The Best Protein Bars for Men, According to a Dietitian

Rise Whey Protein Bars have 20 grams of protein and are made from whole foods

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As an active individual, it is important that you consume adequate amounts of protein for muscle maintenance and repair. We recommend aiming to first meet your protein needs through whole food sources. Protein can be found in a variety of foods such as poultry, meat, dairy products, tofu, beans, and lentils. 

However, when you’re short on time or on the go and need an extra protein boost, protein bars can be a helpful addition until you’re able to consume a complete meal. These bars typically contain around 10 to 20 grams of protein along with varying amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and fiber. It is important to be aware that there are many protein bars on the market, with different protein sources, protein amounts, and ingredients.

Melissa Rifkin, MS, RD, CDN, says "For men, I recommend choosing a protein bar that has around 15 grams of protein, 3 or more grams of fiber, and no more than 3 grams of saturated fat. If using a protein bar as a post-workout recovery snack, a bar in the 200-300 calories range is sufficient for most men." 

VeryWellFit Approved Protein Bars

  • Best Overall: Rise Whey Protein Bars are our top choice because they contain 20 grams of protein per bar, minimal ingredients, and no artificial sweeteners.
  • Best Vegan: Papa Steve’s No Junk Raw Protein Bars contain 20 grams of pea protein, 9 grams of fiber, and are sweetened with whole food ingredients.

Top Picks

Best Overall: Rise The Simplest Protein Bars 12 Pack

Rise The Simplest Protein Bar

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Minimal ingredient list

  • High protein content

  • No artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols

Cons
  • Not suitable for those with milk or nut allergies

  • Not suitable for vegans

It can be challenging to find a protein bar that contains high levels of protein, minimal ingredients, and no added fillers or artificial sweeteners. Enter: Rise protein bars, a bar that rises to the task.

Rise Whey Protein Bars contain only three ingredients: almonds, honey, and whey protein isolate. Whey protein isolate is whey that has been processed to lower the fat and lactose content, making it easy to digest for most. Each bar contains 20 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and is sweetened with honey. Many protein bars on the market are sweetened with sugar alcohols, which can cause stomach upset for some.

Since whey is derived from milk, this may not be a good choice if you have a milk allergy or do not consume animal products. However, Rise also makes two vegan flavors, lemon cashew and sunflower cinnamon, made with pea protein.

Price at time of publication: $28 for 12 bars ($2.37/ bar)

Protein: 20 grams | Protein source: Whey protein isolate Fat: 16 grams | Fiber: 4 grams | Carbohydrates: 20 grams | Flavors: Almond honey, chocolate banana, chocolate chip almond, mint chocolate chip, mocha almond, snickerdoodle

Best With Whole Food Ingredients: RXBAR Chocolate Sea Salt Protein Bar

RXBAR, Protein Bar, Chocolate Sea Salt

iHerb

Pros
  • No added sugars

  • No artificial sweeteners or alcohols

  • Many flavor options

  • High in fiber

Cons
  • Not suitable for egg or nut allergies

  • Lower in protein

RX Bars are a delicious protein bar option made from whole food ingredients. We admire this company’s transparency, listing their ingredients on the front of every bar. Each bar contains minimal ingredients—the chocolate sea salt version contains egg whites, almonds, cashews, dates, chocolate, cocoa, natural flavors, and sea salt. The dates and nuts contribute to a higher carbohydrate and fat content, but we appreciate that the ingredients are all from real food and that these bars do not contain artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols.

The protein in RX Bars comes from egg whites, so these are not suitable if you have an egg allergy. With 12 grams of protein, these bars can be a helpful way to bridge the gap between meals. RX Bars come in a variety of flavors, so whether you are a fan of chocolate or fruit flavors, you will be sure to find an option you enjoy. They are however a bit lower in protein when compared to other bars, so be sure to incorporate other sources of protein as well, particularly after a workout.

Price at time of publication: $21 for 12 bars ($1.73/ bar)

Protein: 12 grams | Protein source: Egg whites | Fat: 9 grams | Fiber: 5 grams | Carbohydrates: 23 grams | Flavors: Chocolate sea salt, banana chocolate walnut, blueberry, chocolate chip, coconut chocolate, maple sea salt, mint chocolate, mixed berry, peanut butter, peanut butter banana, peanut butter chocolate, vanilla almond

Best Vegan: Papa Steve's Raw Foods No Junk Raw Protein Bars

Papa Steves, Bars No Junk Protein Chocolate Coconut Crunch, 2.5 Ounce

Amazon

Pros
  • High protein content

  • Whole food ingredients

  • Many flavor options

  • High fiber

Cons
  • Not suitable for those with peanut allergies

  • Expensive

If you are an active individual and follow a vegan diet, you may need to be somewhat more conscious of your protein intake to ensure you’re obtaining adequate amounts. For a vegan protein bar that packs a powerful protein punch, consider Papa Steve’s No Junk Raw Protein Bars. These bars contain 20 grams of protein from pea protein, and the sweetness comes from whole food ingredients such as dates and apple juice concentrate, so you don’t have to worry about potential stomach upset from sugar alcohols.

The peanut butter choco chip flavor is vegan, but this company makes other non-vegan flavors as well, such as blueberry almond crunch made with whey protein. Different flavors contain varying amounts of protein, ranging from around 13 grams to 20 grams, so be sure to check the label.

Price at time of publication: $35 for 10 bars ($3.50/ bar)

Protein: 20 grams | Protein source: Pea protein | Fat: 12 grams | Fiber: 9 grams | Carbohydrates: 31 grams | Vegan flavors: Peanut butter choco chip, apple cinnamon pecan, banana oat choco chip, cranberry almond, dark chocolate cherry cashew, dark chocolate coconut, dark chocolate mocha almond, lemon cashew, mint chocolate chunk, vanilla cashew coconut, wild blueberry almond

Best Organic: Aloha Organic Plant Based Protein Bars Vanilla Almond Crunch

Aloha Organic Plant Based Protein Bars Vanilla Almond Crunch

Amazon

Pros
  • High in fiber

  • Suitable for vegans

  • No sugar alcohols

Cons
  • Not suitable for those with a nut allergy

Aloha is known for making high-quality organic plant-based products, and its protein bars are no exception. Aloha Organic Plant Based Protein Bars contain 14 grams of protein per bar along with 6 grams of fiber, a nutrient lacking in many men’s diets. They are made with brown rice protein and pumpkin seed protein, so they are also suitable for vegans.

These bars are sweetened with tapioca syrup and monk fruit rather than sugar alcohols. In addition to vanilla almond crunch, Aloha makes other fun flavors, such as chocolate chip cookie dough and caramel sea salt. These bars do contain almonds, so they are not suitable for those with nut allergies.

Price at time of publication: $33 for 12 bars ($2.75/ bar)

Protein: 14 grams | Protein source: Brown rice protein, pumpkin seed protein Fat: 12 grams | Fiber: 6 grams | Carbohydrates: 23 grams | Flavors: Vanilla almond crunch, chocolate chip cookie dough, chocolate fudge brownie, chocolate mint, peanut butter chocolate chip, caramel sea salt

Best Post Workout: Clif Builders Protein Bar Vanilla Almond

 Clif Builder’s Protein Bar Vanilla Almond

Amazon

Pros
  • High protein content

  • Contains carbs for recovery

  • Suitable for gluten free and plant based diets

  • Good source of iron

Cons
  • Not suitable for soy, nut or dairy allergies

Clif Builder’s Protein Bar is a well-rounded bar, making it an optimal choice for post-workout recovery and is a budget-friendly protein bar choice. It contains 20 grams of protein along with 29 grams of carbohydrates per bar, both of which are necessary to obtain after exercising. Consuming the two nutrients together may speed up our bodies’ ability to replenish their stores of carbohydrates after exercise. Based on your activity levels, you may still need greater amounts of protein or carbohydrates, but these bars can be a good starting point for fueling post-exercise.

We also like that this bar is a source of iron, as athletes or those following a vegetarian diet may especially need to make sure they are getting enough iron in the diet.

The protein in Clif Builder’s bars comes from soy protein isolate, so they are suitable for plant-based eaters. They come in chocolate peanut butter or vanilla almond.

Price at time of publication: $18 for 12 bars ($1.50/ bar)

Protein: 20 grams | Protein source: Soy protein isolate | Fat: 9 grams | Fiber: 4 grams | Carbohydrates: 31 grams | Flavors: Chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, chocolate chip cookie dough, cookies and cream, vanilla almond

Best Tasting: Kind Protein Bars, Crunchy Peanut Butter

Kind Protein Bars, Crunchy Peanut Butter

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Whole food ingredients

  • No artificial flavors or sweeteners

  • High in fiber

Cons
  • Lower protein content

Some protein bars may taste overly sweet, artificially sweet, or simply lack flavor. Kind Protein Bars Crunchy Peanut Butter are peanut-forward bars that deliver on flavor. They are not too sweet and are satisfyingly crunchy. In addition to their crunchy peanut butter flavor, these bars also come in other flavors, including almond butter dark chocolate, double dark chocolate nut, and toasted caramel nut.

While these bars are a bit lower in protein, with 12 grams per bar, they can serve as a helpful mid-afternoon snack that provides you with a protein boost between meals. They also contain 6 grams of fiber per bar, which is a bit higher than many other bars.

Price at time of publication: $20 for 12 bars ($1.70/ bar)

Protein: 12 grams | Protein source: Peanuts, soy protein isolate | Fat: 18 grams | Fiber: 6 grams | Carbohydrates: 17 grams | Flavors: Crunchy peanut butter, almond butter dark chocolate, double dark chocolate nut, toasted caramel nut

Best Gluten Free: G2G Protein Bars Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

G2G Protein Bars Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

Amazon

Pros
  • High protein content

  • No sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners

  • Source of calcium and iron

Cons
  • Higher in added sugars

  • Not suitable for milk or peanut allergy

G2G Protein Bars are gluten-free bars made with peanuts, oats, honey, and whey protein isolate. These bars contain a higher dose of protein with 18 grams per bar, along with 4 grams of fiber. They are also a good source of calcium and iron. These bars have no sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners, but they are higher in added sugars compared to some bars. Therefore, they can also be a great option for a post-workout snack that offers a good amount of carbohydrates and protein.

These protein bars come in a variety of flavors, including almond mocha, peanut butter coconut, and peanut butter and jelly. The company recommends keeping these bars in the refrigerator to maintain freshness, noting they will last in the fridge for eight months. You can take these bars with you on the go as well, and they will stay fresh for 30 days outside of the fridge.

Price at time of publication: $27 for 8 bars ($3.38/ bar)

Protein: 18 grams | Protein source: Whey protein isolate | Fat: 14 grams | Fiber: 4 grams | Carbohydrates: 25 grams | Flavors:  Almond mocha, almond chocolate chip, almond oatmeal cookie, almond coconut, peanut butter chocolate chip, peanut butter coconut, peanut butter banana, peanut butter and jelly

Best Savory: Epic Provisions Chicken Sriracha Protein Bar

Epic Provisions Chicken Sriracha Protein Bar

Amazon

Pros
  • Sugar free

  • Suitable for gluten- and dairy-free diets

  • Grass fed and antibiotic free meats

  • Many sweet and savory flavor choices

Cons
  • Not suitable for vegetarian or vegan diets

  • Higher in sodium

  • Lower in protein

Most protein bars are sweetly flavored, so opting for a savory protein bar can offer a refreshing change of flavor. Choosing a savory meat bar such as EPIC's Chicken Sriracha is an excellent choice, especially for men who also need to avoid nuts or looking for a naturally sugar-free bar.

This spicy, wholesome bar contains 100 calories and 11 grams of protein from natural chicken. It is lower in protein, so it may serve best as a snack between meals. 

This bar is Non-GMO Project Verified, contains no sugar, and we like that Epic uses grass-fed and antibiotic-free meats for their bars. However, this contributes to the price point being on the higher end for this protein bar option.

There are a mix of other savory flavors as well as some sweet options, including chicken bbq, beef jalapeño, beef salt + pepper, venison salt + pepper, bison bacon cranberry, beef apple bacon, uncured bacon and pork, and beef barbacoa. If you watch your sodium intake, it's important to note that one bar contains 760 milligrams of sodium—or 33 percent of the recommended daily value.

Price at time of publication: $42 for 12 bars ($3.50/ bar)

Protein: 11 grams | Protein source: chicken | Fat: 5 grams | Fiber: 2 grams | Carbohydrates: 3 grams | Flavors: Chicken sriracha, chicken BBQ, beef jalapeno, beef salt + pepper, venison salt + pepper, beef barbacoa, beef apple bacon, uncured bacon + pork, and bison bacon cranberry

Are Protein Bars Beneficial for Men?

We recommend turning to whole food sources to meet your protein needs since protein bars often contain other ingredients. Many bars marketed as protein bars are similar ingredient-wise to candy bars or cookies but with added protein. There are, however, certain situations in which protein bars may come in handy.

Those who may benefit from protein bars include:

  • Those who are short on time: If you are short on time and looking for a quick protein option on the go, a protein bar may help you bridge the gap between meals. In particular, if you do not have time to eat after exercising, a high-quality protein bar may be helpful until you’re able to eat a complete meal. Keep in mind that not all protein bars contain large amounts of protein, so you will likely need to add other sources.
  • Active individuals: Athletes need higher amounts of protein to help build and repair their muscles. Protein bars may be a convenient way to boost protein intake along with other whole food sources of protein. You should note that protein supplements may enhance muscle mass only when activity levels and overall diet are adequate.
  • Those looking to gain weight: If you are interested in gaining weight, protein bars can be an easy way to add extra calories and protein to your diet without a lot of bulk. Some protein bars are higher in calories and nutrients than others, so be sure to check ingredient labels.
  • Older adults: Older adults may require extra protein, paired with resistance exercise, to offset age-related muscle loss. Protein bars may be a convenient way to add protein and other nutrients, such as fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

Who May Not Benefit from Protein Bars

There are certain groups of people that may want to avoid protein bars. These groups include:

  • Those consuming a balanced diet: If you consume a balanced diet and you are able to obtain protein from whole food sources, you do not need to rely on protein bars. You can likely obtain higher amounts from whole food sources.
  • Those looking to lose weight: Some research shows that higher protein diets may support weight loss. However, protein bars contain varying amounts of fat, carbohydrates, and protein, and many have added sugars and sweeteners. Since bars do not contain a lot of volume, they are not always filling, which can result in eating more than you might by focusing on whole food sources.
  • Those with kidney disease: If you have kidney disease or another disorder in which you need to be aware of your protein intake, you may want to avoid protein bars or consult with a healthcare provider.

How We Select Supplements

Form

Protein bars for men are typically sold as individually wrapped bars, but some are also produced as cookies or other baked goods.

Ingredients

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included relative to the recommended daily value of that ingredient. Please bring the supplement label to a healthcare provider to review the different ingredients contained in the supplement and any potential interactions between these ingredients and other supplements and medications you are taking.

Protein bars can contain a wide variety of ingredients, so it is important to check ingredient labels. For example, protein bars contain protein from various sources. This can include protein from animals such as whey protein or eggs, or plant-based sources like pea protein, brown rice protein, pumpkin seeds, or chia seeds. This can be important to check, particularly if you have any allergies or sensitivities. Bars vary in the amount of protein they contain, ranging from around 10 to 20 grams of protein per bar.

The type and source of carbohydrates in bars can also differ. Some bars contain carbohydrates from whole food sources like dates or oats, while others have added sugars or sweeteners. Low sugar bars typically obtain this profile by adding sugar alcohols, such as maltitol or xylitol, which cause some individuals gas and stomach upset. 

Bars may also contain synthetic fibers like chicory root, which can also cause bloating or gas. Protein bars are often low in fiber—the recommended intake of fiber for men aged 19 to 50 is 31 to 34 grams, so be sure to meet these needs with whole food sources such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Certain bars also contain added vitamins, minerals, and caffeine, which you may or may not want, depending on your needs and goals.

If you have any allergies or are lactose intolerant, pay attention to labels, as many bars contain nuts or dairy ingredients.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best time to eat a protein bar?

    Protein bars are a versatile snack that can be a good option as a pre or post-workout snack or to bridge the gap between meals. They can be a handy option if you are on the go and don’t have time for a regular meal.

  • Can I eat a protein bar instead of a meal?

    We do not recommend eating a protein bar instead of a meal. Protein bars vary greatly in the amount of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and vitamins and minerals they contain. While protein bars may be a convenient option when you don’t have time for a meal, we don’t recommend making it a habit, as you will be able to obtain a wider variety of nutrients from whole food sources. If you struggle to eat a particular meal, such as breakfast, due to time or other factors, then a protein bar can work in a pinch paired with another food you can take on the go, such as fruit or yogurt.

  • Do protein bars cause gas or constipation?

    Some protein bars contain sugar alcohols. You will be able to spot these on the ingredient list because they end in “-ol.” Examples of sugar alcohols found in some bars include maltitol, xylitol, and sorbitol. Sugar alcohols may cause gas, boating, or diarrhea in some individuals. Furthermore, many protein bars are not overly high in fiber. If you rely on these regularly instead of including high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, you may experience constipation.

  • Do protein bars cause weight gain?

    Weight gain will occur when you are consuming more calories than you are expending. While protein bars do not contribute to weight gain on their own, they may contribute to weight gain within the context of a calorie surplus. Protein bars are also typically fairly small, making it easy to consume a high number of calories without realizing it.

  • Do protein bars help you gain muscle?

    According to the American College of Sports Medicine, active individuals should aim to obtain 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Protein bars may help you reach this amount of protein, but they should not be the only source of protein you consume. Given that protein bars contain varying amounts of protein along with fat and carbohydrates, we recommend first turning to whole food sources of protein to meet your needs. It is also important to note you will not gain muscle from consuming protein without pairing it with exercise.

  • What is the average cost of a protein bar?

    The average cost for a protein bar can vary depending on the size of the bar, packaging, and source of ingredients. In general, the average cost per bar can range from $1.50 up to around $4 per bar. In general, if a protein bar is mostly made from plant-based ingredients, it will be cheaper than bars that have animal-based ingredients such as meat or milk proteins. Larger pack sizes and subscription options can also help drive down the cost per bar.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

A personal note on my recommendations written above. As a dietitian, I am frequently asked about the best bars, especially for men. In writing this article, I spent time looking at multiple products and brands and consulted with my peers in dietetics.

I believe the products in the round-up are made by trusted brands and are composed of high-quality ingredients. I would recommend the above products to friends, family, and clients, and have personally tried all of the products. You can currently find EPIC, RX, and Health Warrior bars in my pantry. Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

8 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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