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The best protein bars

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  • A high-quality protein bar tastes great without a gross aftertaste, holds up to abuse in your gym bag, and has a low calories-to-protein ratio.
  • The following guide features bars that have a track record of consistent quality, are available in several delicious flavors, and are convenient to have on-hand.
  • The Optimum Nutrition High Protein Wafer Bars are our top pick because the company goes easy on artificial sweeteners and has a strong commitment to food safety — and the wafers taste so good you won’t notice you’re eating a protein product.

As a teen in the ’90s, I remember hitting the weight room hard to bulk up for football season. To get the most gains, I was told, I needed a steady diet of protein. Could I have consumed more chicken? Absolutely. Instead, I decided to choke down these bulky, gold foil-wrapped protein bars. It was a chore. 

There wasn’t a single thing great about these bars, either. The texture was reminiscent of old gum and it took some serious concentration to get through even a few bites at a time. Forget about good taste, too — eating them was a workout in itself.

Thankfully, protein bars have come a long way in the last 25 years. You no longer have to settle for inedible junk. Today’s options taste so good and go down so easy you’ll crave them even when you aren’t trying to make the most of your workouts.

What kind of protein is best?

Whether you’re looking for a meal replacement, to build muscle, or just want to up your protein intake, finding the right protein bar for your needs takes some experimentation. Fortunately, there are options available no matter what your dietary needs are.

If you’re vegan, look for dairy-free alternatives that rely on plant-based proteins. If you’re like me and can’t handle artificial sweeteners, read the ingredients and steer clear of sucralose, a popular added sweetener.

How to calculate proper protein intake

To calculate your recommended daily allowance of protein, take your weight in pounds and divide by three. Your answer is the number of grams of protein you should take in. For instance, you’d want 55 grams of protein per day if you weigh 165 pounds. However, you can still experience benefits taking up to twice that amount.

Before you boost your protein intake, though, check with your healthcare professional since, for example, people with low blood pressure, calcium deficiencies, and other specific ailments could potentially have adverse reactions to whey protein.

Subscribe & Save

We recommend getting your protein bars through Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” program if possible. This saves you up to 15% off the regular price, and you’re able to cancel your subscription at any time. The service automatically replaces items you use regularly, so if you always eat a protein bar after your workouts, and you work out six days a week (about 24 days a month), you might choose to have 2 boxes of 12 bars arrive every month.

Each price quoted in this guide is based on the current non-subscription price for the most popular flavor of the bar. Prices are subject to change, and you can usually save a few dollars by subscribing.

You can also figure out the cost per bar yourself by taking the product’s price and dividing it by the number of bars per box. It’s useful to calculate the cost per gram of protein, too, since the protein per serving varies from brand to brand. You get this number by dividing the cost per bar (as calculated above) by the number of grams of protein per bar.

While researching the best protein bars, we looked at thousands of expert and buyer reviews of dozens of brands. Our guide features bars that have a track record of consistent quality, are available in several delicious flavors, and are convenient to have on-hand.

Here are the best protein bars you can buy:

Updated on 2/14/2020: Our recommendation for the best protein brownies, from RSP, has been discontinued. We are currently researching products as a replacement.

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