10 Best Tasting Protein Bars Tested & Compared
Protein bars are a great tasty addition to your fitness regime and are a scrumptious way to help your body to recover after a long workout.
They’re delicious, they’re largely good for you and they come in a variety of flavors. Many people eat them simply as a replacement for a candy bar. Gone are the days when protein bars were a tasteless affair. With many delectable offerings on the market, you might be unsure which ones are going to tickle your taste buds best.
The benefits of Protein bars are very good news for runners.
Protein works as a macronutrient for the body and promotes good health and aids body recovery. As a convenience food source, bars are a quick source of a good amount of beneficial protein. You can take a protein bar anywhere, while your running, hiking, playing other sports.
As a snack between meals, you can ensure you get the correct amount of daily protein for your body. You can power up your body for running by ensuring a good power base of nutrients through protein bars, great for eating before a run, during or after.
People can and do make use of protein bars as a meal replacement, they are high in protein and meet the craving needs to be given by a meal. This way you can balance a diet to be effective but ideally not for every meal. Nowadays the variety of flavors offered through protein bars is impressive, the taste enjoyment is a very high factor compared to past years when the bars were bland and over chewy.
Enjoy our review and choose a bar to stimulate you.
- Clif Choc. P. Butter Builder Bar
- 20g of High-Quality Protein
- Clif Choc. Mint Builder Bar
- Carbohydrates to Sustain Workout
- Promax Cookies & Cream Pack
- 20g Replenishing Protein
10 Best Tasting Protein Bars
Clif Chocolate Peanut Butter Builder
Great taste and texture, with a one layer of soft chocolate and a crunchy cereal-like interior. They’re dipped in cocoa for a nice finish and they don’t taste too sweet. The textures complement each other well and there’s a real kick of peanut butter.
Packed with 23 additional vitamins and minerals and with few of the typical unhealthy ingredients, it’s a good option for those who are health-conscious. It has no artificial sweeteners, but there are 21g of sugar per bar.
A good low-cost choice!
- Plenty of nutritious ingredients and few bad ones
- Tasty with great texture
- No artificial sweeteners
- Reasonably priced
- Quite a lot of sugar per bar
Clif Chocolate Mint Builder
Really delicious! These are sweet and creamy with a nice refreshing mint kick to complement the creaminess of the filling and the sweetness of the chocolate. It’s not too sweet, so you can easily grab one for breakfast or as a snack. The texture is pretty good too, with no graininess and a nice creaminess which is often missing from protein bars.
20g of protein and 270 calories per bar, 21g of sugar and absolutely packed with added vitamins and minerals. If you’re looking for something fairly natural, this is a decent option with the added nutrition and the lack of artificial sweeteners. Yeah, there is quite a lot of sugar in this, but it’s nowhere near as bad as some others on the market. There are no GMO ingredients in this.
These come in at a pretty decent price!
- Fairly low-cost
- Mostly natural ingredients
- Unusual flavor, perfect if you’re seeking something different
- No artificial sweeteners
- No GMO ingredients
- Loads of added vitamins and minerals
- A little high in sugar
- Soy-based, which some people don’t like
Optimum Nutrition Birthday Cake
These have a great flavor and rank here mainly for their unusual taste and texture. They don’t taste exactly like birthday cake but they bear a good similarity and the texture is nice, with something between the typical density of a protein bar and the whipped texture of a mallow cake. The flavor is a little milder than some other protein bars, but it’s still a lovely snack.
Per bar, you have 240 cals, 20g of protein and 5g of sugar, which means that some of this is artificially-sweetened. There are quite a few artificial things packed into these, including artificial colors.
These run about average for protein bars.
- Unique taste and texture
- Each pack has three mini cakes, which can make for a smaller snack if you so wish
- Low sugar
- Artificially sweetened
- A slightly milder flavor than some other protein bars
Grenade Carb Killa Caramel Chaos
With three layers of tasty caramel, crunchy crispies and a chocolate coating, this is certainly a yummy one. It’s somewhat similar to a Snickers, and the caramel is really rich, which complements the crunch and savory flavor of the nuts. There’s also a little bit of a cookie dough vibe going on with these, both in taste and texture.
23g of protein with 210 calories is pretty impressive, and the low carb approach may appeal to some. That said, it’s of note that this is artificially sweetened. There are some unnatural ingredients here, but not as many as with some other protein bars.
- Calorie-to-protein ratio is great
- Great flavors
- Texture-wise, perhaps the closest to a real candy bar
- Low carb
- Artificially sweetened
- Some unnatural ingredients
- A little pricey
Oh Yeah! Peanut Butter Crunch
Another delicious one, and another peanut-based bar. You may have noticed that lots of these are nut-based, but these often are the tastiest of the bunch. These are pretty comparable to a Payday or a Snickers, with actual chunks of peanut and cookie and a rich caramel flavor. The texture is a nice combination of soft inside with the crunch of the cookie and peanut pieces.
Although they have only 13g of protein, the calories are pretty low, so you could feasibly have a couple of these if you’re feeling hungry and really craving plenty of protein. They are, however, unfortunately packed with quite a few non-natural ingredients.
Very slightly cheaper than your average bar.
- Really comparable, in terms of taste and texture, to candy bars
- Maybe the best texture of the bunch
- Fortified with vitamins and minerals
- The lowest protein content on this list
- Some unnatural ingredients
Quest Nutrition Apple Pie
If you like apple pie, you’ll like these! They genuinely taste just like apple pie, and are a great alternative if you’re looking for something a little different. Many people claim that these are one of the tastiest bars on the market, with some people even comparing their flavor to that of McDonald’s apple pies. They have a nice subtle hint of cinnamon and a chewy texture.
These are whey-based and sweetened with artificial sweeteners. They have many natural ingredients and the protein content is about what you’d expect. They have a pretty low calorie count of 190 calories per bar and are gluten-free and soy-free.
Slightly pricey, but only marginally so.
- Good alternative to the typical flavors
- Really genuine apple pie flavor.
- Decent calorie-to-protein ratio
- Good texture
- Soy-free and gluten-free
- Artificially sweetened
Cookies and cream is a pretty unique flavor, and the tastes here are really complementary to one another, with some nice chunks and a really creamy texture and taste.
These have loads of added vitamins and minerals, and the ingredients list isn’t too long. 20g of protein is about average for a good protein bar, and although they don’t have any artificial sweeteners, there are a whopping 30g of sugar in each bar, which isn’t ideal. They are gluten-free and kosher.
These come at a great low price - an excellent bargain pick!
- Pretty cheap
- A somewhat unusual flavor
- Decent protein content given the price
- Lots of added vitamins and minerals
- Packed with sugar
- Slightly high calorie-to-protein ratio
Absolutely great flavor, these legitimately just taste like cookie dough, so it’s a great way to have that homely treat with a guilt-free protein fix! They might be a little too chalky for some, as the texture isn’t as good as some others, but they are overall a nice bar. They’re not too sweet and offer a reasonably nuanced flavor.
These are made with artificial sweeteners, which might be a concern for some. They are gluten-free and soy-free and contain real chocolate along with some other natural ingredients. They are very low in sugar and the protein content is around average for a protein bar.
These are around an average price for a quality protein bar.
- Lovely genuine cookie dough taste
- Decent amount of protein
- Soy-free and gluten-free
- These are artificially sweetened.
- The texture isn’t as good as some others here, with some chalkiness.
Supreme Protein Peanut Butter Crunch
These don’t have the artificial gummy flavor or texture that many protein bars have, especially at this level of protein. The peanut butter gives a real richness, and the protein flakes combine well with the rest of the flavors to give an interesting texture. The chocolate tastes like chocolate, and the caramel tastes like caramel. The different flavors in the bar are all quite distinct so these have a nice complex flavor, they’re not simply sweet. They do crumb a little, which can be slightly annoying.
These are whey-based, and the protein content is very impressive. That said, the calorie content is significantly higher than your average bar, which might be of importance if you’re watching the waistline. They also have quite a lot of additives so they aren’t as natural as some bars. The sugar content is surprisingly low for something with so much protein.
The priciest of the bunch, owing to their massive protein content.
- Massive protein content
- Great flavor, many people really love these
- Low sugar content
- Nice texture
- Quite a few non-natural ingredients
- Artificially sweetened
- High calorie content
PureFit Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
These have a lovely flavor! Like most of the best protein bars on the market, they replicate a candy bar flavor, which makes them not only healthy but also a delicious, guilt-free snack. Many users have commented that they actually prefer these to standard candy bars, which is a great compliment. The peanut butter flavor is really nicely balanced out with the chocolate chip flavor, and there’s not too much sweetness, so they’re not cloying. When they say the taste like peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough, they really do!
These don’t have as much protein as some others on this list, but otherwise, nutritionally they are fantastic. They are vegan-friendly with no whey content, and are gluten-free and non-GMO. They have no artificial sweeteners and omit a whole load of the additives and extras that you might find in other protein bars.
They are a little pricey, but not outrageously so.
- Great flavor
- Not too sweet
- Vegan-friendly and gluten-free
- One of the best on the market for an additive-free snack with sensible and healthy ingredients
- Not as much protein as some others on the list, though 18g is still pretty good.
- These are soy-based, which some people don’t like.
So there you have some of the tastiest bars to get your protein punch. Happy munching!
Running regularly and eating or drinking protein go hand in hand.
Protein is very important, without it we can’t function, read our criteria for reviewing the ten best protein bars and afterward enjoy our Article: All a Runner Wants To Know About Protein
What We Looked At When Reviewing The 10 Best Protein Bars
Protein is very important for runners, we looked closely while comparing the different protein bars available for you.
We looked at: taste, amount and type of protein, were minerals and vitamins also in the bar? low carb, no GMO ingredients, amounts of sugar, artificial sweeteners, convenient packaging, and cost.
Taste figured highly, runners are smart to take protein after a rigorous run and it would not be nice if the bar was unpleasant to taste. This is possible with too much sugar, too much protein or artificial sweeteners in the bar. Some bars have a high level of calcium in the product and this can be tasted, the taste though not overly unpleasant, it’s not very appealing. Makers of protein bars have a challenge when it comes to taste, they have to achieve the right blend of products into the bar to achieve a pleasant taste which should appeal to all people, this really is not an easy task to achieve.
Amount and type of protein: we needed to compare the different bars to ascertain just how much protein each type of bar contains, the point of the bar is to feed taxed muscles after exercise if the bar does not contain enough protein this aim will not be achieved. If there is too much protein in the bar the higher amount can affect the taste though this depends on the source of the protein in the bar, soya, meat etc? If a bar contains too much protein it could be that the product cost more money even though the excess protein will not really benefit the runner.
Were minerals and vitamins also in the bar? and if yes why? What types of vitamins and minerals, the purpose for including them and how these interact with the consumption of protein? Are there any know benefits? An excess of vitamins and minerals in a bar will simply be excreted from the body and serve no beneficial purpose.
Carbohydrates: What types of carbohydrates are in the bar and in what amounts? Carbohydrates give energy so after a tough run, it must feel nice to be given a boost of energy. We wanted to know how effective and useful the inclusion of any carbohydrates will be and if this had any impact on the cost of the bar or the amount of protein?
GMO ingredients: A lot of Soya bean crops are GMO products, while this seems fine in some countries, there are many countries which tend to reject the concept of GMO grown food and are highly suspicious of the possible side effects. No evidence is substantiated either way in terms of good or bad but there are many runners who do not want to consume GMO food. It really is a matter of personal preference so we felt it was fair to identify which bars contained GMO sourced foods.
Sugar: We looked at the bars for sugar content, yes, this gives a rush of energy quite quickly and this is known as a sugar rush. We wanted to know if sugar was added in quantities which would produce a rush of energy or just for the purpose of sweetening a bar for runners that prefer a sweet taste?
Artificial Sweeteners: A lot of debate exists around the use of artificial sweeteners in any type of food, though it can be argued that using them does represent an alternative to sugar for those people/runners that do not want to eat real sugar. We did not look deeply at the ethics of the use of artificial sweeteners because they have been around for a very long time and are consumed by millions of people. Our review focused more on the use of them as an alternative to sugar.
Convenient packaging: A surprisingly interesting point for reviewing among the different bars, have you ever had a bar of chocolate or candy and you found it a frustrating struggle just to open the package? We looked at how protective and insulation for the packaging is and how easy it was to access the bar packed away inside it.
Cost: Our final and important criteria was to look at the cost of the bar? Is the price realistic in relation to what the product offers? We found that the price ranges between the bars were not all that different and that the choice of types of protein bar was more applicable when considering the cost in terms of value for money and good health.
All a Runner Wants To Know About Protein.
On average we should get 0.8 grams ( 0.0282192 ounces) a day of protein for each kilo of our own body weight, general high activity athletes need around 1.2 up to 1.6 grams ( 0.0564383 ounces) each day. After extensive exercise, our muscles need to recuperate or regenerate and they need feeding, the food they need is protein. The comfortable margin for muscle food is normally within half an hour after exercise because at this time your muscles are ready for protein.
For those of us on three meals a day lifestyle, breakfast, lunch and dinner, we can manage to meet our daily intake of protein, especially when we are not exercising.
We should spread out through the day, our intake of protein, many western diets favor a high intake of carbohydrates with our day’s protein boost coming in the evening meal, this is not ideal it would be better to eat some protein in each of the three daily meals.
So why is protein so important?
Running regularly and protein go hand in hand, protein can be eaten or drank.
When your body needs to carry out tissue repairs, it needs protein to do this, protein services your blood, skin, cartilage, muscle, and bones, if that’s not enough? You need protein for producing enzymes, various body chemistry, and hormones. When we consider this it is clear that if you do not consume protein you will eventually have problems.
Your body runs on macro-nutrients, these are things that your body needs a lot of in order to function properly, you must consume carbohydrates, fat, and protein, for micro-nutrients, you must have minerals and vitamins.
When you eat carbohydrates and fat your body will store it for future use, unfortunately for us, our bodies will not store protein so we need to consume protein daily to keep our bodies balanced.
The good news is you don’t need much protein, if you eat a little more than you need the effects work in your favor, if you eat far too much it can work against your health, so please don’t go and set up a regime of three meals a day “all meat”
It’s true that animal meat is a major source of protein but it’s not the only source, vegetarians rightly trust for example soya beans for a good solid source of protein, if those beans are GMO food you might want to research into other choices, it’s really up to you.
Awww c’mon this is confusing? Just tell me straight, how much protein do I actually need?
You’ve seen the bodybuilders, biceps like hills of iron and ten times the size of your own, many of us assume they are on super protein diets which actually grow those muscles but in reality the only way to get muscles to grow is to regularly exercise and challenge muscles while at the same time feed them regular amounts of protein so they can function.
You don’t need much protein if you live an average lifestyle, you won’t develop to look like a weight lifter or become stronger just by eating a lot of protein.
Here is a quick breakdown of how much protein you really need.
- Very young children just need two meals each day with around 5 ounces of protein, not per meal, spread over the two meals.
- Men and male teenagers approaching manhood, 7 ounces spread over three meals.
- Women, 5 ounces spread over two meals.
- The elderly, 5 ounces spread over two meals is fine.
- For women leading an active daily lifestyle, 6 ounces spread over two meals.
- Teenage girls, 6 ounces spread over two or three meals.
If your fine in terms of money, don’t assume that a daily steak at around 7-9 ounces will sort out your protein intake needs, it’s not that simple. A steak gives a whopping dose of protein in one sitting, that’s a big intake and not spread out during the day and think about the fat content building up in your arteries.
Look at your body like a well-tuned car engine, it needs topping up with oil as and when needed. We top up our bodies each day by spacing out our protein consumption, when we do this, our bodies are balanced and functioning more naturally.
Be smart when you choose your source for protein.
There are a variety of sources of protein, for us meat eaters, for vegetarians and vegans.
- All of us can get a good amount of protein from just one slice of bread (whole wheat), it will give you 3 grams of protein.
- All of us can source protein from nuts. Almonds are fantastic, you get 6 grams of protein from just 1 ounce of almonds. You are not limited to Almonds, research and see which other nuts?
- We can all eat beans, these are packed with protein, much more than other vegetables. Soya beans and legumes are full of protein and easily equal meat as a source. You can research and find there are other beans which provide protein.
- Meat eaters can choose from many types of fish and you don’t get the type of fat content which comes in beef but you do get healthy Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
- Chicken, Turkey, good sources of protein but if your health conscious, take of the skin as it is loaded with saturated fat.
Next time you go for a challenging run and after or even during the run you reach for your protein bar or drink, you are doing the right thing, your muscles are in need of food and you have to feed them.
Q: Exactly what is protein?
A: It’s a type of chemical which we need for our bodies to function properly, the building blocks of protein are Amino-Acids and these are compounds consisting of oxygen, sulfur, hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen. These made not sound very tasty but it works when it comes in the form of a nice roast dinner.
Q: Best source for real protein for runners while also using protein bars?
A: Pork, Chicken, and Turkey, Beans, Fish/Seafood, Soy, Pistachio nuts, Egg, Milk, Whey , Casein-proteins.
Q: Why is protein important for runners?
A: Because protein feeds skin, blood, muscles, cartilage and encourages your body to create much-needed body chemicals, in fact, your nails and hair are mostly protein. In short, no protein would probably result in a bad outcome.
Q: Can protein help our muscles if we run often?
A: Not only can protein help our muscles but we need to feed our muscles, every day we demand performance from our muscles and in return need to feed protein to them.
Q: Do children have to have protein?
A: Absolutely yes, it will help them grow and develop into healthy teenagers and adults. A minimum of 5 ounces every day.
Q: What would happen if as a runner I run on foods that don’t contain protein and I never eat any type of protein?
A: The facts are grizzly, your body would have no choice but to feed upon itself to function. First to go will be your muscles, even your bones would gradually become weaker as a result of no protein, you will lose your senses such as smell, eyesight, hearing and your brain would not be able to perform as it needs protein as food. You will die.
Q: Can I skip protein intake and just eat sugar-based drinks and food when I do regular challenging running or other exercises.
A: Interesting question, without any doubt the sugar will give you energy in a different form and for awhile it will probably be ok but if you kept it up daily for months you are going to damage the balance and functionality of your body. You will be demanding performance from your muscles but not giving food in return. The knock on effects throughout your body is all very negative.
Take a look at a few of these great sources:
- Best sources of protein, Health forum, ,
- What would happen if you didn't eat any protein at all?, Health forum, ,
- Protein Intake And Performance For Runners, Fitness publication, ,
- Are Protein Shakes Good for You After Running?, Fitness publication, ,
- Protein After Running?, Health & Fitness publication, ,