Protein bars can be tricky, because as we discuss in the article How to Choose A Protein Bar That Isn’t Candy, it can be easy to pick up a protein bar that isn’t really a health food at all due to loads of sugar and other questionable ingredients.
That said, it is a quick and easy option, and as we’re all dealing with busy schedules, it can be unavoidable to want to grab one and go. So, we asked our experts what their favorite healthy protein bar is, why they prefer it, and what the tastiest choices are – hopefully, the next time you need a quick fuel, these suggestions will help you find the healthiest and best tasting choice for you.
I prefer a piece of fruit, or a handful of nuts, or trail mix to a protein bar, but the most natural protein bar with very few ingredients that I’ve come across is the Almond Rise Protein Bar. It’s basically just honey and nuts, yet boasts an impressive 20 grams of protein. You can also consider making your own protein bar, which is probably the best bet…which reminds me, we need to add some protein bar recipes to BuiltLean!
– Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT
I don’t usually eat protein bars. For the most part, I try to opt for whole foods. However, when you’re in a bind and don’t have access to healthy food, a protein bar can help you stay away from less healthy options. They’re also useful when traveling if you don’t want to pack your own meals. Larabars are great because they’re made using only dried fruits and nuts. Most have only 2-5 ingredients so you know what you’re putting into your body. Core Bars are also made with whole foods and recognizable ingredients. They use whey protein in their Warrior Meals, however their Defender Meals are vegan. Both contain organic grains, dried fruits, nuts, and seeds to provide healthy carbs and essential fats. When it comes to protein bars, opt for ones with whole foods, short ingredients lists, and ingredients you recognize.
I’m a huge fan of Rise Protein Bars. They contain just 3 ingredients with about a serving of almonds, 1 tbsp of honey and whey protein isolate per bar, making it one of the (if not the) most natural protein bar on the market. Other bars with artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols really upset my stomach, but this is one of the few bars that I have been able, with both myself and clients, without anyone feeling any stomach distress. It also has enough protein to be considered a protein bar and not simply a meal replacement bar.
– John Levya, CSCS, CPT
Hands down, that has to be the Quest protein bars. Unlike most protein bars with ingredients that you can’t pronounce, Quest only uses high quality whole food ingredients. Not only that, there are flavors like apple pie, coconut cashew, and cinnamon roll that taste as good as they sound. Finding a protein bar like these is definitely rare, as most that taste halfway decent are full of fillers and sometimes even high fructose corn syrup. I highly recommend giving these a try!
– Stephen Bergeron, CSCS, CPT
Although different protein bars are better for certain situations, I think the best all-around option is from the Quest line. The calories are low (between 160 and about 200) and they all contain about 20 grams of quality protein, high fiber content (around 17 grams) and, depending on the flavor, have minimal to no sugar alcohol. Many flavors are all-natural and even the ones that aren’t boast a short ingredient list. One common piece of negative feedback is that older bars can be very hard, but this can be easily remedied by microwaving for 10 seconds. My flavor picks are chocolate chip cookie dough and banana nut muffin.
– Charlie Seltzer, MD
Hope this helps you find a protein bar you enjoy & can be sure you’re really eating something that isn’t going to cause serious bloating, or taste like chalk.
What’s your favorite protein bar?