Whether you’re fueling up for a workout, breakfast-ing on the go, or just battling some mid-afternoon hunger pains, protein bars have long been a lifesaver for health-savvy snackers.
But if we’re being honest, they’re not always—OK, not often—the most appealing quick fix on the rack. Either overly gelatinous or as dry and dense as a brick of old Play-Doh, many bars have a synthetic sweetness and an ingredient list longer than the last book you read. It’s enough to drive a person back into the arms of a trusty old Snickers.
Not so fast, candyman. Thankfully for you and your fitness goals, we scoured the internet for the best protein bars on the market. Here are the results.
The only thing more satisfying than RXBAR’s sleek, streamlined package design is the heavenly bar lurking inside that pretty wrapper. The maple sea salt variety has all that earthy, burnt sugar-esque maple goodness with the perfect amount of sea salt sprinkled on top.
The pliable texture is pleasantly interrupted by mini pecan and cashew pieces. And with just 220 calories, 12 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and only six ingredients, this bar is a no-brainer, especially if you’re suffering from a bout of chocolate- or fruit-flavored fatigue.
($20 for 12; amazon.com)
Landing somewhere between uncured pork jerky and BBQ spare ribs (in a good way, promise), this certainly ain’t your average protein bar. It’s basically just meat and as Paleo-friendly as it gets with three grams of sugar, 140 calories, 15 grams of antibiotic-free pork- and beef collagen-fueled protein, and no gluten.
Most of the sweetness comes from dates, which also adds to the pleasant, melt-in-your-mouth texture, and the hint of smoke really brings it all together.
($24 for 12; amazon.com)
Almonds, organic maple syrup, organic hemp seeds, cocoa powder, vanilla, and Celtic sea salt are the forces behind this tasty treat. The organic sunflower protein has 25 percent more protein than chia seeds and plenty of branched-chain amino acids to help build muscle, avoid fatigue, and soothe post-workout soreness.
You’re also looking at 10 grams of gluten-free, Paleo-friendly, vegan, and non-GMO protein in each three-to-a-pack serving, and yeah, they do really taste like salted fudge brownies.
Craving a crunch? Chock-full of almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, soy crisps, and peanuts, these handy non-GMO and kosher bars easily meet your salt-loving needs. And a touch of sweetness keeps you going back for more—as does 19 whole grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and a mere 190 calories. They’re easy, light, and fit conveniently in your purse for that inevitable 2 p.m. snack attack.
This 100-percent plant-based, nut-free option definitely stands out from the overwhelmingly chocolaty and nutty energy bar crowd. Organic sunflower butter, organic coconut nectar, pea protein, organic cinnamon, and organic vanilla extract come together inside this chewy, easily crushable 280-calorie nosher, which also manages to pack in 15 grams of protein.
Sugars are on the higher end here, with each bar clocking in at 12 grams, but if you’re looking for something that tastes like real food and will take the edge off between meals or before a workout, you’ve found it.
($23 for 12; amazon.com)
Loaded with protein-rich sprouted watermelon seeds (!!), these raw, organic bars are superfood central. Each 240-calorie serving is somehow both hearty and light, with 12 grams of protein and a consistency that reminds us of a thick soft-baked oatmeal cookie. A touch of tanginess comes from lemon oil, lemon peel, and the curious addition of rosemary extract.
And if you’re sensitive to allergens, look no further: Go Raw maintains a dedicated vegan and kosher production plant that’s free from any gluten, wheat, nuts, dairy, or soy contaminants. Pretty cool stuff.
($32 for 12; amazon.com)
Another outside-the-box pick, these delectable little bites are admittedly more of a healthier, protein-centric treat than a gym bag staple, but they’re just too tasty to leave off the list. The Paleo-certified, gluten-, soy- and grain-free, kosher, and non-GMO blondies are surprisingly light and cakey in texture and loaded with real ingredients.
We’re talking maple syrup, honey, eggs, cashew butter, pecans, and golden flaxseed meal—not to mention 6 grams of protein per serving. Pro tip: Popping them in the fridge (or freezer) extends their shelf life and makes us think we are eating fudge.
($37 for 20; amazon.com)
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