Protein Bars That Are Actually Good for You
Start the year off right with the healthy ingredients, dishes and recipes that will stick with you long after you’ve abandoned those pesky resolutions. We're going all in on Clean(er) Eating—and drinking, too.
If you're going to spend your consumption capacity on things you can't pronounce, you might as well reserve that for wine. After all, when it comes to "healthy" foods like protein bars, often they're filled with junk ingredients. Check the unpronounceables at the door and go for one of these nine bars instead.
You know exactly what you're getting when you go for one of these minimalistic bars: The ingredients are listed (in large font) right on the front of the packaging. The peanut butter and apple cinnamon bars are our favorites, but opt for chocolate sea salt when you feel like a makeshift dessert. Plus, if you're jumping into Whole30, most of them are fully compliant and will make the program's strict rules a breeze.
These bars are designed for (and by) athletes. They use brown rice protein—a good alternative to controversial soy—and celebrate protein-rich nuts in options like All-in Almond and Need for Seed, made with sunflower butter and love. The bars contain a scientific four-to-one ratio of carbs to protein, which is optimal for muscle recovery. But leave the math to their creators: All you need to know is that they taste like chewy, virtuous cookies.
Made from a family recipe, these bars don't use chemical preservatives. They're kept in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, justifying their self-identification as "the freshest nutrition bars ever created." The base has 17 grams of protein, thanks to plenty of nut butter, plus a glowing list of superfood ingredients like kale, spinach and celery. But with flavors like new releases coconut peanut butter and maple almond, you'd never know all those greens are hidden in there.
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Keeping with the theme of straightforward names, this one both tastes and does good. For every bar purchased, the company donates to a child suffering from malnutrition. And with enticing flavors like wild blueberry pistachio and dark chocolate, cherry and sea salt, you won't find this act of kindness difficult to accomplish.
Not all protein bars are granola delivery systems. Grass-fed animal protein like bison, beef, chicken and bacon satisfies the Paleo crowd—or anyone who'd rather snack on beef jerky than a chocolate bar. The turkey almond cranberry offering is like Thanksgiving dinner squeezed into a pocket-sized bar, and the pulled pork is inspired by al pastor tacos from Central and South America.
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The dedicated JiMMYBAR! team created their bars under "the mandate that a six-year-old should be able to read the ingredients." No Bluffin' Banana Muffin has just five high-energy, easily digestible components (bananas, dates, almonds, walnuts and crispy brown rice), making this one a good pre-workout choice.
You'll laugh in the face of the dreaded afternoon slump after trying this company's best-selling flavor, which contains merely almonds, honey and whey protein—plus a whopping 20 grams of protein. Made in small batches in California, all its bars contain five ingredients or less, even for decadent-sounding flavors like sunflower cinnamon, cacao banana and snickerdoodle.
Fans of the company's plant-based protein powder will rejoice that it also comes in bar form. There's no gluten, dairy, soy or GMOs, just 18 grams of protein from natural ingredients like fruits, nuts, seeds and quinoa. And don't be fooled by dessert-y flavors peanut butter chocolate chip and vanilla almond crunch: They contain only six grams of sugar.
Consider these the most bang for your protein buck. They're lower in calories than other options but still have enough protein and fiber to keep you full in between meals. Cinnamon pecan is our favorite, but chocolate lovers should seek out flavors like cocoa raspberry, chocolate caramel and cocoa coffee.
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