You know the scenario- You’ve been exercising, dieting, and been successful at maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle (the one you’ve been working months to achieve)- when it happens. You’re driving around running errands, or stuck at work late, or find yourself at home not wanting to leave with little in the fridge, and you’re suddenly starving.
There are no healthy options around, so you give in and buy a double cheeseburger or a bag of chips or something (anything, at this point!) to quell the savage hunger that is making you a not so pleasant person to be around. Often this leads to the toppling of months of hard work and concentrated willpower.
We’ve all been there, but there are a few tricks that you can utilize to ensure that this doesn’t happen (again, most likely) to you. Having a healthy option (with a longer shelf-life) readily available and tucked away in your bag or car is key to quelling these attacks on your willpower, and protein bars are a great way to squirrel away healthy, nutritious snacks or meal replacements. Of course, they’re great as a part of your daily routine as well!
Protein bars, and in turn, a high protein diet, can have many beneficial effects on your overall health. Protein repairs and strengthens muscle tissue quells hunger for more extended periods and helps maintain a properly functioning body, including cells, tissues, and organs.
When choosing a protein bar, as with any decision that you make to change your lifestyle, it is essential to take a step back and consider what your actual needs are. Are you trying to lose weight? Have a healthy option available for an on the go snack or meal replacement? Do you require something with low sugar, or free of lactose and gluten? Are you trying to gain weight? Do you need a pre-workout energy boost?
All of these questions will factor into choosing the right protein bar for your needs.
If you haven’t yet, please check out our article on protein shakes as well, but we will relay some of the same information on protein here.
There are multiple types of protein available, and not all are created equal. You may want to know the following about different varieties of protein before you decide on a product to try:
Whey Protein is the most commonly available ingredient in protein supplements, and for a good reason. It’s easily digested, making it ideal for everyday consumption, and it contains an array of essential amino acids. It is also known for boosting energy while reducing stress levels and is most commonly used as a post-workout supplement. It is also a ‘complete’ protein, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids for human development.
Soy Protein can help build bone mass (helpful if you are suffering from osteoporosis or other degenerative bone disorders), and help reduce cholesterol while often easing the transition stressors that menopause can cause.
Pea Protein is a common choice for those who are looking for an easily digestible, hypoallergenic, and inexpensive option.
Rice Protein is a common choice for vegetarians, vegans, and the lactose-intolerant as it is often gluten and dairy free and usually comes in a 100% plant-based form.
Milk Protein has been shown to increase immune function and enhance muscle development and may be a good option if your personal health goals involve these two targets.
Egg Protein is more slowly released into the body and can be taken throughout the day to achieve your health goals.
Hemp Protein, like Rice Protein, usually is 100% plant-based and is also a good source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Casein, like Whey, is derived from milk and is also a complete protein. Casein, however, is a slow-digesting protein, making it not ideal for a quick energy boost but good for quelling hunger.
Best Protein Bars For Women
PRO BAR 12 pack
If you’re in the market for a protein bar that is similar to ONE protein bars (in other words, comes in a wide variety of flavors and tastes delicious) but is looking to satisfy a vegetarian or vegan diet, PRO BAR Protein Bars are derived from plant proteins and are Non-GMO and Gluten-Free Certified.
They are derived from Soy Protein Isolate, so though this is a good choice if you are vegetarian or vegan (no lactose here), those with soy sensitivities beware.
In addition to the 20 grams of protein available in each bar, PRO BAR protein bars also boast 5 grams of fiber and a mixture of Flax, Chia, and Cocoa Powder to provide Omega 3 Fatty Acids, fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and flavonoids.
For those of you out there concerned with your environmental impact, PRO BAR markets themselves as a company with an optimized supply chain to reduce environmental impact and create a small footprint.
The caloric content is a bit high at 290, but if meal replacement is your goal with these bars, this is not an unreasonable number of calories to accomplish that with. Users report being very sated after consuming, and that though the flavors are good and robust, they don’t taste like a candy bar.
Flavors such as Chocolate Blixx, Chocolate Nuts, Coffee Crunch, Cookie Dough, Frosted Coconut, Frosted Peanut Butter, Mint Chocolate, and Peanut Butter Chocolate are available.
Pros and Cons
- Vegan and Vegetarian-Friendly with Soy Protein Isolate
- Added Fiber and Antioxidants from Flax, Chia, and Cocoa Powder
- Tasty with a wide variety of flavors
- Company Promise to Reduce Environmental Impact
- High Caloric Content
- More Expensive
Orgain Organic Protein Bar, 12 pack
If you are interested in purchasing protein bars for snacks as opposed to a meal replacement, choosing a protein bar that is high in fiber and low in sugar might work well for you, and in that case, Orgain Organic Protein Bars fit the bill.
Depending on the flavor, each bar contains 10 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, 2-5 grams of sugar, and 140 calories, making it a good snack to quell hunger between meals without unnecessary protein. The protein available in these bars are plant-derived, and are Gluten Free, Soy Free, Non-GMO, and contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Users love the Peanut Butter Bars and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars; they also come in Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunks and S’mores flavors.
Pros and Cons
- USDA Organic Certified
- Gluten Free, Soy Free, Non-GMO
- No Artificial Flavors, Colors, or Preservatives
- Good for Snacking
- Low in Protein (but may be good for some!)
- Some residue left after washing it off
LivBar High Protein Bar, 12 pack
These bars are definitely for the extremely health conscious who are looking for an organic product that is free from some of the common irritants found in processed or packaged foods.
They are Gluten-free, Soy-free, GMO-free, Filler-free, and Corn-Free and are made in the USA and crafted by certified healthcare professionals. They also boast that their ingredients are sourced from fresh, local, and fair trade organic superfoods. With all of this going for these bars, you’d think that the price would be high, but it’s pretty middle of the road as protein bars are concerned.
If you’re already a health food lover, these flavors might be right up your alley and include Blueberry Vanilla Kale, Raspberry Kale Maca, Coffee Maple Cacao, and Ginger Lemon Tumeric.
Pros and Cons
- Gluten Free, Corn Free, Soy Free
- Non-GMO, Made in the USA
- Crafted by healthcare professionals
- Not a Traditional Protein Bar
- Flavors may not be appealing to all
RX BAR Protein Bar, 8, 12, or 16 pack
If you prefer to get your protein from whole foods (like eggs, nuts, and meat) but would still love to be able to take something on the go (it’s not particularly convenient to eat scrambled eggs in the car), give RXBar Protein Bars a try.
They are whole food bars made with egg whites and natural ingredients – in fact, the ingredients are listed in large letters on the front of the package, so you know what you’re eating. Though each flavor contains a different protein, fiber, and calorie content, they contain around 12 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and 200 calories. Also keep in mind that though these bars may seem that they have more sugar than a traditional protein bar, all sugars are naturally derived from the fruits and other whole ingredients included in the bars, which is far better on the system for those who suffer from conditions like hypoglycemia.
They also contain no soy, dairy, added sugar, gluten, or GMO products. Again, they have ridiculously transparent ingredients, as is evidenced on their Chocolate Sea Salt Flavor, ingredients including Dates, Egg Whites, Almonds, Cashews, 100% Chocolate (Cacao), Sea Salt, Natural Chocolate Flavor.
These chewy bars come in a wide variety of flavors, including Apple Cinnamon, Berry Blast, Blueberry, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Sea Salt, Coconut Chocolate, Coffee Chocolate, Maple Sea Salt, Mint Chocolate, Mixed Berry, Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Chocolate, and Pumpkin Spice.
Keep in mind that they offer a variety of sizes, and not all flavors are available in all sizes (some sell out), so if you’re looking for one of those flavors, in particular, you may want to check all two package types. They also come in variety packs.
As can be expected, these whole food bars do come at an entire food price, so though they are good for your body to keep in mind that you will be paying for the simplicity of ingredients.
Pros and Cons
- Great for oily or dry skin types
- Lightweight, airy finish
- Unique container can be difficult to use
- Package contains less product than expected
Garden of Life Organic Sport Protein Bar, 12 pack
Using Organic Tapioca, Peanuts, and Pea protein, they are NSF Certified for Sport and Informed-Choice for Sports Certified. On top of that, they boast being certified Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Soy free. The parent company is, in fact, committed to 100% organic feed, which means ho herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, GMOs, hormones, antibiotics… I’m not sure if there’s anything else that they could not add!
It’s got an excellent profile, containing 20 grams of Protein, 10 grams of Fiber, 290 Calories, and 33 Carbs. This protein bar also BCAAs (branched chain amino acids), which are an incredibly beneficial and useful supplement to any sports nutrition program.
So even though it can be challenging to get all of the protein that you need, particularly for strenuous exercise, while maintaining a vegan lifestyle, but these top rated protein bars may be able to really help you achieve your fitness goals, and you can enjoy them in Chocolate Fudge, Chocolate Mint, Peanut Butter Chocolate and Sea Salt Caramel varieties.
Pros and Cons
- Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Non-GMO
- 100% Organic, No Hormones Antibiotics, Pesticides, Fungicides
- Certified for Sport
- Contains BCAAs
- Limited Flavors
- Contains Added Sugars
ONE Protein Bar, 12 pack
(As well as Almond Bliss, Blueberry Cobbler, Chocolate Birthday Cake, Chocolate Brownie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cinnamon Roll, Cookies and Cream, Key Lime Pie, Lemon Cake, Maple Glazed Doughnut, Mint Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake, Peanut Butter Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Salted Caramel, and White Chocolate Raspberry!!).
Users report that the flavor is spot on and that they maintain a nice, soft, chewy consistency without any ‘protein powder’ flavor. So let’s just say if you’re trying to solve two problems at once- cutting sweets and other sugary stuff out of your diet and increasing protein intake- this bar has some seriously delicious options, and there is only 1 gram of sugar per bar with 20 grams of protein.
The protein itself is formulated from Whey Protein Isolate (a complete protein) and Milk Protein Isolate. Though it is not lactose-free, it does boast the gluten-free certification and is considered one of the best protein bars for women.
They weigh in at 210-220 calories, which makes them a good candidate for a meal replacement bar if you are in the market, and users report feeling sated until the next meal. They are a little bit more expensive than some other protein bars out there, but if you are interested in a bar that comes in a wide variety of tasty flavors, give ONE bar a try (they even have a variety pack if you can’t choose which flavor suits you!).
Pros and Cons
- Comes in a wide variety of flavors
- Gluten Free
- Whey and Milk Protein Isolates
- Great Taste
- More expensive
- Caloric content high
LUNA Protein Bar 12 pack
The calories weigh in at a mere 170-190 (depending on the flavor you choose) and are formulated especially for women’s energy and nutritional needs in mind (and their company is dedicated to championing women’s equality- so you can eat with a peaceful mind!).
Their ingredients are sourced from organic and sustainable farming communities to ensure a healthier planet.
Though these bars are formulated from Soy Protein Isolate, they also contain milk, soy, and nuts, so if allergens are an issue for you, please double check the label!
They come in Berry Greek Yogurt, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Salted Caramel, Chocolate Walnut Fudge, and Mint Chocolate Chip. User reports have been mostly ecstatic about the taste. However, it seems as if the Berry Greek Yogurt flavor may not be as popular as the other (more chocolatey) varieties.
Pros and Cons
- Low Glycemic
- Lower Caloric Content
- Contains Added Fiber and Vitamin D
- Good Price
- Specifically Formulated for Women’s Needs
- Some Flavors not Recommended
- Contain some Possible Allergens, Including Soy, Nuts, and Milk
Think Thin High Protein Bars, ten pack or 30 pack
They come at a remarkably good price point, and are also packing 20 grams of protein without the sugar (0 grams, to be exact) and are gluten free and low glycemic friendly. They do contain 24 carbs and 240 calories.
These protein bars are derived from Soy Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate, and Calcium Caseinate (slow releasing), though they do contain nuts, milk, soy, and egg products, if you are not sensitive to these ingredients and are looking for an excellent low glycemic option, these are a great choice.
One issue, however, is that though these protein bars do not contain ‘sugar,’ they do contain ‘sugar alcohol,’ so this is perhaps something to talk over with your health practitioner, mainly if you have diabetes or need to maintain a sugar-free diet.
Flavors include Brownie Crunch, Caramel Fudge, Chocolate Fudge, Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Strawberry, Chunky Peanut Butter, Cookies and Cream, Creamy Peanut Butter, Lemon Delight, Maple Almond, Sea Salt Almond, and White Chocolate.
Users report that the bars are tasty, though some report a slightly artificial taste and others highly recommend against the Lemon Delight flavor.
Pros and Cons
- High Protein
- Low Glycemic
- Contain three types of protein, including Whey, Casein, and Soy
- Low Price point
- Contains sugar alcohol
- Contain other potential allergens, including peanuts, soy, milk, and eggs
Her Whey Lean Protein Bar, 12 count
If you’re looking for one of the top rated protein bars formulated explicitly for women, Her Whey Lean Protein Bar not only tastes great but has an excellent ratio of protein and fiber to carbs, calories, and sugars.
It offers 20 grams of whey protein (hence the name) and only 190 calories and 23 carbs with a healthy 7 grams of fiber. This particular combination would make a great quick weight loss meal replacement! According to the company, they are specially formulated to promote lean muscle growth, support muscle recovery and promote a lean body composition (as well as curb your appetite).
NLA, the parent company, also commits to providing quality products specifically for women, so know that you will be supporting a women-friendly business if your purchase decision includes Her Whey Lean Protein Bars.
If you’re cautious about the ingredients that you put in your body, rest easy knowing that these bars contain no hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup – they are also gluten-free!
Most users report a great tasting, soft, chewy bar. Their flavors are somewhat limited, however, to Cookie Dough, Lemon Cake, and Maple Cinnamon Roll.
Pros and Cons
- Gluten Free
- Free of High Fructose Corn Syrup and Hydrogenated Oils
- Good Protein to Calorie/Carb Ratio
- Specifically formulated for Women
- Limited Flavors
- Does contain nuts, soy, and other potential allergens
Simply Protein Bar, 12 or 15 Pack
If you’re in the market for a protein bar to help you lose and regulate your weight but are concerned about lifestyle maintenance or sensitivities and allergies, Simply Protein Bar is an excellent choice.
It contains a very high ratio of Protein + Fiber to Calories + Sugar, weighing in at 15 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 150 calories.
The added fiber and high protein content make it a perfect meal replacement bar (the fiber will fill your stomach for longer), and the longer you can wait until your next snack or meal, the more weight it is possible to lose. On top of that, these bars are certified Non-Gmo, Gluten-Free, and Vegan. Such a short ingredients list is almost unheard of. Living up to their name ‘Simply,’ these bars contain only Soy Protein Isolate, Chicory Root Fiber, Cashew Butter (Dry-Roasted Cashews, Sunflower Oil), Vegetable Glycerin, Pecans, Tapioca Starch, Cinnamon, Salt. So, if you have a nut allergy, you’re out of luck, but otherwise, this is a particularly transparent protein bar.
Compared to most protein bars, which are chewy, these bars offer a crunchy texture and come in a wide variety of flavors including Chocolate Caramel, Chocolate Coconut, Cinnamon Pecan, Cocoa Coffee, Cocoa Raspberry, Double Chocolate, Lemon Coconut, Maple Pecan, Maple Pecan, and Peanut Butter.
Please note that although the 15 pack is a better deal, they are often sold out of a lot of flavors in that particular size (so check the 12 pack flavors if you want something that you don’t see).
Pros and Cons
- Simple Ingredients- No fillers or additives
- No Artificial Sweeteners
- High Protein and Fiber Content
- Low Sugar and Calorie Content
- Vegan, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO, Kosher
- Some flavors often unavailable
- Contains Nuts and Soy
Whether you’re interested in boosting your energy, putting a stop to unhealthy snacking, or replacing meals with something that won’t leave you hungry, protein bars are a great way to satisfy cravings (often with absolutely delicious products!) and keep hunger at bay.
Don’t fall prey to inconvenient bouts of hunger or post-workout fatigue. By stocking up on easily accessible protein bars, you can keep your healthcare regimen and weight in check.