Protein is so much more convenient these days. Where once gym-goers had to tuck into a couple of rotisserie chickens to refuel their muscles after a hefty workout, they can now mix up a protein shake or, more convenient still, tuck into a protein bar.
Protein bars are now widely available, involve zero preparation, and generally taste good enough to seem like a treat as well as a way to help build muscle. However, there are downsides to protein bars, mainly involving the diamond-hard texture of some of them, and you need to be careful not to overindulge because they’re not simply a guilt-free replacement to chocolate. Read on for the full lowdown on what to look for in a protein bar, reviews of all the ones we’ve tried as well a top five.
The Best Protein Bars
We’ve tried a lot of protein bars since we first published this article more than two years ago, and we’ve included our impressions of all of them further down this page (jump to our protein bar reviews). But if you just want the best of the best, here’s our top picks ordered by how much protein each contains.
1. Myprotein Carb Crusher
These 60g bars contains a solid 21g of protein, but really excel when it comes to flavour, as well as providing nutritional bonuses like a huge 11g of fibre and a whole load of added vitamins and minerals.
Buy from My Protein | £23.99 for 12 60g bars
2. Optimum Nutrition Protein Crisp Bar
Masterfully side-stepping the too-chewy centre by using “crispies” (yes, that’s what’s listed in the ingredients), this bar has the most enjoyable texture of all. The nutritional numbers are strong too, with a solid 20g of protein, an astounding 13g of fibre and a low 1.8g of sugars, although the saturated fats tip the scales at 5.3g.
Buy from Optimum Nutrition | £17.99 for ten 65g bars
3. OnePro Protein Bar
These vegan bars come in two delicious flavours – raspberry and chocolate, and peanut butter and cacao – and have the most satisfying texture we’ve come across in a protein bar. The protein count isn’t the highest at 17g, but that’s still a solid amount for a 57g bar, and there’s also a monster 15g of fibre in each bar, so you can be sure they’ll fill you up.
Buy from OnePro | £29.99 for 12 57g bars
4. KIND Protein Bar
They’re not as high in protein as others on this list, with just 12g per 50g bar, but KIND bars are a genuine treat, full of nuts and dark chocolate. Getting 12g of protein is just a bonus.
Protein Bars Buyer’s Guide
Before you start grabbing fistfuls of bars it’s important to know what you should be looking for. The headline is obviously how much protein they contain, but as with all processed food you have to be careful to avoid hidden nutritional nasties. To help determine what you need to check, we enlisted Kurtis Frank from nutrition and supplement encyclopaedia examine.com.
What should people look for when choosing a protein bar?
“The main factors for choosing a protein bar would be taste, macronutrient composition – how many carbs, proteins and fats there are – and price,” says Frank.
Most protein bars will deliver somewhere between 15g and 25g of protein. Beyond that, you want to look at how much protein you are getting per calorie.
“For macronutrient composition, most bars are either just under 200 calories while giving 15g of protein or are around 250 calories for 25g of protein,” says Frank.
“Both these options are good for overall health and performance since, at the end of the day, they should only be making up a small percentage of your total calories.”
Also make sure you are actually buying a protein bar, not a general energy bar that’s aimed at endurance activities where loads of carbs are required.
“There are quite a few performance bars out there, such as Clif bars, that are meant for snacks during athletics such as biking or hiking,” says Frank.
“They’re pretty much all carbs so they don’t work as a protein bar to eat at work or between meals.”
The price of protein bars can vary hugely, and there will be monstrously bad ones at the cheaper end of things. However, if you can find a cheap bar you like, it will obviously help you save money and there are bargains available, especially if you shop online.
“When it comes to price, a premium protein bar can easily be one of the most expensive things in your diet on a per-calorie basis,” says Frank.
“They aren’t cheap, but the cheap ones also tend to taste worse and be made with poorer ingredients so it ultimately ends up being a balancing act based on your preferences and how much you are willing to spend. It is always worth it to at least try the cheaper bars since they might taste good to you and end up saving you money.
“Aim to get a decent amount of protein per calorie and don’t spend too much money unless you need to. If you’ve found a brand you really like then consider buying in bulk online as you can save a lot that way.”
What difference does the type of protein make?
Protein brands will offer many varieties in their bars, and the terms used can be pretty confusing for the layman. Luckily, it shouldn’t matter too much which protein is in your bar.
“The different types of protein matter much less in a protein bar than they do in shakes,” says Frank, “since the rate of absorption for proteins are inherently slowed when put into a solid form and paired with dietary fats and fibres.
“The types of protein with higher biological values [the percentage of the protein that is absorbed by your body] are still technically better but ultimately they’re all close enough that debating about milk protein concentrate versus whey isolate is irrelevant.”
A couple of things you should look out on the label is whether there is a high amount of gelatine or soy concentrate, says Frank.
“The only real ways that the protein type is relevant is if there is a high gelatine content, which provides amino acids and appears as protein on a nutritional label but is not a nourishing protein type, or if you’re getting 30g of soy concentrate, since in high doses there could be a mild oestrogenic effect [ie it will raise your levels of oestrogen, the female sex hormone] and 30g of the protein is a pretty high dose. Keep in mind soy lecithin is not soy protein and is totally fine in a protein bar.”
Should you be wary of calories and sugar in protein bars?
It’s easy to view your protein bar as a healthy snack, especially as you’ll regularly eat it before or after a gym visit and won’t be so concerned about keeping tabs on your food. However, they can contain more calories and sugar than you might expect, as we found out in our taste test.
“You definitely should be worried about calories and sugars in protein bars,” says Frank, “just as much as you would with candy bars. Just because it can be seen as healthy doesn’t make its consumption a free pass to be omitted from your dietary logs or calorie counts.”
On the other hand, you can also pick up protein bars that contain unexpected health bonuses, especially when it comes to upping your fibre intake.
“It is usually a good idea to get at least 5g of dietary fibre in a protein bar,” says Frank. “It helps it go down better, and a lot of us need help to get a decent amount of fibre in our diets.”
What else should you look out for in a protein bar?
Reading the label on protein bars won’t tell you anything about the texture. The worst of them can be rock-hard and leave you chewing for hours.
“Whether or not it can be used as a brick cannot easily be conveyed through the label,” says Frank. “It will ultimately require some taste testing to find out which ones can break a window when thrown.
“Sugar alcohols like sorbitol and xylitol are more common in the cheaper protein bars that are looking to reduce calories by swapping natural sugars out for these ones. While they can be consumed in moderation and aren’t necessarily bad, they can definitely cause gastrointestinal upset in some people. If you’re eating a protein bar before exercise, this is the last thing you want.”
Protein Bar Reviews
Armed with this knowledge about what to look for in protein bars, we bravely chomped our way through as many as possible. Many brands offer a huge range of different bars, so we picked our favourite to eat, based on taste and texture, and then looked into the macronutrients it offered.
M&M’s Hi Protein Chocolate Bar
Our favourite bar: Chocolate
As people increasingly turn to protein bars as slightly healthier snacking alternatives to chocolate bars, it’s only natural that traditional chocolate brands are aiming to get in on the action. The M&M’s protein bar is not quite as tasty as the chocolate-centred sweet itself, but it is satisfyingly chocolatey and contains large M&M chunks. The texture was hard to judge because we left these on a counter during a heatwave, so presumably they’re not usually quite so liquified, but there were no signs of any stodginess.
The fine details: There are two flavours of the bars – chocolate and peanut – and both contain 15g of protein, which is a solid enough amount for a 51g bar. The peanut bar is a little higher in calories at 207 compared with the chocolate flavour’s 182. However, the sugar levels are high at 15g per bar, half of your daily recommended maximum and significantly more than you’ll find in most protein bars, which tend to use artificial sweeteners instead. That puts these bars firmly in the occasional treat camp, but they’re still a little healthier than going full chocolate.
Misfits Protein Bar
Our favourite bar: Chocolate caramel
The caramel in this vegan bar means that it easily avoids the common protein bar problem of being too dry, and the overall flavour is rich without being too sweet. Taste and texture both get a big tick from us, and the other flavour we tried – chocolate hazelnut – is almost as good, just a bit drier.
The fine details: Misfits knows what’s good about the bar and broadcasts it in huge digits on the front of the packaging. There’s 16g of protein (in the chocolate caramel bar, 15g in other flavours) in each 45g bar, and under 1g of sugar. The amount of protein is a little light compared with some other options, but the calorie count is also low at 186, and the hidden bonus is the massive 8g of fibre each bar also contains.
Buy from Misfits | £18 for 12 45g bars
Grenade Carb Killa
Our favourite bar: Chocolate chip salted caramel
The new chocolate chip salted caramel variety of this popular range is seriously tasty. The chocolate coating is littered with chunky chocolate chips and the smooth caramel layer beneath is delicious, if a tad sickly. We’d pick this over a lot of traditional chocolate bars.
The fine details: The macros differ across the Carb Killa range, but this flavour offers 20g of protein in each 226 calorie bar. There’s 1.4g of sugar, which is par for the protein bar course. The 2.5g of fibre is a disappointingly small amount compared with other flavours such as cookies and cream, which contains 6.6g, and other bars on this list. The sweetness comes from the inclusion of sucralose.
Buy from Grenade | £30.99 for 12 60g bars
Oatein Hype Bar
Our favourite bar: Milk and cookies
After securing investment on BBC’s Dragons’ Den in January 2019, Oatein is straying from its oat-based protein cookie and flapjack beginnings (both delicious FYI) with this protein bar. Compared with the many dry and flavourless bars out there, the seriously sweet Hype Bar is a real treat. Fair warning, though – the milk and cookies flavour is extremely chewy so you might have a sore jaw after working through one. If that sounds a bit much, try the gooey salted caramel bar instead.
The fine details: All three flavours contain fewer than 192 calories and less than 2g sugar, with the sweetener sucralose being utilised. Surprisingly there is an eye-popping 21g of carbs in each bar, and a welcome 4g of fibre. The amount of protein per 60g bar (18g) is lower than many others, but considering the Hype Bars contains fewer calories it’s an expected trade-off. The protein comes from a mix of whey and soy.
Buy from Oatein | £29.99 (currently reduced to £17.99) for 12 60g bars
OnePro Protein Bar
Our favourite bar: Peanut butter and cacao
OnePro has absolutely crushed it in flavour and texture with these vegan bars, which are incredibly satisfying. We thought we’d prefer the raspberry and chocolate flavour of the two available, because peanut butter-flavoured bars are ten a penny and are generally dry and chewy, but this one is so much better than any other we’ve tried that we had to recommend it. The raspberry and chocolate flavour is still top-notch, though.
The fine details: The protein content is a little shy of the 20g found in most bars, but at 17g per 57g bar it’s still solid, with the protein sourced from pea protein isolate and pea protein crispies. The really impressive stat, however, is the 15g of fibre in a bar, which is half your recommended daily intake. It’s still worth mixing up your fibre sources to really give the gut what it craves, but still – half!
Buy from OnePro | £29.99 for 12 57g bars
Battle Ready Fuel
Our favourite bar: Triple chocolate
Do you hanker for the days when all protein bars were insanely chewy, largely tasteless lumps? Us neither, so we were disappointed by the Battle Ready Fuel bar. The flavour isn’t unpleasant, but it’s bland and not all that chocolate-y – and it really does take some jaw work to get the bars down.
The fine details: The bars are at least more impressive on this front. There’s 24g of protein in each 60g bar, and only 10.8g carbs including 2.4g of sugars – sucralose is used to sweeten the deal. There’s also a pleasing 7.8g of fibre, and the whole package comes in at 234 calories. Not the lowest calorie count on this list, but a solid calorie-to-protein ratio nonetheless.
Buy from Battle Ready Fuel | £19.99 for 12 60g bars
USN Trust Crunch
Our favourite bar: Fudge brownie
Aside from the enjoyably crunchy bits on the top, these bars are pretty unremarkable. The flavour is fairly bland and the texture is a bit too chewy. In short, it’s your basic protein bar – not unpleasant, not all that exciting.
The fine details: Each bar contains 20g of protein and 213 calories, with sugars kept to 1.6g by the use of maltitol and sucralose sweeteners. There is an impressive 7.2g of fibre in a bar though, which is a stand-out stat in an otherwise bog-standard nutritional breakdown.
Our favourite flavour: Triple chocolate flavour
Pea protein isolate provides the protein in this vegan bar, which comes in three flavours – triple chocolate, dark chocolate raspberry and cookie dough. We were left a little underwhelmed by both the flavour and texture of the bars, which rate as a little bland and a little dry respectively. However, we did feel uncommonly full after eating one, something that was immediately explained when we checked the nutritional info.
The fine details: Over 15g of fibre per bar! That’s more than half your recommended daily intake of fibre in one 64g bar. Incredible scenes. Sure, that might make you a little more – ahem – regular than you’d like at first, but many people don’t eat enough fibre and this bar will correct that in no time. There’s also a solid 20g of protein per bar, which works alongside the fibre to help you feel full until the next meal. The bars contain 264 calories but just 3.1g of sugar, with stevia used to provide what sweetness there is.
Buy from Science in Sport | £15 (currently reduced to £10.50) for six 64g bars (mixed flavours)
Optimum Nutrition Protein Crisp Bar
Our favourite flavour: Chocolate brownie
Most whey bars try for a fluffy or chewy centre and don’t quite pull it off, making them at best a functional snack you eat for the protein rather than the enjoyment. Optimum Nutrition instead goes for a body of crispy rice puffs on a chocolate base and the result is aces. It’s not the honey-sweet Rice Krispie bar you are probably hoping for, but it’s become our go-to when stomach rumbles strike in the afternoon.
The fine details: There’s a solid 20g dose of protein and just 1.8g of sugar, plus 16g of carbs, which is no bad thing when you’re planning on cycling home from work later. However, there’s a fair whack of saturated fats – 5.3g, about a quarter of your recommended daily limit.
Clif Bar Builder’s
Our favourite flavour: Chocolate peanut butter
Protein’s important after exercise, sure, but so’s carbohydrate, and this bar from the makers of delicious energy bars has both macronutrients in spades – 20g of protein and up to 30g of carbs. The taste doesn’t measure up to the energy bars, but the use of soy rather than whey protein does mean it avoids the unpleasant aftertaste that plagues other bars. Of the three chocolatey flavours, the PB one bests the plain chocolate and choc-mint versions, thanks to the lingering toffee notes.
The fine details: With a combined 50g of protein and carbs you’d be forgiven for thinking that’s all Clif Bars could cram in there, but the entire bar is a hefty 68g, 270-280 calorie slab. There’s quite a bit of fat, including 5.4g of saturates, but some extra vitamins and minerals have been added sweeten the deal. What hasn’t been added are artificial sweeteners, which means the sugar content is off the charts – as high as 22g. Save these bars for after your longest, toughest training sessions.
Vive Natural Protein Snack Bar
Our favourite flavour: Peanut butter
For a vegan bar that boasts of its “natural” bona fides, the texture is disappointingly artificial, much like that of a standard protein bar. Even the whole nuts that are suspended in the fluffy filling lack crunch. That’s not to say that the bar isn’t tasty and satisfying – it is, as anything coated in Belgian dark chocolate will be – it’s just that when the nutritional profile is similar to Kind, Eat Natural or Trek bars, we hope for a less processed flavour and texture. One point of difference that may be attractive for some is that there’s no soy involved, either as a protein or the source of the emulsifier lecithin – the bar relies on pea and rice to be a complete protein source, and its lecithin is sunflower-based.
The fine details: We’re in standard vegan protein bar territory here, with 10g of protein in each flavour, all of which clock in at 215 calories. For the peanut butter bar, there’s 4.7g of saturated fat thanks to the nuts and 11g of sugars, mostly from the chocolate and the dates. To counterbalance those figures there’s 6.8g of fibre.
Trek Protein Nut Bar
Our favourite bar: Dark Chocolate And Sea Salt
These vegan bars’ protein count comes from the large amount of nuts crammed into each of them, rather than a milk-derived protein like whey. That means two things: their protein count is a little lower and they are absolutely delicious. There are four flavours available – blueberry and pumpkin seed, coconut and raspberry, dark chocolate and sea salt, and dark chocolate and orange – and they all taste great, but the dark choc and sea salt just edged it for us. This crispy, peanut-filled bar has just the right amount of salt in it to satisfy.
The fine details: Each 40g bar contains 10.3g of protein for 213 calories, which isn’t close to the strongest protein-to-calories ratio you’ll find on this list, but that’s the trade-off you make when you opt for delicious nuts. You do get a good dose of fibre at 4.9g per bar, but the fat content is fairly high at 14.9g, although that’s mostly unsaturated fats from the nuts, and sugar clocks in at 4.7g.
Barebells Protein Bar
Our favourite bar: Hazelnut & Nougat
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but Barebells’ design is worth precisely one – “lifestyle”, with a premium 1950s Americana look that’s undeniably alluring. We initially found the flavours a bit of a let-down – that is, until Barebells released the new Hazelnut & Nougat bar, which is very tasty indeed. The texture is spot-on too, with an enjoyable level of chewiness that doesn’t stray into the cardboard-style consistency of some protein bars.
The fine details: It’s another of the new breed of bars with very low sugar, just 1.9g, and with 20g of protein in just 205 calories it’s punching above its weight. There’s also a respectable 4.2g of fibre per 55g bar.
Our favourite bar: Chocolate Peanut Crunch
All the bars in SiS’s new PROTEIN20 range have opted for a “party on the top, business on the bottom” approach, in that there are fun crunchy nuggets above the layer of slightly stodgy, presumably protein-packed filling. The chocolate peanut crunch is the most flavourful of the range, though for our money it’s still a little too bland to work as a replacement for a chocolate bar.
The fine details: Each 55g bar contains 20g of protein and 216 calories. The sugar count is kept to just 2g, with polyols used to sweeten the bar. These are carbohydrates, but not sugars, so the carb total is higher than in many other bars at 22g, which is no bad thing in our view – after a tough exercise session refuelling with carbs is important.
Buy from Science in Sport | £15 for 6 55g bars (currently reduced to £10.50)
Grenade Carb Killa Go Nuts
Our favourite bar: Salted Peanut
Rather than the usual whey protein, this vegan bar plumps for cramming as many peanuts as is reasonable into a 40g bar to pump up the protein. The slightly salty flavour and crunchy texture make for a very pleasant combo – this is a bar you’d happily snack on at any time regardless of whether you were looking to up your protein intake. That’s probably a good thing, because the protein content isn’t all that high at 10g per bar.
The fine details: It just about qualifies as a protein bar, but given that there are 9g of carbs in each 40g bar we’re not sure it deserves the title of carb killer. Maybe Grenade meant “carbs (of which sugars) killer”, because that total is a low 2g. Putting all those peanuts in the bar does result in an excellent 6.5g of fibre, and means the 10g of fats is mostly made up of the healthy unsaturated kind.
KIND Protein Bar
Our Favourite Bar: Double Dark Choc Nut
This bar is made from peanuts, almonds and dark chocolate, so obviously it is very nice. We challenge anyone to make a bar that tastes bad using those three primary ingredients.
The fine details: KIND bars don’t pack in as much protein as most of the other bars here, with just 12g per 50g bar. The fibre count is high, with 4.9g in each bar, but they’re also pretty high in fat at 17g per bar, though most of that is the “healthy” unsaturated kind. They definitely fall in the treat category, with the extra protein content being a bonus.
Bulk Powders Macro Munch
Our favourite bar: Brilliant Birthday Cake
Bulk Powders has, somewhat ambitiously, decided to call these gourmet protein bars, which creates an expectation that any bar is going to struggle to meet. We like that the bar has sprinkles on top, and some kind of jam-style layer that adds to the ersatz cake experience. The texture also delivers, avoiding excessive chewiness. It’s a great protein bar – just don’t call it gourmet.
The fine details: Each 62g bar contains 233g calories and 20g of protein, with the sugar count kept low at 2.9g through the use of isomalt and sucralose sweeteners. The list of ingredients is dismayingly long, although to be fair the sprinkles are a surprisingly large part of that. There’s a nice surprise at the end of the nutritional info though – the 8.9g of fibre in each bar.
NamedSport Crunchy Protein Bar
Our favourite bar: Dark Orange
We like a bit of crunch in our protein bar, because many of them stray into the way-too-chewy category, and the texture of NamedSport’s bar certainly lives up to its moniker. The flavour is excellent too, with the orange bringing plenty of zing to the party.
The fine details: Not the highest protein content you’ll find, at only 13g for a 40g bar, but the calories are also low at 152.
Buy from NamedSport | £1.75 per 40g bar
Our favourite bar: Chocolate Cherry Almond
You really can’t go wrong with chocolate, cherry and almond. The taste is excellent, and the bar’s texture is spot on too. Crispy and immensely satisfying.
The fine details: At just 35g this is one of the smaller bars we’ve tried and the calorie count is kept low as a result – just 151. Consequently, at 10g per bar the protein content isn’t that high either. But despite packing in plenty of chocolate chips and dried cherries, the amount of sugar is also low at 6g, and the 4g of fibre is music to our ears.
Buy from Beachbody | £39.79 plus P&P for 15 35g bars
Our favourite bar: Choc Orange
If it didn’t have “protein bar” written on the packaging we wouldn’t have considered it for this round-up as it’s packing meagre amounts of the stuff. We’re glad we deigned to try it, though, because it is the most delicious bar here. Both sea salt caramellow and choc orange flavours are built on a tasty fruit, nut and seed bar, but the latter throws in orange oil and a cocoa top layer. That’s right, cocoa and not chocolate – this is a bar vegans can safely wolf down.
The fine details: Are you ready? Remember it’s tasty as heck. Protein registers, barely, at 6.4g for 198 calories and since it’s all “real” food the lack of sweeteners means sugar ranks high, with 12g in every 40g bar. And because nuts are the main ingredient fat is a punchy 13g, though only 3.6g of that is saturated.
Myprotein Carb Crusher
Our favourite bar: Carb Crusher Strawberry Cheesecake
Myprotein seems to have developed the knack of making what could be disgustingly sweet flavours remarkably pleasant. That was the case with its PRO BAR Elite Toffee Vanilla, and the brand has repeated the feat with this strawberry cheesecake bar, which scores high for both its taste and its not-too-chewy texture.
The fine details: Our hats aren’t just off here, they’re hovering several feet above our head, because Myprotein has found space for 11g of fibre in a 60g bar. Lovely to see. Our hats did return slightly closer to Earth when we discovered the 2.7g of sugars, but still, that’s not very much sugar. On the protein front you get 21g and there are 212 calories in each bar. A nice bonus comes in the shape of a whole load of vitamins and minerals that Myprotein has chucked into the mix. There’s around 100% of your recommended daily allowance of 20 different vitamins and minerals, in fact.
Buy from Myprotein | £23.99 for 12 60g bars
The HiLo Bar
Our favourite bar: Dark chocolate and mint crunch
The first time we opened the dark chocolate and mint crunch bar we were hit with a knee-trembling whiff of rich chocolate. The bar stood up to the taste test too, although it couldn’t escape that protein supplement aftertaste – unlike the milk chocolate and caramel option, which didn’t scale the taste highs but deftly sidestepped the lows.
The fine details: 20g of protein for 190 calories is strong stuff, 9.6g of fibre is top-notch as is the 1.1g of sugar, and the bar even provides your recommended daily intake of five vitamins and throws in some minerals for good measure. While it’s a very different experience from the Myprotein Carb Crusher above, it’s got a very similar nutritional profile.
Buy from Healthspan | £39.99 for 24 60g bars
Optimum Nutrition Whipped Bites
Our favourite bar: Chocolate
These guys are not afraid to be different. Rather than one large bar, the Whipped Bites come as two smaller bars. And the bars look like mini rolls. So far, so exciting. And they back up their mini-roll looks with a rich chocolatey taste and a not-too-chewy texture. It’s a winner all round.
The fine details: You get the standard 20g of protein per 76g bar, with the calorie count a reasonable 243. Fibre is strong at 7g and there’s only 1.9g of sugar.
Eat Natural Protein Packed
Our favourite bar: Peanuts And Chocolate
Unlike supplement companies who move to protein bars from protein powders, Eat Natural have a snack bar heritage which means its protein offering should be especially tasty. And it is – it tastes like a crunchy cereal bar, with chunks of dark chocolate and coconut. The catch is that you get a lot less protein…
The fine details: Just 10g of protein per 45g bar, a little under what most people like to put away straight after a heavy workout session. As a way to top up your protein intake during the day, however, Eat Natural bars are a better snack than biscuits or cake, but keep an eye on the sugar – each bar contains 8.4g. Finally, the fibre – a decent 3.3g per bar.
SiS Protein Bar
Our favourite bar: Mint chocolate
Think of this as the best version you can get of the traditional protein bar. It’s chewy – really clamp-that-jaw-down chewy – and swerves the artificial sweeteners, although that does mean there’s a hefty dose of sugar. That’s why we’d plump for the mint flavour – it balances out the sweetness nicely. On the plus side, it packs in a mix of proteins (whey, casein and soy), plus it’s sporting the Informed-Sport mark.
The fine details: There’s a healthy 20g of protein in the 220 calories, but 17g of sugars and a meagre 1.1g of fibre.
Buy from Science in Sport | £40 for 20 55g bars (currently reduced to £18)
Maximuscle Promax Lean
Our favourite bar: Chocolate Mint
The packet bashfully says low sugar. We say “bashfully” because it’s got one of the lowest sugar content of any bar on this list, with a mere 1g per 55g bar. It’s quite the achievement since the bars still taste like a sweet treat and somehow they’ve been able to mask the gross aftertaste of protein powder. While both Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel Flavours have fans in the Coach office, Chocolate Mint is the most impressive with its tangy mint notes and a sprinkling of cocoa puffs on top.
The fine details: A perfectly respectable 20g of protein is complemented by a hefty 7.5g of fibre per bar. The Promax Lean is going to be a tough act to follow.
Buy from Maximuscle | £22.99 for 12 55g bars (some flavours currently reduced to £12.99)
The Primal Pantry
Our favourite bar: Cocoa Brownie
Vegans aren’t always well served by protein bar makers, but these bars buck the trend by using hemp protein. Not vegan? You may still want to pick these bars because while making a virtue of being made from “real food” may be groan-inducing, the consistency is real nice. The Mixed Berry flavour has a pleasant tang but Cocoa Brownie edges it by tasting like the real thing.
The fine details: The 15g of protein per bar is an impressive tally given they couldn’t lean on whey protein as an ingredient, but – holy sweet tooth Batman! – sugar clocks in at 20g. To be fair, that’ll be the dates, but still, that’s a lot of sugar.
Our favourite bar: Chilli & Red Pepper
Heavens to Betsy, what’s this? A protein bar made with something you’d recognise as real food? Prime beef, no less! These bars are designed to be eaten on the go during ultramarathons and other endurance events. To help it go down, the beef is deliciously moist and the flavour puts it miles ahead of artificial alternatives, with a warming kick from the chilli.
The fine details: The Prime Bar might not rack up the same protein count as the other bars on this list, with 12g per 50g bar, and there’s 5.5g of sugar and 1.25g of salt in each one, but it’s the taste that counts here.
Sens Protein Bar
Our favourite bar: Peanut Butter & Cinnamon
Crickets are the ethically sound protein source of the future, requiring 12 times less feed, 15 times less land and 2,000 times less water to produce the same amount of protein as cattle. They also produce 100 times less greenhouse gases than cows thanks to all the farting and burping done by the latter. Do crickets fart and burp? Presumably, but less than cows, at least.
Why enlighten you so? Because this protein bar is 20% cricket, which is great news for the planet and also for you, because crickets are flavourless. This allows the delicious cinnamon taste to come through with force. The texture is dry and crumbly, but it’s not a problem providing you have a drink to hand to wash it down. It’s like halva, if you’ve ever had that. If you haven’t, try halva. It’s delicious, like this bar.
The fine details: Crickets pack in the protein to the tune of 20g per 60g bar. The fibre content is modest at 1.6g, while sugars are fairly high at 7.4g, and the overall calorie count is sizeable at 318. Still though, crickets! What a time to be alive.
Our favourite bar: Maximuscle Oat & Raisin Progain Flapjack
There are a lot of options in the Max Nutrition protein bar range. Many of them fall into the too chewy category, but not this oaty treat. Flapjacks are one of the finest foods available and this protein-filled version does them justice.
The fine details: As you’d expect from a flapjack, the calorie count is high at 305 per bar. The protein tally is a respectable 20g, but there’s also 41.2g of carbs including 7.8g of sugar to consider, so these have to be classed as an energy-providing treat to use before or after your more intense workouts. One big plus is the 6.9g of fibre they pack in. That’s over a fifth of your recommended 30g a day.
Buy from Maxi Nutrition | £22.99 for 12 90g bars (currently reduced to £20)
Our favourite bar: Pro2Go Duo Caramel & Vanilla
This is aimed squarely at those with a sweet tooth, but if you do enjoy something sugary post-workout, it’ll hit the spot and then some. The level of chewiness is just about perfect.
The fine details: The sugar levels are menacingly high at 11g per bar. In contrast, the fibre levels clock in at precisely 0g, which isn’t great. The protein-to-calories ratio isn’t the best either, at 20g for 221 calories. They are inordinately sweet though, so if that floats your boat they’re hard to beat.
Myprotein Protein Bar Elite
Our favourite bar: Toffee Vanilla
Toffee vanilla is a flavour that normally makes teeth itch before you even take a bite, but these bars actually keep a lid on their sweetness. More impressive still is the texture, which hits the sweet spot of being satisfying without having to chew until your jaw aches.
The fine details: Hats off to Myprotein – this is a strong all-rounder in the nutritional stakes. There’s 26g of protein for 238 calories, a not unreasonable sugar tally of 3.4g, and a solid 3.9g of fibre.
Buy from My Protein | £25.99 for 12 70g bars
Our favourite bar: Cacao Orange
Its chewy, dense texture is one of the most satisfying of the protein bars we tried, and despite the massive amounts of sugar involved it doesn’t taste cloying. We could (and have) eaten a lot of these.
The fine details: Unfortunately the ratio of protein to calories and sugar is off the charts, and not in a good way. You get 16.2g of protein for 251 calories and a monstrous 15.1g of sugar with these guys, all of which is only partially compensated by the 3.3g of fibre and assorted vitamins and minerals they contain.
Nutrition X Pro X
Our favourite bar: White chocolate
Nutrition X has doubled the available flavours in its Pro X range. Where once you were stuck with brownie flavour, you can now choose between that and white chocolate. While the former isn’t going to fool anyone in a blind taste test with a real brownie, the latter does taste like white chocolate with a thin caramel filling and a slight crunch thanks to the soy crisps.
If you’re an Olympian in waiting, it’s also worth mentioning the range is Informed-Sport accredited so you shouldn’t fall foul of testing positive for something on the World Anti-Doping Agency banned substance list. Well, not from eating these bars, at least.
The fine details: At very nearly 20g of protein for 200 calories and just 2.3g of sugars, this ersatz white chocolate bar is undoubtedly healthier than the real thing. However, what really got us excited – and excited really is the right word – is the 5.7g of fibre each bar packs in.
Buy from Nutrition X | £24.99 for box of 12 55g bars