9 Best Protein Bars for Women of 2022, According to a Dietitian

Chocolate Sea Salt RX Bars have no added sugar and simple ingredients.

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Protein has many important roles in the body, including repairing cells, building muscle, producing hormones, aiding in immune health, and more. There are a variety of foods that can help meet your protein needs, including meats, cheeses, nuts, beans, tofu, and fish. Protein bars also can be an easy way to up your protein intake, especially if you are very active or struggle to meet your protein needs from food alone. 

In addition to protein, women have other nutrients important for health especially if you are pregnant or lactating. These include folate, iron, calcium, B-complex vitamins, iodine, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. Even when opting for a convenient, on-the-go option like a protein bar, it can be helpful to choose bars with at least some of these nutrients to ensure you are meeting your body’s needs throughout the day. Most protein bars, unless fortified, don’t provide a good source of vitamin D, but some bars provide iron, omega 3’s, B vitamins, and other minerals.

Different protein bars may have different types of protein sources including whey protein, soy protein, pea protein, and more, or they may simply contain protein-containing whole foods such as nuts or seeds. With many protein bars on the market, it may be overwhelming to know what to look for, but we have you covered. Our registered dietitian researched the best protein bars for women considering price, nutritional profile, accessibility, ingredients, and taste.

 Here are the best protein bars for women:

Best Overall: RXBAR Chocolate Sea Salt Protein Bar

RXBAR, Protein Bar, Chocolate Sea Salt

iHerb

Pros
  • No added sugars

  • Simple ingredients

  • 5 grams of fiber

  • Source of iron and potassium

Cons
  • Not free of all common allergens

We love RXBARS because they are made with a few, simple, nutritionally-dense ingredients—egg whites, dates, cashews, almonds, chocolate, cocoa, and cinnamon. Dark chocolate is a surprising source of iron, so most dark chocolate flavored protein bars will have iron.

This is one reason we particularly like the RXBAR chocolate sea salt flavor because each bar contains 2 milligrams of iron, 10 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for women. However, if this flavor isn’t your favorite, RX offers a wide variety of nutritionally-dense flavors that are all free from added sugars and artificial sugars. They get their sweetness primarily from dates. Because they contain nuts, they are also rich in heart-healthy, unsaturated fats and omega-3s.

This bar provides 12 grams of protein from the egg whites and nuts. However, this means if you have a common food allergy, these bars may not be the best option. Besides having eggs, almonds, and cashews, these bars are processed in a facility with other common allergens. They are Kosher, and their ingredients are all non-GMO.

Price at time of publication: $44 ($1.83 per bar)

Key Specs: Protein: 12 grams | Protein source: egg whites, cashews, almonds | Fat: 9 grams | Fiber: 5 grams | Carbohydrates: 23 grams | Added sugars: 0 grams

Best Savory: Epic Provisions Chicken BBQ Seasoned Bar

Epic Provisions Chicken BBQ Seasoned Bar

Instacart

Pros
  • No added sugars

  • Source of iron

  • Higher in protein

Cons
  • High sodium 

  • More expensive

For all you savory food lovers, this bar is for you! It is really more of a meat jerky in bar-form, and it has a delicious BBQ flavor. It is only 90 calories and contains 11 grams of protein, meaning that you may need to add other components to make this a sufficient snack. You may consider pairing it with crackers or fruit to add carbohydrates for energy or for post-workout recovery. Because it is made with lean chicken, it is lower in saturated fat than other jerky options and provides 8 percent DV of iron. 

EPIC makes a variety of other bars using various meats and flavor blends; however, we picked their chicken BBQ seasoned bar because compared to other options, it is lower in sodium and saturated fat while still being a good source of iron and protein. 

Price at time of publication: $35 ($2.90 per bar)

Key Specs: Protein: 11 grams | Protein source: chicken meat | Fat: 4.5 grams | Fiber: 2 grams | Carbohydrates: 3 grams | Added sugars: 0 grams

Best Budget: LUNA Bar Nutz Over Chocolate

LUNA Bar Nutz Over Chocolate

Amazon

Pros
  • Source of iron, vitamin E, and magnesium

  • 3 grams of fiber

  • Suitable for gluten-free diets

Cons
  • 6 grams of added sugar

If you are looking for a protein bar geared for women that is an affordable option, look to LUNA Bars. LUNA Bars are plant based; they use a protein grain blend made primarily from soy and rolled oats and also have peanuts to enhance protein and taste. The Nutz Over Chocolate bar has a good ratio of heart healthy fats, protein, and fiber which can help you feel full after eating. 

We like that these bars provide some important nutrients like iron, omega 3’s, and potassium.  In addition, it is also a good source of folate, a nutrient critical for women looking to conceive to prevent birth defects in babies. However, these bars are low in other nutrients women may benefit from such as calcium or vitamin D. They have non-GMO ingredients and are also gluten-free.

Something to note is this bar does contain six grams of added sugar, about 12 percent of the DV of added sugar per day in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. On the other hand, some may appreciate there are no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols in these bars. If you want other flavor choices besides peanut chocolate, LUNA Bars have many other flavor options including lemon zest, blueberry bliss, or chocolate peppermint stick.

Price at time of publication: $19 ($1.27 per bar)

Key Specs: Protein: 9 grams | Protein source: soy protein isolate, soybeans, peanuts | Fat: 10 grams | Fiber: 3 grams | Carbohydrates: 24 grams | Added sugars: 6 grams

Best Vegan: 88 Acres Cinnamon & Oats Granola Bar

88-acres-cinnamon-oats-seed-bar

Amazon

Pros
  • Good source of iron

  • Certified vegan

  • Free of most common food allergens

Cons
  • 6 grams of added sugar

  • Lower in protein

88 Acres bars check a lot of boxes if you are vegan or have dietary restrictions. Not only are 88 Acres Cinnamon Maple Granola Bars vegan, they are also Kosher, Non-GMO Project verified, certified gluten-free, and free from most common allergens. They contain seven grams of protein derived from their seed blend of pumpkin, sunflower, and flax seeds. This also means they are packed with micronutrients, heart-healthy unsaturated fats, omega-3s, and dietary fiber to promote digestive health. 

They contain simple ingredients and come in a few other flavors from decadent dark chocolate sea salt to tangy blueberry lemon. They are free from sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners, but do contain six grams of added sugars from brown rice syrup and maple syrup.

Because they are technically granola bars and not protein bars, they have a more crunchy texture than other options. They are lower in protein compared to some other protein bars at seven grams per bar. A bonus of their texture is these bars won’t melt like other nut butter or chocolate based bars would.

Price at time of publication: $24 ($2 per bar)

Key Specs: Protein: 7 grams | Protein source: pumpkin, sunflower, and flax seeds | Fat: 11 grams | Fiber: 3 grams | Carbohydrates: 21 grams | Added sugars: 6 grams

Best Gluten Free: Health Warrior Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond Warrior Pumpkin Seed Bars

Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond Warrior Pumpkin Seed Bars

Amazon

Pros
  • Good source of many minerals

  • High in heart healthy fats

  • Budget-friendly

Cons
  • 4 grams of added sugars

  • Lower in protein

Health Warrior’s Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Bars are a relatively affordable, tasty snack option. They come in three other flavors, too, including honey sea salt, dark chocolate peanut, and dark chocolate coconut almond. The dark chocolate coconut almond flavor not only provides a source of iron but also magnesium, zinc, manganese, copper, and phosphorus. 

The seven grams of protein come purely from pumpkin seeds, which contribute to the mineral content, two grams of fiber, and heart-healthy unsaturated fats. These bars are USDA certified organic, Non-GMO Project verified, and gluten-free.

They do contain four grams of added sugars coming from honey and have no artificial sugars. Health Warrior also makes chia seed bars that are lower in protein, but come in smaller sizes for when you just need a small bite to hold you over until your next meal or snack. 

Price at time of publication: $17 ($1.40 per bar)

Key Specs: Protein: 7 grams | Protein source: pumpkin seeds | Fat: 13 grams | Fiber: 2 grams | Carbohydrates: 11 grams | Added sugars: 6 grams

Best Allergy-friendly: Go Raw Pumpkin Seed Bars

4.7
Go Raw Pumpkin Seed Bars

Amazon

Pros
  • High in fiber

  • Low in added sugars

  • Good source of iron

  • Higher in protein

Cons
  • Expensive

Go Raw’s Organic Sprouted Pumpkin Seed Bars are a simple, standout protein bar option. They contain a modest five ingredients: sprouted pumpkin seeds, sprouted flaxseed, dates, raw agave nectar, and sea salt. They are packed with 12 grams of plant protein, five grams of fiber to promote digestive health, and heart-healthy fats. 

They contain only two grams of added sugars from the agave nectar. The dates provide most of the natural sweetness. Of importance for women, they contain 15% DV of iron, but they do not have some nutrients of concern for women such as vitamin D. In addition to being jam-packed nutritionally, these bars accommodate a wide variety of consumers as they are vegan, Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free. 

These bars are a little larger and more expensive compared to other protein bars. If you want these same ingredients in a smaller size, Go Raw has these bars in a smaller snack size that are about one third the size of the regular sized bar. 

Price at time of publication: $60 ($3 per bar)

Key Specs: Protein: 12 grams | Protein source: pumpkin seeds and sprouted flaxseed | Fat: 18 grams | Fiber: 5 grams | Carbohydrates: 16 grams | Added sugars: 2 grams

Best for Pregnancy: Perfect Bar Almond Butter

Almond Butter Perfect Bar

Amazon

Pros
  • Good source of many vitamins and minerals

  • Good source of heart healthy fats

  • 4 grams of fiber

  • High in protein

Cons
  • 12 grams of added sugars

  • Require refrigeration

Perfect Bar’s almond butter bars are a satisfying, nutritionally dense protein bar that provides 13 grams of protein. They contain 320 calories per bar as opposed to other bars that average around 200 calories per bar. This makes them a great option for pregnant and lactating individuals—or athletes— who have higher caloric needs. This bar can also be a good choice whenever you are looking for a heartier and filling snack choice.

Besides being a good source of protein, this choice is also high in heart healthy fats and has four grams of fiber. This bar has milk, egg, nuts, and seeds, so it is not a good choice if you have these food allergies. One thing to note is these bars are higher than others in added sugars with 12 grams per serving.

These bars include Perfect Bar’s dried whole food powder blend which includes lots of nutrient-dense ingredients such as kale, spinach, and flax seed. Don’t worry though, these flavors are not detectable in the bar. Instead, they help bump up the nutrients such as folate, calcium, and iron. 

These bars do need to be refrigerated, so if you’re bringing one to the gym or on-the-go, it may be best to keep them stored in a cooler. 

Price at time of publication: $43 ($1.78 per bar)

Key Specs: Protein: 13 grams | Protein source: almond butter, almonds, nonfat dry milk, egg powder, rice protein, sesame seeds | Fat: 19 grams | Fiber: 4 grams | Carbohydrates: 25 grams | Added sugars: 12 grams

What Our Experts Say

Sports dietitian and personal trainer Tatiana Vélez Burgos, MS, RD, LND, CPT says, “One of my favorite protein bars to recommend to clients is Perfect Bars since they're packed with at least 10 g of protein, and the nut butter and nuts in their ingredients make a good source of fiber and healthy fats. Moreover, the refrigerated nature of protein bars gives them a great texture and flavor!”

Best Tasting: CLIF Nut Butter Bar Peanut Butter Energy Bars

Clif Nut Butter Bar, Peanut Butter

Target

Pros
  • Good source of heart healthy fats

  • Good source of magnesium and vitamin E

  • 3 grams of fiber

  • Budget-friendly

Cons
  • Contains some common food allergens 

  • 6 grams of added sugars

Filled with creamy, delicious peanut butter, Clif’s peanut butter-filled bar is a nutritious and mouth-watering option. It has seven grams of plant-based protein mean it's easily digestible and full of other plant-based nutrients like fiber and unsaturated fats. It is the texture of a standard Clif bar but with a creamy peanut butter filling - yum! 

It is USDA certified organic and comes in a few other flavors. The dark chocolate peanut butter flavor has a very similar nutrition profile, while the other flavors have a slightly lower protein content. This bar contains six grams of added sugar and is free from sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners.

It is also a good source of magnesium, a nutrient that may help reduce menstrual cramps. Overall, this is a well-rounded bar perfect for snacking.

Price at time of publication: $17 ($1.40 per bar)

Key Specs: Protein: 7 grams | Protein source: peanut butter, pea protein | Fat: 11 grams | Fiber: 3 grams | Carbohydrates: 27 grams | Added sugars: 6 grams

Best for Travel: KIND Bars 12 Pack

KIND Honey Roasted Nuts & Sea Salt Bar

Amazon

Pros
  • Simple ingredients

  • 4 grams of fiber

  • Good source of heart healthy fats

  • Low in added sugar

Cons
  • Not high a good source of vitamins and minerals 

  • Contains some common food allergens

Even if you forget to pack snacks with you, you can keep an eye out for KIND bars when you’re on-the-go. KIND bars can be found at many grocery stores, gas stations, and airports making it a great snack option wherever you are traveling. They come in a wide variety of flavors, but we specifically picked Honey Roasted Nuts & Sea Salt because it is one of the higher-protein options while only containing three grams of added sugars, no sugar alcohols, or artificial sweeteners. Additionally, it doesn’t have a chocolate coating, so it won’t melt in your travel bag or car when traveling when it's warm.

KIND bars are made with simple, non-GMO, gluten-free ingredients, the first three being peanuts, almonds, and cashews. This one also contains chicory root fiber, a prebiotic food found to improve digestive health. One thing to note—while we love KIND bars can be found many places when traveling, it is usually the cheapest option to purchase ahead of time instead of on-the-go.

Price at time of publication: $17 ($1.40 per bar)

Key Specs: Protein: 7 grams | Protein source: peanuts, almonds, cashews | Fat: 15 grams | Fiber: 4 grams | Carbohydrates: 15 grams | Added sugars: 3 grams

Are Protein Bars Beneficial?

Protein bars can be beneficial for women with higher protein needs, such as highly active individuals or competitive athletes. They can serve as an easy means of boosting protein intake for the day, and can be used after a workout to promote muscle recovery. Particularly for plant-based eaters with higher protein needs, plant-based protein bars can be a great resource. 

 Women who can benefit from protein bars include:

  • Athletes. Endurance athletes’ protein needs can be about double those of an average sedentary adult and strength-based athletes’ protein needs may also be higher than sedentary adults. Therefore, as an athlete, you may benefit from supplementary forms of protein. Particularly if you are a vegan athlete, protein bars can be a beneficial addition to your refueling regimen. If you are not a competitive athlete but you are a highly active individual exercising at least 60-90 minutes most days of the week, you may likely still fall into this category.
  • People following a plant-based diet. A common concern for people eating all or mostly plant-based is getting adequate protein. While there are plenty of plant-based protein food options to meet protein needs, bars can be an easy means of boosting your protein intake for the day. 
  • People on-the-go. When we’re on-the-go, it can be easy to accidentally go long stretches without any food. Protein bars can be a convenient, satiating, energy-boosting snack to have on busy days.

Who May Not Benefit From Protein Bars?

  • People who consume a well-rounded diet. If you consume a varied diet incorporating a variety of whole food protein sources, then you may not need protein bars to meet your protein needs. This is especially true if you are sedentary or moderately active. However, a protein bar with a modest protein content with heart healthy fats and micronutrients from nuts or seeds could make for a good snack for anyone.
  • People with kidney problems. Because overconsumption of protein can be taxing on the kidneys, you may want to be careful with protein bars if you have a kidney problem. Some protein bars do have a high concentration of protein in a relatively small volume. Always check with a healthcare professional before adding a high protein food if you have kidney problems. 

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What to Look For in Protein Bars

General Ingredients

Generally, it is best to look for a protein bar with simple ingredients. We prefer ones with nuts, seeds, and whole grains because in addition to protein, they also provide important micronutrients and fiber. They also tend to be easier to digest than bars packed with additives like artificial sugars or added fiber.

Some protein bars can really be masked candy bars that are high in energy, fat, and sugar. Therefore, it is important to look at the label and ingredients, as not all protein bars are made the same. We chose protein bars that are primarily made from whole food sources, were balanced in nutrition, and appropriate portion for a snack.

Protein Type and Amount

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that sedentary adults consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. For a 150 pound individual this means 55 grams of protein and for a 200 pound individual this means 73 grams of protein. However, this can vary greatly based on your physical activity level, whether you are pregnant or lactating, or if you have other medical conditions that affect protein needs.

Bars that rely on protein powders tend to also be higher in artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols. Because of this, they may be harder to digest for some people.

Carbohydrates

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that 50% of your grains be whole grains. That being said, we recommend seeking out protein bars made with whole grains such as oats, brown rice, or quinoa.

These whole grains contribute to providing B-vitamins, iron, magnesium, and fiber. Carbohydrates as a whole are important for energy and concentration, especially for highly active individuals.

If a protein has added sugars—which is considered a carbohydrate—we suggest choosing a bar that has added sugars not as a primary ingredient. Dried fruits can be another carbohydrate source found in protein bars that can offer natural sweetness and a source of fiber and other nutrients.

Sports dietitian Amity Lui MS, RD says, “‘Low carb’ foods are a hot topic nowadays, but carbohydrates play an essential role in supporting your body's daily functions. If you find yourself constantly craving sweets or find your energy levels depleted in the afternoon, it could be a sign that you are not eating enough carbohydrates, or [not] eating enough in general.” 

Fat

Protein bars often contain a mixture of unsaturated and saturated fats. Unsaturated fats, especially polyunsaturated fats, are better for cardiovascular health; whereas getting too much saturated fat may increase risk for cardiovascular disease.

Sports dietitian and personal trainer Vélez Burgos says, “Protein bars on the market that use nuts and seeds can pack some heart-healthy omega 3's, poly and monounsaturated fat. Nuts and seed-based whole-food protein bars may pack other nutrients such as vitamin E, magnesium, folate, copper, and thiamin.” When selecting a protein bar, we recommend aiming for one with under 10% DV of saturated fat. 

Sweetener Type and Amount

As mentioned, some protein bars contain added sugars, artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols. For some, such as those with diabetes, sugar substitutes may help add sweetness without raising blood sugars; however, for others, they may result in digestive distress or the flavor may be off-putting. 

An increasing number of Americans are purchasing products with non-nutritive sweeteners rather than caloric sweeteners to help lower added sugar intake. However, researchers suggest there is a need to further research the health effects of increased consumption of each non-nutritive sweetener type. So, eating a bar with artificial sweeteners can still fit into a healthy diet, but keep in mind your total intake of artificial sweeteners throughout the whole day.

When it comes to added sugars, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than 10% of your daily calories comes from added sugars. For someone consuming 2,000 calories per day, this translates to 50 grams of added sugars.

Therefore, even if a protein bar has added sugar, it doesn’t mean it can’t fit into a healthy diet. The added sugar should just be noted as part of your overall intake for the day. Some protein bars utilize dates or fruits to add sweetness which cuts down on the need for added sugar ingredients. 

Fiber

Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate found in plant foods. It is important for blood sugar management, digestive health, cholesterol reduction, and satiety. You may want to ensure there is some fiber in your protein bar; however, overdoing it on the fiber may result in digestive distress.

Generally, aiming for around 3-6 grams of fiber per bar can be a good target to help promote digestive health and satiety without resulting in digestive distress. If your current fiber intake is very low, which is the case for many Americans, you may want to ramp up your fiber intake slowly along with increasing fluids to allow your body time to adjust.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When should women eat protein bars?

    Protein bars can be especially useful when you want a convenient snack on the go or as a pre- or post-workout fuel. Lui says, “Whether it's a long day of running errands, multiple training sessions, or just needing a midday pick-me-up, I always like to have one (or a few) in my bag at all times for you or for a hungry friend!”

    Generally, we’d advise against relying too heavily on protein bars as a meal replacement since they are often not caloric enough to serve as a full meal.

  • Is it OK to eat a protein bar everyday?

    Overall, nutritional variety is important for ensuring you get in all the essential nutrients and to prevent boredom with foods. A risk associated with consuming protein bars daily is missing out on other valuable foods or nutrients as a result. Veléz Burgos says, “It's crucial to maintain a varied diet and if possible, vary protein bar options and incorporate them occasionally when needed.”

    Be mindful of the nutrient content of the bar and the other things you are eating throughout the day to promote a well-rounded nutritional intake. Other snack options higher in protein could include hard boiled eggs, nuts, Greek yogurt, chia pudding, edamame, or string cheese.

  • Do protein bars help with weight loss?

    Protein bars can fit into a healthy diet, but it’s important to remember one food does not make or break you reaching your health goals such as weight loss. Rather, weight regulation is a combination of many lifestyle choices and genetic factors. 

    It’s also important to keep in mind—regardless of weight—how your food choices are impacting your overall health. Research has shown that focusing on health-promoting behaviors rather than weight helps improve health outcomes regardless of weight change. Protein bars can make for a satisfying snack and can help you honor your hunger cues when you’re on-the-go or tight on time.

  • What is the texture of protein bars?

    It all depends on the bar. Some are soft and mushy, some are crunchy, some are soft and chewy. On our list, we’ve included bars with a variety of textures that vary based on whether they are nut- or seed-based, or if they are made with dates and other blended ingredients. 

    Sometimes, gums like xanthan gum or cellulose gum are the reason for bars’ chewy texture, so you can keep an eye out for these ingredients to get an idea of their texture. Bars with dates as a main ingredient will also be a chewier texture. If a bar is primarily nut based, it will probably be crunchier.

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