JUST TELL ME THE BEST BAR…
The best protein bar I’ve tested in terms of taste, cost effectiveness, protein content and calories has to be the Snickers Hi-Protein Peanut Butter. It’s one of the few bars in the list that’s actually on a par with a regular chocolate/candy bar (I think it’s even better than regular Snickers).
Protein Powders have been around for decades now and provide a cheap, convenient and tasty way to get in a good amount of protein on the go (for the best My Protein Whey flavours, click here).
But are they really THAT convenient?
Having a protein shake on the go still requires crying around a big bulky shaker, finding a water supply (ideally not the sinks in a public toilet) and then mixing the shake up (which can often result in browne liquid being sprayed everywhere if the lid isn’t on tight enough).
This is where protein bars come in.
They offer all the convenience and speed of a shake, in the form of a bar that can be carried around unrefirigerated and eaten anywhere, at any time.
They taste great as well – at least some of them do.
In fact the better bars can rival regular chocolate chocolate bars for taste and texture.
The only downside to protein bars is that they’re much more costly than shakes (gram for gram of protein) AND they contain more calories; a typical scoop of protein powder comes in at around 100 calories for 20g of protein, while most bars exceed the 200 calorie mark for the same amount of protein.
Nevertheless, a protein bar make a great portable snack that ticls both the protein content AND taste boxes, but with so many on the market in 2021, how do you pick the right one?
Well you’ve come to right place; below I’ll review 17 of the most popular protein bars on the market and tell you which are the best for taste, cost and protein content, here we go;
N.B. When reviewing these bars I am NOT going to mention sugar content. despite all of the bad press, unless you’re consuming vast quantities of sugar, there is nothing inherently bad or ‘evil’ about sugar.
GRENADE CARB KILLA
Flavour reviewed: Cookie Dough
Carb Killas are the undisputed king of protein bars, they definitely weren’t the first ones around, but they really did perfect the recipe, they’re great all rounders, being relatively low in calories with an acceptable amount of protein.
The Cookie Dough flavour is one of my all time favourites, with thick, chewy center dotted with generous amounts of chocolate chips, and coated chocolate.
The best thing about Carb Killas is that Grenade are constantly bringing out new flavours, AND they get better and better.
Carb Killas aren’t the best bar on the market, but they’re a good all rounder, and very widely available.
Flavour reviewed: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Quest are the OG of protein bars, when they were first released there was very little competiton around… And it shows. Once upon a time, these were revolutionary, but the newer bars on the market have left them behind.
Quest bars are generally very solid, very chewy blocks that lack flavour aside from a very false, very chewing gum-like sweetness. Bland, and no fun to eat.
Flavour Reviewed: Carrot Cake
The best thing about Battle Bites? They come in two separate ‘bites’ so you can easily save one for later. Not that you’d be that enthusiastic about doing so, despite the fancy packaging and cool, unique sounding flavours , the taste leaves a LOT to be desired.
Being a huge Carrot Cale fan I was excited to try the Carrot cake flavour, thinking it might have a sofy cake-y filling with frotsing-like covering. Nope. It pretty much much tasted of nothing, and after eating it the only battle I felt like having was with their legal department over the labelling of this being anything resembling Carrot cake.
Flavour reviewed: Chocolate Brownie
Fulfill bars are massively underrated, whether that’s because of the uninspiring name, the lack of marketing, or the understated branding and packaging I don’t know, but let any of that fool you, these are GOOD bars!
There are a ton of flvaours, meaning that regardless of how sweet your tooth ism they’ll be something out there for you.
The flavour I tried was the Chocolate Brownie, somehow they managed to recreate a moist cake-like texture of a brownie, highly impressive. The Salted Caramel Fullfill also deserves a special mention here as one of the best bars I’ve ever tried full stop.
Fullfill bars also tend to be slightly cheaper than most of these other options – you really can’t go wrong with these
Flavour reviewed: Milk and Cookies
Oatein Hype bars are relatively new players on the protein bar market but they’ve come in all guns blazing with a very impressive bar.
The best thing about the Hype bars is that they’re super soft, something that can’t be said for most of the other bars here, and this makes eating these more akin to having a ‘regular’ chocolate bar.
The Milk and Cookies flavour is oddly named because there’s no real Milk aspect going on, but it’s pretty darned good nonetheless. One of the best on this list.
MY PROTEIN LAYERED
Flavour reviewed: Chocolate Peanut Butter
My Protein are the kings of whey protein powder (find out what the best whey flavours are here) but they’ve recently diversified into the protein bar game. And they’ve done a great job, the layered bars live up to their name, comprising of two layers – in this case, a layer of soft peanut butter, and a chocolate cake-like base, all coated in chocolate. The taste is bold and distinctive and the variation in textures makes it interesting to eat. A very good bar.
Flavour reviewed: Crunchy Fudge
Barebells haven’t been around as long as Carb Killas, but they’re almost as synonymous – I see these in most petrol stations in the UK now, and they don’t set the wotld on fire, but they do provide some nice alternative flavours.
Texture-wise, they’re pretty good, kinda soft but kinda chewy at the same time. I like the chewiness because it means they take longer to eat, but it might be a bit much for some people.
The Crunchy Fudge is good, but didn’t blow me away.
A good fallback option
BAREBELLS DOUBLE BITE
Flavour reviewed: Caramel Crisp
These are quite different from the regular Barebells in that the inside is crispier rather than chewy. I personally prefer these as they’re not such a chore to eat – the inside is a lot like a Rice Krispy Square; kinda crunchy but also kinda sticky. The only downside is that these are a bit lower in protein than the standard bars.
USN TRUST COOKIE BAR
Flavour Reviewed: White Chocolate Raspberry
Somewhat unique in that this is a cookie/bar hybrid, the USN Trust Cooke Bar offers something a little different, and it’s a welcome change from the usual nougat/chocolate combos on this list. The cookie part is moist enough and the chocolate chips are generous, although there’s not a huge amount of raspberry flavour going on. The downside with this is that it’s quite low in protein and high in calories, so not the best choice nutrition-wise if you’re dieting.
Flavour reviewed: Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake
Warrior Crunch Bars live up to their name; they have a central chewy core, surrounded by crunchy biscuit-like pieces, coated with milk or white chocolate. This makes these one of the more interesting and substantial bars on this list.
There is also a lot of innovation from Warrior on the flavour front, the Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake was good, but the Key Lime Pie is even better, combining a citrusy zing with smooth white chocolate, a genuinely refreshing combination.
PHD SMART BAR
Smart bars are VERY similar in shape, size and texture to warrior crunch, and have just as many innovative flavours.
Birthday cake is a flavour that’s generally executed pretty poorly by most brands but the PHD version is fantastic – as is the Missisipi Mud pie, probably the chocolatey-est chocolate protein bar out there.
Like Warrior Crunch bars, these have a real varity of textures with a soft centre, crunchy bits, a chcolate outter layer and, depending on tbe flavour, some sprinkles or extra drizzled chcolate.
PHD SMART PLANT BAR
Flavour Reviewed: Vanilla Fudge
As good as the regular PHD bars are, the Vegan version is simply awful. This isn’t a reflection on PHD, more that it’s clearly very difficult to make a good tasting Vegan bar.
The inside is dry, crumbly, and tastes like soil. Also 20g of Vegan protein is unlikely to be sufficient to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. This is better than nothing and obvioulsy the only option of you’re vegan, but otherwise avoid this at all costs.
MAXIMUSCLE HIGH PROTEIN
Flavour Reviewed: Cinnamon Swirl
Maximuscle have been around for a long time, I think their protein powder was one of the first brands I ever bought but they’ve never been well known for their bars.
Well, they’re getting in on the game now and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised.
The other reason I respect Maximuscle is because they’ve released a cinnamon flavour, something I haven’t seen from any brand. As for the bar, it’s good, but I’m a huge cinnamon fan so I’m probably biased.
There’s nothing super stand-out about this bar, the texture is pretty run of the mill. Not bad. Extra point for the cinnamon.
M&MS HI-PROTEIN BAR
Flavour Reviewed: Peanut
The fact that an M&Ms Protein bar exists is kinda cool because there isn’t even a regular M&Ms bar on the shelves (at least not in the UK).
Sadly these don’t QUITE live up to the name, yes it’s a chocolate and peanut butter bar with M&Ms in, but the M&Ms are small, and they’re few and far between, which is a shame because this could have been a great bar.
Don’t get me wrong though, it’s still very good, you can’t go wrong with M&Ms, even if they are tiny.
SNICKERS HI-PROTEIN BAR
Flavour Reviewed: Peanut Butter
I’m going to say something really controversial here, and a lot of you aren’t going to like it, but… These are better than actual regular Snickers Bars.
They’re softer, nutter, and the peanut chunks are bigger and crunchier. The only downside is that they’re a bit smaller than regular Snickers. Apart from that, faultless. A god-level protein bar.
MARS HI-PROTEIN BAR
Flavour reviewed: Salted Caramel
Like the Snickers bar, this tastes very similar to the ‘real’ thing, the biggest difference is the thickness of the chocolate coating, but as for the nougat and caramel, I personally wouldn’t notice a difference. It’s a little chewier than a normal Mars but I personally don’t mind that. Nowhere near the level of the Snickers bar but another solid option.
BOUNTY HI-PROTEIN BAR
Flavour reviewed: N/A
As with the Mars and Snickers bars, this is true to its original form and again in my opinion, surpasses it. This even comes with desiccated coconut sprinkled on the bar – you don’t get that with regular ol’ Bounties! The coconut filling definitely isn’t as moist but that didn’t really ruin it for me, it still has a great flavour and is relatively soft.
MOUNTAIN JOE’S PROTEIN GRANOLA BAR
Flavour Reviewed: Original
This is gonna get a bad review. it feels unfair because the fact that the bar is 100% Vegan and only has 12g of protein is clearly labelled on the pack, but 12g of Protein is simply to low when compared to the competition (most of which have 20g+), especially when the bar itself is underwhealming.
I happen to like a Granola/Flapjack like bar but this was just too dry and crumbly. Either have a proper protein bar, or a regular flapjack.
Flavour Reviewed: Snickerdoodle
I was majorly disappointed by this for two reasons, I’ve been following Protein Pow for some time, they do some great recipes. Secondly, I love the packaging design on this and of all the bars I reviewed, it’s by far the coolest. Unfortunately the bar doesn’t live up to its wrapper – this is really bland tasting and the texture is way to same-y – this is very much like a Quest bar but with way less protein. These are Vegan, but they’re not even the best Vegan bar out there. Avoid.
OPTIMUM NUTRITION WHIPPED BITES
I like these because they’re kind of unique, they’re very much individual ‘bites’ rather than a bar, and the filling is very soft and mousse-like, something I haven’t seen from any other bar.
These only come in two flavours, but word of warning; the Strawberry is not good; kinda false tasing and chemical-y. Stick to the Chocolate version which is good.
Flavour Reviewed: Cherry Bakewell
The fact that Protein Pantry are always sold out is a testament to how much the protein bar market has grown and how there are now niche markets developing.
Protein Pantry are different from all the others on this list in that they’re not mass-prodcued. They’re hand-made to order and the quality is out of this world.
The cherry Bakewell is my favourite (so far) and i’m not exaggerating when I say this is better than an actual Cherry Bakewell Tart – and better than a lot of desserts I’ve tried (I’ve tried a lot).
The texture is much cakeier than other bars, with a solid block of white chococlate – and a cherry, of course, topping it off, plus a layer of jam in the middle.
This really is a pleasure to eat. The only down is the calories – they are much higher than most other bars, and the cost, these aren’t cheap but I still think they’re good value because the quality is so high.
PROTEIN BAR FAQ
Can You Make Your Own Protein Bars?
Yes. It’s actually pretty easy, the ingredients you need are;
- Vita Fibre
- Protein Powder
- Any oither ingredients of your choice
The vita Fibre should be poured into a bowl and warmed up in the microwave so it can be mixed. Then add one scoop of protein powder to the Vita Fibre and mix so the blend is smooth and consistent. Then transfer the mix onto some cling film, with this you can mould it into your desired shape (it doesn’t have to be a bar) and add in any extra ingredinets or topping you want.
Making your own bars this way costs around 90p per bar, roughly a third of the cost of most pre-made bars.
Are Protein Bars Good for You
There are no foods that are categorically ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – only good or bad overall diets over the long term.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with protein bars – they’re a good(ish) source of protein and are relatively low in calories. Most protein bars are also high in fibre, which can help fill you up and keep your bowel movements regular.
Some bars even have added vitamins. If you want to make the healthiest choice, make sure you read the ingredients on the packet – try to go for one with at least 20g of protein, with around 200 calories.
Do Protein Bars Help You Lose Weight?
The only way you’ll lose weight is by being a calorie deficit, regardless of what foods you eat. If you enjoy protein bars, they help you feel full and they help you adhere to a caloroe defcit, then yes, they’ll help you lose weight.
Just be aware that most protein bars range from 150-300 calories, and therefore aren’t that much lower in calories than a regular chocolate bar. The difference is, the protein and fibre will make you feel much fuller, meaning you’re less likely to eat more throughout the rest of the day.
When is the best Time to Eat a Protein Bar?
It really doesn’t matter, protein bars are good at any time of the day!
What Do Protein Bars Do For You?
Like protein powder, protein bars are NOT magical, they won’t build muscle on their own, they’re just an easy, tasty, convenient way to get a bit more protein into your diet.
Joe is an online weight loss coach and qualified personal trainer of 15 years who helps busy, professional men and women lose fat and build muscle.
Having a 9-5 desk-job, Joe understands the struggles of juggling a hectic life with trying to maintain a good physique.