***Updated May 17th, 2020***
I’ve been toying with the idea of doing this post for a while now, but have struggled with the sheer volume of protein bars available on the market. I mean, how could I possibly narrow down the crowded multi-billion dollar U.S. protein bar market into just a handful of brands, and then go ahead and pick one as a winner? (I’m up to THIRTY-TWO brands now, btw!) Anyway, here’s how I gave it a go: the first thing I did was eliminate a few categories…I wasn’t looking for the best granola bar, cereal bar, or meal replacement bar. Second, I decided that I really needed to break this down into a two-part series – for this post, I’m just focusing on your run of the mill protein bars. Natural/organic/paleo options are covered in the second part of this Quest for the Best series because they don’t always compete in the same market or on the same criteria as the ones below.
Next, I tried to focus on the most popular brands and widely available options that were targeted at your everyday consumer. Maybe a bodybuilder would eat these, but so would a soccer mom looking for an easy, on-the-go, protein-packed snack*. Many are widely available at grocery stores or pharmacies, some are easier to find in a sports or nutrition shop. Either way, I like to think I am at least somewhat up to speed on what’s happening in the sports nutrition world, and most of these picks are “hot” right now.
For the sake of a sound comparison, I tried to taste test the same or similar flavors from every brand. Chocolate in some form is pretty much the industry standard, so that’s what I went with. Some of them forced me to venture into cookie dough or chocolate peanut butter varieties, but they’re still somewhere close to that chocolate baseline.
*These bars are convenient to eat but in my opinion should be reserved for those times when you really do need a shelf stable protein snack that you can grab-and-go. Real food is generally cheaper and better for you than a bar, but I totally understand that it can be challenging to find/eat healthy food if you’re traveling or just really busy. #FoodForThought
Quick rundown of different colors you’ll see in the chart below:
- Yellow (on the macro ratio) indicates carb content.
- Blue (on the macro ratio) indicates protein content.
- Green (on the macro ratio) indicates fat content.
Click this link below to view the full comparison chart!
These are the original 10 bars I reviewed! The list has grown just a little bit.
Here’s the link again to the full spreadsheet: