Are protein bars healthy for you? Which ones are the best? We get asked these questions all the time in our office. When it comes to protein bars, it’s important to understand that not all bars are equal in terms of nutrients and calories. For example, some have equivalent calories to that of a small meal, some have the same amount of sugar and fat as a chocolate bar, some are a great source of fibre, some aren’t. Unfortunately, there is no magical protein bar and the answer depends on what your nutrition goals are and what the rest of your eating pattern looks like.
When choosing a protein bar, you’ll want to compare the size (grams), calories, fats, protein and carbs, and the carb breakdown- fibre, sugar (and the source of sugar, look on the ingredient list!), keeping in mind the other foods you usually eat in a day. For example, if you don’t have any protein at lunch- go for a bar with 20-30g of protein, if you struggle to get in enough fibre- go for a high fibre option, if you have a sweet tooth and get plenty of added sugars from other foods in your diet- go for a low sugar option, or if you get plenty of protein at your meals and other snacks, you likely don’t need a bar that supplies 20+ g of protein.
Overall, I would always recommend trying to get protein through whole foods first or try making your own protein bars, so you’re in control of the ingredients- stay tuned for one of our recipes! However, they are quick, convenient and can be taken anywhere to help in those “emergency-type” situations where you know you might go longer than 4 hours without eating.
Here is a list of selected popular protein bars and their key nutrients. Compare them yourself and decide what option is best for you and of course you’ll want to consider the taste in your decision as well!
Chewy Chocolate Chip (78g)
310 cals, 8 g fat, 28g carb, 3g fibre, 5g sugar, 8g sugar alcohols, 31g protein
Chewy Chocolate Chip (50g)
200 cals, 5g fat, 18g carb, 2g fibre, 3g sugar, 5g sugar alcohol, 20g protein
Peanut Butter Chocolate (40g) – soy protein based
150 cals, 5g fat, 16g carb, 7g fibre, 1g sugar, 15g protein
Chocolate mint – whey protein based
150 cals, 4g fat, 16g carb, 5g fibre, 3g sugar, 15g protein
Cliff Builder’s protein
270 cals, 8g fat, 29g carb, 2g fibre, 21g sugar, 20g protein
Kirkland protein bars
Chocolate brownie (60g)
190 cals, 7g fat, 23g carb, 15g fibre, 1g sugar, 21g protein
Peanut butter and smooth caramel crisp (43g)
140 cals, 4.5g fat, 18g carb, 2g fibre, 3g sugar, 3g sugar alcohol, 15g protein
Special K protein bars
Double chocolate (45g)
170 cals, 5g fat, 24g carb, 5g fibre, 15g sugar, 10g protein
Chewy bars- Peanut (40g)
170 cals, 8g fat, 17g carb, 8g fibre, 8g sugar, 11g protein
Nature Valley protein
Peanut almond and dark chocolate (37g)
180 cals, 11g fat, 12g carb, 2g fibre, 8g sugar, 11g protein