Top 10 Protein Bars for Building Muscle, Fat Loss

best protein barsLooking for a way to supplement your protein?

Want to support your goals of muscle building?

Ready for a protein bar that curbs appetite AND tastes great?

Finding the ideal protein bar to support your fitness goals isn’t easy. There are literally hundreds of options; many of which aren’t right for your needs.

Let’s take a look at the importance of protein bars in a healthy diet and exercise program and what to look for when shopping for one. More importantly, we’ll give you access to the top 10 protein bars for muscle building and fat burning.

Wholefood vs. Supplements

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that when it comes to achieving your goals of muscle building or losing weight, wholefood nutrition must be your primary focus. Eating a well-balanced diet that is set to your specific goals makes up 70% of the results that you see.

Do supplements play a hand in the results you see as well? Of course; however, supplements are only there to supplement your diet. Supplements should never be the focus of your day-to-day meal planner.

Your body requires wholefood nutrition as the nutrients found in real food are easy to digest and easier to assimilate. What’s more, the nutrients you get from wholefood sources such as lean meats, vegetables, and super foods are natural. You don’t have to worry about artificial sweeteners or fillers like you do with some low-quality supplements.

With that said, supplements, especially protein bars, can play an important role in achieving your specific goals.

Protein Bars for Fitness Goals

Protein is important for all types of fitness goals with an emphasis on building muscle, losing fat, and improving fitness recovery.

When it comes to muscle building, protein is a necessity. This is why protein supplements such as powders and bars are so popular (you can view our best whey protein powders here for a liquid alternative). Once ingested, protein is broken down into amino acids and these compounds are the building blocks of muscle tissue. Supplementing with protein may help to trigger higher levels of protein synthesis, support lean tissue growth, and protect muscle from catabolic breakdown. (1-5)

For weight loss and burning fat, protein is just as important. Protein provides a feeling of satiety after a meal, which means that you’ll feel fuller for a longer period of time. Simple carbohydrates tend to spike blood sugar and leave you feeling hungry. This may result in over-eating, which can throw your weight loss off-track. What’s more, certain amino acids such as isoleucine have been found in studies to promote fat loss. (5)

Lastly, protein is important for sports recovery. Sufficient protein intake in conjunction with an exercise program has been shown in several studies to enhance recovery post-workout. Studies suggest that protein ingested before and after a workout will also improve intra-workout performance. (6-7)

Macronutrients & Protein Bars

Despite the labelling you see on supplements, not all protein bars are created equal. More importantly, one specific brand of protein bar is not going to be ideal for everyone.

Macronutrients are the three types of calories: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Based on fitness goals and body type, macronutrient requirements will vary from person to person. Just like people, protein bars have a vastly different macronutrient content from bar to bar. The inconsistency with macronutrients across protein bars can create problems, especially if your personal macronutrient needs aren’t being met.

For example, if you are trying to lose weight and you eat a “protein” bar that has 8 grams of protein and 28 grams of simple carbohydrates, you’re not eating a protein bar; you’re eating a candy bar.

To avoid making these mistakes, we recommend that you establish your personalized caloric intake and macronutrient needs with a calorie calculator.

How to Find the Best Protein Bar Macros

Here are ideal macronutrient ratios based on your specific goal that you should look for in any protein bar you pick up.

Calories for One Gram of Each Macronutrient

  • Protein: 1 gram = 4 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram = 4 calories
  • Fat: 1 gram = 9 calories

Macronutrients for Muscle Mass

  • 45% of calories from protein
  • 45% of calories from carbohydrates
  • 10% of calories from fat

Example: Use this formula for your own protein bar to make sure it is meeting your needs.

  • For a protein bar that is 200 calories:
  • 45% of the calories should come from protein: 90 calories (200 x .45 = 90)
  • 90 / 4 (calories per gram) = 22.5
  • Your protein bar should have at least 22 grams of protein

Macronutrients for Fat Loss

  • 45% of calories from proteins
  • 40% of calories from carbohydrates
  • 15% of calories from fats

Now, if you are going to supplement with a protein bar (and we suggest that you do) be sure to match the protein to your personal fitness goals. Here is our list of the best protein bars to support muscle building and fat loss.

 Overall Top 10 Protein Bars

1. Labrada: Lean Body Bars

labrada bars Although slightly gritty, this protein bar is quite delicious and VERY nutritious. They come in both cookies and cream (my favorite) and penut butter. These bars pack healthy protein and essential fats for optimal post workout recovery.
Calories: 290 , Protein: 25g , Carbs: 28g (Fiber: 2g & Sugar: 9g)

Buy from:Amazon.com

2. Clif: Builder’s Bar

clif builder's bars The Clif Builder’s Bar combines all natural ingredients, deriving it’s 20 grams of protein from natural soy and nuts. 35% percent of the bar is from organic ingredients. What’s really most amazing is that it still tastes amazing! Additionally, this protein packed bar contains 23 vitamins and minerals.
Calories: 270 , Protein: 20g , Carbs: 30g (Fiber: 4g & Sugar: 20g)

Buy from:Amazon.com

3. ISS Research: OhYeah! Bars

ohyeah! bars protein If you can’t handle the taste of a typical protein bar, then look no further because OhYeah! Bars will change your life. These things are delicious! By far the best tasting protein bars on this list. I would seriously rather eat these than any candy bar – they are that good!
Calories: 370 , Protein: 28g , Carbs: 33g (Fiber: 5g & Sugar: 24g)

Buy from:Amazon.com

4. PowerBar: ProteinPlus Bars

powerbar protein plus Perhaps the most well known brand when it comes to protein bars, PowerBar does not disappoint with their Protein Plus Bars. Designed for post workout recovery, ProteinPluse bars contain amino acids and high quality protein. These bars are available in size small or large in 5 different delicious flavors. The following numbers and pricing are for the size “large” bars.
Calories: 360 , Protein: 30g , Carbs: 33g (Fiber: <1g & Sugar: 30g)

5. Quest Nutrition: Quest Bars

quest bars gluten freeLow sugar and insanely high fiber make Quest Bars an enticing choice. Not only that, but these Quest Bars are gluten free protein bars – a solid choice if that’s what your diet demands (or for any diets). Quest Bars use highly bioavailable proteins.
Calories: 170 , Protein: 20g , Carbs: 24g (Fiber: 18g & Sugar: 3g)

6. Come Ready Nutrition: Performance Protein Bars

come ready protein barsPerformance Protein Bars by Come Ready Nutrition packs in a solid blend of whey protein isolate, milk protein concentrate and whey protein concentrate. It has solid stats across the board but also contains more vitamins and minerals than the other choices here. Performance Protein Bars contain no sugar alcohols.
Calories: 320 , Protein: 24g , Carbs: 38g (Fiber: 5g & Sugar: 15g)

7. Detour: Detour Oatmeal Bars

detour protein barsIf you love oatmeal and your looking to bulk up – these Detour Oatmeal Bars are the ones for you! Packed with whole grain, good carbs, low sugar, high protein, and high fiber, whats not to love? These delicious bars also have a special “no melt” coating. So leave it in your back pack or car on a hot summer day without the worry.
Calories: 340 , Protein: 30g , Carbs: 33g (Fiber: 4g & Sugar: 29g)

8. Pure Protein: Pure Protein Bars

pure protein high proteinPure Protein aims to provide the highest quality product possible. With 9 different flavors to chose from, you are bound to find one you like. These bars contain a very high protein to carbohydrate ratio – making them a super protein product.
Calories: 310 , Protein: 31g , Carbs: 25g (Fiber: 2g & Sugar: 12g)

9. MET-Rx: Big 100 Colossal Bars

met rx big 100 Microwave these bad boys up for 8 seconds and you got yourself a semi-delicious protein packed browny delight. These Colossal Bars have everything you would expect in a high quality protein bar, but with the a browny like taste. There seems to be a lot of complaints that the company recently changed to a soy based protein.
Calories: 390 , Protein: 30g , Carbs: 40g (Fiber: 3g & Sugar: 30g)

10. Supreme Protein: Carb Conscious Bar

carb conscious proteinSupreme protein for a supreme body – is the tagline for Carb Conscious Bar. I like it! This product utilizes high quality protein and tastes great. Not sure why this protein bar is called “Carb Conscious” though. It has low carbs but not much lower than any other product listed here. All and all a solid choice.
Calories: 410 , Protein: 30g , Carbs: 32g (Fiber: 2g & Sugar: 12g)


Top 5 Protein Bars for Muscle Mass

  1. OatMega

oatmega barHighlights:

  • Grass-fed whey
  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids
  • Gluten free

Protein: 14 grams per bar

Carbohydrates: 22 grams (7 grams of fiber) per bar

Fat: 7 grams per bar


  1. Simply Protein

Simply barHighlights:

  • Vegetarian-friendly
  • Gluten free
  • Contains both whey isolate and concentrate

Protein: 15 grams

Carbohydrates: 18 grams (5 grams of fiber)

Fat: 2 grams


  1. Manbake Protein Bar

manbake barHighlights:

  • Barebones formula
  • Very clean and natural
  • Ideal for pre-workout nutrition

Protein: 20 grams

Carbohydrates: 24 grams (18 grams of fiber)

Fat: 6 grams


  1. Combat Crunch Bar

combat crunchHighlights:

  • Two types of whey isolate
  • Ideal for post-workout nutrition
  • Excellent taste

Protein: 20 grams

Carbohydrates: 25 grams (12 grams of fiber)

Fat: 7 grams


  1. Quest Bar

Quest proteinHighlights:

  • Natural & clean (no artificial fillers)
  • Isolate-focused
  • Incredible taste

Protein: 21 grams

Carbohydrates: 20 grams (13 grams of fiber)

Fat: 10 grams


Top 5 Protein Bars for Fat Loss

  1. Think Thin

Thin BarHighlights:

  • Vegan-friendly
  • Carbohydrate content is Low Glycemic
  • Does not contain GMOs

Protein: 20 grams

Carbohydrates: 24 grams (1 gram of fiber)

Fat: 8 grams


  1. Pure Protein Bars

pure proteinHighlights:

  • Carbohydrate content is Low Glycemic
  • Features a protein blend of isolate and concentrate
  • Ideal for post-workout nutrition

Protein: 21 grams

Carbohydrates: 17 grams (2 grams of fiber)

Fat: 4.5 grams


  1. MAX’s Super Shred Protein Bar

Max BarHighlights:

  • Contains fat burning ingredients such as L-Carnitine
  • Perfect for low carbohydrate diets
  • Blend of isolate, concentrate, and casein protein

Protein: 22 grams

Carbohydrates: 5 grams (2 grams of fiber)

Fat: 5 grams


  1. Hydroxy Ripped Clean High Protein Bar

Hydroxy Protein BarHighlights:

  • Contains the fat burning ingredient, African Mango Extract
  • Soy free
  • Ideal for low carbohydrate diets

Protein: 23 grams

Carbohydrates: 5.5 grams (10 grams of fiber)

Fat: 6 grams


  1. Maxine’s Burn Bar

Burn protein barHighlights:

  • Contains several fat burning ingredients such as green coffee extract
  • Also contains carb-blocking ingredients
  • Ideal for low-carb diet

Protein: 15 grams

Carbohydrates: 3.5 grams (1 gram of fiber)

Fat: 3.5 grams


Conclusion

Do you have a favorite bar that didn’t make our list?

Have questions about the macronutrient formula?

Let us know in the comments below!

References

  1. Tsutsumi R, Tsutsumi YM. Peptides and proteins in whey and their benefits for human health. Austin J Nutri Food Sci 2014;1(1): 1002.
  2. Phillips, S. M., and L. J. Van. “Dietary Protein for Athletes: From Requirements to Optimum Adaptation.” Journal of Sports Sciences. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2011. Web.
  3. Blomstrand E, Eliasson J, Karlsson HK, Köhnke R. Branched-chain amino acids activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical exercise. J Nutr. 2006 Jan; 136(1 Suppl):269S-73S.
  4. Negro M, Giardina S, Marzani B, Marzatico F. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2008 Sep;48(3):347-51.
  5. De Lorenzo A, Petroni ML, Masala S, Melchiorri G, Pietrantuono M, Perriello G, Andreoli A. Effect of acute and chronic branched-chain amino acids on energy metabolism and muscle performance. Diabetes Nutr Metab. 2003 Oct-Dec;16(5-6):291-7.
  6. Stark M, Lukaszuk J, Prawitz A, Salacinski A. Protein timing and its effects on muscular hypertrophy and strength in individuals engaged in weight-training. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2012;9:54. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-54.
  7. Hoffman J, Ratamess N, Tranchina C, Rashti S, Kang J, Fiagenbaum A. Effects of a proprietary protein supplement on recovery indices following resistance exercise in strength/power athletes. Amino Acids. 2010;38:771–778. doi: 10.1007/s00726-009-0283-2.
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Comments

  1. Great post. I eat a ton of protein bars and have tried 6/10 of these bars. Oh yeah bars are probably my favorite. Although Quest bars and labrada are really good too. Anyways, Im always on the lookout for new and improved bars so I appreciate the article!

  2. I love ALL these protein bars. Doing any giveaways???

  3. How do you rank Trader Joe’s RX bars I really like them but are they good if I’m trying to loose weight?

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