Protein bars are one of the most convenient ways in which you can quickly and easily get more protein in to your diet and they make hitting those macros a lot easier than it was just a generation ago. With more and more high protein packed bars coming to the UK market every few months, it can be hard to choose the best one – and of course, it is likely that flavour and texture is highly subjective and down to the individual.
We have taken a comprehensive look at some of the most popular protein bars and bring you the lowdown on whether they are worth trying from a nutritional perspective – and we will also give our opinion on the taste and texture.
Before we tuck in to our 9 best protein bars let’s take a look at why you might want to opt for a protein bar and the benefits they can provide.
Not interested in reading the fluff? Skip the intro and head straight to our top 9 list.
Protein Bar Benefits
The benefits of protein bars might seem pretty obvious but it is worth stating them all the same. Anyone who is looking to build muscle or maintain muscle is going to have high daily protein targets to hit within their macros. For most people who are looking to build muscle this will mean 1.5-2g of protein per kg of bodyweight.
So someone who weighs in at 80kg is going to need around 160g of protein per day.
Many of us lead very busy lives and finding suitable low fat protein sources for constant fuelling throughout the day is not easy. Sure, you can meal prep and even snack prep but if you are using meat based protein sources then you have the issue of refrigeration and not to mention its hardly convenient (or appropriate for that matter) to pull out a chicken breast in the middle of your 2pm team meeting or on your commute home on public transport.
Luckily, most protein bars solve all of these issues by providing us with a go to protein source that is usually low in fat content, convenient to eat and is easy to carry with you.
The main downside of course is the cost, but when you compare the amount of protein in a bar compared to buying the equivalent in terms of another food source with the same amount of protein it is actually pretty cost effective.
Who Should Eat Protein Bars?
Protein bars can be eaten by men and women who are looking to increase their intake of protein at any given time. They are not generally considered suitable for children and adults should eat them as part of a wider well balanced nutritional plan.
We would always recommend trying to hit your daily protein quota through your main meals and snacks as much as possible – and protein bars are a convenient snack to choose. It may be that you decide you want to eat a protein bar each day or just on training days, or you might opt just to consume them when your are lacking in your macros for a certain day.
Either way, anyone looking to up their protein intake is going to benefit from eating protein bars.
What Makes A Protein Bar Good?
Like most things in life and especially supplements, not all protein bars are created equal. Some have specific benefits (such as being high or low carb) and others have certain target markets (such as vegans for example).
What makes a good protein bar is usually determined by what goes in to it. Ideally we want to look for wholesome, natural ingredients that are low in sugar content and low in fat. Most of the good tasting bars will have some level of fat, but keeping the saturated fat levels down is important.
What makes a good protein bar for one person might be completely the opposite for another. For this reason, we have categorised each of our picks as being well suited for a specific purpose – e.g. high carb but low in fat.
Taste and cost are also going to be important factors. If you are the sort of person who just wants to get the protein in your body regardless of the taste then you can probably go lower cost. But if you are looking for great taste, high quality ingredients and a low level of fat then you are likely going to have to pay a little more. Most protein bars will cost around £1-£2 per bar which isn’t that much more than a chocolate bar, but with much greater nutritional value.
Top 9 Protein Bars
We will cover some of the FAQ’s around protein bars at the bottom of our top 9 list, but for now let’s take a look at what we consider to be the best bars available in the UK today.
Grenade Carb Killa
Best Tasting Protein Bar With Excellent Nutritional Profile
Carb Killa has become one of the most recognisable brands of protein bar in the UK over the last few years. They have the biggest range of flavours and we have tried them all… yes, we really have. It is fair to say that Carb Killas are universally considered to be the best tasting protein bars with a consistency that is enjoyable rather than bearable.
Grenade do not make the cheapest protein bars by any stretch, but they are not crazily overpriced either – especially when you buy them as part of a deal (which there is almost always one available).
We would suggest buying Grenade bars as part of a multi-pack as it is more cost effective and if you aren’t sure which flavour you want to opt for then the selection pack is a great option that gives you all 12 different flavours (not including the Apple Rumble which is exclusive to the Grenade website).
Let’s take a look at the nutritional values and see how Carb Killas stack up. Each bar contains 20g of protein which predominantly comes from whey. Each bar has around 225 calories with a relatively low carb content of 20g and fat content of 9.5g. This means that anyone on a standard 40:30:30 split of carbs, protein and fats is going to find Carb Killas working well for them as it gives them a high ratio of protein to fat and carbs and means they can top up their other macro nutrients throughout the day through their usual food intake. It also means that anyone following a low carb diet where they are looking for just 20 or 30% of their daily intake to come from carbs will not find these bars going too carb heavy. There is less than 2g of sugar in each bar which makes it one of the lowest sugar protein bars available.
As with any nutritional supplement it is important to know that the product comes up to certain standards and that it is approved for use by sporting bodies. Carb Killas are Informed Sport tested and as such they are widely consumed by professional athletes and sports people.
Our preferred flavours include Birthday Cake, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Jaffa Quake and our favourite flavour is Caramel Chaos. Edit – having now tasted the Salted Caramel this is by far and away our favourite. The only issue is that you might want to eat them more regularly!
Grenade are a UK based company that continue to go from strength to strength and so will you if you eat them as part of a well balanced high protein diet.back to menu ↑
MyProtein Chocolate Flapjack
Best For Bulking
MyProtein are the largest provider of protein supplementation in Europe and the UK and although they are widely known for their protein shakes they also have an excellent range of affordable protein snacks. Most of their offerings do not have the same great texture and taste that Grenade offer but their chocolate chip flapjack is very enjoyable and incredibly filling.
The protein flapjack that MyProtein makes comes in two varieties – standard and chocolate. We much prefer the chocolate chip version as it has a better overall taste as the standard one is a little dense on its own. We found that this was an ideal snack to break up through the day and having half in the morning and half in the afternoon worked well for us – but you can definitely eat this all in one go too.
There is a much higher carb content with this bar compared to Carb Killas and that is completely intentional. Made with wholesome oats, each bar weighs in at 80g (compared to 60g for the Carb Killa) and has the same 20g of protein, 32g of carbohydrate and 11g of fat. So far so good and those macros will work well for most people on either a standard nutritional plan or those looking to bulk. The only real downside with this bar in terms of its nutritional content is that is contains 20g of sugar – most of which comes from the golden syrup that binds the whole thing together and is the most prevalent ingredient (making up 24% of the bar).
So long as you are not going big on sugar through the rest of your day then this is a decent option – especially if you want to get some fibre in to your diet. We would suggest sticking to these bars on training days and perhaps using something a little lighter on non-training days – but overall, these bars have their place, are very affordable and they taste great if you are fan of flapjack.back to menu ↑
PHD Smart Bar
Excellent Value Low(ish) Carb Protein Bar
PhD Nutrition have a decent range of protein bars and although the jury seems to be out taste wise, there is no disputing their nutritional value is pretty solid. They have an impressive range of flavours with 10 to choose from in total and our favourite being the Caramel Crunch thanks to its crispy base and smooth caramel centre.
These bars by UK based PhD Nutrition generally all have 2.2g of sugar or less and contain 20g of protein, 23g of carbs and 11g of fat of which 7g are saturated fat. These macros will work well for most people although the carbs will be a little high for anyone following a low carb plan.
Each bar is 64g which is pretty comparable to the Carb Killa bar and it has around 238 calories per bar which is ideal for a post workout snack. The reality is that these can be eaten at any time of day to suit you and they are a highly convenient quick and easy protein source. We would likely get fed up of eating the same flavour day after day so it might be worth trying a selection of flavours.
One thing that PhD Nutrition do with these bars that we love is giving you the option of buying half sized bars. This is really useful if you want a smaller snack or want to space your protein intake out throughout the day and don’t fancy carrying around a half eaten chocolate bar all day long. There have been some complaints about taste from some users but this is pretty subjective and for us, the Caramel Crunch bar gets top marks.back to menu ↑
Optimum Nutrition Protein Bar
Best Overall Quality Of Ingredients
Optimum Nutrition are widely regarded as being the producer of the highest quality whey protein so it stands to reason that they’d probably also be pretty competent at making a decent protein bar – and in our experience, that hypothesis stands up. Optimum Nutrition have a range of 5 low sugar, low fat protein bars and we have tasted all of them. They all taste pretty good and although we wouldn’t quite put them on a par with Grenade bars they are about the next best, other than the high carb flapjack bars we have covered.
Each bar is covered in a rich, high quality Belgian chocolate and there is a real air of decadence about each bar they offer – as each one is chocolate coated. The flavours on offer are:
- Cookies and cream
- Chocolate peanut butter
- Chocolate caramel
- Rocky road
- Caramel cookie
The also have a selection box which contains two of each flavour and this is a good starting point if you like the sound of all those flavours. Each flavour is pleasant and has a good texture but our favourite without a doubt is the Chocolate Caramel variety.
Whichever variety you choose you can expect each 60g bar to provide you with 20g of protein, 19g of carbs (this is very impressive) and just 5.8g of fat. This makes it one of the most nutritionally beneficial of all the protein bars we tested for anyone who is on a high protein diet and looking to keep fat intake to a minimum.
It is worth noting that these bars come in packs of 10 and at full price compare similarly to Grenade and are more expensive than brands such as MyProtein, however there are often offers to be had so be sure to check our link below for the latest ones.back to menu ↑
BodyMe Organic Vegan Protein Bars
Best Vegan Protein Bars
If you are looking for an ethically sourced protein bar then they don’t come much more ethical than BodyMe. What’s more, there are a range of 6 flavours, they are full of the good stuff and all flavours are organic and vegan.
BodyMe have been around since 2011 and started out (as many great brands do) as one guy in his kitchen. Since then, they have come on leaps and bounds and over the last few years have scooped up numerous awards for their great tasting, ethically sourced protein snacks.
Anyone who is following a vegan diet will know that achieving a high daily protein intake can be challenging. It involves good meal planning and making healthy choices. The BodyMe protein bars can easily form a part of that meal planning and with 16g of protein per bar you are really going to make good inroads in to your daily intake – and it all comes from a blend of pea protein, brown rice and hemp – a combination that is an ideal protein source.
Anyone who suffers intolerances from lactose or finds that whey protein sits heavy should also consider vegan protein bars as they are easily digestible and this particular brand taste incredible. Don’t expect your standard chocolate covered bar though, these are a little different but all have a great texture and consistency and all 6 flavours are great. There is also a selection box which has 2 of each flavour and we have linked that below.
The flavours on offer include Chia Vanilla, Cacao Orange, Turmeric Lemon (which is much nicer than it sounds), Cacao Mint, Maca Cinnamon andBeetroot Berry. Our favourite of the bunch was the Cacao Mint flavour but all were perfectly palatable.
Each bar has a slightly different nutritional profile but on average you can expect 16g of protein per bar, 11g of fat and 21g of carbs. You will also find them packed with amino acids and vitamins such as Vitamin B6, magnesium and iron.
As far as organic, vegan protein supplements go these are very reasonably priced and have a lot of rave reviews from happy customers.back to menu ↑
Fulfil Protein & Vitamin Bars
Best Vitamin Packed Protein Bars
Fulfil are one of the most impressive protein bar ranges we have seen and we simply had to include them in this list. With 9 flavours to choose from and available either as individual flavours or as part of 10 pack selection box, these protein bars have a unique selling point over all others – they are packed full of 9 essential vitamins on top of having one of the best macro breakdowns of all the bars we tested.
You will find essential vitamins such as Vitamin C, B6, B12, E, Folic Acid as well as 4 others included in each bar and with 20g of protein, 15g of carbs (the lowest of all bars), 9.5g of fat and 3g of fibre all packed in to a 212 calorie (or less) 55g bar – it is hard to imagine quite how they squeeze it all in!
On top of the great nutritional profile, these bars taste great. We tested all 9 flavours as part of the selection box and all were perfectly edible but our top choices would be the chocolate peanut butter, triple chocolate deluxe and chocolate hazelnut whip flavours.
All bars have less than 3g of sugar and will work well as part of a well balanced diet. Anyone looking to increase their protein intake with a convenient snack can’t go far wrong and for those looking to keep the carbs low these bars are as good as it gets.back to menu ↑
Maximuscle Promax Protein Bar
Maximuscle is another premium brand that is renowned for high quality whey protein that has brought their product to bar form. We tested the Millionaire Shortbread flavour and found it to be one of the most pleasant tasting bars of all those we tested.
The Maximuscle Promax bar is one of the least calorific of all those we tested with a total calorie count of just 202 per 60g bar. For this you are getting 20g of protein, 19.3g of carbs, just 4.9g of fat and also get 7g of fibre, vitamin D and magnesium all thrown in to the mix too. This nutritional profile makes it one of the most appealing for those who are looking to stay as lean as possible while increase their protein intake in a convenient and tasty way.
Everything that goes in to these bars is batch tested and they have been screened and tested by Informed Sport – this means they are suitable for those in professional sports and are safe for consumption.
The biggest downside to the Maximuscle Promax bars is the price. They are not cheap. They are however one of the nicest tasting, easy to eat and digest of all the bars we tested and if your budget allows they are a great option.back to menu ↑
Trek Protein Flapjack
Excellent High Carb Vegan Option – Gluten Free
Trek Protein Flapjacks are an excellent option for those looking for a vegan protein bar with a high carb content. There are 7 flavours to choose from in total and we tested Cocoa Oat and Salted Caramel flavours. Both tasted very pleasant with our favourite being the Cocoa Oat flavour.
These protein bars are completely vegan friendly and are packed with healthy oats and soya protein with each 50g bar giving you 21.9g of carbs, 11g of fat and 9.2g of protein. The ratio of protein to carbs is a little less than we would like it to be but for those who are looking for a carb rich protein snack this is an excellent option. These bars are also incredibly affordable and come in packs of 16.
Consumer feedback is extremely positive and although Trek is a brand we have not interacted with much with in the past we have been really impressed by their bars and will be keeping a closer eye on them.
These bars are ideal as a quick on the go breakfast alternative or can be used as a well balanced snack throughout the day.back to menu ↑
Protein World Choc Chip Bars
Great For Diabetics And Gluten Intolerance
Protein World have been in operation since around 2012 and have since gone on to become one of the worlds top suppliers of protein supplementation. They supply to over 70 countries globally and are fast growing in the UK thanks to an excellent product range. They only have three protein bars in their lineup so it is likely they have put a fair bit of effort in to them which is probably the reason why they taste so great.
The Slender Bar (as it is known) is just 184 calories for the choc chip version (our favourite) and for this you get 9.2g of protein, 17.6g of carbs and 10.7g of fat. Although the fat content is a little on the high side for us, the taste makes it worth it and you are still almost matching that fat content with the protein.
They come in packs of 10 bars and they work out to just over £1 per bar at full price which makes them one of the most affordable bars on our list.
The taste and consistency of these bars really is great and you will not be disappointed in them – just be careful to not get too carried away and eat too many each day!