The 7 Best Low-Calorie Protein Bars (That Actually Taste Good) | (2023)

The 7 Best Low-Calorie Protein Bars (That Actually Taste Good) | (1)

Protein bars are hard to conquer when it comes to a convenient, simple way to fuel on the go.

Image Credit: andresr/E+/GettyImages

Shopping for protein bars can be daunting. There are so many options, and depending on what you're looking for, you have to consider a host of factors. Meal replacement or snack? Plant proteins or animal proteins? Sweet or savory?


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"They can be really convenient and a lifesaver when traveling or while on the go without access to fresh food," says Lauren Harris-Pincus, RDN, a registered dietitian and author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club.

"However, some are essentially glorified candy bars so it's important to know what you are choosing."


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What to Look for in a Low-Calorie Protein Bar

To avoid buying that glorified candy bar when shopping for protein bars, check the following:

  • Protein content:​ "As an RD who specializes in weight management and prediabetes, Ialways look for bars that have at least 10 grams — but, ideally, closer to 15 grams — ofprotein. That's appropriate for most unless you're trying to sustain a prolonged athletic event like a multi-hour hike," Harris-Pincus says.
  • Calories:​ If you're looking for a lower-calorie bar because you're having a snack or are trying to lose weight, choose a bar with fewer than 250 calories.
  • Added sugars:​ "Watch the added sugars — the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams for men. I also prefer bars with at least 5 grams of fiber (20 percent of the recommended daily intake for most women)," Harris-Pincus says.
  • Ingredient list:​ If it's important that your bar is vegan or vegetarian, be on the lookout for ingredients like gelatin, which is made from animal products. If you have a sensitive stomach or are prone to GI issues, you may also want to avoid artificial sweeteners.


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7 Healthy Protein Bars Under 220 Calories

1. Unite Bars

Per Churro: 190 calories, 9 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat), 150 milligrams sodium,19 grams carbohydrates (6 grams fiber, 9 grams sugar, 4 grams added sugar), 10 grams protein


We love these bars for their unique flavors: Churro, PB&J and Mexican Hot Chocolate. They provide outstanding nutritional offerings — 190 calories, 6 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein — that are perfect for a snack.

Almond butter is the first ingredient (except for the PB&J flavor, where peanut butter is the first ingredient) and they're sweetened with date paste and brown rice syrup. While they contain toffee pieces, the added sugars in these bars fall under 4 grams, and they're free of artificial sweeteners.

Buy it​:; ​Price​: $29.00 per 12-pack

2. NuGo Egg White Protein Bars

NuGo Egg White Protein Bars have 200 calories and 14 grams of protein.

Image Credit: Amazon

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Per Peanut Butter: 200 calories, 8 grams fat (1.5 grams saturated fat), 250 milligrams sodium, 19 grams carbohydrates (2 grams fiber, 14 grams sugar, 0 grams added sugar), 14 grams protein

Egg whites are the source of protein here, and they're what make this bar high in protein but remain fairly low in calories. The ingredients are very simple, too: dates, egg whites, peanuts, cashews, almonds, natural flavor and sea salt.

These bars are on the lower end of the fiber range — 2 grams per bar — but they get the job done as a snack high in protein along with a healthy balance of carbs and fat. They're available in Peanut Butter, Blueberry, Maple Pecan and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt.

Buy it​:; ​Price​: $24.79 per 12-pack

3. Built Bars

Per Coconut Almond​​: 180 calories, 7 grams fat (3.5 grams saturated fat), 45 milligrams sodium, 19 grams carbohydrates (7 grams fiber, 5 grams sugar, 5 grams added sugar), 18 grams protein

"These newly reformulated bars are covered in real dark chocolate, which is rare for a bar, and have a texture similar to a nougat candy bar. I also like the ingredients with whey protein as a base and no artificial sweeteners or flavors," Harris-Pincus says. "The nut-containing varieties are slightly higher in calories but still fit the criteria for a great bar. I love them in the freezer!"

These bars do contain gelatin, so they're not considered vegetarian. They also have erythritol, a sugar alcohol that can cause GI distress in some.

Buy it​:; ​Price​: $37.80 per 18-pack


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RX Bars have a simple ingredient list and a nutrition label designed to please.

Per serving: 210 calories, 8 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat), 210 milligrams sodium, 24 grams carbohydrates (3 grams fiber, 18 grams sugar, 0 grams added sugar), 12 grams protein

These bars are a favorite for their simple ingredient list (most contain just seven ingredients) and balanced nutritional profiles. Each RXBAR has 12 grams of protein and just 210 calories — a perfect snack for that 3 p.m. slump. There's also a miniature option if you're looking for a smaller bite. The bars also contain 10 percent of the daily value for both iron and potassium.

Buy it​:; ​Price​: $16.01 per 12-pack

5. Raw Rev Glo Bars

Per Creamy Peanut Butter and Sea Salt: 180 calories, 11 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat), 110 milligrams sodium, 17 grams carbohydrates (14 grams fiber, 2 grams sugar, 0 grams added sugar), 15 grams protein

"The creamy peanut butter and sea salt bar is 100 percent vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, kosher and free from preservatives, soy protein isolates, whey, grains and sugar alcohols," Harris-Pincus says. "This flavor has the most protein in the line with 15 grams of protein per bar,"

"It's pretty rare to find a low-carb vegan bar, so this is a great option for those looking to up plant-based protein in snacks." Harris-Pincus also mentions that this product is being reformulated after the FDA declared that fiber from IMO (Isomalto-Oligosaccharides) no longer qualifies as dietary fiber for food-labeling purposes, so keep an eye out for that.

Buy it​:; ​Price​: $19.52 per 12-pack

6. Epic Beef, Sea Salt + Pepper Bar

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Many of the bars are considered keto and paleo-friendly.

Image Credit: Amazon

Per Beef, Sea Salt + Pepper: 130 calories, 8 grams fat (4 grams saturated fat), 590 milligrams sodium, 24 grams carbohydrates (3 grams fiber, 18 grams sugar, 0 grams added sugar), 12 grams protein

Epic is different from most in that the bars are savory, not sweet, as they use beef, bison, chicken, turkey, venison, wild boar, bacon and lamb as the base, sweetening with cranberries, cherries, apples and sweet potatoes. The protein content ranges from 7 to 13 grams per bar. Keep an eye on your sodium intake when you snack on these, as they tend to have higher amounts than other bars.

Buy it​:; ​Price​: $29.55 per 12-pack

7. Protein One Bars

Each Protein One bar has just 90 calories and boasts 10 grams of protein.

Image Credit: Target

Per Mint Chocolate Cookie: 90 calories, 2 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat), 125 milligrams sodium, 10 grams carbohydrates (2 grams fiber, 1 gram sugar), 10 grams protein

"Mint Chocolate Cookie is one of my favorites because it's an easy-to-find, budget-friendly protein bar that's smaller and lower in calories than most other bars," Harris-Pincus says. "While a little short on my fiber requirements, this bar is easy to find in the supermarket, affordable [less than one dollar per bar] and about half the calories of most bars, making it appropriate for a small snack."

All protein bars are processed, but if you're looking for one with a minimal ingredient list, this may not be the pick for you. It contains sugar alcohols and isolated fibers, which some people experience bloating and gas from.

Buy it​: Target; ​Price​: $3.69 per 5-pack


What is the lowest calorie Rx bar? ›

Today, RXBAR announced the launch of RXBAR Minis – featuring the same real, simple ingredients found in RXBAR products, these bars contain ~100 calories and six grams of protein for the perfect mini boost throughout your day.

What is the most popular protein bar? ›

Top 50 Scanned: Protein Bar beta
#1Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Kind200 Calories
#2Protein Bar, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Quest Bar200 Calories
#3Protein Bar, Chocolate Peanut Butter Pure Protein200 Calories
#4Protein Bar, Chocolate Deluxe Pure Protein180 Calories
46 more rows

Can you lose weight with protein bars? ›

Not only are protein bars good for weight loss, but they are also great for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Protein filled recipes are a healthy choice for the long term, even after you've reached your weight loss goals, protein can help maintain your strength, muscle and body composition.

How much protein should I eat if I want to lose weight? ›

If you want to lose weight, aim for a daily protein intake between 1.6 and 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (. 73 and 1 grams per pound). Athletes and heavy exercisers should consume 2.2-3.4 grams of protein per kilogram (1-1.5 grams per pound) if aiming for weight loss.

How much protein do I need in a day? ›

The recommended dietary allowance to prevent deficiency for an average sedentary adult is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. For example, a person who weighs 165 pounds, or 75 kilograms, should consume 60 grams of protein per day.

Are Nature Valley protein bars healthy? ›

Nature Valley bars contain whole grain oats and other healthy ingredients like dried fruit and nuts. However, many of their bars have at least 10 grams of added sugar per serving. They also have processed ingredients like canola oil and rice flour. This makes them not the healthiest choice.

Are quest protein bars good for you? ›

Quest bars may not be considered the healthiest of all snacks. While they may have a high protein content, they also have a high content of sweetner and many highly processed ingredients. Consider looking into alternatives to this bar.

How many protein bars can I eat a day? ›

Don't Eat More than One Protein Bar per Day

In addition to cutting into your otherwise varied foods, eating more than one bar could lead to consuming too much sugar or sugar alcohol and too much fibre. Not to mention the carbohydrates can sneak up on you, and too much protein isn't a good thing either.

When should you eat protein bars? ›

The best time to eat your protein bar is post workout. After your workout it will deliver protein to your muscles and help with muscle recovery and growth. It is generally recommended that if you are going more than 4 hours between meals, a protein bar is a great way to get a 'protein top up'.

Are Quest or one bars better? ›

But if there's one round that can get Quest off their heels and back in the fight, it's nutrition. On average Quest Bars have 30 fewer calories, 3 less grams of carbs, equal amounts of protein, 1 less gram of fat, and a whopping 9 more grams of fiber than the number one contender OhYeah! ONE Bar.

Is it OK to eat protein bars everyday? ›

Protein bars shouldn't be overused.

If you are an active person or someone who doesn't have much time to meal or snack prep, a protein bar could carry you throughout your day. However, Parker says never to eat more than one a day.

Can you eat a protein bar instead of a meal? ›

Can I eat a protein bar as a meal replacement? The short answer is yes. Most protein bars will suffice as a meal replacement because they tend to have at least 15 to 20 grams of protein per bar. Because protein suppresses hunger hormones and is digested slowly, you should be full until your next meal.

How can I lose my belly fat? ›

To battle belly fat:
  1. Eat a healthy diet. Focus on plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and choose lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy products. ...
  2. Replace sugary beverages. ...
  3. Keep portion sizes in check. ...
  4. Include physical activity in your daily routine.

Do KIND bars help you lose weight? ›

KIND bars contain a good balance of protein, healthy fats, and fibre, making them an excellent snack option for those with weight loss goals.

Is the perfect bar good for weight loss? ›

Perfect Bars can be part of a healthy weight loss diet… But they're quite calorie-dense, as they contain quite a bit of nut butter and honey. So you need to be careful of overeating. What is this? Most of the ingredients in Perfect Bars are relatively healthy—but they are some of the more high-calorie healthy foods.

Is protein good for weight loss? ›

Some studies find that consuming a higher than usual amount of protein in your diet may offer benefits. For example, eating or drinking products that are high in protein may help you lower body fat, keep lean muscle, feel full and lose weight.

Is eating protein good for weight loss? ›

Eating a protein-rich diet can help people lose weight because it can help them avoid overeating. A high protein diet can help build lean muscle when combined with exercise. Lean muscle helps to burn more calories throughout the day, which can also help with weight loss.


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