Choosing the Best Protein & Nutrition Bars – Top 10 Brands

Best Protein Bar Brands

While exercise science and its various fields certainly are important, one of the most overlooked aspects of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the psychology and development of habits that produces success over time. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to being fit and achieving our best possible state of wellness; rather the best solution is to be consistent over time, and just as importantly to have habits set up for us to succeed.

No matter how fit a person may be, when temptation and hunger strike, if the only options are bad ones, they will likely give in at some point and splurge on a candy bar or some other vice. Over time, this can lead to long term issues and detract from our goals of high performance.

Thus, in order to combat decision fatigue and our limited will power, we must have healthy options available for energy boosts and hunger abatement, and that is where having a great protein bar option is crucial. protein bars vary widely in their true efficacy and use, but a quality protein bar can provide protein, carbs and fats and help us to fight off cravings or resist the urge to impulse buy in a pinch.

Psychologists have found that we as humans have limited cognition; in other words, our brains have a limited amount of willpower, and no matter who the person is, when we have to make decisions, especially in an impaired state, such as when we are hungry and pressed for time, we tend to opt for poor choices.

For example, if you haven’t eaten all day, have to run to a meeting or appointment but know you need some sort of energy boost, if candy bars are the only thing available you will probably opt for a candy bar. We can prevent these types of situations by investing in protein bars and having them prepared so that when we need quality nutrition quickly, we have it ready.

In this guide, we’ll break down exactly what makes a good protein bar, what to look for and the best products on the market today.

What Are Protein bars?

Protein bars are almost exactly what they sound like, they are bars that offer nutrients in varying forms and amounts. However, this can vary widely, and many so-called nutrition or protein bars are in fact much closer to traditional candy bars than sources of actual quality nutrition. protein bars are portable snacks that ideally deliver protein, carbs, and potentially other nutrients with minimal sugar, cholesterols, and artificial ingredients.

Common Ingredients in a Protein Bar

The most common ingredient in protein bars will generally be protein. More importantly in many cases, is the type of protein and the source it comes from. Protein powders take many forms depending on the initial source. The most common form is whey protein, which originates from dairy products, thus those with lactose intolerance have to audible to other options.

While whey is the most popularly used form, there are many other options such as casein, vegan, soy, and more. Whey is without a doubt the most popular and used option on the market. Whey can be further classified based on its source and manufacturing as well. For example, just as many users prefer beef that has been grass fed or has not had any synthetic hormones injected over time, whey protein comes from the same source and many whey products will specify whether the source of the whey was grass-fed or hormone free.

Most protein bars will tend to also include a wide variety of healthy ingredients, which can range from vitamins and minerals, raw and organic food sources, nuts and seeds and more. The list is likely too exhaustive to list in its entirety in one paragraph, however some of the key items to look for will be how much sugar a bar contains, whether it uses artificial flavoring and preservatives and if so how much, the macronutrient breakdown (Protein, Carbs, Fats) and what other ingredients are included such as vitamins and minerals. Depending on your preferences and what you are specifically looking for in a protein bar will determine which of these factors is most important for you.

Precautions and Side Effects

Side effects from protein bars are generally non-existent or at worst mild as long the recommended dosage is followed. That is a critical component of using protein bar supplements effectively, however, as the recommended dosage is what should be consumed and over-reaching for more can have side effects.

Side effects from protein bars, especially those with an excess of protein, may include bloating, digestive issues or overly dark urine, indicating a surplus of protein in the body. Most of these side effects tend to occur only when the recommended dosage has not been followed, thus the reason the recommended dosage is crucial.

In addition, if you have any particular food allergies or issues such as lactose intolerance, this will affect which protein bars make the best choice; if you have these issues or are not sure then consulting a medical professional is advised. Overall, protein bar supplements are generally considered safe and effective as long as the recommended guidelines and dosages are followed. If you are not sure if they are safe for you consult your medical professional.

How to Pick a Good Protein Bar

When choosing a protein bar supplement there are a variety of factors to take into account. Your personal preferences will play a major part in finding the right selection for you, for example if you prefer a bar with lots of protein to help build mass or something lighter that gives you more energy without the extra bulk.

Some protein bars will skew towards a specific demographic or training goal, such as gaining mass or putting on lean muscle; your personal goals will need to align with the stated purpose of the product in order to see the best results.

Flavor is of course important and not all protein bars are particularly tasty, you’ll want to search for an option with a flavor you generally like to make the supplement more palatable and easier to use.

Finally, price and budget are a factor as well. When cross-referenced with your other needs, the best option will need to fit into your budget, and while you generally may get what you pay for, there are some very effective protein bars that won’t break the bank.

Top 10 Nutrition & Protein Bars

We have put together a list of our top 10 recommended protein bar supplements. Each one has a short breakdown of its highlights, primary ingredients and usages, as well as a brief profile for the company who makes the product.

Check out all 10 and look for the best option that not only comes highly recommended but fits your individual needs and desires for a protein bar. We hope you enjoy and find the best product for you!


1. RX Bars

Rx Bar

The signature sign for RX Bars is their labels, they print all the ingredients in large font on the front of every bar, so you know exactly what you’re getting in each one (and what you’re not getting as well). They use a simple list of products with excellent ingredients, making them one of the best options on the market.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 6 almonds
  • 4 cashews
  • 2 dates
  • 12 grams of protein
  • No added sugar, dairy, soy or gluten.

Company Profile:

RX Bars was created by two young entrepreneurs who wanted to create a simple and effective protein bar that wasn’t filled with sugar and preservatives, but rather simple and whole ingredients for quality energy and nutrition. They have a no-frills approach and aim to prove effective and simple nutrition.

Why We Recommend It:

RX Bars are refreshingly transparent and have a great sample of ingredients. Just as importantly, they do not add any sugar or other common additives that decrease the nutritional integrity of many protein bars. Their simple and effective ingredients plus their transparency make them one of the best protein bar options out there.

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2. Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars

Bulletproof Bar

Bulletproof Bars come from one of the newest and most innovative nutrition companies on the market. While Bulletproof is most well known for their innovative coffee products, they have created unique protein bars, based on collagen protein from grass-fed cows, making them an excellent source of key amino acids.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • Made with collagen protein from grass-fed cows only
  • Excellent source of amino acids for recovery and joint health
  • Includes some of their well-known good fats for improved function.
  • Gluten free, non-GMO, and dairy and soy free
  • Also includes organic cashew butter, chicory root fiber, and organic coconut oil.

Company Profile:

Bulletproof is one of the most recent nutrition companies and has seen their popularity grow immensely in recent years, due in large part to a strong Crossfit following. They are best known for their Bulletproof coffee products but have a large variety of products designed to help customers achieve their optimal performance.

Why We Recommend It:

These bars are one of the best sources of high-quality protein and amino acids in the protein bar category. In addition, with no added sugar or other fillers, they provide clean protein and energy without the extra junk and with minimal sugar. They are ideal for fitness enthusiasts and athletes in need of extra amino acids.

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3. Perfect Bar

Perfect Bar

Perfect Bars are excellent protein bar products, though their hubris billing themselves as the perfect bar may be a bit much. That being said, one of the most unique characteristics of these bars is that they are refrigerated, thus removing the need for any preservatives. They offer complex carbs and proteins with no additional fillers or junk, for an excellent protein bar choice.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • Refrigerated, thus eliminating the need for harmful preservatives.
  • Uses organic honey for sweetener and complex carb content
  • Includes a healthy dose of protein
  • Also has traces of up to 20 nutrient-dense whole foods such as kale and spinach mixed in.
  • Non-GMO, gluten free, and kosher.

Company Profile:

Perfect Bars are created from nutrition icon and health figure Bud Keith and his family. Based out of San Diego, they take pride in creating bars that need zero preservatives due to their refrigerated nature.

Why We Recommend It:

Perfect Bars are a unique product offering, and while perhaps not completely perfect, they are an excellent protein bar option that guarantees no preservatives by maintaining their bars in the refrigerated section, thus eliminating the need for traditional preservative options. In addition, with a great blend of complex carbs, protein and vitamin-rich foods, they are one of the best options on the market.

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4. Thunderbird Bars

Thunderbird Bar

Thunderbird Bars are one of the newest brands and companies in the protein bar field. Started by athletes in Austin, Texas, they produce bars with fruits, nuts, seeds and spices and without any of the extra sugars, preservatives or other junk that tends to accompany other protein bar products.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • All of their bars feature fruits, nuts, seeds, and spices only.
  • Example flavors include hazelnut, coffee and maca; or pecans, goji and pistachios.
  • Zero added sugar
  • Vegan, paleo, gluten-free, dairy, grain and soy free, non-GMO.
  • Still a new company, bars can be hard to find in traditional retail stores
  • Fairly expensive

Company Profile:

Thunderbird was created in Austin, Texas by endurance athletes. They wanted to create products that tasted great and were fresh without compromising the efficacy of the products. While they are a very new brand to the protein bar field, they have a strong rapport with their customers and excellent products.

Why We Recommend It:

Thunderbird Bars are some of the purest options on the market, with a very simple formula and no added junk. They make a great option for endurance athletes, or for energy on the go without being bogged down by unnecessary protein powders, sugars and artificial fillers. They are expensive and a bit hard to find but are certainly of a very high quality.

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5. GoMacro Bar

Gomacro Bar

GoMacro’s Macrobars are vegan protein bars made from simple and clean ingredients. They originated from a farm and the all-natural ingredients found there as compared to more sugar filled alternatives. All of their products are organic and fair trade, making their products effective and trustworthy.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • Bars average 11 grams of protein
  • Gluten free, dairy free, vegan, non-GMO, organic, kosher and soy-free
  • Sample flavors include peanut butter chocolate chip, blueberry and cashew butter, dark chocolate and almonds, and more.
  • Family owned and operated

Company Profile:

GoMacro was originally started in 2004 by a mother and daughter, who originally fought a cancer diagnosis through a plant-based diet to return to full health. They then started their company based on those same principles, and now are one of the fastest growing protein bar products on the market.

Why We Recommend It:

GoMacro bars are an excellent choice for those looking for a pure and trustworthy vegan or vegetarian option. They offer a good source of protein and key nutrients without any harmful additives or added sugars, making them an ideal option for a healthy lifestyle.

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6. Health Warrior Chia Bar

Healthwarrior Bar

Health Warrior Chia Bars are one of the best options available for a quick and low-calorie snack option. They are filled with chia seeds and have an impressive amount Omega-3’s for fighting inflammation. With added fiber and protein, they are one of the best quick low-calorie snacks you can find.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 100 calories per bar
  • 1,100mg Omega-3’s
  • 4g of fiber
  • 4g of sugar
  • 3g of protein
  • Made primarily from chia seeds
  • Gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO
  • Comes in flavors like acai berry and cinnamon.

Company Profile:

Health Warrior was founded in 2010 by three former collegiate athletes. They consider themselves a superfood company and have been on a mission since they ended their athletic careers to create excellent products with superfoods as their key ingredient, namely, chia seeds.

Why We Recommend It:

Health Warrior Chia Bars are arguably the best low-calorie option on the market. They deliver a great source of energy and quick nutrition by delivering a large amount of chia seeds in each bar. While the sugar content is somewhat as compared to other ingredients, the high amount of Omega-3’s balances it out, making it a great all-around snack.

7. Jimmybar

Jimmybar

Jimmybars are excellent protein bars that deliver a lot of energy and nutrition in a quick and convenient bar. One bar offers 18 grams of protein and 270 calories, making it suitable for a snack or meal replacement option in a pinch. In addition, they are one of the best tasting options on the market, though they do have more sugars and artificial ingredients than some of their competitors.

Product Highlights and Ingredients

  • 18g of protein
  • 270 calories
  • One of the best tasting options on the market
  • Can be taken as a meal replacement or a snack
  • Various bars may contain peanuts, dairy and soy.
  • Uses some artificial sweeteners and preservatives

Company Profile:

Jimmybar was founded in 2013, with a goal of creating a simpler and more effective alternative to the conventional protein bars. Since their inception, they have branched out to producing products across the globe and continue to create clean and effective protein bars and products.

Why We Recommend It:

Jimmybars taste great, and offer one of the most potent amounts of nutrition in a single bar out there with 270 calories per. They are less pure than some competitors as they have some artificial flavoring, dairy, soy and others, but overall are an excellent product and a great choice for a big snack or meal replacement bar.

8. Square Organics Bar

Square2

Square Organics bars are one of the best protein bars on the market for easy digestion and absorption with minimal bloating. They use plant protein, making them unique among most protein bar companies, and deliver a clean product without added sugars.

Product Highlights and Ingredients

  • 11-13 of sprouted plant protein in each bar
  • 2-5g medium chain triglycerides for healthy fats
  • Sweetened with coconut nectar
  • Gluten, dairy and soy free
  • No added sugars
  • Coated with chocolate for extra taste

Company Profile:

Square Organics was born from the experience of one of their founders, Sarah; who was able to get her asthma under control by eating an anti-inflammatory diet. From that point on, the company has focused on creating great tasting products that deliver a nutritional boost without the extra junk.

Why We Recommend It:

Square Organics bars are unique in that they use plant protein as opposed to the traditional whey protein sources. They are coated with chocolate, making them one of the tastiest options available, and though they may lack some of the overall mass of other bars, they make up for it with a clean, effective and great tasting bar.

9. Oatmega Bar

Oatmega

Oatmega bars are one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids in nutritional bar form available. They deliver a high amount of Omega-3’s along with grass fed whey protein, making them one of the most potent bars on the market, while simultaneously keeping the sugars and carbs low.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • Great source of Omega-3’s
  • 14 grams of grass-fed whey protein
  • Low carb and low sugar option
  • 200 calories per bar
  • Also includes chicory root fiber, oats, raisins, and more.
  • Does contain dairy, nuts and soy

Company Profile:

Oatmega is a specialty company that manufactures products like nutritional bars specifically with a goal of creating products with more oats and Omega-3’s, thus the name. They have several products such as bars and cookies in a variety of flavors.

Why We Recommend It:

Oatmega bars are a unique offering in the protein bar market due to their high content of Omega-3’s. If you are looking primarily for an option high in proteins and healthy fats but not in carbs, for example those on a low-carb diet, this is a great option.

10. Go Raw Sprouted Bar

Go Raw

Sprouted bars from Go Raw are nutritional bars who derive most of their nutritional value from sprouts rather than traditional powders or other forms. They are organic and all-natural, and while they do not pack the same amount of nutrients as traditional protein bars, they are a great all-natural snack on the go.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • Primary ingredients come from sprouts and seeds
  • Average bar has 3g of protein and 190 calories
  • Uses a very simple ingredient list, no artificial fillers or preservatives
  • Certified non-GMO and organic
  • Comes in 4 flavors

Company Profile:

Go Raw is a new product line on the nutritional supplement market. Their company mission and philosophy is summed up in their tag-line “junk-free food”. They produce quality products with all-natural and organic ingredients.

Why We Recommend It:

These are great bars for vegans, vegetarians and those looking for an all-natural and organic bar variation. They do not hold much protein or calories; thus, they are not ideal for serious athletes or those looking for meal replacements or to build mass. That being said, they are an excellent and very healthy nutritional bar option.

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Carl Putman

Written by Carl Putman

Carl Putman is a strength and conditioning coach at the collegiate level and writer on fitness, health and supplements. Over the past decade, he has worked with a wide variety of clients ranging from professional athletes and world champions to youth and general population, as well as tactical practitioners. He is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership. Based in Florida, he continues to train and coach as well as write with a passion for making a positive impact for his clients and readers.