While we don’t eat protein bars every day, we do find them to be a convenient addition to meals or quick snacks we can take with us anywhere. The problem with protein bars is that there are literally hundreds to choose from! If you’ve visited a grocery store lately, chances are you’ve been met with a wall of protein bars and energy bar options to sort through.
In this post, we’re helping you cut through the mass of options by sharing our favorite protein bars we’ve vetted, as a team of registered dietitians, and enjoyed over the years. While we haven’t tasted every single protein bar out there, we have tasted quite a few. Here’s what we recommend, based on taste, nutrition, ingredients, certifications, and protein quality.
How We Vetted The 8 Best Protein Bars of 2023
Our best protein bar review started by inspecting ingredients on bar wrappers and websites. We eliminated bars that contained unwanted additives as well as those that have high amounts of added sugar, highly processed carbs, artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols (such as erythritol) that leave a yucky aftertaste in your mouth. We focused on bars that contained short and wholesome ingredients that supply energy and a good amount of protein.
We looked for solid and well-balanced macronutrient content (calories, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and sugars), as well as those that contain high-quality ingredients and the best protein sources. Most importantly, the bars we selected had to taste good, have good chewy and crunchy textures, and be something we would actually want to eat. In short, we ate a lot of protein bars and inspected a lot of protein bar wrappers to get to these top picks.
A Whey Protein Bar We’ve Loved For Years: G2G
G2G Bars have been a favorite of ours for many years. Due to their higher calorie count and significant amount of protein (18 grams per bar), we use them as a hearty snack or small meal replacement from time to time. These bars contain the most protein of the top picks we recommend in this post.
- Here’s What We Love About Them: These bars are substantial and offer a significant amount of protein, enough to be a big snack, pre- or post-workout fuel, or even a small meal replacement. There are 8 flavors and we like them all, though peanut butter chocolate chip, mocha, and peanut butter jelly are team favorites. These bars should be refrigerated. They’re gluten-free and made using certified gluten-free oats.
- Grams of Protein: 18 grams from whey protein isolate
- Other Macros At A Glance: about 300 calories, 14 g total fat (3 g saturated fat), 25 g carbs (4 g fiber, 15 g sugars from honey and brown rice syrup)
- Other Stand-Out Features: One of the highest in protein bars; certified gluten free; made from freshly ground peanut butter or almond butter; no preservatives or artificial ingredients; we recommend starting with the variety pack so you can sample all of the flavors
- Average Cost: $2.75/bar
- Where to Buy: Use code REALFOODRDS to get 15% off when you buy directly from G2G or check the store locator; they’re available in many stores including some Costcos
We Love This Organic 100% Plant-Based Protein Bar: GoMacro
There’s so much that we love about GoMacro MacroBars, first and foremost the many certifications they have and the high-quality ingredients used in these bars. These certified organic bars are also certified vegan, non-GMO, soy free, and FODMAP friendly, too. While these aren’t the highest protein bars, they offer a good balance of nutrients and can help you increase your daily protein intake when worked in as a healthy snack or meal addition.
- Here’s What We Love About Them: These bars taste good and we love that they’re made from certified organic 100% plant-based ingredients, we also love that there are 3 nut-free options available for those with nut allergies. We’re also big fans of the GoMacro Kids MacroBars and the GoMacro Minis as additions to our kids’ lunches and daily snack packs.
- Grams of Protein: 10-12 grams from organic sprouted brown rice protein and organic pea protein
- Other Macros At A Glance: 270-290 calories, 9-12 g total fat (1-3 g saturated fat), 36-39 g carbs (2-3 g fiber, 11-14 g sugars from brown rice syrup)
- Other Stand-Out Features: These bars were developed by a mother-daughter team; the packaging is more sustainable; there are three nut-free flavors available, the company offers an annual scholarship to a local high school senior; the GoMacro facility is powered by 100% renewable energy
- Average Cost: $2.25/bar (the best price is typically on Amazon or Walmart)
- Where to Buy: Widely available at many stores, including Walmart, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, online at gomacro.com, and on Amazon.
One Of Our Favorite Protein Bars: RXBar
You likely see RXBars in many places, which is one of our favorite things about these whole food protein bars. We find these bars to be similar to a LaraBar but with more protein and fiber. We like RXBars as a Paleo-friendly choice, since they don’t contain grains or dairy.
- Here’s What We Love About Them: These bars are made from minimal whole food ingredients, most of which are listed right on the front of the wrapper (egg whites, almonds, cashews, or peanuts, dates, and sea salt). We like that they’re sweetened naturally with dates and have a pleasant chewy texture and many flavors that we enjoy.
- Grams of Protein: 12 grams egg whites and nuts
- Other Macros At A Glance: 180-210 calories, 6-9 g total fat (1-2.5 g saturated fat), 22-24 g carbs (3-6 g fiber, 13-18 g sugars from dates and chocolate)
- Stand-Out Features: Sweetened with dates; company was started by two best friends in Chicago; Target has a Good & Gather Protein Bar that is very similar to the RXBar, which you can often find for a price of around $1.50/bar – we like this option as a lower cost alternative to the RXBar, though our team agrees that the original RXBars have a better, softer texture.
- Average Cost: $2.00/bar (we often find the best price at Walmart, Target, and Amazon)
- Where to Buy: Direct on the RXBar website, as well as Amazon, Walmart, and Target
The Keto High Protein Bar We Recommend: Epic Bar
The Epic Bar is unique among protein bars, in that it is a meat-based bar. It’s a great choice for people who are looking for a bar that doesn’t contain common allergens, such as grains, gluten, wheat, eggs, nuts and nut butters, or soy. It’s also one of the few keto and Paleo-friendly bars available and very low-carb and low-sugar for protein bars. We love to incorporate these bars as an easy addition to on-the-go lunches and as post-workout snacks.
- Here’s What We Love About Them: A tasty, savory bar with a very simple ingredient list. The grain-free bars are Paleo friendly and many are unsweetened. Those that do have some sweetness to them are sweetened with apple juice concentrate. The base of the bars is sustainably-raised meats, such as grass-fed beef, grass-fed bison, grass-fed venison, and 100% natural chicken and pork, so the protein source is high-quality protein that contains all essential amino acids, and a great choice for muscle building.
- Grams of Protein: 7-12 grams from sustainably-raised meats
- Other Macros At A Glance: 90-170 calories, 4-11 g total fat (2-5 g saturated fat), 1-8 g carbs (0-3 g fiber, 0-6 g sugars from apple juice concentrate)
- Stand-Out Features: A savory bar based on sustainably-sourced meat; great flavors; a big supporter of the Savory Institute, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting regenerative agriculture, as well as Stripe Climate, a company dedicated to removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
- Average Cost: $2.50/bar (we found the lowest price on the EpicProvisions website, and some flavors cost less on Amazon)
- Where to Buy: Direct on the website, on Amazon, and available at many retailers (check the store locator), including Target, and Whole Foods.
These Best Tasting Protein Bars Are A Team Favorite: HoneyStinger
You may know HoneyStinger for its energy chews and gels, but the company also makes some good protein bar options. HoneyStringer is known for fueling endurance athletes and creating energy products that are sweetened with honey. We especially like the HoneyStinger Nut & Seed bars as a protein bar that tastes so good, a lot like a salted nut roll.
- Here’s What We Love About Them: If you’re looking for a protein bar that tastes like a candy bar, then these bars are for you. We found them to be one of the best tasting protein bars we sampled, with a chewy caramel center, a lot like a salted nut roll. These bars don’t contain any inulin, artificial sweeteners, or sugar alcohols.
- Grams of Protein: 14 grams from whey protein powder, milk protein isolate, nuts, and seeds
- Other Macros At A Glance: 260 calories, 15-16 g total fat (3 g saturated fat), 21 g carbs (1-2 g fiber, 16 g sugars from honey and cane sugar)
- Stand-Out Features: A pleasant, chewy texture; no artificial or alternative sweeteners; the bars contain added vitamins A, C, E, and D; the company supports diversity in athletics and paid volunteer work for employees
- Average Cost: $2.65/bar
- Where to Buy: These bars are available at many stores as you can see using this store locator, including outdoor retailers, grocery stores, Walmart, and convenience stores, as well as directly at honeystinger.com (use code REALFOOD20 for 20% off)
A Protein Bar Created By Registered Dietitians: Zing Plant-Based Bar
We have loved Zing Bars for many years and have even chatted personally with the creator and founder, a fellow registered dietitian. These 100% plant-based bars are nutritionally balanced, contain up to 5 grams of fiber, are dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free, and contain some of the lowest amounts of added sugars.
- Here’s What We Love About Them: These bars are created by a registered dietitian and the company is managed by a team of four nutritionists. We liked that they are a low-sugar option that works for many people with food allergies and special diets. They are nutritionally balanced and have a nice crispy texture. The Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate Mint, and Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond are team favorites.
- Grams of Protein: 10 grams from nuts, rice protein, and almond protein
- Other Macros At A Glance: 220-230 calories, 12-14 g total fat (2.5-4 g saturated fat), 21-22 g carbs (4-5 g fiber, 6-7 g sugars from tapioca syrup, organic sugar, and agave)
- Stand-Out Features: 100% plant-based bars in many flavors and variety, such as chocolate-covered bars (our favorite), nekkid bars (no chocolate coating), and kids mini size (100-calorie bars); there’s bars have no wheat or gluten; contain prebiotic fiber for gut health; pleasant chewy and crisp texture like a granola bar (not dense)
- Average Cost: $2.50/bar
- Where to Buy: direct at zingbars.com and Amazon, as well as many other retailers as you can see using their store locator, including major grocery stores and pharmacies like Walgreens and RiteAid.
These Clean, Whole Grain Protein Bars Taste So Good: JAMBAR
This fairly new company was created by the inventor of the original PowerBar in 1985. The JAMBAR is their premium organic artisan energy bar that is USDA Organic certified and made from Fair Trade certified ingredients. True to their name, the bars are reminiscent of that peanut butter and jelly combo, and also exist to support the healing art of music (“jammin!”).
- Here’s What We Love About Them: These whole-grain bars are made from a base of oat bran and organic nut butters; all of the bars are 100% plant-based and vegan, and 3 of the 4 bars are gluten free, with the exception of the Malt Nut Melody flavor which contains barley malt extract. The ingredient list is stellar in these bars and the fruit-flavored bars contain chunks of whole dried fruits, such as dried mango and freeze-dried berries.
- Grams of Protein: 9-10 g from sunflower protein, whey protein concentrate, and quinoa
- Other Macros At A Glance: 230-240 calories, 5-7 g total fat (1-3 g saturated fat), 36 g carbs (4 g fiber, 18 g sugars from organic maple syrup and organic grape sugar)
- Stand-Out Features: A woman-owned company where 50% of the profits are donated to programs that support active living and the art of music; created by the inventor of PowerBar; a good source of fiber; ingredients sourced fair trade from eco-conscious suppliers
- Average Cost: $3.00/bar
- Where to Buy: Buy these bars on jambars.com and Amazon, and they’re also available in a variety of small retailers that you can find using their store locator tool.
A Budget-Friendly Vegan Protein Bar: Lenny & Larry’s
Lenny & Larry The Complete Cookie-Fied Bar is our top pick for a vegan protein bar that is good and costs less than the rest. These gluten-free bars are low-sugar and on the low side for total fat and saturated fat, too. The company also has a variety of popular protein cookies and wafers.
- Here’s What We Love About Them: These bars are 100% plant-based and contain prebiotic fiber from added inulin; they’re like a chewy granola bar with crunchy pieces of cookie. They come in 4 flavors and Ana, our social media coordinator, likes the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and the Almond Chocolate Sea Salt flavors best.
- Grams of Protein: 12 grams from brown rice protein and pea protein
- Other Macros At A Glance: 160-180 calories, 2.5-8 g total fat (1.5-2 g saturated fat), 20-26 g carbs (5 g fiber, 6 g sugars from tapioca syrup, organic agave syrup, and chocolate)
- Stand-Out Features: The company was started by two body-building best friends named Benny and Barry who developed a high-protein muffin in 1993. As a good choice for a vegan meal replacement bar, the company also sells a Big Bar that is twice the size of the original cookie-fied bar and contains 24 grams of protein.
- Average Cost: $1.50/bar (we found the lowest price on Amazon)
- Where to Buy: You can buy these bars at lennylarry.com and on Amazon. They’re also available at many retailers, including Target, Walmart, and most grocery stores.
3 Healthy Protein Bars For Kids
Our search for the best protein bars didn’t just stop at options for adults. We also wanted to share our favorite protein bars for kids, which are all bars that our own kids approve of. We tuck these snack bars into their lunches and keep them on hand in our bags for when that hunger hits and we need a convenient, healthy snack for our kids. Each of these bars contains enough protein to tide them over.
GoMacro Kids MacroBar: Our kids love these small bars, which come in 5 flavors and contain 100-110 calories, 4 grams of protein, and just 6 grams of sugar each. We love that they don’t have any artificial flavors, preservatives, or highly processed sweeteners.
Perfect Bar Snack Size: These small bars are easy to find and make a good healthy snack for kids and adults. Each bar contains 120-150 calories, 5-6 grams of protein, and 7-8 grams of sugar. These bars are based on peanut butter and come in three flavors.
Clif Kid ZBar Protein: Our kids like these bars, which are easy to find and a good size for older kids and teens. Each bar contains 130 calories, 5 grams of protein, and 9 grams of sugar, and there are four kid-friendly flavors.
Our Personal Favorite Protein Bars
Registered Dietitian Jessica’s Favorite Protein Bars
Registered Dietitian Stacie’s Favorite Protein Bars
Registered Dietitian Jessie’s Favorite Protein Bars
How To Choose A Protein Bar
With so many options, it can be overwhelming to find the best protein bar for you. Here is a 3-step process that can help you narrow down your search.
- Eliminate bars that have unwanted ingredients. If you want or need to avoid a certain ingredient or allergen, such as gluten, dairy, nuts, or eggs, then start there. Maybe you just don’t like peanut butter, or maybe you don’t want a bar with egg whites or grains. By the process of elimination, you can rule out many bars that have these ingredients.
- Set your protein goal. How do you plan to use protein bars in your life? Do you want to have them as an occasional small meal replacement? To help you increase your daily protein intake? As a healthy snack option? If meal replacement is your goal, then look for a bar that contains 15 grams of protein or more. If increasing your protein intake or healthy snacking is your goal, then bars that contain 10 grams of protein or more are good options.
- Taste, taste, taste. The final step to finding your favorite protein bar is to taste them! If you like the ingredient list and protein amount of a certain bar, try that brand’s variety pack so you can discover which flavors are your favorite. Only you can decide what tastes good to you. Everyone on our team prefers slightly different tastes and textures in protein bars, and the 8 bars in this post are the top picks that we all liked and agreed upon as good-tasting options.
Frequently Asked Questions
As registered dietitians, we recommend G2G Bars, GoMacro MacroBars, Honey Stinger Nut & Seed Bars, Rx Bars, Epic Bars, Zing Bars, JamBars, and Lenny & Larry’s The Complete Cookie-Fied Bar.
Yes, it is OK to eat a protein bar a day as long as you are also eating other foods throughout the day and meeting your requirement for daily calories and other essential nutrients.
The most healthy protein bars are those that are made from more whole foods and low- processed ingredients, such as nuts and nut butters, seeds, egg whites, protein powder, dates, and/or honey, as well as those that are made from fewer highly processed ingredients and artificial sweeteners.
Epic bar (a savory meat protein bar) and RXBars are good choices for weight loss. Any of the bars listed above could be used as small and occasional meal replacements as part of a weight loss plan.
HoneyStinger Nut & Seed Bars, GoMacro MacroBars, and Zing Bars rate high on our list for good taste.
Of our top picks, Epic Bar, Zing Bars, and Lenny & Larry’s The Complete Cookie-Fied Bars contain the lowest amount of total and added sugars.
With common flavors like chocolate brownie, chocolate chip cookie dough, crunchy peanut butter fudge, mint chocolate, salted caramel, and even birthday cake, it can seem like the protein bar options are just a bunch of candy bars with added protein. And many of them are. We wrote this post to help you sort through all the options so you can quickly find a better choice the next time you need a healthy protein bar.
For ultimate success, we highly recommend reading the tips in the full blog post above. All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish a recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words. Link back to the source recipe here on The Real Food Dietitians. Thank you!