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Healthy Protein Bars: Which Ones Are Actually Good?

By: Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.,

Writer at The Fit Father Project

healthy protein bars

Who doesn't love healthy protein bars when you're in a rush or on the go and need some quick energy? But are all protein bars good for you?

The answer, which probably doesn't surprise you, is no.

Knowing which healthy protein bars are actually good for you and which are junk is a must.

Here's what you need to know before you grab and go!

Want to shake it up? Here's how to choose the best protein shakes for you!

See the program 38,000 guys over 40 are using to get results like these

Healthy Protein Bar Ingredients

Healthy protein bar ingredients are made from whole food sources, without added sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, or other additives.

Examples of nutritious protein bar ingredients include:

 Protein Powder

  • Whey protein
  • Casein protein
  • Egg protein powder
  • Hemp protein powder
  • Pea protein powder
  • Rice protein powder
  • Other plant-based protein powders

Meat, Poultry, and Seafood

  • Bison
  • Beef
  • Venison
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Duck
  • Salmon

Eggs, Dairy, and Plant Milk

  • Egg whites
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Plant milk
  • Greek yogurt
  • Plain kefir

Nuts and Seeds

  • Cashews
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds

Nut and Seed Butters

  • Peanut butter
  • Cashew butter
  • Almond butter
  • Sunflower butter

Fruits

  • Dates
  • Raisins
  • Berries
  • Pineapple
  • Bananas
  • Other fruits
  • 100% juice

Fats

  • Coconut
  • Coconut oil
  • Other plant-based oils

Grains

  • Oats
  • Whole-grain cereals
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Other whole grains

Flavorings

  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Other seasonings
  • Herbs
  • Matcha powder
  • Monk fruit
  • Stevia
  • Erythritol
  • Dark chocolate
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Natural flavors

Many healthy protein bars contain a variety of whole-food ingredients and taste delicious.

Meet SuperFuel. The Delicious Protein Shake Packed With 40+ Energy-Boosting Vitamins & Superfoods (Designed For Busy Men)

As a busy guy, it’s challenging to stay consistent with healthy eating. That’s why we created SuperFuel… the delicious “all-in-one” nutrition shake for busy guys 40+ to give your body the protein + key nutrients you need for more energy, fat burning, and muscle building.

Not-So-Healthy Ingredients

Limit or avoid the following protein bar ingredients that aren't so great for your health:

  • Sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Syrups
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Saccharin
  • Aspartame
  • Sucralose
  • Acesulfame potassium
  • Neotame
  • Advantame
  • Sodium benzoate
  • Potassium benzoate
  • Sodium nitrates
  • Sodium nitrites
  • MSG
  • BHT
  • Sulfites
  • White flour
  • Artificial flavors
  • Artificial colors

Steer clear of these and other additives found some protein bars or other protein-enriched products.

Learn how to read nutrition labels properly and what nutrition facts REALLY mean.

 

Healthy Protein Bars: What to Look for

To ensure the protein bars you choose are the healthiest on the market, there are a few things to keep an eye out for:

Whole-Food Ingredients

Check out the ingredient list on your favorite protein bars to make sure they're indeed good for you.

Look for whole food ingredients like fruits, eggs, nuts, seeds, and more.

If your bars contain added sugar, artificial sweeteners, or other additives, steer clear of them in favor of healthier alternatives.

Grams of Protein

Of course, protein bars should be protein-rich, but surprisingly not all of them are.

When choosing healthy protein bars, look for those containing at least 6 or 7 grams of protein.

Many provide more protein than this — up to 20 grams or more in some cases.

Grams of Fiber

Not all protein bars contain fiber, but it's an added bonus when they do!

Look for bars that contain at least 2-3 grams of fiber to increase your daily intake and reap the many health benefits fiber offers.

Grams of Added Sugar

While total sugar content is important, focus mainly on grams of added sugar in your favorite protein bars.

That's because fruits and other healthy whole foods contribute to grams of natural sugar.

Look for healthy protein bars containing less than 3 grams of added sugar.

Of course, no added sugar is best!

Vitamins and Minerals

Many protein bars are naturally rich in vitamins and minerals or have had micronutrients added to them.

Getting extra micronutrients in your diet from healthy protein bars can enhance energy levels and reduce your risk of deficiencies.

See the program 38,000 guys over 40 are using to get results like these

Healthy Protein Bars to Choose

Some of the healthiest, pre-packaged protein bars available include:

RX Bars

RX bars are loaded with whole-food ingredients and can give you a quick boost of energy in addition to offering high-quality protein.

Peanut Butter RX Protein Bars

Peanut butter RX bars contain the following:

  • Calories: 210
  • Fat: 9 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 25 grams
  • Fiber: 4 grams
  • Total sugar: 17 grams
  • Added sugar: 0 grams
  • Protein: 10 grams

Ingredients: dates, peanuts, pea protein, oats, natural flavors, almond protein, and salt.

Blueberry RX Protein Bars

Blueberry RX bars contain:

  • Calories: 210
  • Fat: 7 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 24 grams
  • Fiber: 4 grams
  • Total sugar: 15 grams
  • Added sugar: 0 grams
  • Protein: 12 grams

Ingredients: dates, egg whites, almonds, cashews, blueberries, and natural flavors.

Epic Protein Bars

Epic protein bars often contain meat as the main ingredient, so they're an excellent source of complete protein.

These bars provide whole foods as ingredients, without fillers or other additives.

A turkey almond cranberry Epic bar contains the following:

  • Calories: 140
  • Fat: 8 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 9 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Total sugar: 5 grams
  • Added sugar: 0 grams
  • Protein: 10 grams

Ingredients: turkey, almonds, cranberries, lactic acid, sea salt, cultured celery powder, nutmeg, coriander, cumin, dried garlic, paprika, red pepper, and dried onion.

Sakara Protein Bars

Plant-based, gluten- and dairy-free Sakara protein bars are loaded with essential nutrients. The nutrition breakdown is as follows:

  • Calories: 190
  • Fat: 10 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 20 grams
  • Fiber: 12 grams
  • Total sugar: 6 grams
  • Added sugar: 0 grams
  • Protein: 10 grams

Ingredients in Sakara protein bars include hemp protein, sunflower seed butter, dates, cassava root fiber, chicory fiber, almonds, cocoa, salt, l-theanine, and vitamin B12.

Julian Bakery Protein Bars

Julian Bakery protein bars are loaded with protein and free from sugar alcohols.

The nutrient breakdown for two of the bars is:

Paleo Thin Sunflower Butter Bars

  • Calories: 150
  • Fat: 7 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 25 grams
  • Fiber: 24 grams
  • Total sugar: 1 gram
  • Added sugar: 0 grams
  • Protein: 20 grams

Ingredients: egg white protein, sunflower seed butter, prebiotic tapioca fiber, and monk fruit extract.

Primal Thin Sweet Cream Bars

  • Calories: 130
  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 19 grams
  • Fiber: 18 grams
  • Total sugar: 1 gram
  • Added sugar: 0 grams
  • Protein: 20 grams

Ingredients: grass-fed whey protein, prebiotic tapioca fiber, sunflower seed butter, and monk fruit extract.

IQ Bars

IQ Bars are keto-friendly, vegan, and free from GMOs, gluten, dairy, and sugar alcohols.

Matcha chai IQ bars provide the following:

  • Calories: 180
  • Fat: 15 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 10 grams
  • Fiber: 7 grams
  • Total sugar: 1 gram
  • Added sugar: 0 grams
  • Protein: 12 grams

Ingredients: almonds, tapioca fiber, plant-based protein crisps, flax seeds, natural flavors, pea protein, coconut oil, water, sunflower lecithin, vanilla extract, matcha, sea salt, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, clove, curcumin, steviol glycosides, lion's mane, and vitamin E.

Meet SuperFuel Vegan. The Super Delicious 100% Plant-Based Protein Shake Packed With 40+ Energy Boosting Vitamins & Superfoods

Meet SuperFuel Vegan.
The Super Delicious 100% Plant-Based Protein Shake Packed With 40+ Energy Boosting Vitamins & Superfoods

As a busy guy, it’s challenging to stay consistent with healthy eating… especially if you’re following a more plant-based diet. That’s why we built SuperFuel Vegan… the delicious “all-in-one” nutrition shake to give you the premium 100% plant-based protein + key nutrients you need for more energy, fat burning, & muscle building.
As a busy guy, it’s challenging to stay consistent with healthy eating… especially if you’re following a more plant-based diet. That’s why we built SuperFuel Vegan… the delicious “all-in-one” nutrition shake to give you the premium 100% plant-based protein + key nutrients you need for more energy, fat burning, & muscle building.

Click here to learn more about SuperFuel Vegan the delicious 100% Plant-Based Protein with 40+ powerful superfoods »

Homemade Protein Bar Recipes

Making homemade protein bars is one of the best ways to ensure the bars you consume contain healthy, whole-food ingredients.

But if you don't have time to make your own bars, no problem!

Simply keep the healthy pre-packaged protein bars above on hand for times you're tight on time or on the go.

But, if you're looking for new healthy protein bar recipes, you're in luck!

Try the delicious recipes below and enjoy them with your family.

Mint Chocolate Protein Bars

Consider this simple mint chocolate protein bar recipe that your entire family will adore:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of dates
  • 1 cup of nuts (cashews, almonds, etc.)
  • 3/4 cup of your favorite protein powder
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract
  • 2 tablespoons of almond milk (you might need a bit more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

Instructions

  • Place the dates in a food processor. Blend them until you reach a pea-like consistency.
  • Add in the nuts, and continue blending until the dates and nuts are finely ground.
  • Add protein powder of your choice, salt, cocoa powder,  peppermint extract, and almond milk. Blend the mixture until well-combined and a sticky ball forms.
  • Line a 9 x 9-inch baking dish with plastic wrap.
  • Place your mixture into the dish. Flatten it and make sure the top is even.
  • Place the dish in your freezer for about 15 minutes.
  • Remove it from the freezer and lift the plastic wrap out.
  • Cut the hardened mixture into 12 bars.
  • Serve and enjoy!
  • Store the bars in your refrigerator or freezer.

Servings: 12 bars

Cinnamon Protein Bars

Try this mouth-watering cinnamon protein bar recipe that's simple to make and contains whole foods as ingredients:

Ingredients

Bars:

  • 1 cup of cashews or other nuts
  • 1 cup of pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup of vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup of rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon of unsweetened almond milk

Protein Drizzle:

  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon of almond milk

Instructions

  • Place cashews and dates in a blender and process until they form a ball (about 2-3 minutes).
  • Break up the ball and add in protein powder, oats, cinnamon, and salt. Blend the mixture.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of almond milk and blend until a ball forms.
  • Line an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with plastic wrap.
  • Spread out the dough mixture in the baking dish and flatten it with your hands.
  • Place the mixture in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
  • Remove the dough mixture from the freezer, lift it out of the dish using plastic wrap, and cut it into 12 bars.
  • Prepare the protein drizzle by combining protein powder with almond milk.
  • Place the protein drizzle in an airtight bag and cut a small hole in the corner.
  • Drizzle the bars with the milk/protein powder mixture.
  • Freeze the bars for another 15 minutes.
  • Store them in your refrigerator or freezer.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Servings: 12 bars

Pumpkin Pie Protein Bars

These whole-food pumpkin pie protein bars are nutritious, delicious, and festive!

Ingredients

Bars:

  • 1 cup of pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup of cashews
  • 2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup of vanilla or pumpkin-flavored protein powder
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup of pumpkin puree

Garnish:

  • 2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of toasted coconut flakes
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped pecans

Instructions

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor. Blend the mixture until smooth.
  • Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Place the batter on top of the parchment paper and press down using your hands or the back of a wet spoon.
  • Sprinkle the mixture with 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds, pecans, and coconut flakes and press them firmly into the bars.
  • Freeze the mixture for 2-3 hours.
  • Cut it into 8 bars and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Servings: 8

Almond Date Power Bars

Try these protein-rich almond date power bars for a quick boost of energy between meals, before workouts, or after you exercise!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup of almond butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 6 pitted dates, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of dried apricots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup of toasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup of brown rice cereal

Instructions

  • Place all of the ingredients (except cereal) in a food processor and blend.
  • Place the mixture in a bowl and add the cereal.
  • Form 4 balls and place them in the refrigerator or freezer on wax paper to harden.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Servings: 4

Matcha Fudge Protein Bars

Matcha fudge protein bars are loaded with nutrients and bursting with flavor!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of almond butter
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla-flavored Stevia extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon of almond extract
  • 1 1/4 cups of vanilla brown rice protein powder
  • 2/3 cups of oat flour
  • 2 tablespoons of matcha powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • Melted dark chocolate (optional)

Instructions

  • Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with parchment paper and set it aside.
  • Using an electric mixer, mix all ingredients at low speed in a bowl until well-blended.
  • Mix on medium speed until the mixture becomes thick like cookie dough.
  • Scoop the mixture into the pan and flatten it. Cover with plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate the mixture overnight.
  • Lift it out of the pan and slice it into 12 bars.
  • Drizzle dark chocolate over the bars if you'd like and enjoy!
  • Store them in the refrigerator or freezer.

Servings: 12 bars

See the program 38,000 guys over 40 are using to get results like these

Natural Ways to Boost Protein

You don't have to eat bars to get a quick boost of protein between meals or when you're on the go.

Alternative options include:

  • Low-sugar protein shakes
  • Homemade protein shakes
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Plain Kefir
  • Reduced-fat string cheese
  • Protein-fortified plant milk
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread
  • Celery dipped in peanut butter
  • Apple or banana slices dipped in nut butter
  • Turkey jerky
  • Flavored tuna
  • Rotisserie or canned chicken
  • Tuna sandwich on whole-grain bread

Avoid certain kinds of protein foods like fried meats, fried cheese curds, deli meats, sausage, other highly-processed meats, and sugar-sweetened dairy foods.

Erin Coleman B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer at The Fit Father Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on healthy protein bars.

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