Let’s just put this out there before we really get into this. I think protein bars, for the most part, are nasty af.
Please stop telling me you look forward to your “daily brownie” that is actually a chocolate soy-filled bar with mystery chocolate chunks. Have you ever eaten a real brownie? That is not what a real brownie tastes like.
I’m sure I’ve already offended 2334543 people but my point here is that protein bars, 99% of the time, are NOT food. And I’d be willing to bet most of the bars in your pantry would be better off going straight into your trash can.
Two common ingredients in protein bar:
Soy Protein Isolate
NASTY! This type of soy is chemically engineered, sprayed with a million different chemicals and pesticides, and trust me, by the time it makes it’s way into your protein bar, it’s no longer that cute little green plant you see growing all over the fields of the midwest.
Yes. Sugar. Or honey. Or Maple Syrup. Or corn syrup. Fructose. Maltodexrin. Sucrose. Brown rice syrup. Dried cane syrup. Beet syrup. Molasses powder. DATES. You name it, most bars are packed with sugar. People LOVE GoMacro and Perfect Bars because YES THEY ARE DELICIOUS but have you looked at the sugar in them? Duh, that’s why they’re so good.
I actually think these bars can be just dandy for a cookie substitute or a nice glycogen replenishment after a long, sweaty workout, or for your kiddos who need a few more carbs (and really a Perfect Bar is >>>>> 99% of the shit marketed to kids), but these bars are not so dandy for the person wanting to either lose weight or sustain themselves until dinner time without a crash.
All of this being said, there are a few great protein bar options that contain REAL FOOD ingredients with enough protein, healthy fat, and fiber (and minimal on the sugar!) to keep you full, satisfied, energized, and your body in fat-burning mode.
Because protein bar recommendations are something I’m asked about daily, I took myself to Whole Foods and I read every single label of every single bar they offered and put them through a rigorous approval process. To come home with me, the bar had to contain:
Protein Bar Requirements
Clean ingredients. That basically means I had to know what every ingredient was on that list, and it had to be real food.
A good protein source, such as pea, rice, whey, egg, or collagen. And pretty big bonus if it was the first ingredient listed.
A healthy fat source, like MCT oil, ghee, egg yolk, coconut. No industrial seed oils like palm, sunflower, safflower, soy, or corn oil.
Less net carbs than or equal to both protein AND fat. This one sounds a little confusing so let’s break it down.
Net carbs are total carbs minus fiber. The lower the net carbs, the less impact those carbs are going to have on your blood sugar. I’m totally fine with carbs and even a little sugar in my protein bar, but if I’m trying to burn fat, and stay energized and full from eating this bar, then my grams of protein and grams of fat really should be greater than the number of net carbs I’m eating in that bar.
I ended up with only 4 bars out of probably 50.
I’m a tough crowd.
For the record, these are snacks, not meals. If you’re wanting to make any of these meals, you’ll need to add a little more protein like a hard boiled egg or beef jerky.
The Only 4 Protein Bars to Keep in Your Purse
Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars. These bars were probably my favorite…or at least a tie with those Dang Bars. Good flavor and has a crumbly cookie texture. 14g fat, 14g carbs, 0g fiber, 2g sugar, 13g protein. (I know….didn’t quite hit my last requirement with the net carbs but it was very close)
Primal Kitchen Protein Bars. These bars were much more on the chewy side than Bulletproof, like a typical protein bar. The bar is a good size and very dense, which would probably make it more satisfying than a lot of smaller bars. 13g fat, 14g carbs, 1g fiber, 3g sugar, 13g protein.
Dang Bars. This bar was thicker than the Bulletproof bars, but had a similar crumbly texture. None of these bars are sweet, but this bar was probably the least sweet. However, I actually really liked the flavor. I would definitely buy again, plus the nutrition stats are amazing. 15 g fat, 11g carbs. 6g fiber. 3g sugar. 9g protein.
Epic Bars. This was more of a meat stick to me. Or like a meat bar? It was my least favorite, but they’re popular and widely distributed so worth a try if you’re in need. Careful with these, though. Some have up to 10g of added sugar. 10g fat, 7g carbs, 0g fiber, 5g sugar, 8g protein.
If protein bars aren’t your jam, there are so many other great snacks to throw in your bag when you’re on the go. Check my post on my favorite quick snacks to give you inspo.
If this post was eye-opening for you, you should definitely check out my 5 “Healthy Habits” To Break to Lose Weight!