We all know by now building muscle is the key to looking toned and skyrocketing our metabolisms. But there’s more to the equation than just lifting heavy weights — you have to make sure you’re getting proper nutrition, which includes enough protein. While most of us look to powdered products for our fix, not all of us are keen on the taste or cost they come with. That’s where protein bars come in.
If you’ve visited the health aisle of your local grocery store lately, you’ll see how many protein bar options are available. There’s every flavor under the sun, and most of them are pretty darn delicious. But, before you reach for a box of your favorites, you’ll need to pay attention to what exactly you’re eating. In many cases, your favorite protein product is no better than that Hershey’s chocolate bar found at the register. Here are 14 protein bars you need to ditch for good.
1. Luna Bar in Caramel Walnut Brownie
Skip out on this protein bar. | iStock.com
Luna Bars are known for tasting delicious — but their nutrition leaves something to be desired. The Caramel Walnut Brownie bar is gluten-free, but that’s about the only thing it has going for it. Just one of these holds 200 calories, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, and 10 grams of sugar. And to top it all off, there are only 8 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber in the whole thing. Considering you can get nearly this much protein in just one egg, you’re better off without this one.
2. thinkThin High Protein Bar
You can get ripped without this thinkThin bar. | iStock.com
When it comes to thinkThin products, you have a lot of options — but you’re well-advised to stay far away from the selection of High Protein Bars. On the surface, these seem like a great choice. They have 20 grams of protein and 0 grams of sugar, which is the protein bar dream. But if you look a little closer, you’ll see they also have more than 10 grams of sugar alcohols. Breaking Muscle reminds us consuming too many sugar alcohols can lead to digestive issues including gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Also, thinkThin’s high protein bars have at least 240 calories each. We don’t recommend them if you’re watching your weight.
3. ProBar Superfood Slam
Skip the ProBar and aim for something healthier. | iStock.com/BWFolsom
ProBar claims their Superfood Slam bar is a “nutritional powerhouse” complete with organic greens and berries, 10 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fiber. This is all fine and well until you really look at the nutrition label. This bar has a whopping 370 calories, which is basically a meal. It also has 23 grams of sugar and 18 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of which are saturated.
For women, this one bar alone will nearly fulfill your recommended sugar allotment for the day — Authority Nutrition says men should aim for under 37.5 grams, and women should try for under 25 grams.
4. Larabar in Coconut Cream Pie
You can get enough protein for those muscles without this bar. | iStock.com/Jacob Ammentorp Lund
Larabars are known for being nutritional powerhouses made with only a few ingredients, but after taking a look at this Coconut Cream Pie concoction, we beg to differ. While this little bar has 5 grams of fiber, it also has 7 grams of saturated fat, 24 grams of sugar, and 210 calories. And because you can find this product in with other nutrition bars in your supermarket, you may expect it to have a decent amount of protein — but guess again. You’ll only be getting 3 grams of protein with this one. Next.
5. ZonePerfect Nutrition Bar in Cinnamon Bun Cookie Dough
The ZonePerfect bar doesn’t belong in your diet. | iStock.com
We love cinnamon buns and cookie dough, but maybe not in the form of a protein bar. ZonePerfect’s offering has brown rice syrup, butter, and fructose syrup within the first five ingredients, so you can already tell it’s not a healthy option. This particular flavor also comes with 200 calories, 14 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of saturated fat. Its 11 grams of protein aren’t all that bad, but it certainly doesn’t make up for everything else.
6. Gatorade Whey Protein Bar in Peanut Butter Chocolate
You’re familiar with Gatorade, so do yourself a favor and avoid this protein bar. | iStock.com
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — grabbing a sports drink for your hour at the gym is very unnecessary. But, for those who do indulge in a Gatorade from time to time, just do yourself a favor and stay away from their protein bar selection. In just one Peanut Butter Chocolate bar, there are 360 calories, 9 grams of saturated fat, and 25 grams of sugar. You’ll also be getting 20 grams of protein, but this is still one to skip.
7. Nature Valley Energy Bar in Cranberry Almond
You’re better off without this bar. | iStock.com
We’re all familiar with the delicious and crunchy Nature Valley bars that were always in our school lunches, but the company decided to step up their game with the Energy Bar. It’s a good idea in theory, but the product leaves something to be desired. The Cranberry Almond option boasts 10 grams of protein, but it also comes with 200 calories and 15 grams of sugar. This isn’t the worst offender on the list, but you’re probably better off reliving your childhood with the classic bar for dessert.
8. PowerBar ProteinPlus Bar in Chocolate Brownie
This bar doesn’t belong in your diet. | iStock.com/HandmadePictures
PowerBar is well-known for offering athletes a tasty protein-filled snack for after their workout, but be sure to skip the ProteinPlus bars. The Chocolate Brownie bar is the biggest offender, as it has a whopping 330 calories, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and 27 grams of sugar. The bar’s 30 grams of protein may seem worth it, but trust us, it isn’t.
9. Detour Lean Muscle Bar in Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch
You don’t need all the fat and calories this bar offers. | iStock.com
With 420 calories and 18 grams of fat, this is one seriously hefty snack. The Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch bar is particularly offensive, as it contains 9 grams of saturated fat and 17 grams of sugar alcohols, which is sure to give you digestive distress. Even with 32 grams of protein, Detour bar’s bad outweighs the good.
10. Clif Bar Chocolate Brownie
You can do better than this Clif Bar. | iStock.com/emiliozv
Clif Bars have been a favorite of the outdoorsy types for many years, and for good reason — they’re tasty, made with organic ingredients, and have protein and fiber to sustain you during your adventures. What the company fails to remind you of, however, is how much sugar these tasty treats contain. The Chocolate Brownie bar has a particularly offensive 21 grams of sugar. If you look on the ingredient list, don’t be fooled by the organic label before the three different types of syrups, either. Sugar is sugar — it’s all going straight to your waistline, organic or not.
11. Balance Bar in Chocolate Craze
You don’t need this sugary protein bar. | iStock.com
Balance Bar’s follow what they call the 40-30-30 plan to help keep your blood sugar levels steady. This means each bar contains 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% dietary fat. That all sounds great until you look at the nutrition facts for the Chocolate Craze bar. It has 14 grams of protein, but it’s not really worth it when you see it comes with 18 grams of sugar, 4 grams of saturated fat, and 200 calories.
12. Amazing Grass Green Superfood Bar
This bar sounds healthy, but look at the nutrition facts. | iStock.com
If you’re a fan of plant-based protein, then you’ve probably heard of the Green Superfood nutrition bar. This product incorporates farm-fresh veggies, fruits, and nuts for a bar that’s full of nutrition. Unfortunately, that’s not all it’s packed with. Just one of these has 220 calories, 7 grams of fat, and a whopping 24 grams of sugar. You can tell yourself all that sugar is from natural and organic resources, but your waistline most likely won’t know the difference.
Also, it’s not too impressive in the protein department. One bar only has 6 grams. If you’re going to go for this company’s bars, we suggest this Chocolate Peanut Butter one over the original.
13. KIND Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants
This KIND bar won’t help you with your gains. | iStock.com
KIND bars look plenty healthy — after all, you can see the nuts, seeds, and fruit right through the clear plastic package. Unfortunately, it might look better for you than it actually is. The Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants bar only comes with 3 grams of protein for the 170 calories. If you’re still devoted to KIND, you can try going for one of their Strong & KIND bars to get a better protein boost and less sugar.
14. OhYeah! Bar in Chocolate Caramel Candies
Many of these protein bars are as bad as candy bars. | iStock.com/OcusFocus
The bar may say “oh, yeah!” but your body will say “oh, no.” Any of the flavors for the original recipe OhYeah! Bar are bad news, but the Chocolate Caramel Candies version is a particular offender. This bar contains 350 calories and 7.5 grams of saturated fat. You’ll also get 15 grams of sugar and 13 grams of sugar alcohols. For all of the bad stuff, 26 grams of protein is really not worth it.
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