“You must know what you want to find what you want”

As a vegetarian for my entire adult life (and part of childhood too), I’ve spent years refining my diet and experimenting with foods to include more and better sources of protein. Naturally, protein bars have become a staple in my daily eating routine.

I’ve actually become somewhat of a connoisseur of protein bars. A lot of time, energy and failures have gone into my search for the perfect one that matches my needs and criteria. One that’s not high in calories or sugar, one that tastes good and, most importantly, that delivers on the promise of protein. Along the way, I’ve discovered that, despite their packaging and marketing, not all bars should call themselves protein bars, and not all protein bars are created equal.

Not to point out the posers but there’s a lot of crap masquerading as healthy food in general these days. Protein bars are no exception – and I’m talking actual protein bars. I’m not talking about snack bars, diet bars or energy bars. Though several of those try to come off as healthy snacks, meal replacements or actual protein bars, they don’t even make it past a first glance, at least for me. I check labels and, if they don’t deliver on the goods, primarily calorie-to-protein ratio, they’re out. It’s not that I mean to be a protein bar snob; it’s just that I eat them far too often and depend on them too greatly (due to the absence of meat in my diet) to bother with any that I know aren’t the best choice for me.

Luckily, I have managed to weed out the bad to find the best, the ones that I eat on a regular basis. Below are my top choices. *Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with or obligation to any of the below-listed brands. They’re simply the best choices that meet my specific criteria. 

Quest Bars for the win

Quest Bars for the win

The Winner: Quest Bar
For me, this is an easy win. Quest Bar is my favorite by a landslide. Each delivers 20 grams of protein for less than 200 calories, and are low in sugar. Better yet, they taste good and have a soft, slightly chewy texture. Bonus, there are about a million flavors to choose from so there’s bound to be at least a couple that appeal to everyone
The only negative I could find against Quest Bar is a slightly higher cost than the others on my list and availability (limited). Lucky for me, the manfriend is a preferred customer at a local nutrition shop so he purchases whatever I need at his discount rate. What a guy.
The First Runner Up: Pure Protein Bars
With 17-21 grams of protein for 200 calories are less, Pure Protein Bars deliver on my primary criteria. They’re also low in sugar and available at Wal-Mart and Target for a good price. As for flavors, they’re offered in double chocolate, chocolate peanut butter and chocolate vanilla crisp, all pretty good tasting.

The knock I have on these is the double chocolate and chocolate peanut butter varieties aren’t as tasty, and they’re a bit on the chewy, chalky side. Not bad but worth pointing out.

It's like a candy bar - but so much better for you.

It’s like a candy bar – but so much better.

The Second Runner Up: Luna Bars
The chocolate chip cookie dough Luna Bar is delish. It truly tastes like a sinful treat but it’s not. You can find Luna Bars at Target and they’re reasonably priced. This particular one is also the lowest calorie bar in my favorites at 170.

That being said, it also delivers the lowest dose of protein at 12 grams and it’s the highest in sugar. But if you have a craving for a treat or sweet fix (and who doesn’t here and there), skip the candy bar and get the same satisfaction plus some protein from a Luna Bar.
The Lindsay Option: Monster Cookie Protein Balls
As good as the above choices are, sometimes, I just want something homemade. Kind of like when I’ve been traveling for work all week and eating out every meal, going out for dinner at a restaurant when I get home is the least appealing thing to me. So I’ve been experimenting with recipes and have finally found a good one – my Monster Cookie Protein Balls (check out the recipe the Yum, Food tab of this site).

In addition to traveling well, tasting good and packing some protein, they’re a good snack option for when I’m more in the mood for a quick bite vs. a full protein bar.
Any of you have a favorite protein bar you’d recommend? How about a killer homemade protein bar/bites recipe of your own you’re willing to share? Comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.


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