A review of 12 healthy protein bars. Some of the best of these bars are vegan and gluten-free. And they’re all store bought, so there’s no recipe required!
March 23, 2020…By Megan Byrd, RD – Healthy Protein Bars post contains affiliate links. See full disclosure page for details.
Protein bars are everywhere. Seriously, the protein bar people have a huge industry going.
They’re small, easy to carry around, convenient, and usually pretty good.
But the thing about protein bars is that they aren’t always healthy.
We assume they’re healthy when they stick the word “protein” on the label.
But some of them are basically candy bars with a little bit of protein.
Yeah, you heard me right. Chocolate covered, tons of sugar added, protein candy bars.
The protein bar people know that if their product isn’t sweet, people won’t eat it. They’re totally right, too.
Choosing Healthy Protein Bars
When choosing a protein bar, try to look for one that has:
- More than 10 g protein
- 5 g or more fiber
- Less than 10 g of added sugars (not to be confused with total carbohydrates)
The protein and fiber will help you stay full and balance out your blood sugar, while the lower carbohydrate content won’t make your blood sugar sky rocket between your meals.
A Note On Artificial Sweeteners
Some of these healthy protein bars are marketed to the keto community or people who are trying to watch their sugar/carb intake, so they contain artificial sweeteners. I DO NOT recommend consuming artificial sweeteners on a daily basis because of the unknown health risks. Whole, natural foods are always best.
With that being said, I did want to rank the most popular protein bars regardless of the artificial sweeteners/ingredients because they are SO POPULAR and should be mentioned.
I DO NOT think that all of these protein bars that are marketed as “healthy”, actually are. Check out my notes on each protein bar below!
The Healthy Protein Bars Review
Anyways, I went ahead and tried 12 different, super popular protein bars for you. I not only looked at ingredients and nutrition facts, I actually tasted them. And I looked at price, too. Because sometimes, that sh!t is expensive. #ballin’onabudget
I ranked these healthy protein bars from 1 to 12 based on taste, nutrition content, and price. Please take note that protein bars should be consumed as snacks, not meals or meal replacements.
Note: These are my honest opinions on these products and this post IS NOT SPONSORED. The links below are affiliate links though, so if you click and buy, I’ll get a small commission with no extra charge for you!
- Flavor: Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond
- Price: $24.97/12 pack or $2.08/bar
- Taste: Literally EXACTLY like a chocolate covered cherry. Chewy and sweet.
- Nutrition: 210 calories, 8 g fiber, 11 g protein, 8 g sugar
- Protein Source: Rice, almonds
- Features: Vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, soy-free
- Overall Impressions: Good fiber content, relatively low sugar and a tad low on protein content. If this bar had a few more grams of protein, it’d be the perfect protein bar. It’s chewy, sweet with no artificial sweeteners, and freaking delicious. I’m buying more ASAP and I can’t wait to try the other flavors!
- Flavor: Macadamia Sea Salt
- Price: $21.99/12 pack or $1.83/bar
- Taste: Super chewy, pretty bland and not sweet at all
- Nutrition: 200 calories, 9 g fiber, 14 g protein, 2 g sugar
- Protein Source: Nuts, eggs
- Features: Paleo, grain-free, gluten-free
- Overall Impressions: This bar has excellent nutritional content. It’s high in fiber, low in sugar, and has a good amount of protein. If you’re looking for a sweet protein bar though, this is not the bar for you.
- Flavor: Coconut Peanut Butter
- Price: $19.92/8 pack or $2.49/bar
- Taste: Like peanut butter, but maybe a touch more oily. Not super sweet but not bland, either.
- Nutrition: 340 calories. 4 g fiber, 16 g protein, 19 g sugar
- Protein Source: Milk/whey, egg, rice, peanut butter
- Features: Gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, can’t be out of the fridge for more than 7 days
- Overall Impressions: Pretty good, healthy protein bar, lots of organic vegetable ingredients with peanut butter as the first ingredient. This one is super high in calories and sugar though (but I’ll take natural over artificial sweeteners any day). Low in fiber, so it’s not the most perfect bar out there.
- Flavor: Peanut Butter Chip
- Price: $24.99/12 pack or $2.08/bar
- Taste: Really chewy with a slightly artificial sweetener taste. Didn’t taste very much like peanut butter, but it wasn’t bad either.
- Nutrition: 160 calories, 9 g fiber, 11 g protein, 1 g sugar
- Protein Source: Pea protein, almonds, peanuts
- Features: Non-GMO, gluten-free, kosher, dairy-free, soy-free, keto friendly, vegan
- Overall Impressions: This is a good option if you’re looking for high fiber with no sugar. I honestly wish this one didn’t have artificial sweeteners, though. This one would be ranked higher if it didn’t have those pesky artificial sweeteners.
- Flavor: Blueberry Cobbler
- Price: $22.41/12 pack or $1.86/bar
- Taste: A little dry, but definitely tastes like a blueberry dessert
- Nutrition: 220 calories, 10 g fiber, 20 g protein, 1 g sugar, 4 g sugar alcohol
- Protein Source: Whey blend
- Features: Gluten-free
- Overall Impressions: Tastes good. It’s sweet without a lot of sugar, due to the sugar alcohols. It’s high in protein and fiber, making it filling. Not much of an artificial sweetener taste, but the sugar alcohols aren’t ideal at all for health.
- Flavor: French Vanilla Creme
- Price: $16.99/12 pack or $1.42/bar
- Taste: Exactly like those wafer cookies we all ate as a kid with a good vanilla taste
- Nutrition: 200 calories, 1 g fiber, 14 g protein, 5 g sugar
- Protein Source: Whey
- Features: Low-glycemic
- Overall Impressions: Actually tastes really good, like a cookie (and the nutritional label calls it a cookie, not a bar). However, these things are MESSY. I ate one in my car and it…..got…..everywhere. So annoying. They aren’t really that filling either, probably because they are so low in fiber.
- Flavor: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
- Price: $11.56/12 pack or $.96/bar
- Taste: Like cookie dough rolled in chocolate
- Nutrition: 180 calories, 2 g fiber, 12 g protein, 14 g sugar,
- Protein Source: Soy, whey
- Features: Gluten-free, low glycemic
- Overall Impressions: Low fiber and lower protein. The second and third ingredients are cane syrup and cane sugar. Despite the label claiming it is a “low glycemic” food, this bar is mostly sugar without a lot of protein. One of the less expensive protein bars I’ve seen.
- Flavor: Birthday Cake
- Price: $7.99/4 pack or $2/bar
- Taste: Like a bland rice crispy treat. Did not taste like birthday cake at all, but didn’t taste bad either.
- Nutrition: 170 calories, 2 g fiber, 10 g protein, 8 g sugar
- Protein Source: Pea protein
- Features: Gluten-free, non-gmo, plant based
- Overall Impressions: This protein bar is not very filling because it’s very low in fiber and protein. Very pricey for what it is. Would not buy again.
- Flavor: Peanut Butter Chocolate
- Price: $18.89/12 pack or $1.57/bar
- Taste: Not very sweet and extremely chewy with a bitter aftertaste.
- Nutrition: 210 calories, 5 g fiber, 12 g protein, 14 g sugar
- Protein Source: Eggs and peanuts
- Features: Gluten-free, made with whole foods
- Overall Impressions: The reason this one is so far down the list is mainly the taste and the sugar content. Despite being made with whole foods, the dates and chocolate add a lot of sugar to this bar. It’s bitter and I just couldn’t get past the first bite. There are definitely better, healthy protein bars out there (see above).
- Flavor: Salted Caramel
- Price: $9.98/10 pack or $.99/bar
- Taste: Artificially flavored chocolate, not even a hint of salted caramel
- Nutrition: 150 calories, 5 g fiber, 10 g protein, 5 g sugar
- Protein Source: Whey, soy, almond butter
- Features: Low-glycemic, gluten-free, non-GMO
- Overall Impressions: This protein bar is pretty low in protein, but high in fiber. It’s also one of the less expensive protein bars I’ve come across. Although there aren’t any artificial sweeteners, this bar tastes really fake and is dipped in weird tasting chocolate.
- Flavor: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
- Price: $23.99/12 pack or $1.99/bar
- Taste: Pretty much exactly like cookie dough with an extremely artificial sweetener taste.
- Nutrition: 200 calories, 14 g fiber, 21 g protein, 1 g sugar, 3 g sugar alcohol
- Protein Source: Milk/whey
- Features: Gluten-free, Keto friendly
- Overall Impressions: The nutritional content of this bar is really good, if you don’t mind an extreme artificial sweetener taste. I literally couldn’t finish this bar because of how strong that taste was. I would not recommend consuming this much artificial sweetener in one sitting.
- Flavor: Vanilla Shortbread
- Price: $39.99/12 pack or $3.33/bar
- Taste: Super dry, like a dry powder compressed together in a bar shape. Really weird aftertaste. Pretty bland.
- Nutrition: 220 calories, 5 g fiber, 12 g protein, 2 g sugar
- Protein Source: Cashews, hydrolyzed collagen
- Features: gluten-free, grass-fed
- Overall Impressions: Extremely expensive for what it is. I took one bite, spit it out, and threw the rest away. Honestly, it was one of the worst things I’ve ever tasted.
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Now that you’ve read my reviews of all 12 healthy protein bars, which one are you going to try? Any favorites I missed? Shoot me a comment below!