The Best Protein Bars, According To a Nutritionist

There are very appropriate times to consume the best protein bars, but those probably occur less than you probably think. Protein bars are great to those of us who lift weights its hard to get all the muscle-repairing nutrients without eating steaks upon steaks. For those who are looking for a post-workout meal on the way to work. And for those that are replacing that rare meal after being caught in meetings or traffic because a bar is better than fast food any day.

And thats about it. Why? This is not any nutritionists idea of a healthy snack.

I understand nowadays, everyone is always short on time and rushing from one commitment to the next, but I think people rely on protein bars too often,saysJennifer Silverman, a New York-based nutritionist.

Depending on the bar, they might be upwards to 250-300 calories and packed with added sugar. I see a lot of issues with this. First, a snack should be 100-200 calories at most. Secondly, its important to savor and enjoy our food, not scarf it down.

Another issue with protein bars: many of them arepacked with fillers. Silverman says you should avoid added and fake sugars (sucralose, erythritol, and aspartame in particular.Instead look for bars that have ingredients you can pronounce and natural sugars, she recommends.

What Makes Something the Healthiest Protein Bar?

According to Silverman, the maximum level of sugar a protein bar should have is 14 grams per serving. It should also have about five or go grams of fiber, which helps you digest it slowly and release its energy evenly. If you are looking to shed weight, the maximum calories a bar should have is 200. If muscle gain is your goal, a bar should have at least 20 grams of protein.

Silvermans general dietary advice is simple: Focus on eating real food. The healthiest foods out there have no nutrition facts label or ingredients list at all, meaning fruits and vegetables. If you prefer a bar, you can make them at home very easily. All you need is rolled oats, your favorite nut butter, your seed of choice (chia, flax or hemp) and some dried fruit. Most of the time you wont even need to bake them, she says.

But if you dont have time to make your own bars, there are some solid options on the market. Here are some of our favorites.

Best Protein Bars

These protein bars contain a whopping 20 grams of whey and milk protein.

Pros: These bars are meant for serious workouts. Theyre loaded with protein, but are also heavy on the sugar. Still, theyre one of the most delicious protein bars you can buy, both in terms of flavor and texture.

Cons: These protein bars only contain two grams of dietary fiber, which is on the low side. And each bar is 350 calories.

Each of these protein bars contains eight grams of organic plant protein from pumpkin seeds.

Pros: We like that you can recognize the ingredients in these protein bars, and that each bar contains six grams of sugar. The chewy texture is a nice plus, too.

Cons: The protein content is definitely on the lower end. But these taste pretty great and arent over-sweetened.

From a mother and daughter-run company, these protein bars are made from plant-based ingredients that will fill you up.

Pros: These protein bars are organic, gluten-free, vegan, and soy-free. They have 12 grams of protein that comes from peas and brown rice. All of the ingredients are sustainably grown, and you can choose from 14 flavors.

Cons: At 230 calories with 12 grams of sugar, they arent great for guys trying to shed some pounds.

This bar has three, yes three, ingredients in it. Easy and simple.

Pros: Its clean eating on the go. You get three ingredients and they arealmonds, honey, and whey protein isolate. So theres no need to get a chemistry degree before buying this protein bar. And you get 20 grams of protein per bar.

Cons: They dont have much of what makes food taste good, so we dont recommend buying these for the taste.

A bar that proudly lists its main ingredients on the front, so you know exactly what you're getting.

Pros: There are no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or fillers, plus most of the bars are gluten-free with no soy or dairy. Its 12 grams of protein come largely from egg whites, an ingredient offered by precious few other bars.

Cons: Most of these flavors contain nuts, so beware if you have allergies. And theyre very chewy.

These protein bars are full of grains, nuts, and seeds from Non-GMO ingredients.

Pros: The same brand known for its kid-friendly granola bars has moved into protein bar-land. Each bar has12 grams of multi-source plant protein and six grams of fiber per serving. We like that each bar only has six grams of sugar and six grams of fiber.

Cons: Because these bars are lower in protein, theyre best as snacks only.

A great-tasting bar that has 20 grams of protein that will fill up in the short term until your next meal.

Pros: There are only four grams of sugar in each bar. With six grams of fiber per protein bar, it should keep you feeling full for hours after eating.

Cons: Well, given the amount of fiber in it, it helps to be near a bathroom when you eat one.

From a trusted name in the nutritional bar world, this bar has got 20 grams of protein and you get selection of great flavors.

Pros: You wont get more than 10 grams of fat per bar. The protein bars are also vegan-friendly, something that can be hard to find, and they taste pretty great.

Cons: They have been known to melt inside their packaging, so best to not take anywhere hot.

You get four ingredients, and 20 grams of organic grass-fed protein per bar.

Pros: They are gluten-free and have only one gram of sugar. Each bar is only 130 calories, so you can add mass while protecting your waistline.

Cons: The sweet cream flavor is an acquired taste, to say the least.

If you're a fan of peanut butter, these are for you.

Pros: Each protein bar has 20 grams of protein, and thelow glycemic index means your sugar levels wont spike and drop all over the place.

Cons: Every protein bar has 240 calories, so its not a great option for weight loss. They also only have three grams of fiber.

A low-sugar, gluten-free bar that comes in a bunch of crazy flavors, like maple glazed doughnut and almond bliss.

Pros: Each bar has just one gram of sugar and just over 200 calories, so theyre not a bad choice for those trying to lose weight. Each bar also has 20 grams of protein, so theyre not kidding around.

Cons: What they lack in sugar, they make up for in sugar alcohols, which Silverman says you should try to avoid.

This peanut butter fudge protein bar has 13 grams of protein per bar, along with five grams of sugar.

Pros:Five grams of sugar is on the lower side, which we like. And these bars are made withhydrolyzed whey protein, which the brand says is easier on your digestive system.

Cons:This bar is very, very low on fiber, with only one gram of dietary fiber.

This bar tastes delicious, has nine grams of sugar, and three grams of fiber. It has 28 grams of carbs and six grams of fat.

Pros: For nine grams of sugar, which is on the reasonable side, you get a protein bar packed with flavor. It really, really tastes good. And it has a solid eight grams of protein.

Cons:This bar is low on fiber.

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