6 Best Protein Bars of 2023: Keep Your Diet on Track


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Take a look in any grocery store and you'll probably see dozens of different brands of protein bars all making claims about being a healthy snack. Protein bars are an attractive option for anyone looking for snacks that can help them meet their macronutrient goals without consuming too many calories. However, if you've been working hard tracking your fitness and investing in weight loss, you have to be careful about what protein bars can actually deliver.

It is true that protein-heavy snacks can satiate your hunger and help you lose weight or build muscle. However, many of these bars also have filler ingredients that outweigh the positives. But don't worry, we're here to help; the ACTIVE Reviews Team has done the research and compiled our list of the best protein bars that won't sabotage your diet or fitness goals.

The Best Protein Bars - Our Top Picks 

Why Trust Us?

The health and safety of ACTIVE's readers is of the utmost importance to us. To ensure your well-being when consuming nutritional supplements, the ACTIVE.com editorial team prioritizes products that are independently tested by a third party. We've also consulted with a team of nutritionists and dieticians to ensure the products we feature are of the highest standard. This helps us create the most accurate, authentic review content for our readers. More importantly, fitness may be our job, but it is also our passion. Therefore, we strive to bring you products that we trust and would personally use.

A Quick Look at Protein Bars

Protein bars are a relatively inexpensive way to supplement your nutrition. Typically, a protein bar will have as many grams of protein as possible while minimizing other nutrients like calories, carbs, and sugar. The intended effects of protein bars can vary depending on the brand, but generally speaking, they fall into three categories: help you lose weight, help you build muscle, or as a healthy snack to curb cravings. All of these are worthy goals that consuming protein bars can help you reach. However, it is always best to consult your doctor or a registered dietitian before making any major dietary changes.

It is important to note that some people confuse energy bars with protein bars. These products may have crossover ingredients, but their nutrient content has very different goals. Energy bars are made to give you access to quick energy, so there will be a higher number of carbs, fats, and sugars. We bring this up because many protein bars have nutrient profiles that look more like energy bars and will actually sabotage your fitness rather than supplement it. But don't worry, we've left these types of products off our list.

Best Overall - Transparent Labs Uncut Energy Bar

Transparent Labs Uncut Energy Bar


  • Ingredients: Roasted almonds, honey, whey protein isolate, semi-sweet chocolate chips, almond oil, coffee (in coffee flavor), natural flavors
  • Price: $2.49 each
  • Flavors: 2
  • Protein: 16g


With all of the glorified candy bars on the market, finding a staple protein bar to regularly consume is no small feat. Most active people are looking for a protein bar that provides at least 10 grams of protein, while not going overboard with carbs and fats. Our pick for the best overall protein bar provides a nice balance between protein and carbs, and is made up of only a handful of all-natural ingredients.

Transparent Labs' UNCUT High Protein Energy Bar has got you covered with a 2:1:1 macronutrient ratio of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to keep you satiated until your next meal. These bars also rank high among users for their great taste without the use of artificial sweeteners—the 19 grams of sugar come from all-natural honey. These bars are an excellent choice for the on-the-go lifter who hopes to keep their bulk clean.

Why We Picked It: We liked that this protein bar is naturally sweetened and provides a good balance between high-quality protein, carbs, and fats.

What We Like

  • High in protein and carbs
  • Taste is highly reviewed by users
  • No artificial sweeteners

What We Don't Like

  • On the pricey side
  • Limited flavor options

BUY: Transparent Labs UNCUT Energy Bar

Best for Weight Loss - Vital Performance Protein Bar

Vital Performance Protein Bar


  • Ingredients: Protein blend (bovine collagen peptides, milk protein isolate, whey protein isolate, whey protein hydrolysate), dark chocolate coating, glycerin, almond butter, water, peanut butter, whey protein crisps, sunflower oil, coconut nectar, cocoa butter, natural flavors, cocoa powder, cocoa mass, sea salt, sunflower lecithin, rosemary extract
  • Price: $2.49 each
  • Flavors: 3
  • Protein: 20g


To put it simply, losing weight comes down to eating fewer calories than you burn. One important factor that influences weight-loss success is keeping your hunger levels in check to avoid overconsuming calories. A great way to do so is by eating a small, high-protein snack in between meals, such as a protein bar.(1) For the best protein bar for weight loss we searched for a bar that was high in protein while being fairly low in overall calories.

Vital Performance Protein Bar checked all the boxes supplying 20 grams of high-quality proteins, paired with only 14 grams of carbs, and 11 grams of fat to bust through hunger pangs when dieting. Research shows that including healthy fats in your diet can actually enhance feelings of fullness following a meal or snack.(2) These bars come in three appealing flavors, are gluten-free, and contain no added sugars or artificial flavors.

Why We Picked It: We liked that these bars are protein-forward, containing a suitable protein-to-carb and fat ratio for promoting weight loss when combined with proper diet and exercise.

What We Like

  • Good ratio of protein to carbs and fats
  • Lower in overall calories, which can help support weight loss
  • Available in 3 different flavors

What We Don't Like

  • Long ingredient list
  • 10 out of the 20g of protein is collagen, an incomplete protein

BUY: VItal Performance Protein Bar

Best Vegan - Rise Bar Vegan Protein Bar



  • Ingredients: Organic cashews, organic coconut nectar, pea protein, and organic lemon extract
  • Price: $2.42 each
  • Flavors: 3
  • Protein: 15-20g


Rise Bar Vegan Protein Bars are packed with macronutrients and they're all derived from plant ingredients. Each bar has only four or five ingredients—depending on flavor—and they're all organic. The sweetener of these bars is coconut nectar, which is rich in vitamins and minerals with a low glycemic index. These bars are also a good source of iron and potassium, which gives them an edge over other similar protein bars. And at 260-280 calories, these bars will sit heavy on your stomach and keep you feeling full for a longer period of time than other bars. However, these are dense calories with a good portion of fat, carbs, sugar, and protein, so make sure you are accounting for those numbers as you're tracking your diet.

Why We Picked It: We liked that these bars provide a good balance of protein, carbs, and fats, while only containing five all-natural ingredients.

What We Like

  • Made with only 4-5 organic ingredients
  • Vegan
  • Good source of vitamins and minerals, particularly iron and potassium

What We Don't Like

  • High calories and sugar
  • Limited flavor options

BUY: Rise Bar Vegan Protein Bar

Best Tasting - Jacked Factory Authentic Bar

Jacked Factory Authentic Bar


  • Ingredients: Peanut Butter, Honey, Whey Protein Isolate, Peanut Butter Chips, Corn Syrup Solids, Dextrose, Reduced Protein Whey; Contains 2% or Less of: Palm Kernel Oil, Salt, Vanilla, Artificial Flavor, Lecithin (Soy), Milk Chocolate, Sugar, Artificial Coloring, Gum Arabic, Corn Syrup, Brown Rice Syrup
  • Price: $2.50 each
  • Flavors: 7
  • Protein: 16g


Despite all of the efforts that many brands put into flavoring, many protein bars still leave quite a bit to be desired in the taste department. If you're going to be eating protein bars on a regular basis, you certainly will want one that you don't have to hold your nose to get down. Our top pick for the best-tasting category, the Jacked Factory Authentic Bar, comes in seven lip-smacking flavors to help make getting in your protein less of a chore.

Not only are these bars highly rated in the flavor department, but they also supply about 16 grams of high-quality protein per serving with the top three ingredients being peanut butter, honey, and whey protein isolate. To reduce the chances of digestive issues, they contain no sugar alcohols or added fiber.(3) Their extensive flavor selection allows you to enjoy a decadent snack between meals without the added calories. Last but not least, Authentic Bars are manufactured in a GMP (good manufacturing practice) certified facility to ensure top quality and purity.

Why We Picked It: We liked that these bars are available in a variety of flavors without skimping on protein quality or macronutrient balance.

What We Like

  • Wide selection of appealing flavors
  • Naturally sweetened
  • Largely made of whole-food ingredients

What We Don't Like

  • Contains corn syrup
  • Contains unsustainable palm kernel oil
  • Contains artificial ingredients

BUY: Jacked Factory Authentic Bar

Best Protein Cookie - Naked Nutrition Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie

Naked Nutrition Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie


  • Ingredients: Naked Protein Blend (Whey Protein Concentrate, Defatted Almond Flour), Allulose, Dark Chocolate Flavored Chips, Sustainable Palm Kernel Oil, Blanched Almond Butter, Soluble Corn Fiber, Tapioca Starch, Vegetable Glycerin, Monk Fruit Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Lecithin, Vanilla Extract, Sea Salt, and Baking Powder
  • Price: $2.50 each
  • Flavors: 3
  • Protein: 10g


OK, so this is not exactly a bar, but let's be honest, some people don't want to eat protein bars to supplement their nutrition. They don't like the texture or they don't like the flavor—for whatever reason, they just prefer other products. Enter the protein cookie. Naked Nutrition's protein cookies are a great compromise for people who want to feel like they're eating dessert while staying true to their diet plans. With a 10:1 protein-to-sugar ratio, these cookies will help you feel satiated and give you the macronutrients you need without sabotaging your efforts.

One of the surprising features of these cookies is that they are gluten-free. Naked Nutrition uses almond flour as a substitute for wheat to accomplish this and they keep their formula free of artificial colors, sweeteners, or preservatives. If you like to eat clean but also have a sweet tooth, these cookies may be for you.

Why We Picked It: We liked that these protein cookies supply 10 grams of high-quality protein with no added sugars and are a good source of dietary fiber.

What We Like

  • 10:1 protein to sugar ratio
  • 0g of added sugars
  • Gluten and soy free

What We Don't Like

  • Not very many flavor options
  • Some people don't like the almond flour texture

BUY: Naked Nutrition Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie

Best for Muscle Gain - MyProtein Layered Bar

MyProtein Layered Bar


  • Ingredients: White Confectionary Coating, Distilled Monoglycerides, Natural Flavor, Chocolate Flavored Coating, Icing Layer, Maltitol, Glycerine, Soy Protein Isolate, Gelatin, Sweetened Condensed Milk, Water, Soy Protein Crisp, Cocoa Soy Protein Crisp, Peanut Butter, Whey Protein Concentrate, Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Butter, Soy Lecithin, Corn Starch and Potassium Sorbate
  • Price: $3.33 each
  • Flavors: 6
  • Protein: 20g

When it comes to muscle building, the macronutrients that you regularly consume—namely protein—are just as important to generating mass as lifting heavy in the gym.(4) Whether you're new to mass gain or a bulking veteran, it's easy to become overwhelmed with having to eat larger protein-containing meals every two to three hours in order to maintain your muscle gains. So, having a supplemental bar for those occasions when you can't stop and consume a small feast is a game-changer.

MyProtein Layered Protein Bars pack 20 grams of high-quality protein per serving—plenty to support even the most ambitious muscle-gain goals. To improve flavor and palatability, MyProtein uses five unique layers to provide indulgence without excess fat and calories. These bars make a solid choice to fuel up before a workout, recover after training, or simply fuel your muscles between meals. As an added bonus, there are six flavors to choose from to keep your taste buds satisfied.

Why We Picked It: We valued the fact that these bars supply a sufficient amount of protein to support muscle gains, without overlooking palatability and flavor options.

What We Like

  • High in protein and carbs to support muscle gains
  • Taste is popular with reviewers
  • Minimal added sugars

What We Don't Like

  • Higher price point
  • Long ingredient list


Benefits of Protein Bars

A high-quality protein bar can be an excellent complement to a well-balanced diet and exercise regimen. In fact, regularly consuming protein-containing snacks such as a protein bar can provide a number of potential benefits. Here are the top benefits of including protein bars in your nutrition regimen.

Convenient Snack

If you're a busy athlete or professional you certainly know how time can fly by and all of a sudden you look at the clock and realize, "I haven't had anything to eat."

While protein bars shouldn't serve as a substitute for a meal, they make a great snack choice to hold you over until your next full meal. It's helpful to keep a few protein bars in your desk or bag as an emergency snack. This helps prevent getting so hungry that you end up scarfing down non-nutritious, energy-dense junk foods.

Boosting Protein Intake

If you have ever calculated your daily protein requirements, you may have been surprised at how much protein you need to regularly eat. While getting all of your protein from whole-food sources is certainly possible, high-protein snacks such as protein bars make hitting your protein goals quite a bit easier when pressed for time.

With most protein bars providing anywhere from 10-20 grams of protein each, this can be an efficient way to get in some extra protein throughout the day.

Building Muscle

Protein, and its amino acid constituents, serve as the building blocks for new muscle tissue.(4)

You can put in hours of work in the gym, though without sufficient amounts of protein, you may not be maximizing your results. The general recommendation for protein when the goal is building muscle is 0.7-1.0 grams per pound of body weight.(5) Protein bars and powders can help you easily meet these needs.

Losing Weight

Losing weight largely comes down to eating fewer calories than you burn to promote a caloric deficit. The two major ways to do so are to reduce your daily intake through diet and to burn more calories through exercise.(6)

Including protein bars between meals, as a part of a well-balanced diet, can help reduce hunger and food cravings, preventing you from overeating at meals.

Fueling Performance

To consistently perform at a high level, it's no surprise that you need to provide your body with the proper fuel. We rely on the three macronutrients—protein, carbs, and fats—to supply us with energy and building blocks for recovery from training. A high-quality protein bar will provide a solid ratio of protein to carbs and fats, making them an excellent choice for fueling up before training or enhancing recovery after exercise.

How We Chose the Best Protein Bars

When reviewing the top products on the market, there were several factors that we took into consideration to provide you with the best protein bars.


As with most dietary supplements, the cost of protein bars can vary greatly between brands. We stuck with protein bars that provided high-quality ingredients while still being affordable for most people.


Protein bars can be hit or miss when it comes to flavors. We selected protein bars that were highly rated for taste with most coming in several appealing flavors.


Arguably the most important factor when it comes to purchasing a protein bar is the balance of macronutrients (protein, carbs, fats) it provides. We selected protein bars that have a well-balanced ratio of protein to carbs and fats, to help support your goals no matter what they are.

Artificial Ingredients

To improve flavor, appearance, and texture, many brands use an extensive amount of artificial ingredients that may not be in line with everyone's dietary goals. We made it a point to select products with minimal artificial ingredients when possible to give you more natural options.

What to Look for When Shopping for Protein Bars

Besides what's already been mentioned, there are a handful of things you need to consider when buying protein bars:

  • Price: Determine your budget when shopping for a good protein bar. You'll want to strike a good balance between quality and cost to get the most value within your budget.
  • Flavor options: Are you someone who is OK with eating the same flavor over and over again, or do you value having several flavor options to choose from? Consider how many flavors are offered when shopping for a protein bar.
  • Protein-to-sugar ratio: You want your protein bars to have at least a 1:1 sugar to protein ratio. If a protein bar has more sugar than protein, you're not getting the optimal effects and it will likely sabotage any weight-loss efforts as the sugar is converted to energy and any excess is stored as fat.
  • Allergens: This may seem obvious to some, but most protein bars are able to offer the amount of protein they do because they extract it from different sources like peanut butter, soy, milk, etc. Potential allergens should be clearly labeled on any product you buy.

FAQs About Protein Bars

What protein bars should I eat to lose weight?

There are plenty of protein bars that can help you lose weight. Some things to consider when you're looking for weight loss specifically are calories, protein, and fat content. If you want to lose weight with protein bars, you're going to want a bar that satiates your hunger (higher fat and protein content) while being as low-calorie as possible.

What is the best protein bar?

Choosing the best protein bar depends on what you're hoping to gain from adding them to your diet and what, if any, dietary restrictions you have. A good protein bar will have a protein-to-sugar ratio at or over 1:1, but beyond that, you can go in many different directions.

Are protein bars healthy?

Most protein bars you'll find in big-box grocery stores wouldn't necessarily be considered "healthy" because they are typically high calorie and have high sugar content. However, the best protein bars make an effort to offer the highest quality ingredients and the biggest nutrient bang for your buck. These bars can be consumed regularly as part of a healthy diet to help you hit your macros, satiate hunger, curb cravings, supplement calories, or any number of other healthy living goals.

Should you eat a protein bar every day?

You can eat protein bars every day if you want to because high-quality bars are not likely to have any negative side effects. However, whether you should eat a protein bar every day depends on your goals. If you have an uncontrollable sweet tooth and you want to try an alternative, a protein bar might be able to help you with that. If you're trying to lose weight and satiate your hunger between meals, a protein bar is a great option. However, it is always best to consult your doctor or a registered dietician before making any major dietary changes.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


  1. Ortinau, L.C., Hoertel, H.A., Douglas, S.M. et al. Effects of high-protein vs. high-fat snacks on appetite control, satiety, and eating initiation in healthy women. Nutr J 13, 97 (2014).
  2. Jeroen Maljaars, Emma A Romeyn, Edward Haddeman, Harry PF Peters, Ad AM Masclee, Effect of fat saturation on satiety, hormone release, and food intake, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 89, Issue 4, April 2009, Pages 1019–1024.
  3. Mäkinen K. K. (2016). Gastrointestinal Disturbances Associated with the Consumption of Sugar Alcohols with Special Consideration of Xylitol: Scientific Review and Instructions for Dentists and Other Health-Care Professionals. International journal of dentistry, 2016, 5967907.
  4. Atherton, P. J., & Smith, K. (2012). Muscle protein synthesis in response to nutrition and exercise. The Journal of physiology, 590(5), 1049–1057.
  5. Jäger, R., Kerksick, C.M., Campbell, B.I. et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 20 (2017).
  6. Aragon, A.A., Schoenfeld, B.J., Wildman, R. et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: diets and body composition. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 16 (2017).

About the Author

Cory Kessler

Cory Kessler, CPT, FNC

Cory is a certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. After spending six years as an educator and coach, Cory joined the ACTIVE team as a staff writer turning his passion for education toward helping ACTIVE readers live their best, healthiest lives.

See More from Cory

Cory is a certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. After spending six years as an educator and coach, Cory joined the ACTIVE team as a staff writer turning his passion for education toward helping ACTIVE readers live their best, healthiest lives.

See More from Cory

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