5 Best Tasting Protein Bars To Buy 2023: Top Brand Reviews
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Transparent Labs Uncut Protein Cereal
- Free of artificial ingredients.
- 20 grams of complete protein in each serving.
- 30% of the DV for calcium.
Orgain Organic Protein Bar
- Costs $1.25 per bar.
- Reasonably high in protein.
Quest Nutrition Protein Bar
- As much as 21 grams of protein per bar.
- 16 flavor options.
- Good source of calcium.
Nothing is worse than biting into a bad protein bar. They stick to your teeth, have a weird aftertaste, and, well, just taste funky. Some protein bars’ less-than-favorable taste and texture are often caused by additives, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and bulking agents.
Knowing how to choose a tasty, quality protein bar can be a game changer for those days you need a little extra protein.
This article reviews the best-tasting protein bars on the market in 2023. It also discusses what to look for when shopping for a quality protein bar.
What Are The Benefits Of Protein Bars?
As the building blocks of life, proteins are important for building and repairing cells in the body, as well as supporting healthy growth and development in children, teenagers, and pregnant women.
Although protein bars will never beat out a healthy, whole foods-based meal or snack, they are often more nutritious than food in a vending machine or fast food.
Meal replacement bars can be an effortless way to add protein, carbohydrates, and other beneficial nutrients to your diet. They can also help you power through a strenuous workout, suppress your appetite, and help you gain muscle mass after hitting the gym.
5 Best Protein Bars That Actually Taste Good In 2023
Transparent Labs Uncut Protein Cereal is filled with 20 grams of complete protein per serving and free of artificial sweeteners, coloring, and preservatives.
- 20 grams of complete protein per serving.
- 30% of the Daily Value, or DV, for calcium.
- Free of artificial ingredients and added sugars.
- Cereal may not be convenient on the go.
- Lacks fiber.
- Made from milk protein a problem for those with milk intolerance.
Transparent LabsUncut Protein Cereal is not exactly a protein bar, but it’s definitely worth a mention.
Uncut Protein Cereal is available in two tasty flavors — Cocoa Crunch and Fruity Splash — that are flavored using natural flavors and sweetened using stevia, monk fruit extract, and allulose, a naturally occurring sweetener found in fruits like figs and raisins but whose refining and processing may blur the difference between natural and artificial.
Although stevia exhibits strong antioxidant properties, some animal studies suggest it may alter the bacterial balance in the gut microbiome. Further research is needed to determine whether this gut microbiota alteration is beneficial, harmful, or neutral.
Each 1 ¼ cup serving of Transparent Labs Uncut Protein Cereal in Cocoa Crunch offers:
- 180 calories.
- 10 grams of fat.
- 20 grams of complete protein from milk protein concentrate.
- 26 grams of carbohydrates.
- 1 gram of sugar.
- Less than 1 gram of fiber.
It must be noted that each serving contains 9 grams of saturated fat from medium-chain triglycerides. Dietary intake of saturated fats has been shown to raise bad cholesterol levels in the blood. However, studies suggest that medium-chain triglyceride oil does not affect cholesterol levels but may cause a slight increase in triglycerides.
It must also be noted that its protein is from milk protein, which won’t work for those with a milk sensitivity or allergy.
Orgain Organic protein bars are one of the most affordable, best-tasting, vegan protein bars on the market.
- Certified organic.
- Relatively high in protein.
- Contains 6 grams of added sugar.
Orgain Organic Protein Bars are designed to help you feel energized throughout the day. They are composed of plant-based protein from various plant sources, including brown rice, hemp, chia seeds, and peas.
Orgain Organic Protein Bars are sweetened with organic cane sugar and come in six delicious flavors, including Chocolate Brownie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk, S’Mores, and Chocolate Coconut.
Most flavors are fairly high in sugar, containing 6 grams of added sugar per serving. Orgain Organic Protein Bar in Peanut Butter contains slightly less added sugar than the rest, with 4 grams of added sugar per serving.
The American Heart Association recommends women and men limit added sugar consumption to 25 grams and 36 grams per day, respectively.
Each bar also contains 3 grams of the sugar alcohol erythritol. Some sugar alcohols tend to cause digestive issues. However, erythritol appears less likely to cause digestive changes than other types of sugar alcohols. It is also a processed sugar subtitute, with the same concerns for artificiality that allulose has and the likely same unimportance of that concern.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, one of Orgain’s most popular protein bars, contains:
- 150 calories.
- 5 grams of fat.
- 10 grams of protein.
- 19 grams of carbohydrates.
- 6 grams of added sugar.
- 1 gram of fiber.
Orgain Organic Protein Bars are also certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture and free of genetically modified organisms, soy, dairy, and lactose.
Quest Nutrition Protein Bar
Quest Nutrition’s protein bars are a solid option if you’re looking for a tasty, high-protein bar and don’t have a problem digesting sugar alcohols.
- High in protein.
- 16 flavors available.
- Good source of calcium.
- High in sugar alcohols.
- Contains sucralose
Quest protein bars are low in sugar and calories yet high in protein, containing 18 to 21 grams of protein from milk protein isolate and whey protein isolate per bar.
They come in 16 different flavors to satisfy a range of taste buds. Some of the company’s top-selling flavors include Double Chocolate Chunk, Cookies & Cream, Dipped Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Birthday Cake.
Quest protein bars are high in fiber, with 11 to 15 grams per bar. While fiber is an integral part of our daily diet, consuming too much fiber in one sitting can cause gas, bloating, and stomach cramps.
Many flavors also contain stevia and the controversial artificial sweetener sucralose, which, according to a 2022 study, may disrupt the gut microbiome and raise blood sugar levels in some individuals. Compare sucralose with allulose and erythritol, which are natural but processed, as opposed to being synthesized like sucralose is.
Speaking of erythritol, Quest protein bars are high in sugar alcohols, containing five or more grams of erythritol per bar.
Here’s a glance at the nutrition profile for Quest Nutrition’s Cookies & Cream protein bar:
- 190 calories.
- 8 grams of fat.
- 21 grams of protein.
- 22 grams of carbohydrates.
- 1 gram of sugar.
- 13 grams of fiber.
- 10% of the DV for calcium.
Microwave your Quest Bars for a few seconds to ensure the perfect soft and chewy texture.
ALOHA Plant-Based Protein Bars
If you’re looking for a high-quality, great-tasting, plant-based protein bar free of stevia and sugar alcohols, ALOHA is an excellent option.
- Free of stevia, gluten, and sugar alcohols.
- Many flavor options.
ALOHA is a plant-based nutrition company that manufactures protein bars, powders, and drinks. As a certified B Corporation, you can be sure that ALOHA meets the highest standards for the social and environmental performance that defines such business entities.
All ALOHA protein bars combine healthy fats, plant-based protein, and carbohydrates for a balanced, on-the-go snack. The company offers many flavors, including Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Vanilla Almond Crunch, and Lemon Cashew.
All USDA-certified organic protein bars from ALOHA contain 14 grams of plant-based protein from brown rice and/or pumpkin seed protein blend. All flavors are free of artificial flavors and sweeteners, as well as gluten, dairy, stevia, and soy.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, one of the company’s best sellers, contains:
- 240 calories.
- 12 grams of fat.
- 14 grams of protein.
- 24 grams of carbohydrates.
- 5 grams of sugar, 3 grams of which are from added sugar.
- 10 grams of fiber.
For optimal taste, ALOHA uses natural ingredients, such as chocolate chips, peanuts, tapioca syrup, monk fruit, and organic cane sugar to flavor and sweeten their protein bars.
KIND Protein Bars
KIND offers a variety of great-tasting protein bars that are naturally flavored and free of sugar alcohols.
- Good source of iron.
- Free of sugar alcohols and artificial ingredients.
- Good source of fiber.
- Many flavors are sold out.
- Six grams of added sugar.
KIND bars are well-known for using a unique blend of high-quality ingredients. They come in various flavors, including Crunchy Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Nut.
All protein bars sold by KIND contain 12 grams of plant-based protein, primarily from soy protein isolate, making them an excellent option for vegans and vegetarians. They’re also free of sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, and artificial flavors and are sweetened using honey, sugar, and glucose syrup.
Dark Chocolate Nut, one of KIND’s best sellers, is made with rich dark chocolate and crunchy whole nuts for a convenient, high-protein snack to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Each Dark Chocolate Nut bar contains:
- 240 calories.
- 17 grams of fat.
- 12 grams of protein.
- 18 grams of carbohydrates.
- 8 grams of sugar, 6 grams of which are from added sugar.
- 5 grams of fiber.
- 10% of the DV for iron.
While the fat content of this protein bar is reasonably high, it mostly comes from peanuts and almonds, which are good sources of heart-healthy fats.
How To Choose The Best Protein Bars
When choosing the best-tasting, pure protein bar, consider the following:
Whenever possible, choose a protein bar with all-natural ingredients. Look for bars that contain whole-food ingredients, such as whole grains, dried fruit, peanuts, almonds, and oats.
Avoid protein bars containing high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, flavors, fillers, and preservatives. Not only are these bad for your health, but they can also give your protein bar an artificial aftertaste and weird texture.
The amount and type of protein found in protein bars can significantly vary. This makes it essential to consider both when selecting a protein bar. If you follow a plant-based or vegan diet, choose a protein bar containing plant-based protein sources, such as nuts and seeds.
A good rule of thumb when choosing a protein bar is to choose a bar that contains at least 25% of its total calories from protein.
For an in-between meal snack, look for a protein bar with at least 10 grams of protein in addition to fiber to help keep you full and energized until your next meal. If you’re looking for a protein bar to help repair and rebuild your muscles after a weightlifting session, consider a protein bar with at least 20 grams of protein.
Protein bars higher in protein are generally sourced from whey protein isolate, soy protein, hemp protein, pea protein, or brown rice protein powder.
If your goal is to lose fat, you probably don’t want to choose a protein bar that is too high in carbohydrates. But you can afford more carbohydrates if you’re consuming your protein bar before or after a workout. They will provide you with energy during your exercise and will replenish your carbohydrate stores immediately after.
While fiber is included in the carbohydrate content on the Nutrition Facts label, it is not used by the body for fuel.
Fiber is, however, an essential component of a healthy diet and has been linked to improved blood sugar control, weight loss, healthy digestion, and a reduced risk of heart disease. Aim to choose a protein bar with at least 3 grams of fiber.
Of note, some protein bars are exceptionally high in added fiber. If you aren’t used to following a high-fiber diet, this could cause stomach issues like gas and bloating.
Added Sugar And Sugar Alcohols
Many protein bars contain tons of added sugar to make them more palatable. While sugar can be used as fuel by the body, it’s best to limit added sugars. Too much sugar in the diet can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.
Additionally, many protein bars contain sugar alcohols, primarily xylitol, erythritol, and maltitol, which provide fewer calories than regular sugar.
Your small intestines don’t completely absorb sugar alcohols. Instead, they travel to your large intestines where bacteria ferment them.
Because your body cannot digest sugar alcohols efficiently, they may cause digestive upset soon after eating them in large quantities.
One exception is erythritol, which is less likely to cause digestive upset because it doesn’t reach your large intestine in large amounts.
If you have difficulty digesting sugar alcohols, opt for a protein bar containing natural sweeteners like honey and dates.
When To Eat Protein Bars?
Protein bars can be enjoyed at any time of the day. However, many people consume them before or after exercise or when they’re in a pinch and need a source of protein.
When it comes down to eating a protein bar before or after a workout, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. One 2018 study examined the difference between consuming protein before or after training. Researchers found similar changes among both groups in regard to muscle strength and overall body composition.
Protein bars are an easy, convenient way to boost your protein intake. They can be used as a snack or mini-meal to complement a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Unfortunately, not all protein bars are created equal, with many containing as much added sugar and calories as a candy bar. Many protein bars also contain artificial sweeteners and other additives that can cause them to taste bad or alter their consistency.
Consider the ingredients and protein content, your dietary needs, personal preferences, and health goals to find the best protein bar for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Transparent Labs Uncut Protein Cereal, Orgain Organic Protein Bar, Quest Nutrition Protein Bar, ALOHA Plant-Based Protein Bars, and KIND Protein Bars offer some of the best-tasting protein bars on the market.
No, protein bars are unlikely to cause weight gain directly. However, many protein bars are relatively high in calories. If you are snacking on multiple protein bars a day and not following a balanced diet, you may be in a caloric surplus, making you gain weight.
Yes. You can enjoy a high-quality protein bar daily if it is part of a well-balanced, healthful diet.
It’s always better to consume whole foods for your meals. However, if you’re in a pinch for time, you can grab a protein bar to hold you over until your next meal. Just be sure to choose a bar with healthy carbohydrates, protein, and fat balance.
All of the protein bars mentioned in this article are relatively low in calories yet high in protein, making them an excellent option for those trying to lose weight.
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