Protein bars are the grab-and-go recovery option for anyone on the move. Here’s our pick of the best tried-and-tested options to fuel your fitness drive.

When hunger knocks post-workout, it’s easy to reach for handy snack bars. These can be loaded with unhealthy fats and sugars, however, which are often high in calories and lead to energy peaks and troughs. The best protein bars, on the other hand, pack in more of the good stuff – namely, protein.

Snacking on protein bars allows you to reach your daily protein goals and deliver a much-needed supply to damaged muscles. They also provide a simple on-the-go alternative to more cumbersome protein shakes or time-intensive meals. Plus, they usually taste pretty good, so it’s a win-win-win situation.

Registered nutritionist (AFN) and sports nutritionist (SENr) Rob Hobson has tried and tested a range of protein bars to bring you the best of the best.

Why you can trust Men’s Fitness

This list of the best protein bars was compiled by Rob Hobson, registered nutritionist (AFN) and sports nutritionist (SENr). Hobson works with private clients looking to improve their health and body shape, and athletes looking to improve their performance. He also works with wellness brands, assisting with product development and insight. “There are plenty of different protein bars on the market,” says Hobson, “and they differ greatly in terms of taste and texture. To narrow the field down – and to provide consistency of review – I only tested chocolate-flavored bars. I tested and judged the best protein bars on their taste, texture, and nutritional effectiveness. I also took other factors into account, including the cost and availability, but also the amount of polyols: a type of sweetener which can upset the gut in high amounts.”

What is the best protein bar?

There are plenty of protein bar brands out there now, most of which offer a high-quality protein dose around the magic 20g mark. But it takes great taste and texture to make the best protein bars too, together with low cost and other factors. Ultimately, I’d recommend using Grenade protein bars. The texture is chewy and the taste is sweet without being too sickly. There are also a load of flavours to choose from and, crucially, a solid 20g of good-quality protein per bar.

Other protein bar recommendations

Best for nutritionIf you’re looking for a bar with nutritional benefits, look no further than the Fulfil Vitamin and Protein Bar. Fulfil bars are fortified with vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C and E, as well as folic acid (and they hit the 20g protein benchmark).
Best vegan optionThe vegan versions of the PhD Smart Bar range are some of the nicest plant-based protein bars we’ve tried. They have a pleasant, rich taste that unlike some on this list isn’t too sweet, and deliver a decent dose of protein too.
Best for competitionIf you’re involved in elite competition you need nutritional supplements that are Informed Sport approved. That’s exactly what the Healthspan Elite All Blacks HiLO Protein Bar is, plus it’s high in fibre and protein and low in sugar.

1. Grenade Protein Bar

grenade protein bar

Men’s Fitness verdict

There’s a reason why Grenade is the UK’s best selling protein bar. Loaded with 21g protein and just 1.4g sugar, it’s the best-tasting, best textured, least-sickly sweet bar we’ve tested.
Pros
  • Great tasting
  • Excellent chewy texture
  • Good amount of protein
Cons
  • Expensive
  • A bit sweet
  • High in polyols
Protein per bar21g
Flavors15, including Salted Caramel; Oreo; Dark Chocolate Mint; Cookie Dough; White Chocolate & more

An obvious choice, perhaps, but the UK’s best-selling protein bars (previously called Carb Killas) is so for a reason. Loaded with 21g protein and just 1.4g sugar, it’s the best-tasting, least-sickly sweet bar I’ve tested.

The Salted Caramel flavor gets my vote, although there are no less than 14 others to choose from. The only downside is restricting yourself to one a day (but who are we to tell you how to live your life).

2. Healthspan Elite All Blacks HiLO Protein Bar

Healthspan Elite All Blacks HiLO Protein Bar

Men’s Fitness verdict

Low in sugar and high in fibre, these HiLO bars pack 20g of quality protein into each of their delicious flavours. They’re purely plant based and approved for elite competition too.
Pros
  • Great taste
  • Good amount of quality protein
  • High in fiber
Cons
  • Slightly bitter aftertaste
  • Only available online
  • Limited flavors
Protein per bar20g
FlavorsBlack Forest Gateau; Chocolate and Salted Caramel; White Chocolate Raspberry

As you’d expect from any sports nutrition product endorsed by the All Blacks rugby team, the Healthspan Elite protein bars uses quality ingredients. Low in sugar and high in fiber, they also pack 20g of protein into each of their delicious flavors – black forest gateau, chocolate and salted caramel, and white chocolate. Plus, they’re Informed Sport approved, too, making them suitable for elite competition.

3. Kinetika Deluxe Protein Bar

Kinetika Deluxe Protein Bar

Men’s Fitness verdict

There’s only 14g protein in these small 45g bars but they have the best taste and texture on test and are WADA and Informed Sport approved for competition.
Pros
  • Pleasantly chewy texture
  • Not too sweet
  • Good chocolate flavor
Cons
  • Only available online
  • Not as high in protein as most bars
  • Limited flavors
Protein per bar14g
FlavorsChocolate brownie, cookies and cream, peanut caramel

Kinetika makes its bars with quality batch-tested ingredients. So, it’s no surprise they get the thumbs-up from WADA and Informed Sport. It uses milk protein from grass-fed, hormone-free cow’s milk and its bars have the best taste and texture of any on test.

It’s a shame there’s only 14g of protein in every serving, but they are small 45g bars, so why not have one and a half, or even two at a time?

4. Barebells Bar

Barebells bar

Men’s Fitness verdict

One of the less synthetic-tasting protein snacks, Barebell bars combine rich flavors with simple, natural ingredients. They’re low in sugar and don’t have the powdery texture that many bars do.
Pros
  • Nice rich flavor
  • Lots of flavors to choose from
  • Tastes less synthetic than most bars
Cons
  • Quite sweet
  • Slightly bitter aftertaste
Protein per barUp to 20g (depending on flavor)
Flavors11, including: caramel chocolate, raspberry cream, crispy nougat, salted peanut caramel

One of the less synthetic-tasting protein snacks, Barebells bars combine a variety of rich flavors with simple, natural ingredients. Of the 11 different versions, four vegan or soft protein options don’t make the 20g mark, but the rest hit the spot and are tasty too.

They all have a pleasant, rich taste, are low in sugar and don’t have the claggy or powdery texture that many of the best protein bars do.

5. Fulfil Vitamin and Protein Bar

Product shot of a Fulfil protein bar

Men’s Fitness verdict

Fulfil bars hit the 20g protein benchmark, have half the calories of most protein bars and are available in 11 mouth-watering flavors. They’re anti-oxidant-rich and low in polyols too.
Pros
  • Good flavor
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals
  • Good amount of protein (20g)
Cons
  • A bit too chewy
  • Lacks texture
  • Smaller-sized bar
Protein per bar20g
Flavors11, including: salted caramel, chocolate brownie, white chocolate and cookie dough, mint chocolate

Suitable for anyone with an eye for boosting more than just protein intake, Fulfil bars are fortified with vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C and E, as well as folic acid.

They hit the 20g protein benchmark, have half the calories of most protein bars and are available in 11 mouth-watering flavours, which sounds like a win-win to us.

6. Vow Nutrition Protein Bar

Men’s Fitness verdict

Vow only makes three flavors, but why make more when they taste this good? Taste and texture are both spot-on and sugar content is minimal. It’s just a shame it doesn’t hit the 20g protein mark.
Pros
  • Pleasant chewy texture
  • Low in sugar
Cons
  • Relatively high in polyols
  • Only 16g protein
Protein per bar16g
FlavorsCookies and cream, peanut crunch, salted caramel

If Team GB think Vow Nutrition Protein Bars are good enough for them, then we reckon they’re good enough for us too. Its three flavors – cookies and cream, peanut crunch and salted caramel – are all remarkably tasty, and the nutrition numbers look good too.

There’s 16g of protein in each bar and an microscopic 0.4g of sugar. These bars are Informed Sport approved so we know the pea protein isolate and soya protein isolate come from good quality sources.

7. PhD Smart Bar

PhD Smart Bar box

Men’s Fitness verdict

You don’t need a doctorate to know PhD bars will meet your post-workout recovery needs. The texture might not be to everyone’s liking, but its recovery credentials make perseverance worth your while.
Pros
  • Nice rich taste
  • Good amount of protein
  • Not too sweet
Cons
  • Slightly gritty texture
  • High in polyols
  • Big 64g bar
Protein per bar20g
Flavors10, including: Birthday cake, chocolate brownie, peanut butter, dark raspberry, vanilla fudge

With 20g plant-based protein per bar, you don’t need a doctorate to know PhD bars will meet your post-workout recovery needs. Some of the best protein bars on the market, there are eight rich flavors to choose from – though keep an eye on a calorie count that can reach 261kcal per 65g bar.

The texture might not be to everyone’s liking, but those recovery credentials make a bit of perseverance worth your while. Plus, they’re available in half-size and vegan versions.

8. USN Trust Crunch

USN Trust Crunch

Men’s Fitness verdict

These Trust Crunch Bars from Ultimate Sports Nutrition almost feel too indulgent for post-workout nutrition. The flavors are bang-on but sugar content is a little high in some flavors.
Pros
  • Good range of indulgent dessert flavors
  • Decent protein dose
Cons
  • Textura can be gritty
  • One of the more expensive options
Protein per bar20g
FlavorsCookies and cream, fudge brownie, raspberry cheesecake, triple choc, white choc cookie dough

Sweet-toothed gym-goers will enjoy the dessert flavors (fudge brownie or raspberry cheesecake, anyone?), and 20g protein is optimal post-workout fuel.

It’s worth noting the sugar content: 2.5g sugar is slightly more than some of the other best protein bars in this list. However, 213 calories is about par.

What to look for when buying protein bars

Protein bar preference is very individual – especially when it comes down to taste and texture. However, when shopping for the best protein bars, it’s crucial to glance over their ingredient lists to check how much protein they pack. You should also be mindful of any additives, such as sugars, artificial flavors and fillers, which can limit the nutritional effectiveness – it’s all about balance. And of course, if you’re looking for the best vegan protein bars, be sure to check what protein source is included.

It’s also a good idea to set your budget and be aware of costs, as they can certainly stack up if you’re chomping on protein bars every day. Lots of brands now offer subscription services, which help you save money while also ensuring you never run out. And, there are other options for getting your daily protein fix, like the best protein cereals and the best protein powers – be sure to shop around!