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The Best Protein Bars, According To a Nutritionist

They can help you maintain lean muscle and curb your cravings.

There are very appropriate times to consume the best protein bars, but those probably occur less than you probably think. The healthiest protein bars are great to those of us who lift weights — it’s hard to get all the muscle-repairing nutrients without eating steaks upon steaks. For those who are looking for a post-workout meal on the way to work. And for those that are replacing that rare meal after being caught in meetings or traffic — because a low-sugar protein bar is better than fast food any day.

And that’s about it. Why? This is not any nutritionist’s idea of a healthy snack.

“I understand nowadays, everyone is always short on time and rushing from one commitment to the next, but I think people rely on protein bars too often,” says Jennifer Silverman, a New York-based nutritionist. “Depending on the bar, they might be upwards to 250-300 calories and packed with added sugar.”

Another issue with protein bars: many of them are packed with fillers. Silverman says you should avoid added and fake sugars (sucralose, erythritol, and aspartame in particular. “Instead look for bars that have ingredients you can pronounce and natural sugars,” she recommends.

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In a perfect world, a protein bar should have no more than 14 grams of sugar per serving.

It should also have about five or so grams of fiber, which helps you digest it slowly and release its energy evenly.

It should have four grams of fat.

If you are looking to shed weight, the maximum calories a bar should have is 200.

If muscle gain is your goal, a bar should have at least 20 grams of protein.

Otherwise, a protein bar should have 10 grams of protein.

You can always make your own bars, but if you don’t have time, there are some solid options on the market. You’ll note that some have more sugar than others, because ultimately, if you don’t like the taste of something, you won’t eat it, no matter how much it’s touted as being better for you. We’ve provided the nutritional info. You make the call.

Each bar is made with roughly seven ingredients, so you know what you're eating, like dates and figs.

Free is the name of the game here: These bars are gluten free and soy free, plus they’re vegan. Because these aren’t loaded with protein, they’re best to eat when you’re on a hike and need an energy boost.

  • Protein: four grams
  • Sugar: 18 grams
  • Fiber: four grams
  • Fat: five grams
  • Carbs: 26 grams
  • Calories: 150

These bars are made with plant-based proteins.

These bars are USDA organics, kosher, vegan, non-GMO, grain-free, and most of all, they’re gooey-good. And they’re made with just four ingredients.

  • Protein: 11 grams
  • Sugar: 18 grams
  • Fiber: four grams
  • Fat: 10 grams
  • Carbs: 25 grams
  • Calories: 210

These protein bars contain a whopping 20 grams of whey and milk protein.

These bars are meant for serious workouts and are eaten by NFL athletes. They’re loaded with protein, but are also heavy on the sugar. Still, they’re one of the most delicious protein bars you can buy, both in terms of flavor and texture.

  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Sugar: 29 grams
  • Fiber: two grams
  • Fat: 13 grams
  • Carbs: 41 grams
  • Calories: 350

Each of these protein bars contains eight grams of organic plant protein from pumpkin seeds.

We like that you can recognize the ingredients in these protein bars, and that each bar contains six grams of sugar. The chewy texture is a nice plus, too.

  • Protein: eight grams
  • Sugar: six grams
  • Calories: 170

From a mother and daughter-run company, these protein bars are made from plant-based ingredients that will fill you up.

These protein bars are organic, gluten-free, vegan, and soy-free. They have 12 grams of protein that comes from peas and brown rice. All of the ingredients are sustainably grown, and you can choose from 14 flavors. 

  • Protein: 12 grams
  • Sugar: 11 grams
  • Fiber: two grams
  • Fat: 10 grams
  • Carbs: 34 grams
  • Calories: 270

This bar is rich on taste, because it's made with honey and nut butters, but you need to refrigerate it. It stays good for one week out of the fridge.

What it lacks in convenience, it makes up for in taste. It’s creamy, crunchy, and reminiscent of cookie dough. Which makes sense, given how high it is in sugar and fat.

  • Protein: 17 grams
  • Sugar: 18 grams
  • Fiber: four grams
  • Fat: 18 grams
  • Carbs: 26 grams
  • Calories: 330

This bar has three, yes three, ingredients in it. Easy and simple.

It’s clean eating on the go. You get three ingredients and they are almonds, honey, and whey protein isolate. So there’s no need to get a chemistry degree before buying this protein bar. And you get 20 grams of protein per bar.

  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Sugar: 11 grams
  • Fiber: four grams
  • Fat: 16 grams
  • Carbs: 20 grams
  • Calories: 280

A bar that proudly lists its main ingredients on the front, so you know exactly what you're getting.

There are no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or fillers, plus most of the bars are gluten-free with no soy or dairy. Its 12 grams of protein come largely from egg whites, an ingredient offered by precious few other bars.  

  • Protein: 12 grams
  • Sugar: 14 grams
  • Fiber: four grams
  • Fat: eight grams
  • Carbs: 22 grams
  • Calories: 210

These protein bars are full of grains, nuts, and seeds from Non-GMO ingredients.

The same brand known for its kid-friendly granola bars has moved into protein bar-land. Each bar has 12 grams of multi-source plant protein and six grams of fiber per serving. We like that each bar only has six grams of sugar and six grams of fiber.

  • Protein: 12 grams
  • Sugar: six grams
  • Fiber: six grams
  • Fat: 14 grams
  • Carbs: 18 grams
  • Calories: 230

A great-tasting bar that has 20 grams of protein that will fill up in the short term until your next meal.

There are only four grams of sugar in each bar. With six grams of fiber per protein bar, it should keep you feeling full for hours after eating. 

  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Sugar: six grams
  • Fiber: six grams
  • Fat: eight grams
  • Carbs: 24 grams
  • Calories: 230

From a trusted name in the nutritional bar world, this bar has got 20 grams of protein and you get selection of great flavors.

You won’t get more than 10 grams of fat per bar. The protein bars are also vegan-friendly, something that can be hard to find, and they taste pretty great. 

  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Sugar: 17 grams
  • Fiber: three grams
  • Fat: nine grams
  • Carbs: 31 grams
  • Calories: 280

You get four ingredients, and 20 grams of organic grass-fed protein per bar.

 

They are gluten-free and have only one gram of sugar. Each bar is only 130 calories, so you can add mass while protecting your waistline. 

  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Sugar: one gram
  • Fiber: 18 grams
  • Fat: five grams
  • Carbs: 19 grams
  • Calories: 130

If you're a fan of peanut butter, these are for you.

Each protein bar has 20 grams of protein, and the low glycemic index means your sugar levels won’t spike and drop all over the place.

  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Sugar: zero added sugars
  • Fiber: one gram
  • Fat: nine grams
  • Carbs: 22 grams
  • Calories: 230

A low-sugar, gluten-free bar that comes in a bunch of crazy flavors, like maple glazed doughnut and almond bliss.

Each bar has just one gram of sugar and just over 200 calories, so they’re not a bad choice for those trying to lose weight. Each bar also has 20 grams of protein, so they’re not kidding around.

  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Sugar: one gram
  • Fiber: one gram
  • Fat: nine grams
  • Carbs: 22 grams
  • Calories: 230

This bar tastes delicious, has nine grams of sugar, and three grams of fiber. It has 28 grams of carbs and six grams of fat.

For nine grams of sugar, which is on the reasonable side, you get a protein bar packed with flavor. It really, really tastes good. And it has a solid eight grams of protein.

  • Protein: eight grams
  • Sugar: nine grams
  • Fiber: three grams
  • Fat: six grams
  • Carbs: 23 grams
  • Calories: 190

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