It can be a real struggle to get the right nutrients on a daily basis, especially when on a specific diet or weight loss plan. Protein bars are a great way to get the calories and other macro and micro nutrients that you need quickly and effectively, especially when on the go. Here are some of the best tasting protein bars for women.
Advantages of Protein Bars
Your body requires protein, an essential macronutrient, whether you’re actively engaging in a sport or a workout program, running, hiking, or simply trying to get through your day.
Protein bars make a quick and convenient source of protein because they allow you to access this vital macronutrient quickly and effectively when you are on the go while accessing many of the other macro- and micronutrients that you need.
Protein bars are formulated specifically to provide you with the amount of protein that you need on a daily basis when you are challenging yourself physically.
Rather than trying to guess how much the right amount of protein is to address your specific needs, adding a protein bar to your nutrition plan to bolster your protein intake especially after a workout is a great way to ensure you are getting exactly what you need.
Protein bars can provide a number of advantages, including:
- Pre-Workout Boost: When your body goes through a tough workout, you need to feed it protein in order to rebuild the muscle fibers that you damage. Eating a protein bar is a great way to prepare yourself for a workout by giving yourself a boost of protein and carbohydrates to allow you to really power through your workout. Studies have shown an improvement in workout results based on consuming protein before a workout.
- Post-Workout Replenishment: If you are not sufficiently replenishing your body through nutritional supplementation before your workout, then consider eating a protein bar after your workout to put some of that good stuff back into your body. If you feel like you’ve had a tougher workout than expected then you can have a protein bar after to put back some of the calories, protein, carbohydrates, and other nutrients you’ve burned during the process.
- Meal Replacement: When you don’t have enough time to grab a proper meal, or you’re working through lunch, protein bars make fast and convenient ways to replace a meal without sacrificing vital nutrients. Rather than going to the vending machine where you may end up with a blood sugar spike or a dip in important nutrients you should choose a protein bar where you can guarantee the important macros that you need, great flavor, and other important vitamins and minerals.
- Packability and Portability: Protein bars can be easily slipped into your gym bag or your purse for easy accessibility. You can eat them almost anywhere you go, and you can keep a couple of different flavors or varieties on you all the time so there is always some variety in your life as well. Protein bars make it easy to incorporate high quality nuts, fruits, protein powders and other whole foods into your diet while you’re on the go where you otherwise might not be able to.
How to Choose the Best Type of Protein Bars
Protein bars can contain a wide variety of ingredients, both healthy and less so. When choosing the best tasting protein bar, you should be looking for more than just flavor. The other considerations that you should be making for your protein bar needs include the following:
- Your protein bar should contain a minimum of 10g of protein.
- Limit the saturated fat in your bar to 3g or less and avoid trans fats and hydrogenated oils whenever possible.
- Whenever possible, shoot for protein bars with fewer than 200 calories. If you have a favorite bar that is closer to 300 calories, try to use it as a meal replacer.
- Try to vary your flavors so that you don’t fall into a rut with your protein bars just as you vary flavors in the meals you eat.
- Look for protein bars that contain vitamins and minerals as well as protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Ingredients to Look for in Protein Bars
Protein bars are typically made up of a protein source, a sweetener, and either fiber or fat (or both) to add flavor and texture. When you understand what these ingredients are and how they lend flavor and nutrients to your protein bars, you will better be able to make smart and tasty decisions about the protein bars you use to boost your health.
- Protein Sources: Some of the most common protein sources are soy protein isolate, whey protein isolate, hydrolyzed protein, and calcium caseinate. Whey is a popular choice because it is absorbed and digested quickly, though it can still cause some inflammation due to its derivation from dairy. Hydrolyzed protein refers to any type of protein that has been broken down, meaning it will be absorbed into the body and digested more readily. Calcium caseinate takes a little longer to digest, which may leave you feeling fuller longer.
- Sweeteners: Sugar alcohols are found in many protein bars, allowing the product to taste sweet without the addition of calories. Examples of sugar alcohols include mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, maltitol, and erythritol. They are commonly found in “low carb” protein bars because sugar alcohols do not get absorbed the same way in the digestive system. Other sweeteners may include corn syrup and maltodextrin. When you can find naturally sweetened protein bars using honey, coconut, dried fruit and similar ingredients, try to opt for those.
- Best Alternatives: Some protein bars offer whole natural sourced proteins, such as hemp, brown rice, seeds, nuts, and quinoa. For sweeteners, you can look for protein bars sweetened using fruit, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, brown sugar, or coconut. Try to look for healthier, whole food sources whenever possible when choosing a protein bar.
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And Now, for the 5 Best Tasting Bars…
Packed with 20 grams of protein, this is a clean, limited-ingredient protein bar that you can lean on to deliver a large amount of protein without having to question the ingredients. The Rise almond honey bar contains only three ingredients: almonds, honey, and whey protein isolate.
The ingredients in this bar are all-natural, GMO-free, low in fat, high in protein, lactose free, easy to digest, and low in carbohydrates. If you’re into clean eating and looking for a protein bar that is packed with nutrients and flavor without being packed with ingredients, this might be a solid consideration for you.
- Only three ingredients.
- Promotes clean-eating.
- No added sugar.
- No coating, just a solid bar.
- No aftertaste, just a solid clean flavor.
- Gluten free, soy free, peanut free.
- Can be a little inconsistent in flavor from batch to batch.
- Is relatively firm for a protein bar, especially on cold days.
- Sometimes the almond oil and honey can cause the packaging to leak.
When you’re looking for an affordable protein bar without sacrificing quality, the Detour Simple line of products is a good way to go. Detour Simple’s chocolate chip caramel bar is made from real, GMO-free ingredients and packed with the macronutrients you seek. A single bar has 10 grams of protein, 2 grams of sugar and 3 grams of fiber with only 110 calories.
- Cost effective price, making this a great protein bar to keep in bulk.
- Gluten free, GMO free, and free of artificial flavors and sweeteners.
- Made with all clean ingredients.
- Contain a proprietary whey protein blend.
- Not as sweet as some other protein bars that we reviewed, so if you’re looking to satisfy a sweet tooth this may not be the one for you.
- Contain more ingredients than some of the other, simpler protein bars.
For a flavorful, gluten-free take on apple pie, especially if you are looking for a protein bar that doesn’t rely on chocolate for flavor as many do, Quest Nutrition’s Apple Pie protein bar is worth trying.
This protein bar contains real apples and has a flavor that comes quite close to real apple pie, with a lightly chewy texture and a subtle cinnamon flavor. Yet you will still find plenty of protein and other macro and micro nutrients in this bar, with 20g of protein and only 190 calories.
This is a whey-based protein bar sweetened using artificial sweeteners, though primarily natural ingredients.
- Out-of-the-box flavor not offered by most protein bar brands.
- Soy free as well as gluten free.
- Offers a unique texture with real apples.
- Offers 16g of fiber per bar.
- Touts itself as being ketogenic diet friendly.
- Artificial sweeteners are used.
- Contains some unnatural ingredients including sucralose, corn oil, and palm oil.
- Not the most inexpensive protein bar we reviewed.
Packed with 23 grams of protein primarily derived from milk-based sources, Grenade Carb Killa Caramel Chaos is a flavorful protein bar with a crunchy texture with three layers of caramel.
This particular protein bar is primarily sweetened using artificial sources but the upside is that it only contains 1 gram of carbohydrates.
If you’re looking for a bar packed with protein without a ton of calories you should look here because you can net 23g of carbs for only 210 calories. Consider the trade off here and decide whether the lower-calorie, higher-protein bar is worth it in exchange for the artificial sweeteners in this one.
- The calorie to protein ratio is hard to beat.
- This is a very flavorful bar and will probably satisfy any sweet tooth.
- Texture-wise, this protein bar is similar to a candy bar.
- Low in carbohydrates.
- Sweetened artificially using maltitol and xylitol.
- This protein bar contains some unnatural ingredients.
- This protein bar is a little on the pricier side compared to others.
Clif makes a number of different protein bars, but the chocolate mint variety is one of the most popular because of its popular flavor. It has a distinct mint chocolate flavor and is packed with 20g of protein per bar. Utilizing soy-based protein, this bar contains plenty of added vitamins and minerals without containing any GMO-based ingredients.
This bar is a little higher in calories than some of the others reviewed here, at around 270 calories per bar and 21g of sugar, but it also contains a variety of vitamins and minerals making it a solid protein bar.
- Offer plenty of vitamins and minerals in addition to being packed with protein.
- No GMO ingredients, mostly natural ingredients.
- No artificial sweeteners found here.
- This bar has a unique flavor.
- This bar is relatively low cost for what you get.
- The soy-based protein may not work for everyone.
- There is a little more sugar here than may be ideal for everyone.
- They contain palm kernel oil, a saturated fat.
We chose the Rise Almond Honey bar as our clear winner in this race because it passes a couple of vital tests. Despite being crafted from only three ingredients, and being entirely made from whole, natural foods, this is a delicious, flavorful protein bar that is packed with 20 delicious grams of protein.
Because there are so many different types of protein sources out there, and it can be easy to get lost in the weeds when it comes to different protein sources and sweeteners, we thought it important to show you that the best tasting protein bars for women can be high in protein without relying on artificially sweetened chocolate, sugar alcohols and soy based proteins.
These ingredients in moderation can be fine, especially as part of an otherwise balanced diet, but when you’re looking for a healthy and natural protein bar that doesn’t sacrifice on flavor, the Rise Almond Honey bar is a good way to go.