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Never again will you unsuspectingly open a new box of protein bars only to suffer through the taste and texture of chalk. You can end your hunt for the best protein bar: We did the work for you. It wasn’t always fun, but at least we can say we’ve saved our readers the effort of paying for box after box because no bar tastes just right. 

Not only did our product testers personally order dozens of protein bars and taste all of the ones on this list, but we have professional backgrounds in fitness and nutrition so we can help you make sense of nutrition labels and ingredients lists on things like the best protein powders and bars.

As you read through this guide to find your next favorite protein bar, you’ll not only have the pleasure of reading our brutally honest tasting notes, but you’ll also learn exactly how each bar can support your wellness goals.

Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For health advice, contact a licensed healthcare provider. GGR also recommends choosing a product that has been third-party tested for quality.

Best Protein Bars for 2024

Best Protein Bar Overall: RXBAR Protein Bars

Good for: Anyone looking for a moderate amount of protein in a natural, chewy bar free of artificial ingredients

Best Overall

RX Nutrition RXBAR

GGR Score: 4.85 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Simple ingredients
  • 12 g of protein per bar
  • Gluten-free
  • Kosher
  • Variety of flavors

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No artificial flavors
  • Great for traveling as they don’t need to be refrigerated or warmed up
  • Flavors range from fruity to chocolate to satisfy all cravings
  • Made with simple, easy-to-understand ingredients
  • No artificial ingredients

Cons

  • A different texture that some might have issues with (very chewy)
  • Not a full meal replacement
  • Not for those with nut allergies

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a protein bar that you can keep in your drawer at work, in the glove box of your car, and in your purse or gym bag, this is a great option. These are a great way to get protein in between meals as well as during outdoor activities, or busy travel days.

RXBAR Protein Bars have been a go-to snack for me for years. They’re one of the best clean protein bars on the market, satisfying criteria for people who eat a paleo diet, follow the Whole30, or eat gluten-free. While the protein content isn’t the highest of all the bars on the list, let me make my case. 

I think there’s much more to a good protein bar than the protein content alone. RXBAR has successfully done what I have seen no other brand do: Create a satisfying, tasty, good-textured bar with all-natural ingredients without the need for refrigeration. 

An image of someone holding an RXBar in the wrapper

Made with dried egg whites, dried dates, nuts, and sometimes, chocolate and/or salt. That’s it. Really. Thanks to the egg whites, each RXBAR Protein Bar packs 12 grams of protein, and thanks to the dates and nuts, you get a collection of vitamins and minerals as well. You’ll also see “natural flavors” on the ingredients list, which includes plant extracts, oils, and/or essences from spices, fruits, or other plants. We rated the ingredients and flavors 4 out of 5 stars.

I will say, the ultra-chewy texture isn’t for everyone, and sometimes it kills the vibe for me when I don’t want to work for my food. (It really does take a while to get these down.) Still, we gave the texture 4 out of 5 stars because there’s no chalkiness; they aren’t dry; and besides, thoroughly chewing your food is purportedly good for satiety and nutrient absorption.1

If you’re looking for flavor recommendations, my favorites are Chocolate Sea Salt and Chocolate Coconut. Other GGR folks like the Blueberry, Mint Chocolate, and Strawberry flavors.

Protein sourceEgg whites
Protein per bar12 g
Calories per bar200-220
Flavors16
Artificial sweetenersNo
Price per serving$1.67-$2.00
Taste/textureSweet, but not too sweet, and no artificial aftertaste. Soft and chewy.
Suitable forPaleo, Whole30, gluten-free, Kosher

Best Natural Protein Bars: Legion Protein Bars

Good for: People looking for a bar made with natural, science-backed ingredients

Best Natural Bar

Legion Athletics Protein Bar

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Blend of whey and milk protein 
  • Plant-based carbs, fats, and prebiotic fiber
  • Third-party tested
  • No proprietary blends
  • Money-back guarantee

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • All natural
  • Non-GMO
  • Third-party tested
  • Money-back guarantee
  • NSF-certified
  • FDA-inspected, cGMP facilities

Cons

  • Too hard for some
  • Contains stevia and erythritol (a sugar alcohol)
  • 4 g of added sugar

Bottom Line

If you are looking for an all-natural protein bar and do not mind a little added sugar, the Legion Athletics Protein Bars are available in two popular flavors.

Legion is a brand built on a selling point that they use 100% natural ingredients, including plant-based carbs, prebiotic fiber, and whey and milk proteins in the brand’s protein bars. You won’t find any artificial sweeteners, food dyes, or flavors in these bars.

We love Legion’s transparency. The site is covered in links to studies supporting their choice of ingredients, and the Legion protein bar is tested in an ISO 17025 accredited lab (which is also important if you’re an athlete who may be subject to drug testing). Our product testers rated these bars 5 out of 5 stars for label transparency and third-party testing.

Legion Protein Bars

We’ll admit that sometimes, the “all-natural” bars tend to taste … well, not great. However, we had half a dozen people bite into the Legion Protein Bars, and we received mostly positive reviews on the taste.

“I didn’t want to finish the cookie dough bar (it didn’t taste dough-y enough for me), but I wanted to finish the chocolate peanut butter one,” says GGR senior director of content and personal trainer Kate Meier. While she only rated the cookie dough bar 3 out of 5 stars for taste, she gave the chocolate peanut butter one a higher score of 4 out of 5.

RELATED: Legion Whey Protein Review

We also really like the macro profile on these bars and rated their formulation a 4.5 out of 5. They have 24 grams of carbs, 20 grams of protein, and 12 grams of fat. There are 9 grams of prebiotic fiber, which may support gut health, but if you have too much of it (as in consuming multiple bars in one sitting), you may also find yourself running to the bathroom often.

Protein sourceWhey protein concentrate
Protein per bar20 g
Calories per bar240-250
FlavorsBlueberry Muffin, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Chocolate Peanut Butter
Artificial sweetenersNone
Price per serving$3.33
Taste/textureMixed results. The chocolate chip cookie dough was OK but the chocolate didn’t come through. Chocolate peanut butter was very good and tasted like chocolate. Dense texture, and a little dry (stuck to our testers’ teeth).
Suitable forN/A

Best High-Carb Protein Bar: Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Protein+ Bar

Good for: Individuals trying to boost their carb intake while also hitting their protein goals

Best High-Carb

Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Protein+ Bars

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Protein bar with grass-fed whey protein isolate
  • 15 g of protein
  • No artificial sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives
  • Available in Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Grass-fed whey protein isolate
  • No artificial sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives
  • Balanced macro profile

Cons

  • Pricier protein bar
  • Only one flavor
  • Not as much protein as other bars

Bottom Line

Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Protein+ Bars are a protein bar with no artificial ingredients. With 15 grams of protein, the protein bar claims to have a balanced macronutrient profile—23 grams of carbs and 16 grams of fat. While the protein content could be a bit higher, the protein is high-quality, coming from grass-fed whey isolate.

With 23 grams of carbs per bar, the Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Protein+ Bars are a solid choice for anyone needing a convenient way to satisfy their carb (and protein) macros for the day. They taste good, too. Kate Meier, GGR’s Senior Director of Content and a certified personal trainer, rated the taste 4 out of 5 stars, commenting, “They have a very clean peanut butter and chocolate taste. The pieces of chocolate are real, delicious, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate.”

Someone holding a Transparent Las Grass-Fed Protein+ Bar

Like all Transparent Labs products, these grass-fed protein bars contain all-natural ingredients. They’re free from artificial flavors, dyes, or sweeteners, and they don’t include any sugar alcohols. Their ingredients are gluten-free, but the company still recommends proceeding with caution if you must avoid gluten since they don’t test the protein bars for traces of gluten.

These are not a low-fat or low-calorie option. Kate described them as more of a meal than a snack since they have close to 300 calories and 16 grams of fat. We recommend them primarily for people looking to bulk. If you are trying to cut or maintain your weight, though, you can still eat them—you’ll just have to be mindful of the calories in your other daily meals and snacks to make sure you don’t go overboard.

RELATED: What Should My Macros Be?

Additionally, each bar contains only 15 grams of protein. We typically look for at least 20 grams of protein in a protein bar, so we rated the Transparent Labs product 3.5 out of 5 stars for its formulation.

Protein sourceWhey protein isolate and egg white protein
Protein per bar15 g
Calories per bar280
FlavorPeanut Butter Chocolate Chip
Artificial sweetenersNo
Price per serving$3.33
Taste/textureSoft and chewy, but still dry out your mouth a bit, according to our product tester
Suitable forGluten-free (though care must still be taken when consuming these because they are not tested for traces of gluten)

Best-Tasting Protein Bar: Onnit Protein Bites

Good for: People looking for a healthier alternative to dessert

Best-Tasting

Onnit Protein Bites

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Ingredients from 60 plants 
  • Whey protein from grass-fed cows 
  • 7-9 g of protein, depending on flavor

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Nutrients from 60 plants
  • Subscribe and save 15%
  • Also sold individually so you can try flavors

Cons

  • Contains the allergens soy, tree nuts, milk, and sesame
  • Very mixed reviews on the new formula
  • Users say chocolate coating melts easily and gets messy

Bottom Line

Onnit Protein Bites have 7 to 9 grams of protein from grass-fed cows and contain nutrients from more than 60 plants. However, the new formula is very divisive with some users loving it and some hating it.

Our pick for the best-tasting protein bars goes to the Onnit Protein Bites. GGR’s senior director of content, Kate Meier, and some athletes from her weightlifting gym tested them and rated them 4 out of 5 for taste. “They taste like candy bars! The Cookies and Cream flavor is dangerous,” Kate commented. If you’re tired of protein bars that taste chalky or artificial, these could be an excellent option.

An image of Onnit protein bites

They are lower in protein than the other bars on this list—one serving only has up to 9 grams of protein. “I would view this as a healthier option for dessert when you feel like you need something sweet,” Kate advised. They also have a long list of ingredients. Many of them are fruit and vegetable extracts, but because of the macro profile, we could only rate them 2.5 out of 5 stars for formulation.

RELATED: Best Protein Bars for Weight Loss

Kate did praise the texture, however, and rated it 5 out of 5 stars. She compared the Chocolate Coconut Cashew protein bites to a Mounds bar. “Chewy, moist…chef’s kiss,” she remarked.

Protein sourceGrass-fed protein blend
Protein per bar7-9 g
Calories per bar120-150
FlavorsCookies and Cream, S’mores, Chocolate Coconut Cashew, Chocolate Cookie Dough, Chocolate Peanut Butter
Artificial sweetenersNo
Price per serving$1.66
Taste/textureChewy and moist, according to our product tester
Suitable forN/A

Best Protein Bar for Muscle Growth: Jacked Factory Authentic Bars

Good for: Exercisers looking for a high-calorie bar with natural ingredients

Best for Muscle Growth

Jacked Factory Authentic Bars

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Manufactured in the U.S.
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • Contains whey protein isolate
  • 15-16 g  of protein per bar
  • Very strict quality control system in place

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Whole-food protein bar
  • Use to refuel and recover energy from workouts or life in general
  • Great taste and texture
  • 7 flavor options
  • Made with whey protein isolate
  • Made with real honey (no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols)

Cons

  • A little higher in calories than some competitor bar options
  • Some customers didn’t feel that the protein content was high enough for the calorie count
  • High in sugar

Bottom Line

Jacked Factory Authentic Bars are made with whey protein isolate, real nut butters, and honey for a whole-food yet convenient protein option. Although they’re high in calories compared to other options, that’s the tradeoff for refraining from using artificial sweeteners and ingredients.

Nicole, GGR’s head of content, tried the Peanut Butter Pieces flavor of the Jacked Factory Authentic Bars and was very pleased with the taste and texture, giving them a perfect 5 out of 5. “These are really good,” she says. “They taste exactly like a peanut butter Perfect Bar but with Reeses Pieces in it—same texture and everything!” 

“If you are a PB lover, you’ll die for this flavor! Also, they’re sweetened with honey, which you can taste. These don’t have any artificial flavor about them, something I find is noticeable in other protein bars”

An image of Jacked Factory Authentic protein bar, one of the best protein bars

The texture is also great, Nicole says; it didn’t give her dirt or chalk vibes like many protein bars do. The bars earned another perfect score in the texture category.

From a nutritional standpoint, the Authentic Bars could stand to improve, so we rated them only 2 out of 5 stars for their macro breakdown. “This would be a great dessert or treat-type bar,” Nicole says. “At only 15 grams of protein and 270 calories, it’s not the best from a protein standpoint, but it definitely feels like a healthier version of a candy bar. I’ll also say that for the calories, it feels small. But yum!”

The high calorie content is the main reason we recommend these as the best protein bars for muscle gain: Yes, more protein would be nice, but calories are ultimately just as important in the muscle-building process. You can’t build muscle without being in a caloric surplus, so dig in!

RELATED: Best Protein Powder for Men

Protein sourceWhey protein
Protein per barUp to 16 g (depends on flavor)
Calories per bar260-280
FlavorsBirthday Cake, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cookie Crumble, Kitchen Sink, Peanut Butter Candy
Artificial sweetenersNo
Price per serving$2.50
Taste/textureGreat peanut butter taste with candy pieces mixed in. Sweetened with honey, so there’s no artificial taste. Soft and a bit crumbly, but overall moist.
Suitable forN/A

Best Vegan Protein Bar: 1st Phorm Vegan Power Pro Bars

Good for: Vegans and vegetarians who want a quick, easy snack with a good amount of protein

Best Vegan

1st Phorm Vegan Power Pro Bars

GGR Score: 4.4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Vegan
  • 15 g of protein per bar
  • Gluten-free
  • Proprietary vitamin blend added
  • 5 flavors

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Great to help meet macro- or micronutrient goals
  • Produced in the U.S.
  • Unique flavors compared to other brands
  • Vegan
  • Good option for people who are lactose-intolerant
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • No trans fat

Cons

  • A little pricier than some of their protein bar competition
  • Not a huge selection of flavors available
  • Kind of chalky—typical plant-based protein texture

Bottom Line

If you are lactose-intolerant or follow a vegan diet, this is one of the few protein options that is made specifically for you. 1st Phorm has worked hard to create a unique product that will fill in that gap, and with 5 tasty options, you should be able to find one (or more) that you like.

In the name of honesty, I’m going to first share that our product tester did not enjoy these protein bars in the slightest, finding them unbearably dry and chalky. That said, our tester is not vegan and we’re acutely aware that people who are not vegan are not used to a vegan palate. For that reason, we rated the taste 3 out of 5 stars and the texture 2 out of 5 stars.

Additionally, the customer reviews on the 1st Phorm Vegan Power Pro bars are generally very positive. We assume that people who actively purchase vegan protein bars find the taste and texture to be better than okay, so we still chose the 1st Phorm Vegan Power Pro Bars as our best plant-based protein bar.

RELATED: Best Vegan Protein Powder

An image of the Vegan Power Pro bar in someone's hand

Plus, nutritionally, these 1st Phorm Protein bars are sound: They include 15 grams of protein from pea protein (they’re soy-free), they do not include any artificial sweeteners, and the ingredients lists are free from words that make you squint your eyes. And if you’re looking for the best gluten-free protein bars, you’ll likely appreciate that these don’t contain any gluten at all.

The calorie count is quite high for the protein content. These have 260 to 280 calories depending on the flavor—but that’s because of the nuts and nut butters used. Overall, their formulation earned 4 out of 5 stars from our product reviewers.

While our tester would recommend a different product for people who can/want to eat whey protein, we appreciate the simple ingredients list and suitability for multiple diet types.

Protein sourcePea protein
Protein per bar15 g
Calories per bar260-270
FlavorsApple Cinnamon, Banana Nut Bread, Chocolate Brownie
Artificial sweetenersNo
Price per serving$2.67
Taste/texture“Close to dirt,” is how GGR writer and expert product tester Lauren Strong described these bars. Very dry and crumbly.
Suitable forVegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose-free, soy-free

Best Budget-Friendly Protein Bars: Pure Protein Bars

Good for: People focused on macros and/or those who are on a tight budget

Best Budget-Friendly

Pure Protein Bars

GGR Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Low-sugar
  • Gluten-free
  • 20 g of protein per bar
  • Great taste and flavor options
  • Affordable

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Packed with protein that helps you feel full and reduce cravings
  • Great price for overall quality of product
  • Gives you fuel to keep an active lifestyle going
  • Variety of flavor options to satisfy any sweet-tooth
  • Tastes like candy

Cons

  • The specific carb and calorie count will vary by flavor
  • Uses artificial flavoring
  • Includes artificial sweeteners
  • Some customers felt these had a bit more aftertaste than other bars

Bottom Line

If you are trying to keep a diet that is balanced and are struggling to get enough protein in, this would be a great bar to add to your shopping cart, online or in person. Pair it with a piece of fruit, maybe a healthy carb, and a glass of water and you have a great meal on the go.

Pure Protein is a popular budget-friendly brand that makes a lot of nutritional products, including some of the best protein shakes and protein bars. Kate Meier, GGR senior director of content, tested the Pure Protein Bars in chocolate peanut butter and said they taste like candy. 

“I think these are probably the most candy-bar-like protein bars I’ve ever had,” she says. They are a little chalky—like VERY little—not in the way you taste with other protein bars.” Based on these comments, it should come as no surprise that they earned a solid 4 out of 5 for both taste and texture.

An image of a woman opening a Pure Protein bar

RELATED: Best Protein Powder for Women

As for the texture, it’s “similar to something like a Snickers or a Milky Way,” Kate explains. “Very nougaty.”

Pure Protein Bars have a pretty standard protein content of 20 grams per bar and a decent nutritional profile: 200 calories; 6 grams of fat; 16 grams of carbohydrates; and a vitamin blend. Note, though, that although these are some of the best low-sugar protein bars (they only have 2 grams of sugar), Pure Protein uses the sugar alcohol maltitol for sweetness. 

These bars are definitely not what we’d call au naturel, so we gave their ingredient list just 2 out of 5 stars. But they taste good, provide protein, and our tester didn’t experience any digestive problems.

Protein sourceWhey protein concentrate and isolate, milk protein
Protein per bar20 g 
Calories per bar180-200
Flavors12
Artificial sweetenersYes
Price per serving$1.42
Taste/texture“Probably the most candy-bar-like bar I’ve ever had,” says GGR head of content and expert product tester Kate Meier. “Texture is similar to something like a Snickers or a Milky Way — very nougaty.”
Suitable forN/A

Best Low-Sugar Protein Bar: Quest Nutrition Protein Bars

Good for: Those who can tolerate whey and milk protein, and want a versatile protein bar to eat on its own or bake with

Best Low-Sugar

Quest Nutrition Protein Bars

GGR Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Gluten-free
  • Low-sugar
  • 16 flavor options
  • 17-21 grams of protein depending on the flavor
  • Low net carbs

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Great product to keep your macronutrients on target
  • Simple, grab-and-go snack
  • Gluten-free helps with dietary restrictions
  • Low in sugar
  • Very filling

Cons

  • Chewy texture isn’t for everyone
  • Uses sugar alcohols, which can upset digestion
  • The company recently changed the formula a bit and several customers didn’t like the change
  • Can get too soft if gets too hot (like in a car or gym bag)

Bottom Line

Quest Nutrition has been serving the health and protein market since 2010 and they continue to give people high-quality products. They offer some unique flavors in their bars not seen by competitors such as White Chocolate Raspberry, Chocolate Sprinkled Donut, and Lemon Cake.This is one of the few bars that is actually recommended to stick in the microwave for about 15 seconds to produce a rich, tasty treat. Using a high-quality dairy-based protein, Quest Bars are dense and chewy in texture.These bars fall pretty well right in the middle as far as price point so you don’t have to break the bank to get your protein in consistently. You will want to pay attention to the ingredients as many of the customers who have used Quest for a long time were not fans of the newer formula, although if you don’t have anything to compare it to, you might find you like it just fine.

Once upon a time, I was a Quest Bar fiend. I kept Quest Bars in my gym bag, school backpack, work bag, desk drawer, car console… You name it. Eventually, I lost the hyperfixation and actually became quite disgusted with Quest Bars—even my previously beloved Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavor. 

RELATED: Best Pre-workout for Women

So when I got the news that we’d be writing a guide to the best protein bars, I snapped at the opportunity to return to my old obsession and see if anything had changed (with me or with the formula. This was a twofold experiment). 

Of course, I bought none other than Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. When the package arrived, I gingerly peeled back a corner of the wrapper and nibbled, wondering if I’d be able to stomach the thing. 

An image of someone holding a Quest Bar, one of the best protein bars

Good news: Apparently all it takes is six years to overcome the nauseating effects of a hyperfixation food. More good news: These bars taste exactly like I remember, and I rated them 4 out of 5 stars for flavor. But they are protein bars, so it’s not like eating a real cookie, despite what the customer reviews might indicate.

For a snack with 20 grams of protein, 12 grams of fiber, and only 1 gram of sugar, it’s not half bad. They are dense and chewy, though, leading me to score them 3.5 out of 5 stars for texture. These are higher in fat than some other bars, with 9 grams per bar, and I’d be remiss not to call out the use of sugar alcohols.

Quest Bars contain erythritol, a sugar alcohol known to cause digestive upset in some people. I don’t experience any negative effects from eating one Quest Bar every now and then, but people who are sensitive to sugar alcohols may want to avoid these. Since they aren’t the cleanest protein bars around, I gave them a score of 3.5 out of 5 for formulation.

RELATED: Best Pre-Workout

Protein sourceWhey protein isolate, milk protein isolate
Protein per bar20-21 g
Calories per bar160-210
Flavors20+
Artificial sweetenersYes
Price per serving$2.79
Taste/texture“The artificial taste from the erythritol is quite strong, but I’d definitely eat these in a crunch or if they’re just like,” says our tester, competitive triathlete and GGR writer Amanda Capritto. Very dense. “I like chewy textures like caramels, but this level of chewiness is a lot for me.”
Suitable forKeto

Best Lactose-Free Protein Bar: Misfits Plant-Powered Protein Bars

Good for: Anyone who wants a tasty protein bar sans milk derivatives

Best Lactose-Free

Misfits Plant-Powered Protein Bars

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Vegan
  • Low in sugar
  • 15 g of protein per bar
  • Gluten-free
  • Plant-based protein

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Suitable for a variety of diets
  • Plant-based protein
  • Rich flavors
  • Many flavors to choose from
  • Only 1 g sugar

Cons

  • Contains sugar alcohols
  • Texture is somewhat dry and chalky
  • Some buyers felt the flavor is overrated

Bottom Line

These multi-textured bars use plant-based protein and provide a total of 15 grams per bar. While they’re suitable for a variety of diet types, be aware that these bars contain sugar alcohols, which can cause digestive upset in some people.

For people who can’t or don’t want to consume dairy products, finding a protein bar that actually tastes good and delivers a decent amount of protein is tough. Most protein bars include some form of whey or another milk-derived protein, ruling them out for those with lactose intolerance. 

The Misfits Plant-Powered Protein Bar provides 15 grams of protein from pea and soy sources, making it acceptable for people who follow vegan, vegetarian, and lactose-free diets. These bars are also certified gluten-free. They do have sugar alcohols and have a higher carb content (around 24 grams per bar). But since they have a decent amount of protein and are suitable for a wide range of dietary preferences, we rated them 3 out of 5 stars for ingredients and nutritional breakdown.

An image of someone holding a Misfits protein bar

I tested the Misfits protein bars and, to my surprise, was not as taken aback as I usually am by vegan food products. (I really, really don’t find vegan options to be tasty, usually). While I can’t say these are a favorite of mine, I do appreciate the absence of a chalk-ified interior. I scored them 4 out of 5 stars for texture and 3.75 out of 5 stars for taste.

RELATED: Best Protein Bars for Women

I chose the Cookie Butter flavor (obviously) and was pleased overall at the chocolatey coating, chewy caramel-like layer, and crispy nougat-like bits. Some customer reviews say that these bars are way over-hyped and the flavor is overrated, and I’d have to agree—they’re good, but on the relative scale that they’re vegan and lactose-free. Again, it’s likely that someone who eats a vegan diet would find these much more flavorful than someone who’s used to rich milk proteins and chocolate. 

Protein sourcePea protein, soy protein
Protein per bar15 g
Calories per bar183
FlavorsCookie Dough, Chocolate Brownie, Cookes & Cream, Chocolate Caramel, Cookie Butter, Chocolate S’mores
Artificial sweetenersYes
Price per serving$2.50
Taste/texture“Definitely taste the xylitol in the Cookie Butter flavor,” says competitive triathlete and GGR expert product tester Amanda Capritto. A range of textures. “You have the confectionary coating, a thin chewy layer, and then the main nougaty layer which has some crunchies in it.”
Suitable forVegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose-free

Best Keto Protein Bar: EPIC Bars

Good for: Keto dieters and fans of jerky

Best Keto Protein Bar

EPIC Nutrition EPIC Bars

GGR Score: 4.85 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Grass-fed jerky bars
  • Paleo-friendly
  • Whole30-compliant
  • Dairy-free
  • Gluten-free
  • 8-15 g of protein per bar

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Very unique protein bar option
  • Great to pack for outdoor hikes and activities or bring on-the-go
  • Appeals to many different lifestyles including paleo, Whole30, keto, and dairy-free
  • Great flavor combos
  • Soft texture (not like regular beef jerky)
  • 9 flavor options
  • Humane grass-fed beef sources

Cons

  • Have a different texture than typical protein bars
  • Not suitable for vegetarians or vegans
  • Some flavors are kind of greasy

Bottom Line

When you think of protein bars you might consider the word sweet, but savory and spicy probably wouldn’t normally come to mind. EPIC Nutrition is working on changing that up and improving meat-based protein options on the market while also maintaining a high level of respect for the animals and environments that they live in.

If you eat meat and haven’t tried an EPIC Bar yet, what are you doing with your life? I’m not joking. It’s time to feast! EPIC Bars by EPIC Provisions are a newer take on both protein bars and jerky, because they’re not what you’d expect from either one. Low in carbs and made with a high-quality protein source, EPIC Bars are a solid choice for the best low-carb protein bar.

EPIC Bars are made from various grass-fed animal proteins and contain some phenomenal flavor combinations. I’ve enjoyed every flavor I’ve tried and rated the taste a perfect 5 out of 5. My favorite, and the type I’ve been consistently munching on for a few years now, is the Bison Bacon Cranberry bar. Other popular flavors include chicken sriracha, beef jalapeno, and venison sea salt pepper. There are currently nine savory flavors, and you can try them all if you buy the variety pack. 

An image of someone holding an Epic Bar

For texture, I gave these bars 4 out of 5 stars. They’re very soft, as if you’re eating fall-off-the-bone ribs from a cookout. They’re friendly for those who eat paleo, keto, or gluten-free diets, as well as people who follow the Whole30. 

The protein content ranges from 7 to 12 grams depending on the flavor, and we know that’s not enough to call them the best high-protein bars. But, they also only contain 90 to 170 calories, so the ratio isn’t all that askew. We rated the formulation and nutritional breakdown 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. The best protein-to-calorie ratio is found in the chicken BBQ flavor, which has 90 calories and 11 grams of protein. 

EPIC bars are also low in added sugar across the board and have meat as the first ingredient. Seasonings and binding agents round out the short ingredient lists. 

RELATED: Best Pre-workout for Men

Protein sourceGrass-fed meat
Protein per barVaries by flavor
Calories per bar90-170
Flavors9
Artificial sweetenersNo
Price per serving$2.66
Taste/textureRobust and balanced flavors. Texture can vary depending on how much fat is on each bar. The lesser-fat flavors can be a bit dry and crumbly.
Suitable forKeto, Whole30, gluten-free, paleo

Best Organic Protein Bar: Orgain Organic Protein Bar

Good for: People who eat organic and plant-based

Best Organic

Orgain Organic Protein Bar

GGR Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Gluten-free
  • Kosher
  • Vegan
  • Non-GMO
  • USDA certified organic
  • 10 g of protein per bar

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Balanced ingredients for steady energy
  • Affordable price point
  • 100% plant-based
  • Great reviews for flavor and texture
  • Affordable compared to other options

Cons

  • Some customers felt the size of the bar was too small and would prefer a full meal-replacement option
  • Lower in protein than some of its competitors
  • Contains sugar alcohols
  • Not suitable for those with tree nut or peanut allergies

Bottom Line

If you have any soy or dairy dietary restrictions, this bar is a good protein option to keep on hand for snacks. The combination of low sugar and high protein is a great way to support satiety in between meals.

Orgain Organic Protein Bars fit the bill for best organic and a great vegan option, according to product tester Lauren Strong. “These are really good, and that’s even with them being a vegan and soy-free option,” she says. 

“I liked the texture; it resembles the texture of cookie dough (soft, chewy, doughy) which is nice because it matches the flavor,” she says, scoring the texture 5 out of 5 stars. “There is a little of that aftertaste you get from some of these artificial ingredients like erythritol, and the texture is a bit dry, but that’s to be expected with a vegan product, I think.”

An image of someone holding an Orgain protein snack bar

Despite the sugar alcohol content, Lauren said she didn’t experience any digestive discomfort after eating these protein bars and gave them 5 out of 5 stars for side effects. They’re lower in protein than others on the market, with just 10 grams. That’s not a bad amount for a vegan option in our opinion, but we still scored them 3.5 out of 5 stars for formulation.

RELATED: Best Protein Bars for Men

Orgain Organic Protein bars are certified USDA organic and certified non-GMO, gluten-free, and kosher. At 150 calories, they’re a great organic snack. It’s no wonder Orgain tops the list of the best organic protein powders.

Protein sourceRice protein, pea protein
Protein per bar10 g
Calories per bar150
FlavorsChocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Artificial sweetenersYes
Price per serving$1.67
Taste/textureThe taste and texture are exactly like cookie dough, which is nice because it matches the flavor.
Suitable forOrganic, non-GMO, vegetarian, gluten-free

Other Protein Bars We Tried and Researched

Want to hear about a near-impossible task? Listing every single protein bar each member of our team has tried. But I’m going to list some popular options we have tried. 

To spare you from reading the same words over and over, here’s a synopsis as to why the following bars didn’t make the list: 

We couldn’t get past the taste and/or texture (and the nutritional components didn’t make it worthwhile); we’ve experienced digestive problems after eating them; they’re called protein bars but really aren’t; or we simply didn’t like them better than an option you see on the list of our top picks. Also, we didn’t include meal replacement bars in this guide.

  • CLIF Bars
  • CLIF Builder Bars
  • Larabars
  • Z Bars
  • ThinkThin Bars
  • GoMacro Bars
  • Zone Perfect Bars
  • Premier Protein Bars
  • Nature Valley Chewy Protein Bars
  • Power Bars
  • Power Crunch Bars
  • Fiber One Protein Chewy Bars
  • Luna Bars
  • Gatorade Recovery Bars
  • Atkins Advantage Bars
  • METrx Big 100 Bar
  • KIND Protein Bars
  • ONE Protein Bars
  • MyProtein Layered Protein Bars

In reality, our team collectively has likely tried dozens more, as you can see in this No Cow protein bar review, and there are still dozens of others that we haven’t touched. The world of protein bars is a big one, but we hope we’ve helped you make a decision today.

RELATED: Best Protein Chips

How We Picked and Tested the Best Protein Bars

Research, buy, test: That’s the name of the game here at Garage Gym Reviews, and we’re proud of it. Every item on this guide to the best protein bars was delivered to one of our homes and actually eaten by one of our product testers, in accordance with our supplement testing methodology.

In fact, many protein bars on this list have been household staples for some of us for years. As fitness enthusiasts, we’re well-versed in the world of nutritional supplements, including protein bars. Here’s how we specifically broke down our protein bar testing criteria.

Ingredients

We looked for protein bars that used high-quality ingredients such as whole food sources, like egg whites or grass-fed meat, or whey protein (ideally whey protein isolate to avoid any digestive issues). For plant-based protein bars, we made sure the protein source contained high amounts of muscle-building amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein molecules. We did not include any protein bars with known dangerous ingredients.

Nutritional Information

We looked at protein bars that had a decent protein-to-calorie ratio. We didn’t want to include a 300-calorie protein bar that only provides 5 grams of protein. More importantly, we wanted to avoid suggesting bars with high amounts of added sugar.

Taste and Texture

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. While we weren’t thrilled with how every protein bar’s taste or texture, we avoided including any protein bars that we spit out during testing (and there were some).

Price

We tried to keep most of our suggestions to under $3 a bar, but some made it through based on their taste or nutrition content.

Benefits of Protein Bars

Here’s a look at the main benefits of protein bars.

Extra Protein

Probably, if you’re looking for protein bars, you’re looking for a way to increase your protein intake (we’ve got a handy guide to help you figure out how much protein you need). Or, you’re looking for a more nutrient-dense sweet treat. Either way, protein bars can help you add an additional 8 to 20 grams of protein per day to your diet in an easy, convenient way. Eating a protein snack bar post-workout can aid in muscle recovery just like consuming a protein shake can.

Satiety and Weight Maintenance

Aside from sneaking a bit of extra protein into your diet, protein bars are a useful tool for maintaining satiety throughout the day. If you’re short on time and high on hunger, keeping protein bars handy can help you avoid dreaded hunger pangs between meals. 

Studies show that consuming more protein can help keep you fuller throughout the day due to a variety of mechanisms in the body, according to a 2020 review in the Journal of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome2. As per a 2012 review in the British Journal of Nutrition3, these appetite-suppressing effects could lead to weight maintenance and/or weight loss.

Nutrients

Many protein bars also contain nutrient blends to bump up the overall nutritional profile of the product. For instance, it’s not uncommon to see amounts of vitamin A and B, as well as calcium, potassium, and sodium, that satisfy a large part of the daily value based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Convenience

Let’s face it: It’s much easier to unwrap and eat a protein bar than it is to cut, cook, and prepare a meal that might give you similar protein content. Eating a protein bar can be done at your desk, during your commute, or any other time you feel hungry and need a quick, filling snack.

Buying Guide: What to Look for in a Protein Bar

Protein bars may seem like a simple product on the surface, but once you peek at the ingredients label, you’ll realize that there’s much more than meets the eye.

Protein Content and Source

Obviously, a bar is not a protein bar if it doesn’t contain ample protein. In general, protein bars have 10 to 20 grams of protein. This varies depending on a number of factors, including the protein source, the size of the bar, other ingredients in the bar, and the calorie count. 

Generally, the more calories a protein bar has, the more protein it will contain, although this is not always true. If a bar has less than 10 grams of protein, check out the rest of the nutrient profile to see if it’s still worth munching. Every bar we recommend has a minimum of 10 grams of protein, except for some flavors of the EPIC Bars—but they have a strong nutrient profile, are relatively low in calories, and taste dang good. 

The most common protein source in bars are milk derivatives, including whey protein concentrate and isolate. Some also contain collagen. In plant-based protein bars, you’ll commonly see brown rice protein, pea protein, and soy protein.

Diet Type

You’re probably already cognizant of what you purchase if you follow a specific diet. But we still want to point out that many protein bars are not suitable for the following: 

  • Lactose intolerance
  • Gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease
  • Vegan and vegetarian diets
  • Paleo or Whole30
  • Keto diets 
  • Organic and non-GMO diets 

Trust, if a product is certified to meet the requirements for one of the above diet types, it will be advertised. But if you’re not sure about something, check the ingredients list for the protein source. Anything with whey protein concentrate or isolate isn’t vegan, paleo, Whole30-approved, or lactose-free. Many bars with plant-based protein are also dairy-free, non-GMO, and organic. 

Sugar and/or Artificial Sweeteners

Sometimes, even the best healthy protein bars contain artificial sweeteners. They have to be sweetened somehow. Neither sugar nor artificial sweeteners are inherently bad, but they’re both something to be aware of. 

Common natural sweeteners in protein bars include:

  • Honey
  • Dates 
  • Monk fruit extract 
  • Stevia 
  • Coconut nectar 

Then there are refined sweeteners: 

  • Cane sugar
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Brown rice syrup/rice malt 

Many bars use artificial sweeteners in place of, or in combination with, a natural or refined sweetener. Common artificial sweeteners include: 

  • Sucralose 
  • Aspartame 
  • Saccharin 
  • Acesulfame-K 
  • Neotame 

And, finally, there are sugar alcohols, which I personally see more often in protein bars than any of the above: 

  • Xylitol
  • Maltitol
  • Erythritol
  • Sorbitol 
  • Mannitol 
  • Lactitol


If you have a weight loss goal, sugar-free protein bars might seem more attractive. They can definitely help with craving control and staying within your calorie targets, but some sugar alcohols have been shown to cause gastrointestinal upset4.  The state of research on artificial sweeteners’ effect on the human microbiome is largely inconclusive5

Keep this in mind when looking for the best protein powder for weight loss, too.

Ingredients

Aside from the sources of protein and sweetness, protein bars typically contain a long list of other ingredients (although we tried to choose several with short, simple lists, like RXBARs, Perfect Bars, and EPIC Bars). 

Lots of protein bars include healthy fats such as cashews, almond butter, and other nut butters. You’ll also see flavoring agents like almond extract, vanilla extract, cocoa, salt, and other spices.

Mostly, the other ingredients in protein bars are emulsifiers, thickening agents, binding agents, and oils. For example, you’ll commonly see things like soy lecithin, palm kernel oil, chicory, glycerin, tapioca starch, canola oil, xanthan gum, and calcium carbonate.

These things are all generally regarded as safe to consume by the FDA, and mostly, they’re used to establish textures of various layers in the protein bar (such as the chocolate coating, nougat-like layers, crunchy crisps, etc.). 

You may see various preservatives in the ingredients list, such as sodium nitrate, but this is more common in bars with whole food ingredients. 

Calories

This will vary based on how much protein you need in a protein bar. So someone using protein bars for weight loss should find a lower calorie protein bar, whereas someone trying to gain weight or put on muscle should reach for a higher calorie protein bar.

Taste and Texture

Finally, check out customer reviews to get a sense of texture and taste. No matter how good a brand’s marketing photos are, there’s still a chance that the bar is dusty and dry. This is just a fact of protein bars. It’s hard to make various powders all scrumptious and hearty, ya know?

Is It Okay to Eat Protein Bars Every Day?

There’s nothing wrong with eating a protein bar every day, especially if you are an athlete with higher protein needs and struggle to consume enough protein through whole foods alone. Even the average adult should aim for about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight6, and a protein bar can help you reach that goal if you get tired of eating chicken and egg whites.

A protein bar is also a quick, convenient way to satisfy hunger pangs when you’re on the go or don’t have time to cook a full meal. However, it’s important that the bulk of your diet still consists of whole food sources. Protein bars should only be used as a supplement and should not make up a large portion of your diet.

Are Protein Bars Good for You?

There are so many types of protein bars with wildly different ingredient lists, calorie counts, protein content, sweetener sources, and so forth. Some protein bars are very nutritious while others are like glorified candy bars. If you plan on eating protein bars regularly, look for ones that are low in sugar and have at least 20 grams of protein to keep you satiated. If you’re sensitive to sugar alcohols or dairy, consider protein bars with a more natural ingredients list or those made with vegan protein sources, like pea protein.

Best Protein Bars FAQs

Will protein bars help build muscle? 

More calories and more protein plus strength training equals muscle gain (usually). That’s a super simplified statement, but yes, eating protein bars in conjunction with a progressive resistance training program and a calorie surplus generally can help with muscle gain.

Can protein bars replace a meal?

No, protein bars can’t replace a meal. Well, they can if you’re in a rush or on a road trip. Generally, though, they shouldn’t be used as meal replacements. For one, they contain much fewer calories than a meal, and they’re not a good source of vitamins and minerals.

What should you avoid when buying protein bars?

When searching for protein bars, avoid ones that are loaded with added sugar or that have a low amount of protein but a high number of calories. We recommend at least 20 grams of protein per bar. As much as possible, try to also avoid protein bars with a lot of sugar alcohols like erythritol, especially if your stomach is sensitive to these ingredients.

References

  1. Andrade AM, Greene GW, Melanson KJ. Eating slowly led to decreases in energy intake within meals in healthy women. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108(7):1186-1191. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2008.04.026
  2. Moon J, Koh G. Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss. J Obes Metab Syndr. 2020;29(3):166-173. doi:10.7570/jomes20028
  3. Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Lemmens SG, Westerterp KR. Dietary protein – its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health. Br J Nutr. 2012;108 Suppl 2:S105-S112. doi:10.1017/S0007114512002589
  4. Mäkinen KK. Gastrointestinal Disturbances Associated with the Consumption of Sugar Alcohols with Special Consideration of Xylitol: Scientific Review and Instructions for Dentists and Other Health-Care Professionals. Int J Dent. 2016;2016:5967907. doi:10.1155/2016/5967907
  5. Ruiz-Ojeda FJ, Plaza-Díaz J, Sáez-Lara MJ, Gil A. Effects of Sweeteners on the Gut Microbiota: A Review of Experimental Studies and Clinical Trials [published correction appears in Adv Nutr. 2020 Mar 1;11(2):468]. Adv Nutr. 2019;10(suppl_1):S31-S48. doi:10.1093/advances/nmy037
  6. Lonnie M, Hooker E, Brunstrom JM, et al. Protein for Life: Review of Optimal Protein Intake, Sustainable Dietary Sources and the Effect on Appetite in Ageing AdultsNutrients. 2018;10(3):360. Published 2018 Mar 16. doi:10.3390/nu10030360

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