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The Best Protein Bars for Weight Loss, Muscle Gain and More

Try these bars to tide you over, curb your appetite, or build muscle.

We receive free products to review and may receive commissions on purchases made through our links. See our disclosure page for details.

Protein bars have grown in popularity over the last decade and there are a ton of different options on the market. You can get protein bars that are free of sugar and carbs, bars that are crunchy or soft, and bars that vegan. That’s just to name a few examples. All of those options can make finding the perfect protein bar a little tough at times, especially for someone who doesn’t know what to look for. In an ideal world, a great protein bar will limit its use of artificial ingredients and provide a macronutrient spread that can fuel the athlete on-the-go or provide a protein-packed snack.

We’ve scoured the market in search of the best protein bars and we’ve created a list that matches a variety of needs. Whether you’re looking for a snack option to help you with your weight loss goal, or you’re looking for a bar to increase your daily caloric intake, we got you covered. Check out our favorite protein bars for weight loss, muscle gain and recovery, low-carb, vegan, and low-sugar below!

Best Protein Bars

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine. Individual needs for vitamins and minerals will vary.

Best Protein Bar for Weight Loss

From the start, we want you to understand that the best protein bar for weight loss is the bar that coincides with your daily macronutrient and caloric goals. That being said, One Bar should check a lot of boxes for those looking for more protein while losing weight. 

One Bar
One Bar
One Bar

A whey based protein bar that only has one gram of sugar and solid macro profile for the active individual.

Why You Should Buy ONE Bar

  • Minimal sugar content with only one gram and the sugar alcohol content is on the lower end (less than eight grams).
  • Fantastic taste, which can promote satiety and sweet tooth cravings.

Average Caloric/Macronutrient Breakdown:

  • Calories: 220
  • Fat: Eight grams
  • Carbs: 23 grams
  • Protein: 20 grams

Best Time to Consume: Anytime

Since the actual sugar content is extremely low at one gram, some companies would offset the lack of sweetness by using sugar alcohol. We like that One Bar doesn’t do that, as sugar alcohol can cause stomach distress and put off a lot of consumers.

What sticks out when you bite into this bar is that the flavor isn’t chalky and is more reminiscent of a candy bar. Don’t get us wrong, you can tell that it’s not a candy bar, but if you are someone who gravitates towards sweets, then this will be a nice way to fade all that unwanted sugar.

Other Weight Loss Friendly Protein Bars

The bars below offer decent macronutrient and caloric profiles, but if their totals put you over your daily allotment, then they could very easily become not ideal for weight loss. Our advice, snack on and eat protein bars mindfully.

Quest Bar

The sheer volume of flavors that Quest offers should put the rest of the field on notice. What is surprising is that the flavors taste quite accurate to the food the bar tries to emulate. An example of this is the blueberry muffin flavor really does taste like a blueberry muffin despite not having any dough. That trend continued when we tried the white chocolate raspberry flavor — it tastes like raspberry cheesecake.

Quest Bar
Quest Bar
Quest Bar

A high fiber soy free protein bar that delivers over 20 grams of protein and minimal sugar.

Why You Should Buy Quest Bar

  • High fiber content to promote satiation and long-duration fullness.
  • Minimal sugar content and sweet taste to satisfy sweet tooth cravings.

Average Caloric/Macronutrient Breakdown:

  • Calories: 180
  • Fat: Eight grams
  • Carbs: 23 grams
  • Protein: 20 grams

Best Time to Consume: Anytime

All that is to say there is a lot of variety when it comes to Quest bars, which is quite inviting when there are so many alternatives on the market. Tack on a really solid macro breakdown for someone trying to keep their weight in check and you have a top tier protein bar.

Grenade Carb Killa Protein Bar

What sets Grenade Carb Killa protein bars apart from those that didn’t make the list is all that fiber it crams into one serving. For anyone trying to lose weight, fiber is a useful tool to stay satiated. This feeling of fullness is important for when your body craves more calories after a heavy deadlift or squat session but you’re trying to stay on top of your cut.

Grenade Carb Killa Protein Bar
Grenade Carb Killa Protein Bar
Grenade Carb Killa Protein Bar

The Grenade Carb Killa Protein Bar comes packed with over 20g of protein and minimal sugar to keep carb content low. 

Why You Should Buy Grenade Carb Killa Protein Bars

  • Minimal sugar content and additional fiber to promote fullness.
  • Great taste and texture to support sweet tooth cravings.

Average Caloric/Macronutrient Breakdown:

  • Calories: 220
  • Fat: Nine grams
  • Carbs: 22 grams
  • Protein: 21 grams

Best Time to Consume: Anytime and post-workout

Although we didn’t rank it at the top of the list, you’d likely be served well but adding these to your cart.

Best Crunchy Protein Bar

Since not everyone is looking for a jaw workout when scarfing down a protein bar, we made an effort to look for the bars that were on the crunchier side texture-wise. There was a clear standout when it came to a crunchy texture to flavor profile. What we liked about the Promix bars are their crunchy texture and low sugar content, which is why they landed our top spot for best crunchy protein bar. 

Promix Puff Bar
Promix Puff Bar
Promix Puff Bar

These crunchy bars are reminiscent of a rice crispy treat that's packed with protein and absent all that unwanted sugar. They're a nice change from normal chewy protein bars.

Why You Should Buy Promix Puff Bars

  • Minimal sugar content with only four grams and lower calorie than many competitors.
  • Excellent taste across four available flavors.

Average Caloric/Macronutrient Breakdown

  • Calories: 150
  • Fat: Three and a half grams
  • Carbs: 16 grams — four grams of sugar
  • Protein: 15 grams

Best Time to Consume: Anytime

While researching and testing the top protein bars on the market, we found that most options all came in a rather chewy bar when it came to texture. Imagine a rice crispy treat but without all the stickiness and that’s pretty much what we have here. It’s a nice, light protein bar that’s easy to snack on when feeling hunger pangs and an excellent choice if you aren’t too keen on all those chewier options.

Best Protein Bar for Muscle Gain and Recovery

For anyone looking to cut weight, stay away. These MET-RX BIG 100 Colossal Bars and the rest of the protein bars in this section are not meant for you. These are for the people who care less about cutting weight and more about replenishing their bodies after going hard in the gym so they can come back again sooner without feeling depleted.

MET-RX Big 100 Colossal Bars
MET-RX Big 100 Colossal Bars
MET-RX Big 100 Colossal Bars

The MET-RX Big 100 Colossal Bar comes packed with over 30g of protein and is the perfect pick for anyone in need of calories for muscle gain. 

Why You Should Buy MET-RX Big 100 Colossal Bars

  • Considerable amount of sugar, which could be useful for glycogen replenishment post-workout.
  • Tasty and great texture, so they’re easy to get down if being in a caloric surplus is the goal.

Average Caloric/Macronutrient Breakdown:

  • Calories: 420
  • Fat: 14 grams
  • Carbs: 42 grams
  • Protein: 32 grams

Best Time to Consume: Post-Workout

The value of being higher in calories, sugar, and fat is this bar tastes way better than any protein bar should. That comes with the caveat that they really shouldn’t be consumed on a day where you aren’t hitting that bench press, going deep on lunges, or otherwise working up a sweat. The mixture of chewy and crunchy texture makes this bar a slam dunk. 

Other Protein Bars for Muscle Gain and Recovery

The best protein bar for muscle gain and recovery can take multiple forms. Ideally, the best bar for muscle gain will be one that fits into your daily diet and helps push you to hit your macronutrient goals, so we’ve listed some honorable mentions below. 

Optimum Nutrition Cake Bites

We are mixed on these cake bites but for all the right reasons. The macro breakdown is nicely balanced, the taste is delicious, and the texture is awesome for anyone who dreams of housing an entire cake late at night after they crushed it in the gym.

Optimum Nutrition Cake Bites
Optimum Nutrition Cake Bites
Optimum Nutrition Cake Bites

Three whey based cake bites that give the taste of a dessert and deliver a macro friendly snack for active individuals.

Why You Should Buy Optimum Nutrition Cake Bites

  • Incredibly tasty and unique flavors with textures that match.
  • Easy to consume with three bites containing minimal sugar, so it’s a great snacking option for any time of day.

Average Caloric/Macronutrient Breakdown:

  • Calories: 250
  • Fat: Eight grams
  • Carbs: 25 grams
  • Protein: 20 grams

Best Time to Consume: Anytime, pre, and post-workout

The issue though is three bites isn’t a lot and we wanted to keep eating them. Not a bad problem to have if you highly value flavor in your protein bars. The flavors available are all either cake, donuts, and all things doughy, so if you fancy your gut from the bakery, you could do far worse than sliding these across the checkout counter.

Gatorade Whey Protein Bar

We think this is a great middle-ground for the athlete who is training hard and needs that high carb count but isn’t looking to move into a calorie surplus. The macros lend themselves to athletes who stay on the move, need to refill their glycogen stores, and appreciate the taste of dessert after their training.

Gatorade Whey Protein Bar
Gatorade Whey Protein Bar
Gatorade Whey Protein Bar

The Gatorade Whey Protein Bar is loaded with protein and carbs to fuel and help you recover from your toughest workouts. 

Why You Should Buy Gatorade Whey Protein Bars

  • Decent macronutrient profile for the athlete in need of a quick post-workout snack.
  • Great taste and texture for the athlete who needs to consume ample calories.

Average Caloric/Macronutrient Breakdown:

  • Calories: 350
  • Fat: 13 grams
  • Carbs: 41 grams
  • Protein: 20 grams

Best Time to Consume: Pre and Post-Workout

If you are someone doing high-intensity anaerobic training like kettlebell snatches or kettlebell thrusters, this bar will likely serve you well.

Best Low-Carb Protein Bar

There are not too many true low-carb protein bars on the market. Most protein bars will have higher fiber content with minimal carbs, which will be promoted as a lower net carb content. Although, in respects to true carb minimalism, there are few bars that truly accomplish this. In our list, we’ve rated any bar that sits around 25g of carbs as “low-carb”.

At a meager 130 calories per bar, EPIC protein bars are the perfect fit for the best low-carb protein bar. 

EPIC Protein Bars
EPIC Protein Bars
EPIC Protein Bars
Nautral meat based protein bars that offer a variety of caloric and macronutrient ratios.

Why You Should EPIC Protein Bars

  • Natural, meat-based protein bars that contain minimal-carb content.
  • Carb allotments vary base on bar, so these are great for picky, low-carb dieters.

Average Caloric/Macronutrient Breakdown:

  • Calories: 130
  • Fat: Eight grams
  • Carbs: Zero grams
  • Protein: 15 grams

Best Time to Consume: Anytime or with meals

At literally zero carbs, those who follow a keto diet will be pleased, but so will anyone who wants to get their sugar elsewhere — looking at you strength athletes who love downing tall glasses of orange juice.

Other Low-Carb Protein Bars to Consider

Low-carb options are important to a lot of people looking to manage their weight, whether they’re attempting to shed a few pounds, maintain their current weight or bulk up. Here are a few alternative low-carb protein bars if our top pick doesn’t seem to be the right fit for you. 

Onnit Protein Bar

Although the Onnit protein bar is a bit higher in carbs, a big chunk of those extra carbs come from fiber — which is great — and only four grams of sugar snuck their way in. In a well-rounded macro breakdown like this, four grams of sugar is low enough to still rank highly on our top picks.

Onnit Protein Bars
Onnit Protein Bars
Onnit Protein Bars

Onnit Protein Bars offer unique tastes and quality protein from a variety of sources to help you recover, stay full, and snack smart. 

Why You Should Onnit Protein Bars

  • Solid macronutrient breakdown an even split of fats, carbohydrates, and protein.
  • High in fiber, minimal sugar, and lower carb content in every flavor bar.

Average Macronutrient Breakdown:

  • Calories: 240
  • Fat: Eight grams
  • Carbs: 26 grams — four grams of sugar
  • Protein: 16 grams

Best Time to Consume: Anytime

At the end of the day, being nice to your sweet tooth rather than treating it like the enemy can have long term self-control benefits.

Best Vegan Protein Bars

No secrets here, if you follow a vegan diet, you’re doing yourself a favor throwing these No Cow protein bars into the mix. Unlike other protein bars though, the variance of texture depends on the flavor, so go for what you like first and then sample around.

No Cow Protein Bar
No Cow Protein Bar
No Cow Protein Bar

Naturally sweetened and dairy-free, No Cow is surprisingly low in net carbohydrates for a plant-based protein bar.

Why You Should No Cow Protein Bars

  • Tasty and unique flavors with varied textures dependent on protein bar.
  • Great macro profile and minimal sugar, which makes them great for any time of day.

Average Caloric/Macronutrient Breakdown:

  • Calories: 180
  • Fat: Five grams
  • Carbs: 24 grams
  • Protein: 22 grams

Best Time to Consume: Anytime

You might find a flavor surprises you. We started safe with chocolate fudge brownie flavor and then were pleasantly surprised by the lemon merengue pie flavor.

Other Vegan Protein Bar Options

By nature of being on a vegan diet, you might have a craving for different options when it comes to a protein bar. We’ve listed some below. 

The Bar Shack

Customizing your own bar’s ingredients is just such a cool idea. It ensures get exactly what you want from an ingredient standpoint and get some control over the macro breakdown as well. If you have ever wanted your favorite brand to produce a certain flavor or combination of flavors but never have, you have the chance to make it happen here.

The Bar Shack
The Bar Shack
The Bar Shack

The Bar Shack offers customized protein bars that can be built fully around your dietary needs and preferences. 

Why You Should Buy The Bar Shack

  • Tasty and customized bars that can be built fully around dietary needs.
  • Great for someone with dietary allergies and wants full control over their protein bar’s ingredients.

Average Caloric/Macronutrient Breakdown:

  • Calories: 300
  • Fat: 11 grams
  • Carbs: 26 grams
  • Protein: 20 grams

Best Time to Consume: Anytime and post-workout

It could be argued that with custom bars that we can’t test ourselves that our high ranking might be speculative. Fret not though, their house bars are also for the taking and can help inspire some ideas if you get overwhelmed by all the choices.

Vega Sport Protein Bars

Vega Sport pretty much hits every box you could ask for from a manufacturing quality standpoint (see the bullet point above). Combine that with a texture you’ll want more and more of and you have yourself a top ranked vegan protein bar.

Vega Sport Protein Bars
Vega Sport Protein Bars
Vega Sport Protein Bars

A fully vegan, gluten free protein bar devoid of GMOs with a consistent texture and chewy bite.

Why You Should Buy Vega Sport Protein Bars

  • Great tasting bars with consistent texture.
  • Informed Choice Certified, vegan certified, gluten free, non-GMO Project Verified.

Average Caloric/Macronutrient Breakdown:

  • Calories: 300
  • Fat: 11 grams
  • Carbs: 26 grams
  • Protein: 20 grams

Best Time to Consume: Anytime and post-workout

These bars are actually lower in fat than a lot of other vegan competitive options on the market, so if you are looking to limit that macro, this could be a solid choice for you.

Best Unprocessed Protein Bar

When it came down to which protein bar had a simple ingredient list without anything processed or added sugar tossed in, there was one the rose above the field for its dense texture and strong flavor: RX Bars

RXBAR
RXBAR
RXBAR

These protein bars try to capture a "natural" and simple approach to deliver bars that are macro friendly for athletes.

Why You Should Buy RXBARs

  • Extremely simple ingredient list.
  • Quite filling — great for a snack between meals or to take on the go.

Average Caloric/Macronutrient Breakdown:

  • Calories: 210
  • Fat: Eight grams
  • Carbs: 23 grams
  • Protein: 12 grams

Best Time to Consume: Anytime

We tried out a bunch of different flavors — of which there are a ton — and they all hit quite different depending on which you go with. The good news is that each flavor was quite good so it will be tough to miss. We’d recommend leaning into your flavor preferences but branch into the options that are related to what you like. For example, the chocolate sea salt is a delicious staple, which led to the chocolate peanut butter — also great — which led to coconut chocolate, and so on. If you like a particular flavor and they offer it in protein bar, chances are high that you’ll be satisfied with it.

The other thing to note here is how filling they were. None of the bars are exceptionally high in fiber, the bars are just super dense and chewy which led to feeling fuller longer than some of the lighter bars. If you want a simple list of clean ingredients, RXBARs are the way to go. 

How We Picked Our Favorite Protein Bars

The first thing we considered when diving into our favorite protein bars was who we were ranking each section for.

We’re Just Like You

We’re recreational strength athletes that are always on the lookout for the optimal snack to power us through workouts, work, and our day-to-day activities. A great protein bar will have macronutrients that promote muscle recovery and satiation, while also preferably keeping calories on the lower end.

Another aspect we looked at were ingredients; what was the bar made out of? In reality, finding a protein bar that is completely natural isn’t always incredibly easy, so we took every bar’s ingredients into consideration and assessed them with others in their category accordingly. These three major factors helped guide a lot of our top protein bar picks.

One Bar Almond Bliss

Calories and Macronutrients

There’s no denying that protein bars aren’t the lowest caloric holding snacks on the market. Each protein bar will vary with its caloric content, but for many, you can expect to find between 150-300 calories. This isn’t the largest allotment and we don’t necessarily consider more as a bad thing, but what we do consider is the context in which the bar is being eaten.

For example, we wouldn’t recommend eating a 300 calorie protein bar if your goal is weight loss — save those calories for a meal! Although, we would recommend 300 calories for the athlete in need of a heavier snack for recovery, pre-workout, and muscle/weight gain.

In respects to macronutrients, we like to look for bars that have moderate fat (five to 10 grams) and carb (20-28 grams) content, and at least 20 grams of protein. Generally, this type of bar will be best for both post-workout or an any time of day snack, which is why a lot of our top picks have this macronutrient breakdown. Consider it the best of all worlds. Higher fat bars are ideal as a snack for folks in need of satiation, while higher carb bars are useful for post-workout purposes.

Ingredients

Ingredients are another factor we ranked when looking at protein bars. It’s tough to find the perfect protein bar with all “natural” ingredients because every protein bar will involve some level of processing. What we really considered were how these ingredients impacted how we felt after consuming the bars. Sometimes ingredients like sugar alcohols and added fiber can cause digestion discomfort, so if that’s you, then we’d recommend keeping an eye out for these when shopping around!

RXBAR Chocolate Seal Salt Taste Test.

Each bar that has made our best protein bar round-up has ingredients that vary. We have simpler bars, but also slightly more processed protein bars all making this list. Although very different in their make, they didn’t make us feel uncomfortable after eating them.

Finding the Best Protein Bar

Hopefully, this list was able to provide a little more guidance into finding the perfect protein bar for your needs. Once again, the best protein bar will not only taste great, but it should meet your daily dietary needs.

Whether your dietary needs are based on ingredients, macronutrients, or calories, we’re confident that there’s a protein bar on the market that will match your wants and desires. When consumed mindfully, protein bars can be a great way to pack in extra protein!

Protein Bar FAQs

What makes a great protein bar?

A solid protein bar will have ingredients and macronutrients geared towards assisting performance, satiety, and overall health. The best protein bars will be composed of ingredients that suit an individual’s dietary needs best.

Can protein bars be used for weight loss?

It depends! Protein bars can be tools to aid with long-term weight loss in the greater scope of one’s diet, but protein bars alone are inherently magic or overly healthy compared to natural, nutrient-dense foods.

Can protein bars replace whole foods?

No. Protein bars can be useful additions to a balanced diet, but they should never replace whole, natural, and nutrient dense foods.

Are protein bars healthy?

Yes and no. Protein bars with a lot of sugar content are not really healthy and there are likely better options for foods to consume. However, if someone is in a bind or traveling and they’re an option compared to something like a candy bar, then there’s an argument to be made that they are healthier in comparison.

1 thought on “The Best Protein Bars for Weight Loss, Muscle Gain and More”

  1. I have a question, what happens to all unused protein in high protein bars??
    Why was all these years fat was regarded bad for health suddenly becomes good??
    Today, low carb is bad, with high protein diet when everyone kidney fail in 10 years , suddenly high carb diet will become good.
    Who else will wait for 10 years??

    Reply

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