If you’re like me at all you prefer to make your own food so that you know exactly what’s going it for multiple reasons. Unfortunately this isn’t always very practical with work, school, and participating in various activities that can take you away from home for a substantial amount of time. What are you supposed to do when you don’t have time to cook, or the means to bring along a full meal?
The best solution to this problem in my opinion are meal replacement bars, or protein bars. Since I’m active and protein is one of the hardest nutrients to get your required level of every day protein bars seem like the best option in my opinion. In addition they usually have a substantial amount of carbs and fats depending on the brand.
Bars can be used whenever you need a quick snack to get some quality calories, and possibly most importantly protein, along with a variety of vitamins/minerals often. So which are the best protein bars? Well everyone you ask will tell you something different, because it depends on your personal diet and preferences. Some people need low carb bars; others want high calories to serve as a meal replacement. So how do you find the best protein bar for you? I’m about to show you something that will make it very simple…
Introducing the Protein Bars Review Chart
This chart that is just below is simple but extremely effective in saving you from wasting time and finding the best protein bar for you specifically. I researched as many protein bars as I could and compiled a database of all the different properties of each bar. What I present to you in this chart is a simplified way to compare bars side by side according to your preferences. These are the aspects I decided to include:
- Bars in Box: Depending on how often you expect to have the bars you may want a certain amount. Or maybe you just want to test out a small pack.
- Protein/Bar: This is the grams of protein that you get from each bar.
- Carbs/Bar: Carbohydrates are often important to keep track of on certain diets
- Fiber: This is the dietary fiber each bar has, some are very high while others are low. For all those people on the ketogenic diet remember that net carbs are total carbs – dietary fiber.
- Calories/Bar: Simply how many calories are in each bar.
- Flavor: What type the bar is. If it says “many” that means there are at least 5 to choose from on the order page.
- Price/Bar: This is the relative cost per bar. Since the prices always change I used symbols to give you an idea of the price, $ = less than 1.20 per bar, $$ = 1.20-1.70 per bar, $$$ = above 1.70 per bar.
- Rating: This is based on external ratings that I found on several sites, I tried to include as many as I could find to get an accurate number.
What to Look For in a Protein Bar?
The premise behind the review chart is that everyone has a unique combination of preferences, which I believe is correct. In this section I would like to outline some possible considerations.
First look at your diet. If you’re on Keto or a low carb diet of any kind you need to be really careful choosing a bar because many have significant amounts of carbohydrates. Do you have any other dietary needs or restrictions? Most bars are based on whey protein, but there are options for soy/vegetarians, just use the search bar above the chart.
Also consider allergies; I hate to say it, but if you’re allergic to nuts you are going to have a very tough time finding a safe protein bar, instead look into making your own, even though this takes a lot of time.
Another dietary consideration is fiber like I mentioned before. If you lack fiber in your diet this can be a great opportunity to fill that gap. You can sort the table by amount of fiber per bar and find one that has enough.
Are Protein Bars Good For You?
Like I mentioned before there are lots of good reasons for being interested in incorporating protein bars into your diet. For a lot of people who are basically looking for a meal replacement bar a major concern is if protein bars are good for you.
This isn’t really a yes or no topic, like many things in nutrition it can depend. First and foremost it requires thought ahead of time before eating. If you already are at your allotted daily calories and you’re snacking on bars for no reason, then yes I would consider that unhealthy. On the other hand if you have planned to be eating a bar or two and have considered that into your daily diet it can be very good.
Another aspect that will affect how healthy or not a bar is the ingredients. I would have liked to include this in some way in the protein bar review chart but did not see an effective way because the ingredients vary widely from each bar. Nonetheless you should look at what exactly is in the bar before buying it. Typically the chocolate/candy flavoured ones are going to have more added sugar compared to the ‘Natural’ or organic bars. The best protein bars will typically have higher quality ingredients. A shortcut for this is to look at how many net carbs are in each bar on the chart by subtracting the fiber from the total carbs. If net carbs are high it is going to be likely that there is more added sugar.
Like anything you typically pay for what you get. The bars on the chart with a $/bar price are the cheapest and typically going to be lower in quality than the $$ or $$$ marked products. It’s up to you to decide how much the quality in each bar is worth to you, which will determine the best protein bars for you.
Which are the Best Tasting Protein Bars?
Lots of products are labelled best tasting which I think is absolutely ridiculous. People rarely have the same taste preferences. So while in general people may agree something tastes good, it may or may not be the best for you.
To best predict how you will like the taste I suggest looking at two things in the chart: flavor and rating. The rating tells you what at a minimum 100 people thought of the overall product, a main component of this rating will obviously be taste. Secondly, combine the rating with the flavor of the protein bar based on if you like that flavor in general, like chocolate or peanut butter. Using these two together you should be able to have a good idea of which are the best protein bars for you.