What to Look for in a Protein Bar

man eating protein barYou’re on the go, you’re looking for protein, and something to chew on, too. When you need a nourishing snack that supports your strength training goals, a protein bar can make total sense.

Then again, not all bars are the same. Are you getting the right ratio of nutrients, not too much sugar, and what about the taste? Let’s review some key qualities to consider in protein bars.

Grams of Protein

How much protein are you trying to add to your daily diet? Some bars have double the protein of other popular choices. If you’re using a protein bar as an alternative to a high-protein snack or shake, you’re probably counting on at least 20 grams or so. That amount is available in some brands, while others offer only half that amount. However, depending on your body size and nutrition goals, 10 grams of protein might be plenty for your mid-day snack (a hard-boiled egg has 7 grams, for comparison).

Type of Protein

The quality and type of protein used as ingredients in your protein bar matters, too. Vegans will have a different set of products to choose from than those who eat dairy, because many of the top selling favorites include ingredients such as milk protein and whey protein isolate. Other bars will feature nuts, seeds and peas as sources, also high quality ingredients, but they may not pack the protein punch of dairy byproducts, so double check your labels.

Carbs, Fat & Calories

It’s a good idea to know your goals with nutrition ratios—especially if you’re looking for a post-workout snack in your protein to aid recovery. Endurance athletes have different needs than athletes working to gain mass, and that could affect your choice of bar. Or, are you on a lower carb diet, or cutting fat? Check your labels! Your protein bar could provide an equal number of total carbs and protein grams. Higher calorie bars might feature more fat, sugars, or both, but plenty of bars are available with under 200 calories.

Taste & Texture

It used to be that to place a priority on the taste of your protein bar, you probably had to sacrifice some of the nutritional value. But that’s not true anymore, with a vast selection of very healthy protein bars that also taste amazing.

Some general guidelines for taste: the best tasting bars will be those with natural sugar, and a bit higher on the fat content, as well. Artificial sweeteners keep the calorie count down, but may not taste as natural as dates. Vegetable fiber also helps taste, as does milder grain like brown rice. Another note: the higher the protein content, the thicker the overall texture is likely to be.

One of our favorites at XSport: Look for the Quest Bar®. Each of the Quest Bar flavors has 20-21 grams of protein and plenty of fiber without a lot of unnecessary ingredients or extra carbs. All Quest Bars are gluten and soy free, and contain no added sugar.

Want to take a protein snack to the next level? Treat yourself to this recipe using a Quest Bar to create 2 mini mock apple pies featuring 10 grams of protein and only 113 calories each.

man eating protein bar

Quest Bar® Apple Protein Pies


  • 1 Apple Pie Quest Bar®
  • ½ apple
  • 1 tablespoon zero-calorie sweetener
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Microwave Quest Bar for 10 seconds.
  3. Flatten bar until about ⅛ inch thick and then cut four large circles with a 3 ½ inch round cookie cutter. Cut ¼ inch thick strips into two of the circles and arrange them to form a lattice. Set aside.
  4. Dice the apple into small squares. Preheat a small frying pan on medium-low heat, spray with non-stick cooking spray and sauté until the apples begin to caramelize.
  5. Add the sweetener and the cinnamon to apples. Mix to combine and transfer the apple mixture into a small bowl.
  6. Scoop out one tablespoon of the diced apples and place into the middle of one of the circles. Do the same with the other circle.
  7. Place the two lattices on top of the two circles and press down the edges.
  8. Bake for 4 minutes.
  9. Remove and let cool.

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