10 Best Protein Bars in 2020

The Best Protein Bars
Image by Murzik Nata / Canva Photos

What’s the difference between a protein bar and a candy bar? To be honest, some of the best protein bars are so yummy that your taste buds can’t even tell the difference. But your body can certainly feel the difference.

That’s because the best protein bars are designed to support an active metabolism, stabilize blood sugar levels, and promote muscle building and endurance. In other words, they play an important role in a healthful, balanced diet. That Snickers Bar you’ve been dreaming about? Well, not so much.

Get the best of both worlds with the Pure Protein Bar, our top pick among an assortment of fantastic options. Or, continue reading for a variety of protein and snack bars for every occasion.

Our Top Picks: Best Protein Bars

Short on time? Here are our top picks:

  • Best Overall: Pure Protein BarCraving protein? Snag a Pure Protein Bar to boost your workout and/or stave off cravings with 20 grams of premium whey.
  • Best Organic: Garden of Life Sport BarGo organic with this natural bar that’s USDA certified, non-GMO, and entirely vegan.
  • Best Budget: Clif BarOn a tight budget? No problem. Clif bars are an easy way to boost your protein and caloric intake without breaking the bank.
  • Best Natural: LarabarDepending on the flavor, Larabars contain anywhere from one to nine wholesome ingredients, clearly listed on the wrapper and totally nutrient-rich.
  • Best Weight Loss: Kind Bar. If you’re watching the waistline, Kind Bars are packed with fruits and nuts for a delicious and antioxidant-rich treat.
  • Best Vegan: Whole Earth and Sea BarsDairy and animal-product free? Whole Earth and Sea Bars may cost a pretty penny, but they’re delicious and packed with nutrients from land and sea.
  • Best Tasting: Vega Protein Plus Snack BarReviewers rave about the delicious taste of Vega Protein Plus Snack Bars and their oh-so-decadent chocolate flavor.
  • Best Nut-Free: Genuine Health BarIf you suffer from nut allergies, the Genuine Health Bar features a protein-rich (15 grams) recipe that’s almost entirely hypoallergenic.
  • Best Low Carb: Quest BarOn a quest for lower carbs? Maybe you’re on Keto? Whatever the case, Quest Bars offer five net carbs and two grams of sugar without sacrificing on protein.
  • Best Gluten-Free: Luna BarSpecially formulated for females and those who enjoy soy, the Luna Bar offers nine grams of protein and 35% daily calcium.

1. Pure Protein Bar

The best protein bars overall

Pure Protein Bar

Brand: Pure Protein / Calories: 200 / Protein: 20 Grams / Organic: No / Price: 💰💰

Looking for a nutritious, high-quality protein bar? If the name’s any indication, Pure Protein is the way to go.

The Pure Protein Bar contains a whopping 20 grams of the finest whey protein available — and over a quarter of the USDA’s recommended daily intake! With vitamins A, B, C and E baked right into the recipe, this bar also comes packed with an array of nutritional necessities. As for sugar? A minimal two grams means that Pure Protein Bars aren’t just for muscle. They’ll help shrink that waistline too!

Best of all, Pure Protein Bars are widely available and cost about $1 each. You can’t beat ‘em!

  • Made in the USA
  • Delicious taste despite low sugar
  • Boasts 20 grams of pure whey protein

  • Bars melt in the summer heat (be careful with shipping)
  • Contains six grams of sugar alcohol, which can be hard on digestion

2. Garden of Life Sport Bar

The best organic protein bars

Garden of Life Bar

Brand: Garden of Life / Calories: 260 / Protein: 20 Grams / Organic: Yes / Price: 💰💰💰

With 20 grams of protein, 10 grams of soluble fiber, and 20% of the Daily Value (DV) of iron, the Sport Organic Performance Protein Bar by Garden of Life is a complete (and totally organic) nutrition bar. It comes in four classic flavors: Peanut Butter Chocolate, Chocolate Fudge, Chocolate Mint, and Sea Salt Caramel.

These bars will give you the energy you need without the allergens (dairy, soy, gluten-free) or ethical compromise (organic, vegan). As the name implies, this bar is made for those engaging in rigorous physical activity with high energy and endurance demands. An excellent choice!

  • USDA Organic & Non-GMO
  • Great for post-workout pick-me-ups
  • Healthful plant protein that’s entirely vegan

  • Dull taste
  • Complaints of a chalky texture

3. Clif Bar

The best budget protein bars

Clif Bar

Brand: Clif Bar / Calories: 250 / Protein: 9 Grams / Organic: Yes / Price: 💰 

Clif is a household name in the world of protein bars. Available in large grocery stores, small convenience stores, and even local health food stores, Clif boasts a ton of diversity in its product line.

Made with organic rolled oats, the original Chocolate Chip Clif Bar is packed with vitamins and minerals, including impressive amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. In addition to nine grams of protein, you’ll also find four grams of dietary fiber in this classic energy bar. Rainforest Alliance and non-GMO Certified, Clif offers a variety of creative flavor combinations, from the extravagant “Peanut Butter Banana with Dark Chocolate” and “White Chocolate Macadamia” to the simple “Nuts and Seeds.”

Bars contain nuts and soy, along with a hefty dose of carbs (45 grams per bar) and sugar (21 grams). Keep this in mind when tempted to gobble down more than one of these delicious bars. They’re best suited for those engaging in high-endurance sports like hiking, running, or climbing.

  • Tons of delicious flavors
  • The best cheap protein bars
  • Easy to find and insanely affordable

  • Lots of carbs and sugar
  • Consistency changes with every batch

4. Larabar

The best natural protein bars

Larabar

Brand: Larabar / Calories: 200 / Protein: 4 Grams / Organic: No / Price: 💰

Lara Bars aren’t just all-natural — they’re also gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free, as well as non-GMO!

Lara Bars are known for containing just a handful of ingredients. In fact, the ever-popular “Cashew Cookie” contains only cashews and dates! This provides an adequate four grams of protein, plenty of magnesium and copper (20% and 25% DV), and a satiated appetite for hours to come.

Lower on the carb spectrum at 26 grams, these bars are higher on the fats and sugars (12 grams and 15 grams). That said, it’s derived entirely from plant sources, making it much healthier than heavily processed alternatives.

  • Very affordable
  • Tasty range of options
  • Just a handful of natural ingredients

  • Lower four grams of protein per bar
  • Natural ingredients mean a shorter shelf life (about a month)

5. Kind Bar

The best protein bars for weight loss

Kind Bar

Brand: KIND / Calories: 160 / Protein: 5 Grams / Organic: No / Price: 💰💰

Be kind to your body and mind with a sweet treat from KIND.

King Bars are versatile little pick-me-ups with only 20 or so ingredients and a satisfying, nutty flavor. Standard bars offer five grams of protein, 12 grams of healthful fats, and a low sugar count of around seven grams.

In addition to the standard range of bars, Kind also offers the Strong and Kind line, with an array of savory options. A nice alternative to the over-abundance of sweet protein bars on the market, these low-sodium, no-MSG salty treats come in creative flavors like Thai Sweet Chili, Honey Mustard, and Roasted Jalapeno.

  • Variety of flavors
  • Fresh & great tasting
  • An ideal snack for the entire family

  • Sticky and messy
  • Inconsistent ingredients

6. Whole Earth and Sea Bars

The best vegan protein bars

Whole Earth and Sea Bar

Brand: Natural Factors / Calories: 290 / Protein: 15 Grams / Organic: Yes / Price: 💰💰💰💰

If you’re looking for the best dairy-free protein bars on the market, look no further than these tasty delicacies from Natural Factors.

The Whole Earth and Sea Bars Protein Bars have 15 grams of protein and a ton of antioxidant and “superfood” nutrients like spirulina and chia. 80% raw and made by solar power, this product certainly has one-upped the other organic, non-GMO certified protein bars.

Another selling point? It’s not only dairy-free, but gluten-free to boot.

  • Respectable 15 grams of protein
  • Excellent taste with nutrient-packed ingredients
  • Ideal for those with oat or nut allergies (except peanut)

  • Some of the most expensive bars around
  • 23 grams of sugar (derived from natural ingredients)

7. Vega Protein Plus Snack Bar

The best tasting protein bars

Vega Bar

Brand: Vega / Calories: 200 / Protein: 11 Grams / Organic: No / Price: 💰💰💰

Prefer something a bit more decadent? Vega’s Protein Plus Snack Bars have it all.

These bars are nutrient powerhouses with at least 20% of the Daily Value (DV) of 17 vitamins and minerals. Plus, you get 11 grams of complete proteins derived from sprouted, organic brown rice, and peas. Full of antioxidants, probiotics, and omegas, sprouted grains are easily absorbed by the body. As a result, the body can quickly turn the bar into fuel.

Vega One is a clean protein made by folks who embrace a sustainable approach to wellness through nutrition.

  • Satiates morning hunger
  • Delicious chocolate flavor
  • High protein & low sugar count

  • Chewy
  • Bars melt quickly in hot weather

8. Genuine Health Bar

The best nut-free protein bars

Genuine Health Bar

Brand: Genuine Health / Calories: 210 / Protein: 15 Grams / Organic: No / Price: 💰💰💰

If you’re looking for something different, you’ve got to try a Genuine Health Bar.

These vegan protein bars are fermented to support immune health, as well as overall digestion. They contain 100% complete proteins sourced from ingredients like quinoa, alfalfa, and brown rice. The result? A well-balanced nutritional supplement with 15 grams of protein, nine grams of fat, and a healthful 10 grams of fiber.

They’re deliciously sweet and soft in texture, yet contain under 10 grams of sugar. An excellent option for those with nut allergies, digestive issues, or simply looking to try something new.

  • Low sugar w/ 15 grams of protein
  • Hypoallergenic & ideal for nut allergies
  • They make a great post-workout snack

  • Chalky texture
  • On the expensive side

9. Quest Bar

The best low-carb protein bars

Quest Bar

Brand: Quest Nutrition / Calories: 190 / Protein: 20 Grams / Organic: No / Price: 💰💰 

Your quest for the perfect protein bar has led you to this exact moment — and for good reason.

Quest bars are an excellent low-carb option with zero added sugar. These bars pack quite the punch with 20 grams of protein, 14 grams of dietary fiber, and a mere two grams of sugar total (21 carbs and five net carbs). At 190 calories per serving, this bar also contains a significant amount of calcium in a sizeable treat. Testimonials by the likes of Olympian Gabby Douglas compare the flavor of these bars, yes, to the candy bar. A fantastic option for Keto and Atkins eaters.

  • Under $2 per bar
  • Five net carbs make this ideal for Keto
  • Great taste & over a dozen delicious flavors

  • May cause gas
  • Few chocolate-free options

10. Luna Bar

The best gluten-free protein bars

Luna Bar

Brand: Clif Bar / Calories: 210 / Protein: 9 Grams / Organic: Yes / Price: 💰

Made by the industry juggernaut, Clif Bar, Luna Bar offers 35% of the daily calcium intake requirement, making them appealing for women. Luna Bars contain soy, but are 100% gluten-free. Lower in fat and sugar than other brands, Luna bars may also be a good option for weight management support.

Do note that all Lara Bars contain natural flavors. If knowing the precise details of all ingredients is your thing, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

  • Gluten-free w/ no corn syrup
  • Extremely affordable and accessible
  • 12 delicious and protein-packed (9 grams) flavors

  • Very sweet
  • QC issues with reports of stale product

What to Look for in the Best Protein Bars

The best bar for you might not be the best one for someone else. Don’t merely look for the best protein bars for men or the best protein bars for women. Instead, try to understand your own fitness goals and unique health profile.

Best Protein Bars
Image by Murzik Nata / Canva Photos

Consider Your Needs: Checklist

  1. Do you need to watch your sugar/carb intake?.
  2. Are you gluten-sensitive or intolerant?
  3. Do you avoid dairy?
  4. Are you allergic to nuts or soy?
  5. What are your health/fitness goals?
  6. What nutrients support those goals?
  7. Are you using protein bars as a workout supplement, an energy boost, or as a snack on the go?

Knowing your needs, goals, and habits will help you make the best choice.

Nutrition is Key

Becoming a label reader will help you make informed and wise decisions. It’s important to know not only the amounts of sugars, carbs, fats, and fiber a bar contains but also their sources. What vitamins and nutrients are derived from the ingredients, and how are they produced?

Nutrients work together in the body, and for maximum absorption, you’ll need bars made with whole foods. Another critical element to look for? You’ll notice that when a bar is lower in one area (sugar, for example), it may be higher in another, like fat. A balance of sugars, carbs, fats, and fiber is optimal.

Benefits of Protein Bars

Many bars, many benefits. Protein bars offer concentrated nutrition. They’re fast and convenient. They can help you meet your workout, weight loss, and nutritional needs, or simply get through a busy day when your schedule doesn’t allow for lunch.

  • Muscle-Building. Protein bars are often made with whey (milk protein) and promote the development of muscle and the conversion of fat to muscle.
  • Sport/Performance/Endurance. Some bars may be higher in carbs and the “good fats” and are geared to provide energy over a sustained period.
  • Weight Loss. For those seeking weight management support, a protein bar may be used to balance blood sugar throughout the day, curb cravings, and stimulate metabolic activity.
  • Nutritional Supplement. For folks who have special dietary and health needs, protein bars may help maintain blood sugar levels and increase nutrient intake.

Our Process

For this guide on protein bars, our team spent 4 hours researching the most popular options from over 25 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about one hundred user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each bar. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 10 protein bars on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.

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