate spreads but taste just as good. A good example is the Grenade Carb Killa Protein Spread which contains 170 calories in a 33-gram serving as well as only 2 grams of sugar and 7 grams of protein.
If you are really keen on not taking any sugar and prefer hot drinks, we recommend taking collagen coffees into consideration. This might sounds a bit weird at first but hear us out. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and it also tolerates hot liquids as it doesn't clump. Bulk Powders' Collagen Coffee can basically be used as an instant coffee, has no sugar in it, not to mention, a 25-gram serving contains a whopping 18.5 grams of protein. It also tastes less bitter than regular black coffee. Please bear in mind that collagen coffee is not suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
The best protein bars and snacks, in order of preference
I like hassle-free post-workout snacks: that's why I like the Barebells Vegan Protein Bars. Let's face it: no likes making decisions about snacking. Do I want tasty snack or one high in sugar? Should I have a vegan protein bar or one that's high in protein?
The Barebells vegan protein bar range – that includes two flavours, Hazelnut Nougat and Salty Peanut – is high in protein, low on sugar, tastes great and has texture that won't remind you of compressed, oily powder. The bars are also palm-oil free and contain some fibres too.
On the downside, you will have shell out more money for the vegan bars, compared to the 'regular' protein bars from Barebells, but not too much. Quite possibly the price will drop soon anyway and Barebells will most likely introduce even more flavours to wet your appetite for vegan protein bars.
Grenade is probably one of the most well-known protein bar company, for a good reason. The Carb Killa franchise helped bring high protein bars in front of the eyes of many and popularise healthy snacks in general. This delicious, triple-layered, chocolate-coated bar is high in protein, with up to 22 grams per bar. It's also low in sugar, making it a idea, guilt-free alternative to your usual sweet treat.
There are a number of flavours to choose from, including Dark Chocolate Raspberry, White Chocolate Salted Peanut and my personal favourite, Jaffa Quake. Carb Killa bars are certified with the Informed Sport programme and therefore suitable for use by drug tested athletes and military personnel.
Will there ever be a perfect protein snack? I don't think so, partially because requirements are ever changing in the fitness industry and by the time you get used one trend, three more have already emerged in the meanwhile.
Saying this, the Oatein Hype Protein Bar comes pretty close to being the tastiest protein bar in the market today. The Oatein Hype Protein Bar is not delicious 'considering it's a health bar', it is tasty on its own terms.
And it's not only flavoursome but also very healthy too. On average, the Oatein Hype Protein Bar contains around 190 calories, under 2 grams of sugar but a very generous 18 grams of protein.
The only issue with the Oatein Hype Protein Bar is that you will want to eat more than just one bar per day. Why does it have to taste so good?
If there is anyone you know saying it's impossible to eat healthy without compromising on taste, give them a Barebells Double Bite bar. It's as close to tasting like a Twix as it gets, maybe not quite as soft but very tasty nevertheless. There are even two flavours to choose from: Caramel Crisp and Chocolate Crisp.
The former features a "smooth caramel centre surrounded by puffed soy crisps and covered in milk chocolate" while the latter "contains a rich and crispy cocoa core" and the same milk chocolate coating. Seriously, give them a try and tell me they don't taste like standard chocolate bars. It's just plain crazy.
But unlike chocolate bars, the Barebells Double Bite is actually healthy, at least when compared to an aforementioned Twix bar: the Double Bite is protein rich (16 grams per pack) while keeping the saturated fat and sugar levels low (4.5 and 2.1 grams, respectively). I wouldn't chow down on one every hour but when hunger (and cravings) strike, the Double Bite is a better option than most other things you might find in a gym bag that you can snack on.
It's amazing that something so ridiculously delicious-looking can be fairly decent in terms of its sugar and fat content. With 15g of protein, it's not the beefiest snack on the list, but if this doesn't curb the sweet tooth, nothing else will.
A quick flick through the ingredients list does reveal a few naughty things, such as 'sustainable' palm oil and a few emulsifiers, but it's certainly not packed with e-numbers and is a damn sight healthier than a standard chocolate bar.
Salted Caramel Karma is one of the finest sweet snacks we've tasted in a long time, let alone protein snacks, while Marshmallow Rock Choc has the sort of sweet appeal that sends kids into a tailspin.
If you're the sort of person that just can't give the cake counter a miss when out for a coffee, slip one of these in your bag.
Bulk Powders' Protein Flapjack is pretty amazing, it tastes great, the texture is spot on, it's higher in protein than many protein bars and it's also high in dietary fibre, too. A kind of snack that you will eat because it tastes great, not because you have to.
Some of your regular, run-of-the-mill flapjacks might give your jaw muscles a workout, not the Bulk Powders Protein Flapjack, which is soft as butter – it's an all-butter flapjack after all!
We recommend these treats to people who are working on putting on some muscle mass but would like to do it in a way that doesn't screw up their macros completely. The extra 100 kcal – compared to the equally excellent Macro Munch bars – will come in handy for people who have fast metabolism.
Barebell Protein Bars come in a range of delicious flavours, but its most recent one tops the flavour charts. The Crunchy Fudge delivers the experience it promises on the packaging: you'll get the sweetness of the fudge as well as a bit of a crunch with every mouthful. The Barebell Crunchy Fudge Bar is so tasty, it's virtually indistinguishable from an ordinary snack bar when it comes to flavour.
However, unlike the Snickers bar you impulse buy at your nearest petrol station, Barebell Protein Bars are low on sugar, free of GMOs and – of course – contain ample amount of protein too. You'll get some lipids too in each bar which is not a bad thing: many vitamins are only soluble in fat so by consuming moderate amounts of it you can help your digestive system to break down and utilise vitamins more efficiently. I am generalising here a bit, but you get the idea.
Barebell Protein Bars contain only moderate amount of carbs and given the low sugar content, this means you won't even be spiking your insulin levels too much by snacking on these scrumptious bars. This is a big win in my book.
What can we say? The USN Trust Crunch Bar ticks all the boxes: delivers on flavour, has a good consistency, high in protein, low on sugar and it hasn't got any palm oil in it either. It doesn't bring anything new to the table but does everything it should do just fine.
Some of flavours are actually quite enticing – e.g. Cherry Chocolate – and the crunch brings an exciting element to consuming the bars too. It's less chewy than the Barebell protein bar and less oily than the One Pro Nutrition Bar; it's kind of in the middle when it comes to everything, hence why it's in the middle of our best protein bar list too.
The Foodspring Protein Bar sources protein from grass-fed cows, and not just any grass-fed cows, but cows that are allowed to roam the endless green pastured of New Zealand, 328 days a year, apparently. The result is protein that is naturally rich in micronutrients and just healthier in general.
As well as that, the Foodspring Protein Bar has no added sugar and loads of fibre. As a matter of fact, each bar has a 'special fibre coating' that makes helps reduce sugar content and maintain the structure of the bars. Unfortunately, it also makes the bars pretty dense and slower to digest. We also recommend drinking plenty of water after you chewed through the bar to help your digestion a bit.
That aside, everyone will appreciate the natural ingredients and comparatively high protein content of these bars. And it's definitely an ideal protein bar for people who need a snack that will fill them up and make them feel full for longer. Therefore, the Foodspring Protein Bar is recommended for people who are trying to lose weight and need a healthy snack to curb their mid-afternoon cravings.
Surprisingly enough, many protein snacks – even on this list – are not suitable for vegans, regardless of how popular this type of diet is at the moment. To doctor this issue, One Pro Nutrition released its new protein bar that has many qualities on top of being suitable for vegans.
For one, it's high in protein, mainly sourced from pea protein isolate and pea protein crispies, high in fibre AND low on sugar, of which the One Pro Nutrition Protein Bar only contains less than 3 grams. It also comes free of artificial sweeteners, sugars, fillers or additives, helping muscle repair and weight loss the healthiest way possible.
The coating is made out of One Pro Nutritions vegan chocolate, the secret ingredient, which has lower GI than standard chocolate. The One Pro Nutrition Protein Bar also has Lucuma in it, a "super nutritious Peruvian fruit that supports skin health, blood sugar & cardiovascular health", according to the manufacturer.
Being all vegan and low on sugar, there were some compromises to be made. The texture of the One Pro Nutrition Protein Bar is a bit dry, although it is far from being unpleasant. In the same time, it's very smooth and the chocolate coating helps a lot too. Even without any added sugar, the One Pro Nutrition Protein Bar is one of the tastier options on the market.
Professional athletes gobble these bars down like there's no tomorrow and that's because they are made to the most exacting sports nutrition standards, are low in sugar and pack a hefty protein punch.
Available in white chocolate and chocolate brownie flavour, the former tastes a little bit like the white chocolate surrounding a Magnum ice cream and nicely quash any craving for unhealthy snacks.
There is a distinct lack of E numbers and other nasty chemical, making them a great addition to an otherwise balanced diet and perfect for muscle repair following a savage workout session.
You may have seen these guys on Dragon's Den, where they power walked into the room and jogged away shortly afterwards with a sizeable investment from Peter Jones. Deborah Meaden may have had a few choice words to say about the branding but never mind that, as these things are delicious.There's a sizeable hit of protein in them too and the rest of the range is also well worth checking out.
Those who want to completely ignore the sugar should probably look away now, but Oetein bars are among the tastiest on sale at the moment and do a good job of mimicking the proper filthy, protein-deprived flapjacks you'd end up regretting after stuffing them in your face.