5 of the Best Store-Bought Protein Bars

protein bars

Protein bars | iStock.com

Most people already have their favorites. You may be a Clif Bar devotee or prefer the taste of a Balance Bar, but no matter your preference, it’s important to note that not all bars are created equal. Some are packed with sugar, others are low in fiber, or high in fat. Choosing the perfect protein bar comes down to what you’re looking for. If you’re trying to amp up your protein you’ll choose a different bar than if you’re trying to cut back on sugar. Then there’s the issue of taste, texture, and cost.

No matter what you’re looking for, the Cheat Sheet’s guide to protein bars will help you narrow down the options to discover the appropriate bar for different needs and occasions. All you have to do is pick your bar, throw it in your gym bag or briefcase, and go!

For a meal replacement

protein bar

Meal replacement protein bar | Met-RX

Don’t have time to make breakfast? Have to stay late at work unexpectedly? The Met-RX Big 100 Colossal Bar is as giant as it sounds. At 100 grams in weight, this protein bar gives you similar calories to a smallish meal at about 400 calories. Unlike many protein bars in its class, this one doesn’t have a chalky aftertaste and comes in a great variety of flavors including Peanut Butter Cookie Dough.

Go sugar free

If you’re trying to cut back on sugar, opt for HealthSmart’s Chocolite High Protein Bars. One bar offers 9 grams of protein from whey and soy. According to HealthSmart Foods, each bar contains between 95 and 100 calories, 3 to 4 grams of fat, and 9 to 10 grams of fiber. In addition, they are free of sugar and gluten and only have 3 grams of net carbs. [Update, 1/21: This section originally featured Optimal Protein Diet Bars, which have been discontinued.]

Killer protein

Quest Bar

Quest Bars | The Vitamin Shoppe

If you’re working to build muscle, you’ll need a bar that can give you the high levels of protein you need. The Quest Bar offers 20 to 21 grams of protein, between 2 and 7 active carbs, plenty of fiber, and has no added sugar. With plenty of flavors to choose from, you can also pick bars that are sweetened by stevia, a natural sweetener. The main ingredient in these muscle building bars is whey protein isolate.

Real ingredients

How refreshing to have a protein bar whose ingredients you can actually pronounce. The Kind bar tops the list for being packed with whole foods like nuts, dried fruit, and seeds. In addition, these bars don’t have hundreds of ingredients listed in small print. Many have as little as ten ingredients, most of which are familiar. There are several varieties of Kind bars but the Nut Delight flavor wins for its simple composition of nuts, fiber, and seeds. This bar packs in 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of sugar into its 210 calories.

For an athlete

Clif Bar

Clif Bar | Clif Bar

If you’re planning a long road bike excursion or a multi-day hike, the Clif Bar should be your go-to choice. Clif Bars are made with natural, organic ingredients including real fruit, oats, and nuts. They contain between 200 and 300 calories, around 5 grams of fiber, and about 10 grams of protein. The bars also contain quite a bit of sugar and carbohydrates, which is what makes this bar perfect for use during or after strenuous exercise, not for an afternoon snack at the office.