For years, we’ve been tempted by a quick go-to lunch. Through a lot of taste testing and label reading, we’ve found the best protein bars for women. If you’re looking for a store-bought protein bar, we have the best bars listed and also examine the brands to skip!
While eating whole, unprocessed foods or grabbing a Shakeology is ideal, we know grabbing a pre-packaged protein bar is sometimes the only thing we can do to keep us from the drive-through. Below are our favorite bars and what we avoid; the post does contain affiliate links to Amazon.
How to Find the Best Protein Bars
- Avoid high fructose corn syrup
- Simple ingredients – Lara, Kind and RX bars all have real ingredients. Look for things you can pronounce!
- Skip added sugars – Ideally, the best protein bars will have under 8 grams of sugar with the exception of Larabars which have a lot of fruit in them.
- Check the calories too – Aim for 150-250 calories
- Look for Protein & Fiber – Each bar should have at least 7 grams protein and 3 grams of fiber.
- No hydrogenated oils
Below we’ll outline a few of our favorites and also a recipe for a healthy protein bar! A lot of the time we’ll go ahead and make us a big batch of homemade bars, and then we can freeze whatever we won’t eat in a week.
Our Best Protein Bars Review
- Kind Bars – Kind Bars are sweet, chewy and even kid-friendly because they are full of healthy ingredients and taste like a treat.
We love any of them with chocolate, and you can get 12 bars for $15.22 on Amazon. I love the variety pack so you’re not just stuck with one flavor.
- Lara Bars – We fell in love with Lara Bars during our Whole 30 experience. They are actually on the plan because of their clean ingredients, and man they are tasty and convenient!My favorite is the Cashew Cookie. They are super soft bars and pretty sweet because of the dates they use in a lot of recipes. You can get just the Cashew Cookie on Amazon or a variety pack. My husband will also eat these like candy on a road trip lol!
- RX Bars – These are the newest bars we’ve tried. We saw them online and then popping up at Whole Foods. The Chocolate Sea Salt was pretty chewy and dry. So while the ingredients are awesome, I will say that the texture and taste fall below a Kind or Lara Bar at least for us.
The blueberry is pretty good though! The really cool thing about this bars are they also contain no gluten, soy, GMOs, or added sugars. So they also past the real ingredient taste just like the Kind and Lara bars do! You can get a variety pack to see what you like best on Amazon.
- Quest Bars – Quest Bars became super popular on Instagram a few years ago, and they are still a staple for us. They aren’t as whole-foods based as we’d like, but their flavor is awesome.They contain erythritol and sometimes sucralose (artificial sweeteners) which kinda stinks, but they are a nice protein-rich treat after a hard workout or on-the-go.
Our Favorite is the Cookie Dough! It has 14 grams of fiber 21 grams of protein and 20 grams of carbs. Since it’s artificial sweeteners the sugar listed is 0 grams. A box of 12 is available on Amazon for a great price (cheaper than the grocery here).
- Luna Bars – Luna bars barely made the list, but dang they taste pretty good. Like Quest bars, their ingredient list is a little off-putting. It’s longer ingredients and some processed stuff. However, the calories and ratio of sugar to protein and fiber is still good.Nuts Over Chocolate and Cookie Dough are our favorites. They aren’t the best nutritionally, but if you’re not eating them every day they are an okay choice.
Healthy Protein Bars Recipe
If you want, you can also make your own bars in bulk, and then freeze what you don’t eat within a week. We do this a lot because we know exactly what we’ll be eating plus it’s usually cheaper.
I also can get pretty bloated if I’m just eating bars all the time so we maybe do a bar 1-2 times a week max and then mix in Shakeology on the other days.
A few of our favorite protein bar recipes are:
- Oh She Glow’s Soft & Chewy Bars (We love her vegan cookbook too – get the review here)
- All in the Balance’s Gluten Free Bars
- Sweet Potato Bars
We also get asked, “What are the Best Protein Bars for Weight Loss?”
Really weight loss is going to come down to making sure you’re eating the right amount of calories. Of course, your skin, gut, and energy levels will thank you if you’re eating whole, nutrition-dense foods for those calories. So there really isn’t the best protein bar for weight loss, but if you’re eating a healthy diet and staying active you’ll see the weight come off.
We’d love to help you get to your weight loss goals with our 21 Day Challenge. We’ve helped people lose that last 5lbs and get shredded and also people wanting to lose 50-80lbs! Click here to learn more about us or our 21 Day Challenge.
Protein Bar Brands to Avoid
I was at a protein bar high in college. Within just a couple of months of eating 1 to 2 a day (yikes, I know!) I was suffering extreme IBS-C, and I looked 3-months pregnant almost every night. It was awful! Then the doctor put me on medicine to help with constipation without looking at my diet. It was a mess!
While we will always encourage whole foods or something like Shakeology, bars are sometimes the best choice in a scarce situation. These 3 brands should be avoided because of their lack of nutrition and added sugars.
- Fiber One – These things taste AMAZING! And they really should because they have 3-4 added sugars. Plus they are highly processed and contain low-nutrition ingredients.
- Cliff Bars – They are just really high in processing and sugar. The Blueberry crisp alone has 21 grams of sugar in it!
- Odwalla Bars – These also bloated me like crazy because of the processing they go through. In the Banana Nut “Nourishing” bar, the first ingredient is sugar! Isn’t that crazy? I would have been better grabbing a Snickers bar.
As I mentioned bars shouldn’t be a go-to every day or for multiple meals.
You can check out our Nutrition page for a TON of healthy, real-life meal plans and guides.