These protein bars are sure to have the best taste and aid in your muscle growth by pumping you with protein and other nutrients that are vital for maximum gains.
Protein bars are designed to serve as a convenient source of nutrition with the best taste for athletes, gym-goers, and everyday people to keep nutrition at the top of the list and aid in muscle growth, whether they use either vegan or whey. If you’ve ever walked through the isle at a store, boxes upon boxes of protein bars line the shelves and the choices become so overwhelming, you just give up. And we don’t blame you. That’s why we provided this list of the best protein bars for your bodybuilding goals for 2021.
Don’t let an overly saturated market keep you from seeing great gains and while many companies claim their protein bars can serve as solid meal replacements, it is important to remember that many bars are loaded with sugar and other additives that you just don’t need from a bar. This list has some of the best bars, vegan and non-vegan, on the market today to make your life a little easier when it comes to choosing the right protein bar.
Check out our list of the Best Protein Bars as you aim to continue your health hunt to aid in your overall growth, performance, and wellness for the best protein bar. We seek to make your life easier by providing you with a solid list to start to narrow down your search as you look for nothing but the best for your fitness, health, and wellness goals.
Best Protein Bar For 2021
- Best Protein Bar Overall: Jacked Factory Authentic Bars
- Best For Strength & Performance: Swiss Natural Foods T Bar
- Best For Energy & Metabolism Support: GNC Total Lean Layered Protein Bar
- Best For Recovery: Optimum Nutrition Opti-Bar
- Best For Tackling Cravings: Quest Nutrition Protein Bar
Best Protein Bar Overall
Your protein bar should reflect your nutritional needs, as well as your fitness needs. A good all-around protein bar will work to offer real ingredients, quality benefits, and only the best results for you.
Jacked Factory Authentic Bar
|Flavors||Birthday Cake, Peanut Butter Candy, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Coconut Cashew, Kitchen Sink, Mint Chocolate Chip|
Jacked Factory Authentic Bar is a great protein bar with authentic ingredients, taste, and results. This decadent high protein bar is made with real ingredients and whey protein isolate for that clean, filtered protein to help with muscle growth and recovery. With no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, this protein bar is exactly what you need to round out a great dietary routine. No gut wrenching fibers and awesome flavors are matched by honesty and transparency with this amazing protein bar.
- High in protein and uses whey isolate
- No artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols
- Made with real ingredients
- Great flavors
- Comparable to less expensive bars
Price: $24.99 for 12-pack
Best For Strength & Performance
For those looking to boost strength and overall performance, a protein bar with top tier ingredients can do just that. With ingredients designed to aid in muscle growth and your overall performance goals, you can hit success much faster.
Swiss Natural Foods T Bar
|Flavors||Honey & Salt, Peanut Chocolate|
Swiss Natural Foods T Bar is a fully natural protein bar with a twist. They have added a few extra ingredients to ensure your health and muscle growth take priority. Powerful plant extracts mixed with the right vitamins and minerals for optimal hormonal balance, this bar is the best Mother Nature can offer with great potential for your power, performance, but more importantly, health. With 16g of protein, a good ratio with the other macronutrients, and only 250 calories, this protein bar does its job, and it does it well.
- Packed with whey protein and other powerful ingredients
- Natural and effective
- Innovative approach to protein bars
- Taste is hard to swallow
- Usual chalky texture from protein bars
Check out our individual review for Swiss Natural Foods T Bar here!
Best For Energy & Metabolism Support
A protein bar should be easy on your stomach and allow for quick energy. Designed for convenience, you should be able to use a protein bar for all your goals so you maximize all sources of fuel.
GNC Total Lean Layered Protein Bar
|Flavors||Whipped Chocolate Mousse, Girl Scouts Coconut Caramel|
GNC Total Lean Layered Protein Bar is a great protein bar to satisfy hunger and provide for lean, high quality protein support for muscle growth. Being gluten-free, and with great flavors, you can enjoy this bar and get all of the benefits without the guilt. At 190 calories per bar and with 16g protein, 8g fat, and 14g carbs, this provides a perfect ratio for all of these macronutrients for your diet. Made with a protein blend of whey concentrate and isolate, as well as other ingredients to fuel muscle growth, repair damaged muscle, and aid in other bodily functions, this meal replacement bar is perfect for a pre-workout boost or a post-workout recovery protein packed snack while also being great tasting to boost your protein intake and help lose weight.
- Great ingredients
- 190 calories and 16 grams of protein
- Delicious flavors
- It does contain sucralose and maltodextrin
- High amount of sugar adds to the taste but may not be compatible with certain diets
Price: $9.99/ 5 bars
Check out our individual review for GNC Total Lean Layered Protein Bar here!
Best For Recovery
Protein bars should also work for your recovery goals as you seek the best for your post-workout routines. With the right ingredients and proper formula, those muscle building and recovery needs are right around the corner.
Optimum Nutrition Opti-Bar
|Flavors||Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Brownie, Cookies ‘N Creme|
Optimum Nutrition Opti-Bar is a high quality and very convenient protein bar designed for on-the-go muscle support to assist muscle recovery and muscle growth in efforts to get you primed for that next workout. As a leader in sports nutrition and a reputable brand you can trust, Optimum Nutrition seeks top-tier products with innovative technology to really get consumers to where they need to be with their diet, like with this meal replacement bar. With 20g of protein per bar, up to 10g of fiber per bar, and less than 5g of sugar, your recovery goals are surely on their way. Three great flavors in Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Brownie, and Cookies ‘N Crème make this bar a delicious option for your on-the-go needs as one of the best bars on the market to build muscle.
- High protein, low carb, and very little sugar
- From a reputable company
- Great flavors and taste
- Little sugar is very healthy
- Some may not enjoy the texture
Price: $29.95/ 12 bars
Best For Tackling Cravings
Protein bars should keep you full to pump you with nutrients and eliminate cravings. By getting rid of cravings you are well on your way to less snacking and weight loss.
Quest Nutrition Protein Bar
|Flavors||Birthday Cake, Blueberry Muffin, Caramel Chocolate Chunk, Chocolate Brownie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Hazelnut, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Sprinkled Doughnut, Cinnamon Roll, Cookies & Cream, Double Chocolate Chunk, Lemon Cake, Maple Waffle Protein, Mint Chocolate Chunk, Mocha Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Brownie Smash, S’mores, White Chocolate Raspberry|
Quest Nutrition protein bars are made with complete, dairy-based proteins to provide your body with 9 essential amino acids to help with muscle growth. With a lot of flavors to choose from, each bar is a sweet treat with less than 2g of sugar in each bar to satisfy cravings to keep you full longer. With up to 21g of protein and 16g of fiber per bar, net carbs round out to 4-6g giving you a really great ratio of all of those macronutrients you need for fuel, growth, and recovery along with your diet needs. With a solid protein blend and not a lot of ingredients, this bar comes out to be a great option for those looking to satisfy cravings while also seeing gains from a protein packed snack with clean ingredients to provide energy and build muscle.
- There are a multitude of flavors to choose from
- Ratio of macronutrients is perfect
- High in protein and one of the best tasting bars
- Little sugar
- May be hard to digest for some
- Does contain sucralose as well
Price: $22.22/ 12 bars
Importance Of Protein For Growth
Protein is a macronutrient vital for many functions in the human body. Since the body cannot produce protein, we must obtain this vital nutrient from foods. Once digested, amino acids are produced which are the building blocks of protein the body then uses to build and maintain muscle (1), produce blood and connective tissue, and work to keep your body primed for whatever comes its way. The type of protein, whether it be whey, vegan, or some other form, all work to build that desired muscle.
While it is easy to obtain protein from a great whey powder, whether that be a concentrate or an isolate, sometimes we need to get protein from other sources, those sources preferably being whole foods, or better yet, vegan proteins. Yet even still it can be hard for us to make a home cooked meal with our busy schedules and this is where protein bars come into play to really advance our goals and give us all of that protein for serious muscle growth (2). As a vital component for muscle growth and muscle maintenance, protein in whatever form should never be overlooked, especially for workout recovery and a protein bar is a great way to get that nutrition, vegan or not.
Benefits Of Protein Bars
Protein bars have great benefits to your growth and recovery while also aiming to keep you full (3). Benefits of protein bars include:
- Packed with protein: Provide enough protein content to offer growth and keep you full while still allowing for proper digestion. This will also aid in muscle building and maintenance and workout recovery from protein like vegan sources, whey, or others.
- Full of fiber: Keep you full longer and moving regularly which is an important piece for your body to properly function and keep weight off.
- Short on sugar (if any at all): Be careful of added sugar and other sweeteners that ruin the health benefits of a good bar and ruin all of your dietary work thus far, especially for certain diets, like those who are vegan.
- Inexpensive and convenient: Don’t break the bank for a protein bar that will only provide some benefits and really look for one that will give you everything you need (and deserve) from a bar.
Why You Should Eat Protein Bars For Performance?
Protein bars are simple, tasty, and convenient snacks to enjoy while also adding protein and other nutrients quickly into the body for any lifestyle. It is important to not fall victim to the best looking box or advertisement because its all about ingredients. You need to find the right bar for you as many are flooded with sugar and other ingredients that can really hurt your gains (4). For those looking for vegan options, they do have those as well.
While this may seem like a daunting task, trust us, we get it. We’ve all spent time wandering the isles in the supermarket or health store, or browsing endless pages online searching for the next best thing to elevate our health and fitness. Sometimes there is a diamond in the rough and once we find it, it is game over. But sometimes it takes more diligence than we want, or have time for, and that can really hurt our chances of finding a really great supplement or health food product.
What To Look For In A Good Protein Bar
A good protein will have:
- Minimal calories: Be sure to look for a lower calorie bar that also has plenty of benefits. They do exist.
- A quality fat content: Depending on your goals, knowing the fat content can be extremely important. Also, make sure it is conducive to whatever diet you may be on.
- Clean ingredients: Be sure to look for any harmful additives or just extra junk that you do not want in your protein bar snack, as well as the source of protein like vegan, whey, or others.
At the end of the day, choosing the best bar for you all comes down to preference. What you desire in taste, what you want in texture, and what you seek for your bodybuilding goals. The best part is, you can always mix and match bars and are not tied down to one in particular. Many companies offer a variety of bars for various occasions while you can work to create your own group of different bars to really diversify your palate and your goals (5). Don’t get hung up on trying to find the one perfect bar for you because the truth is there may be more than one that fits your desired goals. In fact, there are more than one and it just takes some work in finding it.
How We Choose
When choosing this list of the best protein bars, we wanted to focus on three things: reputability of the company, taste and effectiveness, and price. Each company should be working for you and the name of the brand matters. We look at those trusted companies who work tirelessly to product the best protein bars around. We also know your bar should taste good and be effective for keeping you full and working on producing more gains. These bars have both of those covered and you shouldn’t settle for anything less. We also know people look for vegan and non-vegan sources and we take that into consideration as well. Lastly, price matters. We know it can be expensive to find a good bar and these above are perfect for all your goals while still being affordable options.
What is the best protein bar?
Jacked Factory Authentic Bars. This is a great protein bar with authentic ingredients, taste, and results. This decadent high protein bar is made with real ingredients and whey protein isolate for that clean, filtered protein to help with muscle growth and recovery. With no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, this protein bar is exactly what you need to round a great dietary routine.
What makes a protein bar great?
Protein bars should offer the right balance of macronutrients with the highest amount being protein, either vegan sources or whey. Often times, protein bars will have a lot of fat and carbs that don’t match the amount of protein. They should also taste good and be effective in their goal of providing you with the best nutrients and ingredients so you progress with your goals.
Can protein bars be used as meal replacements?
Protein bars can be used as meal replacements but sparingly. It is always best to eat a whole food meal so you don’t miss out on any nutrients, or even looking to products designed for meal replacements is a great place to start as well. Check out our list of the Best Meal Replacements for some awesome supplements!
When is it best to eat a protein bar?
Protein bars are great for many occasions. For your pre-workout or post-workout fuel, protein bars can really prove to be worth your while. On busy days, taking a protein bar on the go is a great option when looking to stay on your diet and eliminate the desire to snack.
On the whole, are protein bars healthy?
That is a tough question as it really depends on the bar. Protein bars can be healthy if they have the right balance of macronutrients and don’t contain artificial flavors, sweeteners, or sugar alcohols. Doing your research is the best way to determine if the bar of your choosing is a healthy option for you, as well as if it fits your dietary needs, for example those who are vegan.
Protein bars should work for your benefit and your benefit only. While they should taste good, they should also provide for overall quality health benefits and it is possible to have both. These protein bars listed above are really great sources of protein, vegan and not, that taste good and will give you that boost to fuel a workout, recover from tough training, or offer a healthy snack during the day as you power through to the end.
With protein as an essential building block for muscle, having a protein packed bar is something to really look for to advance your goals, as well as the type of protein being vegan or whey. While it can be frustrating to search and search for the best option, it is out there. Your goals are priority number one and while it can be daunting to know there are a ton of products on the market, the benefit is that you don’t have to change your goals to find the right one. It will find you. Check out these protein bars for your bodybuilding goals and see your progress unfold today with a great meal replacement.
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- Pasiakos, Stefan M.; McLellan, Tom M.; Lieberman, Harris R. (2015). “The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review”. (source)
- Tipton, K. D.; Wolfe, R. R. (2001). “Exercise, protein metabolism, and muscle growth”. (source)
- Tanskanen, Minna M.; Westerterp, Klaas R.; Uusitalo, Arja L.; Atalay, Mustafa; et al. (2012). “Effects of Easy-to-Use Protein-Rich Energy Bar on Energy Balance, Physical Activity and Performance during 8 Days of Sustained Physical Exertion”. (source)
- Hassan, Sami Kadhim (2020). “Quantitative and qualitative effects of proteins and natural sugars on hardening and color of high-protein nutrition bars during storage”. (source)
- Shmerling, Robert H. MD (2015). “Are protein bars really just candy bars in disguise?”. (source)