Finding the best protein bars can be a game-changer for your daily routine. Life gets busy, and protein bars are a quick solution for those on-the-go moments when you don't have time for a full meal. They fit easily into your bag, can be eaten while commuting, and offer a better alternative to vending machine snacks.
Protein bars are incredibly versatile, serving as pre-workout energisers, post-workout recovery aids, and healthy snacks to curb hunger. This makes them a go-to for all sorts of people—fitness buffs, busy parents, and professionals who are always on the move. But choosing the right bar isn't just about convenience; it's about what's inside the wrapper.
While protein bars are a versatile option, it's important to note that they're not all created equal. Some might seem like a healthy choice but are actually more like candy bars in disguise.
On the flip side, a high-quality protein bar will offer essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients play a key role in muscle repair, immune function, and overall well-being.
So, when you're choosing a bar, it's not just about the protein content; you should also consider a well-rounded nutritional profile that can enhance your daily dietary intake.
Let’s have a look at the best brands and bars we’ve found so far this year
Our Picks for the Best Protein Bars of 2023
1.) True Protein Bar
- Protein Type: Whey protein concentrate with over 80% protein content.
- Natural Sweeteners: Sweetened exclusively with fibre-rich dates.
- Gluten-Free: Suitable for those with gluten sensitivities.
- No Added Sugar: Contains only natural sugars from dates.
- Certified Organic Ingredients: Features ethically sourced, non-GMO ingredients.
What Sets It Apart
In a market flooded with protein bars, the True Protein Bar is a standout. It's not just the high protein content that impresses us; it's the quality of the ingredients.
The whey protein is sourced from grass-fed cows in New Zealand, giving it a creamy, rich taste. The bars are also crafted with care in Australia, using organic and non-GMO ingredients where possible.
What really caught our attention was the natural sweetness of the bar, thanks to the use of dates, which adds a caramel-like flavour without any added sugar. Additionally, the inclusion of collagen peptides is a nice touch, offering benefits for your skin, bones, and joints.
- Made in certified facilities, ensuring quality.
- Low natural sugar content
- Certified by HASTA for prohibited substances
- 14-day money-back guarantee
- Suitable for those following a halal diet.
- Priced on the higher side
- Not suitable for vegans
- Limited to four flavours
- Price: $$
- Serving Size: Varies between 14.3g and 17.6g of protein per bar, depending on flavour
- Money-Back Guarantee: Yes, within 14 days
- Protein Type: Packed with a blend of collagen protein, soy protein isolate, and whey protein isolate.
- High Protein, Low Carb: Offers a whopping 45g of protein with less than 5g of carbs.
- Flavour Variety: Comes in five different flavour options.
- Manufacturing Standards: Produced in Vitaco’s Informed-Sport Certified manufacturing facility.
What Sets It Apart
Musashi High Protein Bars are a powerhouse when it comes to protein content. With 45g of protein, these bars are almost like a full meal. The protein blend ensures a comprehensive amino acid profile, making it great for muscle recovery.
Unlike the True Protein Bar, which leans towards natural ingredients, Musashi opts for a variety of proteins and sweeteners.
Plus, it's produced in a facility that's Informed-Sport Certified, which gives us some level of confidence in its quality. The range of flavours also adds a touch of excitement to your protein intake.
- Extremely high protein content, great for serious athletes.
- Low in carbohydrates, making it keto-friendly.
- Produced in a certified manufacturing facility.
- Variety of flavours to choose from.
- Pricier than most
- Contains artificial sweeteners, which may not be everyone's preference.
- Price: $$$
- Serving Size: 45g of protein per bar
- Protein Source: Primarily derives protein from peanuts.
- All-Natural Ingredients: Composed of whole food ingredients like dates, peanut butter, and organic vegan caramel chocolate.
- Free from Allergens: Gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free.
- Certifications: Manufactured in HACCP-certified bakeries and Kosher-certified.
What Sets It Apart
Blue Dinosaur's Vegan Protein Bar stands out for its commitment to clean, whole-food ingredients.
With peanuts as the primary protein source, this Aussie favourite offers a vegan version containing 6.6g of protein and a regular version with over 20 grams of protein, depending on the flavour.
Hand-baked for an artisanal touch, these bars rank among the cleanest protein options available, making them ideal for those looking to steer clear of artificial additives and sweeteners.
Plus, Blue Dinosaur takes sustainability seriously. Their new packaging is made from up to 90% recycled fibre and is printed with soy-based ink. Not only are the bars good for you, but they're also kinder to the planet.
- Suitable for various dietary restrictions, including gluten-free and dairy-free.
- Offers both vegan and regular protein bars to cater to different protein needs.
- Manufactured in Australia in certified facilities.
- Packaging made from up to 90% recycled fibre and printed with soy-based ink
- May not be the most budget-friendly option.
- Limited protein source variety compared to other bars.
- Price: $$$
- Serving Size: 6.6g of protein for vegan bars
- Protein Source: Contains 9-11 grams of plant-based protein.
- Carbohydrate Blend: Offers a mix of fast-acting and longer-lasting carbs.
- Organic Ingredients: Primarily made from 70% organic ingredients
- Eco-Friendly: Cocoa ingredients are sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms.
- No Artificial Additives: Free from GMOs, high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial flavours.
What Sets It Apart
The CLIF Bar Energy Bar is an excellent choice for those who need sustained energy for moderate-intensity activities. CLIF Bar offers a balanced blend of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. This makes it ideal for long hikes, bike rides, or any extended physical activity.
The bar is crafted in the USA and adheres to FDA and GMP regulations, ensuring a high standard of quality. What's more, the company is committed to sustainability, pledging to make all its packaging reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.
What really distinguishes CLIF Bar is its extensive flavour variety, including seasonal options like spiced pumpkin pie and peppermint white chocolate, catering to a broad range of taste preferences.
- Extensive variety of flavours, including seasonal options.
- Affordable pricing compared to other bars on the list.
- Adheres to FDA and GMP regulations for quality assurance.
- Uses natural organic sweeteners and non-GMO ingredients.
- Lower protein content compared to other bars.
- Not suitable for those with gluten sensitivities.
- Price: $
- Serving Size: 9-11 grams of protein per bar, depending on the flavour.
- Protein Source: A blend of pea protein and brown rice protein.
- Gut Health: Contains 4g of prebiotic fibre for digestive wellness.
- Clean Ingredients: Free from gluten, added sugar, dairy, and GMOs.
- Certified Organic: Australian Certified Organic (ACO) accreditation.
What Sets It Apart
The Amazonia Raw Protein Bar is a snack that's as nutritious as it is delicious.
Designed to keep you full while supporting gut health, their bars are made from high-quality, organic ingredients that are sourced both locally and globally, ensuring you get the best of both worlds.
The ACO certification adds another layer of trust, confirming that the product is free from synthetic chemicals and heavy metals.
What we particularly like is the inclusion of prebiotic fibre, which not only aids digestion but also sets it apart from other protein bars on the market.
- Focuses on overall wellness, not just protein intake.
- Suitable for vegans and those with various dietary restrictions.
- Transparent about ingredient sourcing.
- Undergoes stringent quality testing.
- Lower protein content compared to the top picks like True Protein Bar.
- Limited to 10 servings per pack, making it less cost-effective.
- Limited flavour options compared to competitors.
- Price: $$
- Serving Size: 10g of protein per bar
- Natural Ingredients: Crafted with all-natural and organic components.
- Probiotic Boost: Enriched with probiotics for gut health and immunity.
- Dietary Friendly: Free from gluten and dairy, suitable for vegans.
- Australian Made: Proudly produced and owned in Australia.
What Sets It Apart
Purabon Protein Balls are more than just a protein snack; they're a holistic health treat. Same as Amazonia, Purabon also takes it a step further by adding probiotics for gut health in their protein balls.
Available in four flavours, these protein balls are crafted with a keen focus on natural ingredients, avoiding any artificial sweeteners or preservatives.
The convenience factor is also a big win; you can just pop one and continue with your day. The inclusion of puffed millet adds a delightful crunch, making each bite a satisfying experience.
- Infused with probiotics for added health benefits.
- Committed to using natural and quality ingredients.
- Vegan, gluten-free, and preservative-free.
- Australian-made, ensuring quality and ethical production.
- May not be enough protein compared to other options.
- Limited flavour variety.
- Price: $$
- Serving Size: 5g of protein per ball
- Plant-Based Protein: Utilises a blend of peanut, pea, and rice proteins.
- Natural Sweeteners: Sweetened with dates and rice malt syrup.
- Gluten and Dairy-Free: Suitable for those with dietary sensitivities.
What Sets It Apart
Macro Mike's The Game Changer Protein Bar lives up to its name. These bars are all about high-quality plant-based protein.
They offer 10 grams of protein per serving, making them a solid choice for those looking to fuel their bodies for longer periods. The bars are crafted in Australia and are free from GMOs, artificial colours, and preservatives.
What really sets them apart is their commitment to quality and safety by batch testing their products. The unique cheesecake choco chip peanut butter flavour is a delightful twist that adds to the overall appeal.
- High-quality plant-based protein.
- Free from artificial sweeteners and preservatives.
- Rigorous quality control measures.
- Plans for 'Hasta' certification for elite athletes.
- Higher price point
- Protein content could be higher for some users.
- Price: $$$
- Serving Size: 10g of protein per bar
Criteria for Our Selection of the Best Protein Bars
We placed a high emphasis on the quality of ingredients. Bars that are crafted with natural, organic, and non-GMO ingredients were at the top of our list - and those that used artificial ingredients were included for other reasons which were individually explained. We also appreciated the inclusion of unique ingredients like Himalayan Pink Salt, Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides, and even plant-based proteins, which not only add to the nutritional profile but also cater to various dietary needs.
In our selection process, we aimed for bars that offer around an adequate amount of protein, approximately 10 grams per serving. We value bars that use high-quality protein sources, whether animal-based like whey protein or plant-based options, to ensure a well-rounded amino acid profile.
We favoured bars that contain minimal added sugar and sugar alcohols and those that derive their sweetness from natural sources like dates or rice malt syrup. This approach helps most people metabolise the sugar more slowly which can help with blood sugar spikes and energy crashes.
Flavour played a significant role in our selection. We know that sticking to a healthy habit is easier when you actually enjoy it. Therefore, brands offering a wide range of flavours, from the classics like chocolate and peanut butter to unique options like spiced pumpkin pie and cheesecake, received high marks from us.
Types of Protein Bars
Whey protein bars are popular among athletes for their quick absorption rate. Whey is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. This makes it an excellent choice for muscle recovery and growth. However, it's worth noting that whey is derived from milk, so it's not suitable for those with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies.
For the vegans out there, plant-based protein bars offer a cruelty-free option without sacrificing protein content. These vegan protein bars usually feature sources like pea protein, hemp protein, or brown rice. While plant-based proteins are generally considered less complete than animal-based ones, many brands now blend various plant proteins to offer a complete amino acid profile. If you're interested in expanding your vegan protein options, be sure to check out our article about the best vegan protein powder in Australia.
Collagen bars are great for those looking to improve skin health along with muscle recovery. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is essential for skin elasticity, joint health, and more. These bars often include other skin-friendly ingredients like vitamin E and biotin, making them a multi-benefit option.
What Is the Best Low-Carb Protein Bar?
The best low-carb protein bar is the Musashi Protein Bar. With less than 5g of carbs and a whopping 45g of protein, it's the best choice for those following a low-carb or keto diet. The bar also comes in a variety of flavours and is produced in an Informed-Sport Certified facility, adding extra assurance to its quality.
What Is the Best Vegan Protein Bar?
The Blue Dinosaur Hand-baked Vegan Protein Bar takes the cake for the best vegan protein bar. It offers around 7 grams of protein per bar, depending on the flavour, and is made from all-natural, whole-food ingredients like dates and peanut butter. It's also gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free, making it suitable for various dietary restrictions.
What Is the Best Flavoured Protein Bar?
For the best-tasting protein snack bar, the CLIF Bar stands out. Not only do they offer classic tastes, but they also introduce seasonal flavours like spiced pumpkin pie and peppermint white chocolate. The bar is also free from artificial sweeteners and preservatives, ensuring that the flavour comes from natural, high-quality ingredients.
What Is the Best Keto Protein Bar?
The Musashi High Protein Bar is also the best option for those following a keto diet. With its extremely low carb content of less than 5g and high protein content of 45g, it aligns well with the macronutrient ratios commonly recommended for a ketogenic diet.
What Is the Best Gluten-Free Protein Bar?
The True Protein Bar is the best gluten-free option. It's made from whey protein concentrate and is sweetened exclusively with fibre-rich dates. The bar is crafted in Australia using certified organic and non-GMO ingredients, ensuring a high standard of quality. It also offers a 14-day money-back guarantee, adding an extra layer of consumer trust.
Benefits of Protein Bars
Protein bars are more than just a convenient snack; they offer a range of benefits that can significantly impact your health and lifestyle. Here's a closer look:
- Satiety and Weight Management: Many protein bars contain fibre and a good balance of macronutrients, which may help you feel full longer and assist in weight management.
- Muscle Synthesis: The high-quality protein in these bars may contribute to muscle protein synthesis, aiding in quicker muscle recovery and helping support muscle growth.
- Blood Sugar Stabilization: Bars with a low glycemic index may help stabilize blood sugar levels, making them a suitable snack for people with diabetes when consumed in moderation.
- Customized Nutrition: With a variety of bars targeting different health goals—like keto-friendly or collagen-infused options—you can choose a bar that aligns with your specific nutritional needs.
- Sustainable Energy: Bars with a balanced ratio of protein, fats, and carbs can provide a sustained energy release, as opposed to the quick spike and crash caused by high-sugar snacks.
- Convenient: Unlike protein powder, which often requires mixing and preparation, protein bars are ready-to-eat and easy to carry. This makes them a perfect choice for busy lifestyles when you need to meet your protein intake on the go.
How to Incorporate Protein Bars into Your Diet
A protein bar can fuel your workout when consumed 30 minutes prior. The protein provides the amino acids needed for muscle repair, while the carbs offer quick energy. Some bars even contain caffeine for an extra energy boost. However, look for a protein bar with easily digestible ingredients to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort during your workout.
For muscle recovery, consume a high quality protein bar within two hours after exercising. Post-workout is when your muscles are most receptive to nutrients, and a protein bar can provide a quick and convenient source of these essential building blocks. Look for bars with a good balance of protein and carbs to aid in recovery.
Replace unhealthy snacks with a protein bar to keep hunger at bay. Protein bars can be a healthy and satisfying snack option that provides essential nutrients. They can curb your appetite and prevent you from reaching for less healthy options like chips or sugary treats.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Too much of a good thing can be bad. According to dietitians, limit yourself to one bar per day, especially if you're also consuming other high-protein foods. Excessive protein can lead to digestive issues and may even strain your kidneys over time.
Don't just go by the brand; always check the ingredients. Some bars may contain allergens, artificial sweeteners, or other ingredients that you prefer to avoid. Being an informed consumer, guided by a registered dietitian, can help you make healthier choices in the long run.
Not Comparing Options
When you look for protein bars, it's easy to grab the first one you see on the shelf. However, it's important to compare different brands and nutritional profiles to ensure you're getting the best product for your needs.
As you stand in the grocery aisle, staring at the myriad of protein bars before you, consider the broader implications of your choice.
Each bar represents a different approach to health, a unique blend of science and nature, and a distinct culinary adventure. Your selection could introduce you to a new ingredient, offer a novel way to sustain your energy, or even challenge your views on what "healthy" really means.
Dietary choices are often reduced to mere numbers—calories, macronutrients, serving sizes—but let's not forget the qualitative aspects that make eating a joyous and meaningful part of life.
1. Are protein bars really good for you?
Protein bars can be good for you if chosen wisely. Look for bars with high-quality protein sources, minimal added sugars, and natural ingredients. However, they shouldn't replace whole foods and should be consumed as part of a balanced diet.
2. What kind of protein bars are good for weight loss?
For weight loss, opt for protein bars that are low in sugar and high in protein and fibre. These characteristics can help you feel full longer, reducing the likelihood of overeating later.
3. Can I eat a protein bar every day?
You can eat a protein bar every day as long as it fits within your daily caloric and nutritional needs. However, it's important to also have a varied diet rich in whole foods for overall health.
4. What are the cons of protein bars?
Cons of protein bars include their often high sugar content and the presence of artificial ingredients or preservatives. They can also be quite expensive compared to other protein sources.
5. Can I eat a protein bar before bed?
You definitely can - just try to choose a healthy protein bar that is lower in sugar and carbs. Protein before bed can be a great way to provide your muscles with amino acids as you sleep which can help with muscle growth and recovery.