Best protein bar 2020: post-workout protein snacks for those who work hard in the gym

Cram more protein in your diet with sweet and savoury treats that'll feed your burgeoning biceps

Best protein bar
(Image credit: Barebells)

There are so many tasty, healthy and nutritious options on the best protein bar list that we had to split hairs in some occasion to determine which ones are better than others. However, even the last entry on this protein bar guide is way healthier than a  Mars bar, for example. Compared to each other, though, there are subtle differences which can make them a better option for certain health goals.

Unlike the best protein powders, the best protein bars can be recommended to everyone who like sweet snacks and admittedly, that's most of human population. Planning on stocking up protein bars before January? Keep your eyes peeled for the best Black Friday deals and best Cyber Monday deals, we're sure most protein manufacturers/retailers will have good deals on protein around the coveted shopping event.

• Shop protein bars at Amazon UK

• Shop protein bars at Amazon US 

You can sate your sweet cravings without the guilt by snacking on protein bars. The high protein content is given in these scrumptious mid-afternoon snacks, but very often they are also low in sugar and fats too, as well as containing some dietary fibres as well. Basically, you get all the good stuff and none of the bad stuff associated with snacking, so you can indulge without the feeling of guilt.

The catch? There is none. As long as you keep to a healthy, balanced diet and don't eat five protein bars a day, you shouldn't experience any side effects. Saying that, some of the below protein bars are better for people on the keto diet and there are vegan protein bars included as well for whoever pursues the vegan diet.

Which one is the best protein bar overall? Find out by reading on...

Fancy something high protein but maybe a bit more savoury? We have the list of the best jerky options, both beef and veggie/vegan.

protein bar alternative: The Protein Works Protein Brownie

(Image credit: The Protein Works)

Why should you eat protein snacks

Protein shakes are a popular source of the nutrient, as they are quick to make up and guzzle on the go but sometimes it's favourable to have a proper snack to chew, rather than constantly relying on a liquid lunch.

Thankfully, the protein producers of this world have cottoned on to this fact and now serve up a bunch of tasty snacks, typically in the form of a bar, that cram in a load of protein and taste good.

Apart from protein bars, there are a few other options to choose from when it comes to upping your protein intake throughout the day in a convenient way. Protein balls are bitesize versions of protein bars and are really the ultimate finger food for bodybuilders and people on slimming diet.

How to build muscle: an easy guide to muscle building for beginners

As well as protein balls, you can also get high-protein flapjacks, another tasty snack you can have on the go. Protein flapjacks can be high in fat and sugars, due to the way they are made, so please make sure you read the label before you devour them.

You can also cover some of your protein needs using nut butters. Some of the nut butters available on the market today are very low on sugar, too, like The Protein Works' Loaded Nuts, which only contains 12 grams of sugar per 100 grams.

If you are really keen on not taking any sugar and prefer hot drinks, we recommend taking collagen coffees into consideration. This might sounds a bit weird at first but hear us out. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and it also tolerates hot liquids as it doesn't clump. Bulk Powders' Collagen Coffee can basically be used as an instant coffee, has no sugar in it, not to mention, a 25-gram serving contains a whopping 18.5 grams of protein. It also tastes less bitter than regular black coffee. Please bear in mind that collagen coffee is not suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

If you want to really keep track of your nutritional goals, we recommend downloading something like My Fitness Pal, which allows for every meal and snack to be inputted into an app. You will need to be extremely focussed to maintain this but hey – you're a focussed guy!

Best protein snacks: what to look out for

As with any pre-packaged food today, it pays to flip that sucker over and check its nutritional information. Despite being sold as healthy alternatives, some of these protein bars contain a lot of sugar and saturated fats, which is not great if you're looking to get ripped.

Your choice of snack should be based on the amount of protein that's packed into each bar, with a consideration taken to low sugar and saturated fat content, as well as a healthy balance of carbs.

Eating naturally is always the best option; so mixing one or two of these bars with a handful of nuts, fruit and other great sources of protein throughout the day is the best way to ensure the body receives all the nutrients it needs.

The best protein bars and snacks

best protein bar: Oatein Hype Bar

(Image credit: Oatein)

1. Oatein Hype Bar

You won't find a more delicious high protein bar

Weight: 60g
Flavour: Salty Caramel, Milk & Cookies, Hazelnutty
Fat: 4.9g
Sugar: 1.6g
Protein: 18g
Reasons to buy
+Super delicious+Great texture+Modest amount of cals/bar (under 200 kcal)+Suitable for vegetarians...
Reasons to avoid
-...not for vegans though

• Buy the Oatein Hype Protein Bar directly from Oatein

Will there ever be a perfect protein snack? I don't think so, partially because requirements are ever changing in the fitness industry and by the time you get used one trend, three more have already emerged in the meanwhile.

Saying this, the Oatein Hype Protein Bar comes pretty close to being the tastiest protein bar in the market today. The Oatein Hype Protein Bar is not delicious 'considering it's a health bar', it is tasty on its own terms.

And it's not only flavoursome but also very healthy too. On average, the Oatein Hype Protein Bar contains around 190 calories, under 2 grams of sugar but a very generous 18 grams of protein.

The only issue with the Oatein Hype Protein Bar is that you will want to eat more than just one bar per day. Why does it have to taste so good?

best protein bar: The Protein Works Loaded Legends

(Image credit: The Protein Works)

2. The Protein Works Loaded Legends

Serious indulgence without the associated guilt

Weight: 50g
Flavour: Salted Caramel Karma
Fat: 7g
Sugar: 2.5g
Protein: 15g
Reasons to buy
+It's like a cake, but healthy+Low sugar
Reasons to avoid
-Topping always comes off and ends up on the floor

• Buy the Loaded Legends direct from The Protein Works

It's amazing that something so ridiculously delicious-looking can be fairly decent in terms of its sugar and fat content. With 15g of protein, it's not the beefiest snack on the list, but if this doesn't curb the sweet tooth, nothing else will.

A quick flick through the ingredients list does reveal a few naughty things, such as 'sustainable' palm oil and a few emulsifiers, but it's certainly not packed with e-numbers and is a damn sight healthier than a standard chocolate bar.

Salted Caramel Karma is one of the finest sweet snacks we've tasted in a long time, let alone protein snacks, while Marshmallow Rock Choc has the sort of sweet appeal that sends kids into a tailspin. 

If you're the sort of person that just can't give the cake counter a miss when out for a coffee, slip one of these in your bag. 

(Image credit: Barebells)

3. Barebells Hazelnut & Nougat Vegan Protein Bar

You won't believe this is vegan!

Calories: 224 kcal
Protein: 15 grams
Carbs (sugar): 19 (1) grams
Fat: 11 grams
Reasons to buy
+Texture is spot on+Completely vegan+Low sugar+Palm oil-free
Reasons to avoid
-More expensive than non-vegan Barebells bars

• Buy the Barebells Vegan Protein Bar directly from Barebells

I like hassle-free post-workout snacks: that's why I like the Barebells Vegan Protein Bars. Let's face it: no likes making decisions about snacking. Do I want tasty snack or one high in sugar? Should I have a vegan protein bar or one that's high in protein?

The Barebells vegan protein bar range – that includes two flavours, Hazelnut Nougat and Salty Peanut – is high in protein, low on sugar, tastes great and has texture that won't remind you of compressed, oily powder. The bars are also palm-oil free and contain some fibres too.

On the downside, you will have shell out more money for the vegan bars, compared to the 'regular' protein bars from Barebells, but not too much. Quite possibly the price will drop soon anyway and Barebells will most likely introduce even more flavours to wet your appetite for vegan protein bars.

best protein bar: Bulk Powders Protein Flapjack

(Image credit: Bulk Powders)

4. Bulk Powders Protein Flapjack

Great alternative to protein bars

Weight: 85g
Flavour: Chocolate Chip, Golden Syrup, White Chocolate Berry
Calories: 337 kcal
Fat: 12g
Sugar: 12g
Protein: 21g
Reasons to buy
+Amazing taste and texture+Good for bulking+High in protein+High in fibre
Reasons to avoid
-Relatively high sugar content-High in fat too

• Buy the Bulk Powders Protein Flapjack directly from Bulk Powders

Bulk Powders' Protein Flapjack is pretty amazing, it tastes great, the texture is spot on, it's higher in protein than many protein bars and it's also high in dietary fibre, too. A kind of snack that you will eat because it tastes great, not because you have to.

Some of your regular, run-of-the-mill flapjacks might give your jaw muscles a workout, not the Bulk Powders Protein Flapjack, which is soft as butter – it's an all-butter flapjack after all!

We recommend these treats to people who are working on putting on some muscle mass but would like to do it in a way that doesn't screw up their macros completely. The extra 100 kcal – compared to the equally excellent Macro Munch bars – will come in handy for people who have fast metabolism.

best protein bar: Barebells Crunchy Fudge

(Image credit: Barebells)

5. Barebells Protein Bars – Crunchy Fudge flavour

Excellent tasting healthy protein snack option

Weight: 55g
Flavour: Crunchy Fudge
Fat: 8g
Sugar: 1.4g
Protein: 20g
Reasons to buy
+Scrumptious flavours+High protein content+Good consistency
Reasons to avoid
-Moderate fat content

• Buy the Barebells Protein Bars – Crunchy Fudge flavour at Amazon UK

Barebell Protein Bars come in a range of delicious flavours, but its most recent one tops the flavour charts. The Crunchy Fudge delivers the experience it promises on the packaging: you'll get the sweetness of the fudge as well as a bit of a crunch with every mouthful. The Barebell Crunchy Fudge Bar is so tasty, it's virtually indistinguishable from an ordinary snack bar when it comes to flavour.

However, unlike the Snickers bar you impulse buy at your nearest petrol station, Barebell Protein Bars are low on sugar, free of GMOs and – of course – contain ample amount of protein too. You'll get some lipids too in each bar which is not a bad thing: many vitamins are only soluble in fat so by consuming moderate amounts of it you can help your digestive system to break down and utilise vitamins more efficiently. I am generalising here a bit, but you get the idea.

Barebell Protein Bars contain only moderate amount of carbs and given the low sugar content, this means you won't even be spiking your insulin levels too much by snacking on these scrumptious bars. This is a big win in my book.

best protein bar: USN Trust Crunch Protein Bar

(Image credit: USN)

6. USN Trust Crunch Protein Bar

Bring on the crunch

Weight: 60 grams
Protein: 20 grams
Carbs (sugar): 16 (1.9) grams
Fat: 9 grams
Reasons to buy
+High in fibre+Palm oil free+Low sugar

• Buy the USN Trust Crunch Protein Bar at Amazon UK

What can we say? The USN Trust Crunch Bar ticks all the boxes: delivers on flavour, has a good consistency, high in protein, low on sugar and it hasn't got any palm oil in it either. It doesn't bring anything new to the table but does everything it should do just fine.

Some of flavours are actually quite enticing – e.g. Cherry Chocolate – and the crunch brings an exciting element to consuming the bars too. It's less chewy than the Barebell protein bar and less oily than the One Pro Nutrition Bar; it's kind of in the middle when it comes to everything, hence why it's in the middle of our best protein bar list too.

best protein bar: Foodspring Energy Bar

(Image credit: Foodspring)

7. Foodspring Protein Bar

Full of fibres

Weight: 60 grams
Protein: 20 grams
Carbs (sugar): 16 (1.4) grams
Fat: 6.4 grams
Reasons to buy
+High in protein and energy+Exciting flavours+No added sugar
Reasons to avoid
-Too much fibre-Not too flavoursome

The Foodspring Protein Bar sources protein from grass-fed cows, and not just any grass-fed cows, but cows that are allowed to roam the endless green pastured of New Zealand, 328 days a year, apparently. The result is protein that is naturally rich in micronutrients and just healthier in general.

As well as that, the Foodspring Protein Bar has no added sugar and loads of fibre. As a matter of fact, each bar has a 'special fibre coating' that makes helps reduce sugar content and maintain the structure of the bars. Unfortunately, it also makes the bars pretty dense and slower to digest. We also recommend drinking plenty of water after you chewed through the bar to help your digestion a bit.

That aside, everyone will appreciate the natural ingredients and comparatively high protein content of these bars. And it's definitely an ideal protein bar for people who need a snack that will fill them up and make them feel full for longer. Therefore, the Foodspring Protein Bar is recommended for people who are trying to lose weight and need a healthy snack to curb their mid-afternoon cravings.

best protein bar: One Pro Nutrition Protein Bar

(Image credit: One Pro Nutrition)

7. One Pro Nutrition Protein Bar

A vegan option, for variety

Weight: 57g
Flavours: Raspberry & Chocolate, Peanut & Cacao
Fat: 12g
Sugar: 3g
Protein: 17g
Reasons to buy
+Vegan+Gluten-free+Plastic-free packaging+Low sugar content
Reasons to avoid
-Texture is a bit powdery

• Buy the One Pro Nutrition Protein Bar direct from One Pro Nutrition

Surprisingly enough, many protein snacks – even on this list – are not suitable for vegans, regardless of how popular this type of diet is at the moment. To doctor this issue, One Pro Nutrition released its new protein bar that has many qualities on top of being suitable for vegans.

For one, it's high in protein, mainly sourced from pea protein isolate and pea protein crispies, high in fibre AND low on sugar, of which the One Pro Nutrition Protein Bar only contains less than 3 grams. It also comes free of artificial sweeteners, sugars, fillers or additives, helping muscle repair and weight loss the healthiest way possible.

The coating is made out of One Pro Nutritions vegan chocolate, the secret ingredient, which has lower GI than standard chocolate. The One Pro Nutrition Protein Bar also has Lucuma in it, a "super nutritious Peruvian fruit that supports skin health, blood sugar & cardiovascular health", according to the manufacturer.

Being all vegan and low on sugar, there were some compromises to be made. The texture of the One Pro Nutrition Protein Bar is a bit dry, although it is far from being unpleasant. In the same time, it's very smooth and the chocolate coating helps a lot too. Even without any added sugar, the One Pro Nutrition Protein Bar is one of the tastier options on the market.

best protein bar: Benefit Protein Chocolate

(Image credit: Benefit)

8. Benefit Protein Chocolate

Best chocolate protein bar – enhance your athletic prowess with cacao

Weight: 80g
Flavour: Dark Chocolate
Fat: 37.6g
Sugar: 9.6g
Protein: 15.2g
Reasons to buy
+Remarkable amount of protein for a 'chocolate bar'+Good yumminess quotient+Good for keto diet
Reasons to avoid
-Can only be added moderately to stricter diets

A recent study by Kingston University found that the epicatechin found in dark chocolate could increase the nitric oxide production in the body and therefore give athletes a competitive edge.

This 85 per cent cacao dark chocolate bar not only packs the dark chocolate benefits, it is also enriched with 19g of protein per bar.

It's probably not a great idea to gobble down the entire pack before a workout, seeing as there's 37.6g of fat in an 80g bar, but a couple of squares before hitting the gym could help you push it to the next level.

Also, dark chocolate with high fat content is an ideal snack option for people on the keto diet

Nutrition X Pro X Protein Bars

9. Nutrition X Pro X Protein Bars

Weight: 55g
Flavour: White Chocolate
Fat: 7.5g
Sugar: 1.2g
Protein: 19.6g
Reasons to buy
+Authentic taste+High in protein+Low in sugar
Reasons to avoid

Professional athletes gobble these bars down like there's no tomorrow and that's because they are made to the most exacting sports nutrition standards, are low in sugar and pack a hefty protein punch.

Available in white chocolate and chocolate brownie flavour, the former tastes a little bit like the white chocolate surrounding a Magnum ice cream and nicely quash any craving for unhealthy snacks.

There is a distinct lack of E numbers and other nasty chemical, making them a great addition to an otherwise balanced diet and perfect for muscle repair following a savage workout session. 

Best protein bar: Oatein Flapjack

10. Oatein Flapjack

Nicely sweet but not too naughty

Weight: 75g
Flavour: Strawberry Cheesecake
Fat: 4.3g
Sugar: 8.6g
Protein: 19g
Reasons to buy
+Ludicrously tasty+Sugar content is reasonable+Big hit of protein
Reasons to avoid
-A bit fatty-Lots of carbs

You may have seen these guys on Dragon's Den, where they power walked into the room and jogged away shortly afterwards with a sizeable investment from Peter Jones. Deborah Meaden may have had a few choice words to say about the branding but never mind that, as these things are delicious.There's a sizeable hit of protein in them too and the rest of the range is also well worth checking out.

Those who want to completely ignore the sugar should probably look away now, but Oetein bars are among the tastiest on sale at the moment and do a good job of mimicking the proper filthy, protein-deprived flapjacks you'd end up regretting after stuffing them in your face. 

Best protein bar: Beachbody Beachbar

11. Beachbody Beachbar

Best protein bar for flavour – light and sweet

Weight: 35g
Flavour: Chocolate Cherry Almond
Fat: 7g
Sugar: 6g
Protein: 10g
Reasons to buy
+Genuine flavour+Light
Reasons to avoid
-Relatively high fat content-Lower in protein than some

• Buy direct from BeachBody in the UK: £37.79 for 15

The protein content in these tasty Beachbars may not be as high as some of the others on this list but each bar contains just 151kcal, which is great for anyone looking to sneak in a quick treat without piling on the pounds.

Available in either Chocolate Cherry Almond or Peanut Butter Chocolate, both flavours taste extremely authentic, while the recipe feels nice and light, as opposed to some of the more filling products reviewed here.

It's worth noting the fact that each bar contains 6g of sugar, especially if you are partial to sweet things, while 7g of fat can seem like a bit much for 10g of protein.