Humans have been fantasizing about a full meal in bar form since at least the 1970s, when Veruca Salt ate a piece of chewing gum in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that simulated a three-course meal (still being beta-tested). Protein bars do not a satisfying meal make, but they are easy to store, portable, and provide a range of nutrients that can replenish your energy until you can get something more substantial. Here are four types of bars to satiate your hunger according to your dietary preferences and nutrient requirements. Please note that gluten-free labeling varies, so people with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance should always check to make sure the product meets their standards.
If you favor straightforward and short ingredient lists and eat eggs, you’ll probably like these protein bars. Three egg whites provide the base of the 12 grams of protein in each Rxbar, and get some help from almonds, cashews, and peanuts. Dates provide sweetness, and chocolate, cocoa, berries, salt, and natural flavors distinguish the different choices in each pack. That’s it! Note: they’re chewy—like, really chewy.
These high-calorie bars (290 calories each) are packed with 20 grams of brown rice and pea protein. They’re designed for athletes, and carry the Informed Choice Certification, which means they have been tested for substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Mint-chocolate and peanut butter flavors keep taste refreshingly simple, and the bars are gluten-free and vegan. Each bar also has 25 percent of your RDA of saturated fat, so keep that in mind as you’re putting together your workout nutrition plan.
Many protein bars aren’t perfect little health logs, and that’s okay as long as you’re honest with yourself about it. If you want protein, and also cookies, think of this as 15 grams of vegan protein wrapped in a fatty dessert (15-20 percent RDA) in tantalizing varieties like lemon, birthday, and a refreshingly transparent cookie flavor. The protein comes from fava beans and peas, and the bars are also gluten-free and soy-free. No one wants to carry birthday cake in their pocket, so take the next best thing.
Fans of ending a workout with a serious protein fix can get the rough protein equivalent of eating nearly half a cup of peanut butter (30 grams of protein) in just one of these bars. This 300-calorie refueler in a peanut butter cup flavor is low in sugar (2 grams) but does contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that some people may not tolerate well. It’s fortified with vitamins like calcium, vitamin E, B12, and biotin. Keep in mind that the bars contain soy, milk, egg, and peanuts, so they’re a bit less friendly to dietary restrictions.