Need a protein-rich snack post-workout? Look no further: here are the best protein bars you’ll find on the market
Protein, protein, protein: it’s everywhere. Gone are the days when it was only hardened gym-goers who you saw tucking into the stuff – nowadays, protein is available in both solid and liquid form on supermarket shelves. If your muscles are in need of replenishment after a workout, the best protein bars are a quick, easy way of stocking up on that much-needed macronutrient.
But you should look beyond any shiny packaging, as there are many protein bars out there that aren’t actually all that good for you. Lots of bars contain just as much sugar as protein, for instance – an ingredient that can easily add inches to your waistband rather than your muscles.
Luckily, we’ve put together this guide to finding the right protein bar, which includes a list of the best bars out there right now.
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Best protein bar: At a glance
|Barebells Protein Bar (~From £22)
|Check price at Amazon
|Best for variety
|Grenade Protein Bar Selection Box (~£20)
|Check price at Grenade
|Furocity Power Protein Bar (~From £21)
|Check price at Amazon
|Barebells Vegan Protein Bar (~From £22)
|Check price at Amazon
|Foodspring Protein Bar (~£26)
|Check price at Food Spring
How to choose the best protein bar for you
What should I look out for on the ingredients list?
Obviously, the main type of ingredient you’re interested in is protein, but you need to be on your guard for less healthy ingredients that might be hidden in the bar too. In particular, it’s a good idea to look for what’s known as “macronutrient composition” – the proportion of carbs, proteins and fats.
Most protein bars contain somewhere between 15g and 25g of protein and it’s important to know how much protein you’re getting per calorie. The majority of good bars contain about 200 calories for 15g of protein to around 250 calories for 25g of protein. Keep an eye out for fibre levels, too, since this roughage is something lots of people don’t get enough of in their diets. Five grams and above is a good amount.
What ingredients should be avoided?
If you’re working out, a certain amount of calories shouldn’t be a worry since you’ll quickly burn them off. (If you’re on a committed weight-loss fitness programme, though, you might be best off avoiding bars in favour of natural protein-rich foods such as eggs, nuts and lean meats.)
However, the important thing to watch out for is an abundance of carbs, since that means you’re looking at an energy bar, not a protein bar. These are great to snack on ahead of a workout session, or during endurance activities such as biking or hiking, but they won’t necessarily help you with exercise recovery and building muscle mass. Then there’s that old troublemaker: sugar. This is never a good thing and you’ll generally find more of it in cheaper bars.
What difference does the type of protein make?
You’ll find many different types of protein in the average protein bar. But you needn’t worry as much about the particulars as you would with protein powders because the rate of absorption is far slower in solid form and when paired with dietary fats and fibres.
How much should I spend on a protein bar?
The price of protein bars varies wildly and things can get costly if you’re eating them regularly. Avoid bars down at the very bottom of the price spectrum: not only do they taste pretty ghastly, but they’re made with poorer ingredients too. You won’t find any of these in our roundup below.
Of course, everyone has different amounts of cash to spend, but if you’re incorporating protein bars into your diet on a daily basis or several times a week, it’s a good idea to plan in terms of the long-term costs. Buying in bulk online, rather than one-off purchases from the vending machine at the gym will help significantly when it comes to getting value for money.
What else should you look out for in a protein bar?
Unfortunately, the final thing you ought to think about isn’t something you can determine from the label and that’s how tough they are on your teeth. Seriously, the sheer chewing involved with some protein bars amounts to a workout in itself.
Also, in lots of protein bars you’ll find that makers swap out natural sugars for sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and xylitol as they bring down the calorie count. These substances can cause an upset stomach for lots of people, so take a look at the ingredients list if your gut is particularly sensitive.
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The best protein bars to buy in 2024
1. Barebells Protein Bar: The best-tasting protein bar
Price when reviewed: From £22 for (12 pack) | Check price at Amazon
Barebells’ protein bars taste as good as they look, and given the eye-catching retro style of the packaging, that’s a big plus in our book. The range contains eight tasty flavours, with crunchy fudge and white chocolate almond being the standouts for us. That range also includes two delicious vegan options: salty peanut and hazelnut nougat.
That great taste would be for nought if Barebells hadn’t also nailed the texture of the bars as well, with each being just the right level of gooey to satisfy without straying into the annoyingly chewy category that many protein bars fall into.
The key stats are as impressive as the taste and texture too, with 20g of protein per 55g bar (15g protein in the vegan bars). The sugar content is low at 1.9g per bar, and each contains around 200 calories. As a bonus, you also get a solid amount of fibre, with some flavours containing over 4g per bar.
Key specs – Weight: 55g; Protein per bar: 20g; Flavours: 8
2. Grenade Protein Bars: Best for variety
Price when reviewed: £20 | Check price at Grenade
The Grenade Protein Bar Selection Box is a brilliant choice for those looking to shake things up. Filled with 12 individual flavours, including birthday cake, salted caramel, lemon cheesecake, dark chocolate mint and Oreo, you’re guaranteed to find something you like. The flavours are true to their description and unlike some protein bars that can become somewhat overbearing or chewy, the density is just right.
Naturally, the nutritional values differ between flavours. However, each tasty bar contains between 20 to 21g of protein, 1 to 2g of sugar, 200 to 250 calories and 18 to 20g of carbohydrates per 60g serving, making them ideal for pre and post-workout or just a midday snack. With a superb choice of flavours, low in sugar and high in protein, the Grenade Selection Box proves excellent value for money.
Key specs – Weight: 60g; Protein per bar: 20-21g; Flavours: 12
3. SCI-MX Ultra Mass Protein Bar: The best mass gainer protein bar
Price when reviewed: £30 (12 pack) | Check price at Amazon
Looking for a protein bar to help you gain mass but still satisfy your tastebuds? Then the SCI-MX Ultra Mass Protein has got you covered: each serving provides 25g of protein, 45g of carbohydrate, and 375 calories, plus it tastes delicious.
The Ultra Mass Protein Bar really hits that chocolate and caramel flavour and is topped off with a nice peanut crunch for a bit of texture. It’s also an excellent source of energy, which makes it the ideal snack for those looking to meet their calorie count while engaging in high-energy workouts or intense physical activity.
Key specs – Weight: 100g; Protein per bar: 25g; Flavours: Chocolate caramel peanut
4. Foodspring Extra Chocolate Protein Bar: The best low-calorie protein bar
Price when reviewed: £26 (12 pack) | Check price at foodspring
The Foodspring Extra Chocolate Protein Bar is a sweet treat that you won’t have to feel guilty about. Each 45g serving contains 13g of protein, 4.5g of fibre and only 157 calories, making it the ideal snack for those looking to up their protein intake while still keeping the calorie count down.
It’s also incredibly tasty – topped with crispies and nuts and covered in sweet caramel and chocolate, it’s the perfect mix of flavour and crunch – and, with 15g of carbohydrates, it can be a helpful boost of energy at any time of the day.
Key specs – Weight: 45g; Protein per bar: 13g; Flavours: Soft Caramel, Crispy Coconut, White Chocolate Almond, Crunchy Peanut, Double Chocolate
5. Furocity by Tyson Fury Power Protein: Best value protein bar
Price when reviewed: From £21 (15 pack) | Check price at Amazon
We tried the caramel flavour and were impressed by how close it was to tasting like an ordinary chocolate bar, even though each serving contains only 1.9g of sugar – which is incredibly low when you bear in mind that a standard Mars bar has a whopping 31g. At roughly £1.77 per bar, the Furocity Power Protein proves itself to be a tasty, high-protein, low-sugar option that’s excellent value for money.
Key specs – Weight: 60g; Protein per bar: 20.3g; Flavours: Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Caramel
6. Optimum Nutrition Protein Crisp Bar: The best low-sugar protein bar
Price when reviewed: From £21 (10 pack) | Check price at Amazon
These bars are almost unbelievably sweet and satisfying considering that there is a measly 1.8g of sugar in each 65g serving, and they do a great job of bringing to mind the Rice Krispies snacks that were a highlight of many childhoods. That nostalgia hit is achieved by Optimum Nutrition putting a layer of puffs on top of a chocolate base, and the combination of textures is a surefire winner.
The nutritional stats make for happy reading as well. Each bar has 20g of protein and just 215 calories. Another huge bonus is the massive 13g of fibre – that’s almost half of your recommended daily intake of 30g. Do be aware, however, that the lack of sugar is compensated for by a load of artificial sweeteners, which can cause stomach upset.
Key specs – Weight: 65g; Protein per bar: 20g; Flavours: Chocolate brownie, marshmallow, peanut butter
7. Kind Protein Bar: The best treat protein bar
Price when reviewed: From £17 (12 pack) | Check price at Amazon
The Kind Protein Bar definitely shouldn’t be your first choice if you really want to pack the protein in because there’s only 12g of it in each one. But the flip side is just how good it tastes. That’s what happens when you make a snack bar out of peanuts, almonds and dark chocolate – a fantastic respite to the often indistinct and synthesised gloop inside lots of protein bars. Also, what these bars lack in protein they make up for in fibre, with 4.9g in each one. Snack on these ones if you fancy a well-deserved treat after a workout.
Key specs – Weight: 50g; Protein per bar: 12g; Flavours: Crunchy peanut butter, double dark chocolate, toasted caramel nut
8. Barebells Vegan Protein Bar: The best vegan protein bar
Price when reviewed: From £22 (12 pack) | Check price at Amazon
Forget the cardboard-like consistency of other vegan protein bars, Barebells’ Vegan Salty Peanut variety provides something different: a delicate chew on a delicious, Snickers-esque bar that’ll have you devouring each in seconds.
You won’t find the high sugar content of a Snickers though, nor the dairy content, since it is kept to just 0.9g per serving – with a promise of ‘no added sugar’ beyond the naturally occurring bits – which is pretty impressive. Especially considering you get 15g of protein (soy, pea and rice) too; not the best numbers, but certainly top tier in the vegan world. Like sugar, calories are also kept to a minimum at an excellent 215 while still providing a sizable 6.3g of fibre for that all important roughage.
There’s 1g more of fat and 0.1g more of sugar in the equally tasty Vegan Hazelnut Nougat flavour, though we’d recommend sticking with Salty Peanut if you’re after the ultimate vegan bar experience.
Key specs – Weight: 55g; Protein per bar: 15g; Flavours: Salty Peanut, Hazelnut Nougat
9. The Protein Ball Co. Protein Balls: The best protein nibbles
Price when reviewed: £18 | Check price at Amazon
Looking for a little protein nibble for when you’re out and about? The Protein Ball Co.’s protein balls contain 10g of protein and anywhere from 15 to 20g of carbohydrates, 2.1 to 4.1g of fibre, and 170 to 190 calories, depending on the flavour, making them an ideal snack for a burst of energy and quick intake of protein.
We tested the mixed pack and were impressed with the variety of flavours on offer, and, although they were not the most distinct, they were pretty close to the description. With a healthy mix of nutrients, while still low in calories, they’re a brilliant on-the-go option for work, hiking, golf, days out, or even an after-lunch graze.
Key specs – Weight: 45g; Protein per serving: 10g; Flavours: Plant Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter, Raspberry Brownie, Lemon & Pistachio, Goji & Coconut Protein, Blueberry Oat Muffin, Coffee Oat Muffin, Cacao & Orange, Coconut & Macadamia, Cherry Bakewell
10. SCI-MX Protein Flapjack: The best protein flapjack
Price when reviewed: £15 (12 pack) | Check price at Amazon
The SCI-MX Flapjack is a tasty protein snack that’s perfect for curbing cravings at any time of the day. Each bar contains 12g of protein, 337 calories, 37g of carbohydrates, and 6.9g of fibre to give you a healthy boost whenever you need it.
As part of our testing, we tried the chocolate flapjack – the flavour was subtle but distinct, and certainly tasty enough to make it an enjoyable protein treat for either before or after workouts. And, since the bar is also high in fibre, which helps to increase perceived satiety – the feeling of fullness – it leaves you feeling satisfied and well-nourished.
Key specs – Weight: 80g; Protein per bar: 12g; Flavours: Chocolate, Mixed Berry