3 Types of Protein Bars & How to Pick the Best for Maximum Nutrition

Wellness: Nutrition
3 Types of Protein Bars & How to Pick the Best for Maximum Nutrition

Primary Media


January 14 2019


Oh my, there are a lot of protein and energy bars on the shelves. And while we love the variety and options, how do you know if you're getting the right one for you? To help us out, our dietitians identified three types of bars and what to look for in terms of calories, protein, and carbs. 

  1. The Meal Replacement

    If you're eating a protein bar instead of breakfast or lunch, look for one that have the following break down:

    Calories: 250-400
    Protein: 20-30g
    Carbs: 30-45g
    Fat: 7-17g
    Fiber: 3g or more

    Examples: Clif Builder's, Promax, Performance Inspired, Garden of Life Performance, Probar Base

  2. The Snack Bar

    For a pre-workout snack, or for those times when it's going to be a while before your next meal (road trips, long flights, kids' soccer games, etc.), a snack bar is a convenient, shelf-stable option. Here's what to look for:

    Calories: 100-250
    Protein: 5-15g
    Carbs: 15-30g
    Fat: 5-15g
    Fiber: 2g or more

    Examples: Clif Whey Protein, Kind Fruit & Nut, Luna, RX Bar, Think Thin Protein & Fiber, Quest Hero

    Hyvee Dietitian Expert Tip
    Low fuel stores can weaken the immune system, increase stress, hinder recovery, and increase cortisol levels. For athletes, I emphasize fueling well before training and after training, as well as pre-hydrating and staying hydrated.
    Julie Gallagher, MS, RD, LDHy-Vee Registered Dietitian
  3. The Recovery Bar

    After a tough workout, it's important to replenish. Sometimes a protein bar is a convenient way to do just that. Look for a bar that has a carbohydrate to protein ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 within an hour after your workout. That will help replace energy stored in your muscles and enhance muscle growth. Here's about what that should look like: 

    Calories: 200-400
    Protein: 6-10g
    Carbs: 24-40g

    Examples: Clif Bar, Power Performance Bar, Go Macro Bar, Larabar, Picky Bar, Probar Meal

    If you're still overwhelmed by the choices, you can always make your own.