Is a Protein Bar Healthy?

With all the marketing focused on making the products sound like a good healthy alternative, from that of their competition.

It is a wonder that there is anything good for us to buy.

The fact is; we must be diligent in our choices and look at the components carefully. The answer to the question about protein bars being healthy is in the ingredients.

Health conscious people are focused on reducing the amount of sugar, and trying to eat more unprocessed foods.

This diet is good for us to do and is excellent when we have a choice in front of us. The temptation is harder to fight off when 90% of the food choices are not good for you!

Planning is what is needed for the right food choices.

Planning takes on a whole new meaning when we think of it in those terms, having the correct food choices available to us is something that we can do, even if it takes some extra effort.

The reason I use protein bars is they are convinent and they have a shelf life that makes them okay to set in the desk drawer for a pretty good while.

One point here is that protein bars are processed foods, so it is better to have fresh fruits and vegetables on hand when that option is available.

It has made me think of focusing on the bars that have fewer ingredients and processed less than some better tasting options with the chocolate coverings.

Purpose for Buying a Protein Bar

The purpose for buying a protein bar varies for people depending on what the dietary objective is.

If someone is using the protein bars as a snack to get them to the next meal, it takes on a different task than it does for the person who is using it to replenish themselves after a workout.

Some may be buying protein bars as a healthier option to a candy bars, and that too will change the approach to selecting the right protein bar for the occasion.

Need a healthy snack option?

People who are looking for the snack between meals they are going to be more in tune with the nutritional facts and how much sugar is in the product.

  • Net Carbs as close to zero or better. (Add the Protein and Fiber then subtract the Carbs)
  • Ingredients that you can pronounce easily and do not sound like chemicals are a good sign.
  • Try to avoid fillers and synthetic ingredients.

People with diabetes are concerned with the sugar and high fructose corn syrups for a different reason than people who are watching their diets for health reasons or trying to lose weight.

Both will be more concerned than people who are working out and trying to bulk up in a weight training routine.

It is still a wise choice to watch the intake of the sugars just because of the additive nature of it.

What Makes a Protein Bar Healthy?

Having the right primary ingredients are what makes a protein bar a healthy option. The better the elements, the better our bodies are going to benefit from the product.

The mix of the right kind of protein, fiber, and carbohydrate will determine if the product is going to satisfy the requirements for being a healthy option or just another snack bar (same as candy).

Quality is the key to good protein bars.

Quality is usually going to cost more, and it may be a lot more on some things and not so much on others depending on the economy of scale and how efficient the company is at producing the product.

How we place the value on the product is going to determine if we are willing to pay the extra cost for products.

Companies that use high quality ingredients to make their protein bars are typically going to be more concerned with every aspect of their business.

The high-quality make them more appealing to me because the product is going to be more consistent and you can count on getting the ingredients they advertise.

Difference Between Energy Bar & Protein Bar

How to determine the difference between energy bars and protein bars is by how much sugar or carbohydrates versus the amount of protein.

Energy bars are designed to provide energy, and they contain large amounts of sugars and high carbs to give a quick energy boost.

Generally good for athletes who are in intensive workouts, and maybe in a competition where extra energy is needed.

Protein bars contain more protein and better suited as a meal replacement or extra nutrition after a workout.


I have been using protein bars for different purposed in my diet, but this is what they were designed for when they started making them.

The purpose of an energy bar is going to dictate that the ingredients focus on the amount of energy it provides to the body.

Since the most natural thing for the body to process is sugar, the natural ingredient to use is going to contain a high amount of sugar and other forms of carbs.

They typically contain the same amount of sugar as a regular candy bar. The thing to watch out for is marketing, with a bogus healthy slogan placed on the packaging.

The same thing goes for the protein bars as well, just because they tell you that it is excellent for you, don’t make it so!

Good energy producing ingredients such as eggs, bananas, oats, seeds, nuts, dates, whole-wheat, etc. Will provide power that will last longer and be a healthier option.

Reducing the amount of sugar, we consume from either of these options, will reduce the effect of the sugar crash, that will come when the sugar burns off.

The Best Protein Energy Bar

It makes more sense to use a bar that has the best of both worlds when searching for the right protein bar that will deliver the right amount of energy that you need.

Look for the highest protein that you can find, and the fiber content is high along with the protein it makes the energy last longer by slowing it down in the digestive system.

Clif Protein Builder Bar

The best bars (at least for me) that work well for giving energy over a three to four-hour period is the Cliff Protein builder bars.

These bars contain higher sugar/carbs than other smaller bars, but it works out to a favorable Net Carbs of 5.

If your activity is going to be higher than averave, it is a better alternative to the candy bar numbers (Net carbs = +28 or higher).

The Cliff product also have the extra vitamins and minerals that the candy bars or energy bars have in them in general.

Products differ and reading the label is the best way to see what is in them.

What are your thoughts?

Protein bars what do you think about them in general?


Do you use them in your regular diet? Are protein bars something that you think about being a healthy option over candy bars.

Please leave your comments, suggestions, or questions in the field below.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post!

18 comments on “Is a Protein Bar Healthy?

  • Alvaro says:

    Hi Chad! 

    You are right in so many points. I use protein bars and protein shakes from time to time for snacking and keep my body full of protein and carbs. I’m a kind of a skinny type (ectomorph) and I need to replenish protein and carbs quickly to stay ”buffy” and with the help of protein bars, it has become a must. 

    Of course, I first try to get my intake for snacking with fruits, veggies and good fat that comes with high proteins (avocados, almonds, etc…) but sometimes I can’t. That’s where protein bars are so handy. I think it also depends on your morphology, eating habits and if you are active or not. 

    I never tried the protein Cliff bars. Only the normal ones. I will look into that. I’m using right now the Detour Simple protein bars that I found at Costco and they are great too. Thanks for sharing this post. Alvaro

    • Chad Trader says:

      Thanks for the thoughts and suggestion. The normal cliff bars have too much sugar in them for me to use them. The only ones that are close enough to a NET zero carb to be safe for a diabetic. Not familiar with the Detour Simple bars but will look into them and check them out. 

  • Steve says:

    Thanks for the great article. I had done some experimenting with protein bars in the past and I was never all that happy with the ingredients lists on them. Too much that wasn’t natural. I’ve always preferred to make my own as I know exactly what is going into it and can control the sugar content much more than buying processed. Of all the bars though, when in a pinch, I don’t mind turning to Cliff. Thanks again.

    • Chad Trader says:

      Thanks for your comment, I have been playing around with making some protein bars but do not know how to get them to stick together so it ends up being eaten in a bowl. But you are right I make them without any sugar any they actually taste great!

  • GVporras says:

    Thank you for this great information about protein bars I do eat some before I play soccer, just because it gives me energy and I don’t want to eat food because food usually it makes me feel heavy, I don’t know if is healthy that’s why I try to eat it when I play sports, I rather have healthy food, but after I read your post I will take a look the cliff bar and compare to the one I been eating.

    • Chad Trader says:

      The Cliff Bars are a big help to me when my workload is increased through exercise or just working hard doing something physical. Hope that it will help you with your soccer, that requires a lot of energy with all the running!

  • charles39 says:

    Eating healthy is key to each and everyone of us but when the food is farther away I believe energy given food will be better for it will enable you hold on to the next meal.

    But protein bars are more valuable, to the body mainly because they are low in sugar and fat, hence they can be taken by anyone at anytime without worrying of accumulation of fats in the body.

    • Chad Trader says:

      Great point to make about protein bars, most people can use them is some way to enhance their diets and not adversely affect their health. 

      So far since making my changes and eat more of the protein bars I have lost over 40 pounds and looking forward to getting my weight back down to normal.

  • saj says:

    I am mainly concerned on the amount of sugar included both in energy bars and protein bars.

    I myself prefer Protein bars as I do not need much energy in my daily life. And I agree with you, a high fiber content along with a high protein content will make a protein bar very attractive as an alternative for a meal after a workout in the gym.

    • Chad Trader says:

      Thanks for your comments and glad you enjoyed that article.

  • Dennis says:

    Looking over your site I find a lot of great information, Not being a dieter because I find them to confusing and some just dishonest it was a real find to read the “diets that work” section and cut through all the information overload. 

    I do drink energy drinks once in a while but after reading about the health risks I may have to rethink my choices and go to making shakes. 

    You mention SUSTAIN as a great choice for a supplement, Is there an age limit on the product? and the Indulge Shakes, Age limit? 

    Sometimes a product works better for a certain age. The protein bar section has a lot of information I can use but how do you know when you need a protein bar or just a food bar? 

    • Chad Trader says:

      Hi Dennis,

      Thanks for taking the time to look around my site! Glad you found the information useful. The energy drinks have so many issues; I will be doing more articles on the topic!

      The Sustain in the best vitamin supplement I have come across. There is no age limit, I do not know how to test the “Telomere support aspect” that Avisae talks about, but to me that is just a bonus! 

      All of my blood test since taking Sustain show that my vitamin and mineral levels are in the normal ranges. They were not before taking the Sustain. Even with taking many other supposedly good vitamins!

      The Indulge Shakes are very good tasting (our kids ask for them) and we give it to them because of the vitamins and the quality of the products are second to none. 

      For me the protein bars are better because of the diabetes, but I have had the RX Bars and they do not spike my blood sugar either, so I think it is a matter of preference.

      Let me know if you have any further questions. 

  • fyre says:

    These are my go to for long trips.  I usually buy mostly organic but, when I need to sustain for long periods of time until I can get a decent meal in my body…these do the trick.  I don’t eat a lot of sugar but, these don’t upset my stomach like most protein bars.  

    We used to ride mountain bikes with the old cliff bars out of the package and wrapped around the handle bars!  Ha, i know ..gross but, it has always been an athletic fuel go-to as well.

    In my eyes, it’s still just a candy bar but, if I’m doing something worthy of burning those calories I’ll use them occasionally.

    I will cut and eat an avocado (thank you portable hot sauce!) for a filling protein & fats filled fix over a bar of anything no matter how healthy they say it is but, when you are hungry…you are hungry! 

    • Chad Trader says:

      Thanks for you comment and the idea on the avocado, sometimes we do not think of the obvious when thinking about what constitutes a snack.

  • Strahinja says:

    Hello and I really appreciate your informative and thorough article Chad. I recently started working out and have never got familiar enough with food and supplements that help with working out. I heard about energy bars but I was convinced this relates to protein bars also.

    Boy I was wrong. And to be honest, after reading this article I will definitely used them as a supplement to my diet. I really like that something like protein bar exist.

    Love your website. You are going on bookmarks.


    • Chad Trader says:

      Glad that you enjoyed the article and that it helped you to understand the differences between the two. It makes a difference in how we plan to use these dietary supplements well.

  • Craig says:

    How much should I pay attention to the sugar content of protein bars? Some of the Cliff Bars and Builders bars have quite a few grams of them, I assume to sweeten them up for good taste, but won’t that counteract the healthy aspects of the bar?

    I’ve read about RX Bars and Clean Bars too. It seems every day there’s a new type of protein bar floating around. Are you familiar with any that have low sugar content? I’m not averse to eating something that tastes like cardboard if that’s the best type to eat…

    • Chad Trader says:

      Hi Craig,

      It depends on what you are looking for with the protein bar; now that my diabetes is under control, the cliff bars do not spike my blood sugar too much. 

      The Pure Protein Bars are much better on the sugar content and have a negative NET carb number. Another one that is real good in the RX Bars. There is no added sugar, so the only sugar is from the natural ingredients. 

      Hope that helps!

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