A Guide to Protein Bars

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Hi HIH fam! My name is Augusta and I’m a new contributor to the site. I’m so excited to be a part of this amazing community.

For my first post, I thought I would tackle a subject that is near and dear to my heart: protein bars (without 100 ingredients and ones you can actually pronounce!) While I’m a big advocate of choosing foods in their natural and whole state whenever possible, sometimes we have to turn to alternative options when work, school, family (aka LIFE) gets in the way and disrupts our best laid plans. With that said, here’s a guide to some of the most popular bars on the market. I hope you find this information helpful in your quest to eat healthier, no matter what life throws your way!

RX Bar (flavor: chocolate chip)

This is my favorite bar for two reasons: the short and simple ingredient list and the 12g of protein. Yes it has 12g of sugar but I’m willing to overlook that and lower my sugar count in other meals and snacks on the days when I eat one of these bars.  

The texture is soft enough to bite into but chewy enough that you feel like you’re eating something substantial. I prefer to keep these bars in the fridge because I like them to be even chewier than they are at room temperature. They don’t fall apart so they are great for eating on-the-go.

I also love all the flavor options (peanut butter, blueberry, coffee chocolate, chocolate hazelnut just to name a few) and that the core ingredients don’t change much from bar to bar! Tip: when I travel, I pack bars without chocolate since it will melt at room temperature and I end up creating a mess in the car or on the plane.

Nutritional Nuggets:

-220 calories

-10g of fat

-17g net carbs (22g total carbs - 5g of fiber)

-12 of sugar

-12g of protein

Elemental Superfood Seedbar (flavor: mulberry cacao + spirulina)

These bars were created by a Nicole Anderson, a mother who began making her daughter food free from wheat, dairy, and sugar. Nicole’s daughter has autism and she saw first-hand the effects these foods were having on her daughter’s well-being. After switching her to a clean diet, Nicole saw dramatic changes in her daughter’s behavior and she became passionate about creating foods that everyone can enjoy and benefit from. Bonus: for every bar sold, a percentage of the proceeds goes to Autism research.

Not only is her story super inspiring but her bars are delicious! In addition to being free of gluten, dairy, and refined sugars, the ingredients are really clean (non-GMO and no binders and preservatives — music to my ears!) My favorite, the mulberry cacao + spirulina, is even free from nuts so it’s a great option for those who are allergic.

I keep these bars in the freezer since they can get quite crumbly when they are room temperature. The mulberry cacao + spirulina has the perfect balance of crunch from the seeds and cacao nibs and chewiness from the mulberries. The only drawback is that the seeds can get stuck in your teeth so have some floss handy if you are eating them on-the-go.

Nutritional Nuggets:

-200 calories

-14g of fat

-11g of net carbs (14g total carbs - 3g of fiber)

-6g of sugar

-6g of protein

OHi Superfood Bars (flavor: super green)

When I read the packaging and saw that this bar is plant-based, gluten-free, grain-free, soy-free, certified vegan, and certified paleo I thought it was too good to be true! I even had my husband taste it to make sure I wasn’t being biased in my review given all those great qualities. Turns out, this bar is pretty delicious.

The bar is flavorful with a bit of a saltier touch than other bars I’ve had (which I’m assuming comes from the sunflower seeds). It’s soft but not crumbly so it’s another great option for eating on-the-go. But just like the Elemental bar, those darn seeds get stuck in your teeth!

The calorie count is on the high-end for a snack option for me (I like to keep snacks between 150-250 calories ideally) but it will definitely remain an option for me. The ingredient list is pretty clean, there’s a solid amount of protein, and the sugar count is low.

Nutritional Nuggets:

-270 calories

-19g of fat

-14g net carbs (18g total carbs - 4g of fiber)

-8g of sugar

-9g of protein

Thunderbird Real Food Bar (flavor: hazelnut coffee matcha)

I first came across this bar when I was delayed at the airport in Chicago. My husband and I were searching for some healthy snacks (usually I am prepared for traveling but we were facing a very long delay). He has a hard time digesting peanuts and with an egg white allergy on top of that, RX bars are out of the question for him. So when I saw this bar, I figured we should give it a whirl.

I’m so glad we did because it quickly became a new favorite! The whole coffee beans (yes actual whole beans!), ground hazelnuts, and cacao create just the right amount of sweetness. The coffee beans and whole almonds provide a nice crunch with a strong flavor (if you don’t like almonds, I would avoid this flavor. They have others though) and help me feel like I’m eating something more substantial. The ingredient list is short and super clean and these bars are also paleo certified, vegan, soy-free, grain-free, and dairy-free.

While this bar won’t crumble, it does start to melt when it gets to room temperature so it’s best to eat it shortly after removing it from the fridge. I would also have some water nearby because this bar will make you a little thirsty. If you’re looking for an option with a high protein count, sadly this bar won’t do the trick at only 4g per bar.

Nutritional Nuggets:

-220 calories

-15g of fat

-15g net carbs (20g total carbs - 5g of fiber)

-13g of sugar

-4g of protein

Larabar (flavor: apple pie)

While these bars are not my favorite of the group, they are available pretty much everywhere so I wanted to review them. Sometimes eating healthy is about making the best of what’s available!

What I love about Larabars is the short ingredient list. Some of the options are literally just two ingredients! The apple pie flavor has six: dates, almonds, unsweetened apples, walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon. The bar is soft but does have a bit of a crunch from the nuts. It doesn’t crumble and with no chocolate or other ingredients that can easily melt, you can eat them on-the-go without making a mess.

Even though the sugar in this bar is coming from natural sources, 18g is a bit high for my liking. The flavor is a bit one-note so after a few bites it gets a little boring.

Nutritional Nuggets:

-200 calories

-9g of fat

-21g of net carbs (25g total carbs - 4g of fiber)

-18g of sugar

-4g of protein

Perfect Bar (flavor: dark chocolate peanut butter)

I know so many people who love this bar so I finally caved and gave it a try. Guys, I just cannot get on board with this one! The texture is really dry, so much so that you feel like you’re eating something fake. It’s also really sweet. Maybe the non-chocolate flavors aren’t like that but this one tasted like a candy bar. Speaking of the chocolate, this bar has cane sugar (thumbs down) because of the dark chocolate chips. And clocking in at 320 calories, it’s above my ideal snack calorie range.

That all said, the protein component is great (15g) and even though the ingredient list is long, it’s pretty good. I think there are better options out there, especially if you are using protein bars as a snack and not as a meal replacement. But if you like this bar and it works for your lifestyle, then you do you!

Nutritional Nuggets:

-320 calories

-19g of fat

-22g net carbs (25g total carbs - 3g of fiber)

-18g of sugar

-15g of protein

PROBAR Live (flavor: almond butter)

I like to switch up my protein sources and when I saw this bar had 10g of protein but was plant-based, I knew I had to add it to my shopping cart.

The ingredient list is really clean and the low sugar count (6g) scored major points with me. The flavor was a bit bland but I could taste the almond butter and dates. The biggest drawback to this bar is the texture. Despite the fact that I ate it straight out of the fridge, it still crumbled all over the counter! Definitely not an ideal choice if you’re trying to eat this in public or while traveling and at 310 calories, it’s too much for me to enjoy as a snack.

Nutritional Nuggets:

-310 calories

-24g of fat

-11g of carbs (16g total carbs - 5g of fiber)

-6g of sugar

-10g of protein