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Keen to up your protein intake and on the hunt for the best protein bars to hit your daily target? Then you’re in the right place, as the Marie Claire UK team have been taste-testing the most recent launches and have rounded up our favourites.
What do you think of when someone mentions protein bars – a tasteless, cereal-like texture? Not with these bars, all personally tried, tested and recommended by eCommerce Writer Grace Lindsay and Health Editor Ally Head.
What is protein and why is it important, then? Good question – as it’s become a bit of a buzzterm in recent years. NHS guidelines share that protein is one of three macronutrients essential for your general wellbeing, and the one responsible for muscle repair and satiety (bye, bye, DOMs). They also say women should aim for around 0.75g of protein per kilo of body weight per day – that’s 45g for a 60kg woman – but one 2018 study published in the Nutrients journal indicates that this may be a little low, and that people who are highly active should aim to eat more.
Bars are an easy way to up your protein intake throughout the day, no matter what your schedule, but do be mindful of the sugar in some options. Plus, do note – they’re never a meal replacement or substitute for wholefoods and non-processed protein sources.
For more information, don’t forget to check out our guides to the best protein powder and the best vegan protein sources to help you reach your fitness goals. Keep on scrolling for our top picks, ranked flavour wise, and don’t miss our guide to upping your vegan protein intake, while you’re here.
Do consult a qualified nutritionist or dietician if you require more information about hitting your daily requirements.
Best protein bars: 8 best tasting, according to the MC team
1. Misfits Mint Choc Chip
Misfits Mint Choc Chip Bar 12 x45g, £20 | Misfits
When we tried the new Misfits mint choc chip bar, we were pleasantly surprised that the vegan alternative had avoided the dreaded chalky aftertaste. We also liked the mint fondant centre, rich dark chocolate coating, and that they offer 15g of protein and 1g of sugar per bar.
Editor’s pick – Grace’s go-to
2. RXBAR Blueberry Protein
RXBAR Blueberry Protein Bar 12 Pack, £31.49 | Amazon
Health Editor Ally Head loves these bars. Made from only four ingredients – egg whites, almonds, dates, and cashews – they’re more of a raw texture and taste than the likes of Misfits and Grenade, so a good go-to if you prefer a slightly less sweet option.
Editor’s pick – Ally’s go-to
3. Fulfil White Chocolate & Cookie Dough
Fulfil White Chocolate & Cookie Dough Bar 15 x 55g, £28 | Holland & Barrett
Another good option if you’ve got a sweet tooth but want to up your protein too, the Fulfil bars taste the most like chocolate bars in our opinion. They’re slightly smaller than the Grenade bars, but taste less processed, too. We liked the white choc option and the salted caramel bars, and that they promise to boost the bars with vitamins and minerals, too.
4. Lean Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein
Lean Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bar 12 Pack, £22 | Lean
These protein bars were created by fitness expert Lilly Sabri, founder of Lean with Lilly. When we tested them, we found them to be crunchy, gooey, soft and chewy, too. We didn’t think you could tell that they’re made from vegan protein – no chalky texture or aftertaste here – and offer 15.6g of protein, too.
5. TRIBE Choc Coconut Triple Decker Plant Protein
TRIBE Choc Coconut Triple Decker Plant Protein Bar 12 x40g, £20.61 | Amazon
Another of the more natural, non-processed options are the TRIBE layered protein bars, which taste more like a homemade millionaire shortbread than a protein snack. Packed full of natural ingredients – including 8g of pea protein – we loved the crunch of the layered texture and the size of the bars.
6. MyProtein Brown Sugar Layered
MyProtein Brown Sugar Layered Protein Bar 12 Pack, £27.99 | MyProtein
We’ve taste tested a lot of MyProtein bars over the years and you can’t go far wrong, in our opinion – they’re industry leaders for a reason. This particular layered protein bar from MyProtein tastes kind of like a rice crispy square, but in protein bar form. We loved that you get to enjoy six layers of taste and texture.
7. Barebells Double Bite Chocolate Crisp
Barebells Double Bite Chocolate Crisp Bar 12 x 55g, £22.99 | Barebells
Another of our top picks, the Barebells double bite bars really – and we mean really – don’t taste like protein bars. Imagine two crunchy caramel truffles and you’re on the right track. We loved that the bar has a rich and crispy cocoa core and a creamy layer of milk chocolate on the top, too. Plus, it offers over 16g of protein and no added sugar.
8. Grenade Carb Killa Birthday Cake
Grenade Carb Killa Birthday Cake Bar 12 x 60g, £32 | Holland & Barrett
Reasons we loved the taste of this protein bar? It’s covered in sugar-free sprinkles, has no chalky aftertaste and is coated in white chocolate. Do they taste like birthday cake? Not really, but they are a nice protein-rich treat if you’ve got a sweet tooth and pack a punch offering 20g protein per bar.
How much protein should I be eating?
“We are living in an age of protein obsession where it seems some people are ‘protein-aholics’,” says doctor Steven Gundry, founder of Gundry MD and author of Unlocking the Keto Code. That said, it is one of the key three macronutrients that your body needs to function, so it is worth having on your radar.
While a pretty serious amount of research has been done over the years into protein requirements, a lot of the results are actually conflicting, shares the expert – so take it with a pinch of salt. “Guidelines should be used as guidelines and not strict rules. Bottom line: requirements are highly individual, as what works for one person may not for another in similar circumstances.”
You also likely won’t realise how much protein you eat in your day-to-day from things like nuts, seeds, legumes, and even oats.
Keen to know whether you should be eating your protein in the morning, at lunchtime, or in the evening? Short answer: it should be spread evenly across the day, and each meal should be a balance of protein, fat, and carbs. “It’s more important to consider your intake across the day as a whole and consume good quality protein with each meal,” explains Dillon.
Are protein bars healthy?
This one divides the market. They are, after all, a highly-processed product, and it’s always important to check the label and read up on exactly what is in the food you’re consuming. As nutritionist Jenna Hope regularly shares on Instagram, a general rule of thumb, if the ingredients list has anything on it that you don’t recognise, it might be worth having a rethink.
That said, protein bars do promise to be a simple and convenient way to help to up your protein intake, if you’re struggling to hit your daily target, and offer a more protein-packed treat if you do have a sweet tooth.
On the fence about whether to start including protein bars in your day-to-day diet? Our advice is always to check in with a qualified nutritionist or dietician. That way, you know you’re getting sound advice from someone who spent a minimum of three years training for their expertise.