The Best Protein Bars in Canada
Protein bars have become a popular snack for bodybuilders, marathon runners, and health-conscious people. They are good for building muscle, maintaining lean mass, supplementing protein in your diet, and satisfying hunger. Because of the popularity, there are countless protein bars available. Each bar differs in taste, texture, size, nutrition, and the ingredients used.
Trying to pick one can be difficult. I have spent countless hours searching online for a good protein bar. I’m often overwhelmed by the number of choices. So, I decided to create this buying guide to list the best protein bars in Canada. Once I made my selections, I decided to try the protein bars myself. After hours of research and countless taste tests, I’ve learned the qualities of a good protein bar. I also now know which brands to buy. Hopefully this guide helps you find a protein bar that suits your lifestyle.
Our top picks
What to look for in a protein bar
Nutrition: An important part of any protein bar is its nutrition. According to Healthline, a good protein bar should contain:
- At least 10-20g of protein
- Between 180-300 calories
- Ideally 12g or less of sugar
- At least 3g of fiber
Before buying a protein bar, read its nutrition label to see if it falls within the above listed values. Of course, not every bar will meet each of the recommended values. Try to find a protein bar that meets at least 2-3 out of the four listed categories. I try to find protein bars that are relatively low in sugar and high in protein and fiber. Also remember that your health and fitness goals affect your nutritional needs. For building muscle, you will want a bar that’s higher in calories and the amount of protein (e.g., 300 calories and 23g of protein). For weight loss, pick protein bars with 250 calories or less. Marathon runners and other endurance athletes should eat protein bars high in both carbs and protein; these macros help with recovery and energy levels.
Ingredients: Another important quality of a protein bar is its ingredients. Look for protein bars that primarily use natural ingredients. For example, the protein content should come from eggs, casein, whey, or peas. Dates, dark chocolate, and dried fruits should provide the sweetness. Still, many protein bars use artificial ingredients, particularly as the sweetener. You’ll often see ingredients like Erythritol, Maltitol syrup, and Sucralose. Sugar alcohol is sometimes used in protein bars. People like to avoid this ingredient since it can cause digestive issues like gas and bloating. Lastly, carefully read the ingredients if you have food allergies or sensitivities. Gluten free, dairy free, and nut-free protein bars are available.
Price: Unfortunately, protein bars are expensive. A box of six costs $10-$12. A box of twelve usually costs between $20-$30, although some are nearly $50 per box. You can find bulk packages containing 15-18 protein bar that go for $27-$29.
Flavour: At the end of the day, a protein bar should taste good. Eating a bad tasting protein bar is not fun, no matter how nutritious it is. The trick is to find a protein bar that is flavourful and nutritious at the same time. There is not a defined requirement for a tasty protein bar. I usually try to find one that tastes natural, i.e., it doesn’t have a chemical texture and aftertaste. Finding a tasty protein bar requires some trial and error. If weeded through several bars until I’ve found the ones that tastes good to me.
The best protein bar overall
Clif Builders Protein-variety pack
The Clif Builder’s protein bars top our list of the best protein bars in Canada. They come in three flavours:
- chocolate: 280 calories, 20g protein, 17g sugars, 3g fiber (1g insoluble fibre)
- chocolate peanut butter: 290 calories, 20g protein, 17g sugars, 2g fibre (1g insoluble fibre)
- chocolate mint: 280 calories, 20g protein, 17g sugars, 3g fibre (1g insoluble fibre)
In the Fall off of 2019, Clif revamped the ingredients used in the Builder’s bars. The updated version is 100% gluten free and made with non-GMO ingredients. The protein is plant sourced (soy protein isolate). The price for the variety pack differs by seller. On Amazon, the average price is between $27-$50.
Customers liked the taste of the Builders protein bars. Of the chocolate peanut butter flavour, one person said it tasted like Coffee Crisp and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup combined. Others said the bars tasted like a healthy candy bar. The variety pack kept things interesting. If you get bored of one flavour, you can switch things up and try a different one. Users said that the Clif Builders bars were good as an after-workout snack; it helped repair muscles and replenish energy levels. The bars are also large and quite satisfying. Easting one as a midday snack will keep you tied over for the rest of the day. This helps prevent snacking and other cravings. The price for variety pack was decent considering the number of bars you get (18 in total). The biggest downside for these protein bars is its sugar content. Some people said 17g of sugar was too much for them. The calories are also high, which is not good for sedentary lifestyles. The Clif Builder’s protein bars are best suited for active people (bodybuilders, joggers, athletes, hikers etc.)
The Clif Builders protein bars have a thick, crunchy texture with a sweet chocolaty taste. They are also very filling; eating holds you over for several hours. Out of the three flavours, the chocolate peanut butter was my favourite. It had the right balance of sweet and savoury. The Mint Chocolate bar was a close second. It wasn’t as sweet as the other flavours, and it had a refreshing mint taste. The Chocolate version was not as notable as the other two flavours, but it still tasted great. I did not have many issues with the Builders protein bars. One nitpick would be that the bars can be a little hard to bit into. So if you have braces, I’d advise breaking the bar into smaller chunks. But other than that, the Clif Builders protein bars are a tasty pre or post workout snack.
- Each flavour tastes delicious.
- Helps build muscle and replenish energy post workout.
- Good for meal replacement.
- Decent price.
- Gluten free and non-GMO ingredients.
- High amount of sugar.
- High calories, not good for inactive lifestyle.
Best affordable protein bar
While they’re known more for their granola bars, Nature Valley do make protein bars. They come in three flavours:
- Peanut butter dark chocolate: 190 calories, 11g protein, 8g sugars, 2g fibre
- Peanut butter dark chocolate XL: 300 calories, 15g protein, 11g sugars, 8g fibre
- Peanut almond and dark chocolate: 180 calories, 11g protein, 8g sugars, 2g fibre
- Coconut almond: 200 calories, 10g protein, 7g sugars, 5g fibre
On Amazon, each pack costs $2.97$ per box. A box of two costs $5.94. According to Nature Valley, no artificial colours, flavours, or sweeteners are used in the protein bars. Real peanuts, almonds, and chocolate is used instead.
The biggest positive noted by customers for the Nature Valley protein bars was the affordability. Many people said the two pack deal had lots of value for the money. People also said the favour profile was good. The bars tasted natural with no chemical aftertaste. Thanks to their small size, people said the bars were good for a quick snack or breakfast on the go. Unfortunately, the protein amount is low. The Nature Valley protein bars are best used as a small boost of protein rather than a workout snack. The sugar content is a bit high. Therefore, the bars are best eaten in moderation. Lastly, people said that more protein bars could be added to the box (e.g., six per box).
For the Nature Valley protein bars, I tested the peanut almond and peanut butter dark chocolate flavours. My main complaint with these bars is their size. They are easily the smallest protein bars out of my sample size. Therefore, they weren’t very filling; I could easily eat two in a row. In terms of taste, the bars were sweet but not too overpowering. Both flavours also had a savoury taste thanks to the peanut and almond ingredients.
- Good value for the price, affordable.
- Good flavours.
- Good for quick breakfast or snack.
- Low amount of protein.
- Only four bars per box.
- Sugar amount is a little high.
Best vegan protein bar
This variety pack from SimplyProtein has three flavours:
- Peanut butter chocolate: 160 calories, 12g protein, 2g sugars, 7g fibre
- Lemon coconut: 150 calories, 12g protein, 2g sugars, 7g fibre
- Dark chocolate almond: 170 calories, 12g protein, 2g sugars, 7g fibre
Outside of the variety pack, SimplyProtein has other flavours for their protein bars:
- Dark chocolate salted caramel: 150 calories, 12 g protein, 2g sugars, 7g fibre
- Chocolate coconut: 150 calories, 12 g protein, 2g sugars, 7g fibre
- Cocoa raspberry: 160 calories, 12 g protein, 2g sugars, 7g fibre
- Cinnamon pecan: 160 calories, 12 g protein, 2g sugars, 7g fibre
- Mint chocolate chip: 160 calories, 12 g protein, 2g sugars, 7g fibre
Each protein bar is completely vegan and uses soy protein isolates as the protein source. The bars are also gluten free, peanut and tree nut free, and have no GMO ingredients. Natural sweeteners like dark chocolate and cane sugar are used instead of artificial ingredients. The SimplyProtein bars have only 2g of sugar while having 7g of fibre.
Customers liked the SimplyProtein bars had no extra sugar added. One person said these bars were good for diabetics. Many people said the protein bars where a healthy snack thanks to its natural ingredients. The taste and texture were good as well, although they can be either a pro or con depending on who you ask. The high amount of fibre was a plus. It helped people stay full and aided in digestion. Some people didn’t mind the crunchy, crumbly texture. Others said they did not like this texture. For example, one person said they didn’t enjoy the almond and peanut pieces in the protein bar. Another complaint was the low protein count.
I was only able to try the dark chocolate salted caramel and peanut butter chocolate flavours. Both had crunchy, crumbly textures that resembled a Rice Krispie Squares®. The bars were not overly sweet, which is the reason behind the 2g of sugars per bar. The flavours for each were subtle and came on gradually. In other words, the caramel flavour was not that strong when I first bit into the bar. It was more evident in the aftertaste. Because of its crumble textures, these protein bars were messy to eat. The peanuts, pecans, and cashews easily fell off the bars as a I ate them. This was my main issue with these SimplyProtein bars. While the taste may not be for everyone, I enjoyed it. I liked that these bars did not have a lot of sweetness. Some protein bars are too sweet to the point where it seems like you’re eating a chocolate bar. The SimplyProtein bars were not filing but worked as a quick snack in between meals. Overall, these protein bars were a tasty and healthy snack, although the texture could be improved.
- Made with plant-based protein and other plant ingredients.
- Gluten free and nut free.
- Natural ingredients, no added sugar.
- Good taste and texture.
- High amount of fibre.
- Taste not for everyone. Some people do not like the taste and texture.
- Low amount of protein.
- Crumbly texture, messy to eat.
- Not good for meal replacement.
Best protein bar for muscle gain
Gatorade™ Whey Protein Bars
The Gatorade whey protein bars come in three flavours:
- Chocolate caramel: 340 calories, 20g protein, 28g sugars, 0g fibre
- Chocolate chip: 360 calories, 20g protein, 29g sugars, 2g fibre
- Peanut butter chocolate: 360 calories, 25g sugars, 1g fibre
According to Gatorade, the bars are designed for energy and muscle recovery. You can eat the bar for a pre or post workout snack. With 20g of protein, the Gatorade whey protein rebuilds muscles. The 43g total carbs restore depleted energy to the muscles. The carbs also provide energy for workouts and other high-intensity activities. No artificial colours or flavours are used.
The Gatorade whey protein bars were a hit with fitness enthusiasts. People said the bars helped restore their body after an intense workout. The whey protein ingredient helped build muscle mass. Each flavour had a delicious taste Several customers said the bars were so tasty that it was hard to eat only one. One person said the bars taste like a healthy version of a candy bar. Another person said the bars were like Rice Krispies™ dipped in chocolate. One downside to the bars is the high calorie content. That’s why the Gatorade why protein bars are best used as a post-workout snack . The calories add up if you’re looking to lose weight. The sugar amount is also high.
I was only able to test the chocolate caramel and chocolate chip flavors. Both had the same texture as the Clif Builders protein bars: soft and crunchy. These Gatorade protein bars were very sweet, a little too much for me. I agree that these bars are just one step above a full-blown chocolate bar. The protein bars were also huge, probably the largest out of the ones I tested. As a result, they were very filling, making them the perfect snack before or after a workout.
- High in protein.
- Tasty flavours.
- Good before or a workout.
- High in calories, not good for people trying to lose weight.
- High in sugar.
Best natural protein bar
If you are looking for a clean and natural protein bar, look no further than RXBAR. This variety pack has six flavours:
- Blueberry: 190 calories, 12g protein, 15g sugars, 6g fibre
- Chocolate chip: 190 calories, 12g protein, 15g sugars, 7g fibre
- Chocolate sea salt: 200 calories, 12g protein, 14g sugars, 5g fibre
- Peanut butter chocolate: 210 calories, 12g protein, 15g sugars, 5g fibre
- Peanut butter: 200 calories, 12g protein, 17g sugars, 4g fibre
Not included in the pack is the banana chocolate walnut flavour: 200 calories, 12g protein, 16g sugars, 5g dietary fibre.
Each flavour contains whole food ingredients including egg whites, dates, and nuts. Cacao or fruit are used as sweeteners. No artificial sugars, flavours, fillers, or preservatives are added. Most of the ingredients are inherently non-GMO. The bars are also kosher and gluten free. All of the ingredients are listed on the front of the wrapper. To ensure their bars use 100% natural ingredients, RXBAR partners with local farmers and suppliers who meet the company’s standards.
Customers appreciated the transparency of RXBAR. Listing the ingredients on the front of the pack built trust and credibility between the company and consumers. People liked the use of natural ingredients. One customer said RXBAR made one of the cleanest protein bars. The flavours were good, although some were better than others. Each bar was filling and helped satisfy hungry stomachs. The biggest downside for RXBAR protein bars is their texture. Many people said the bars were extremely chewy. A few said that small pieces stuck to their teeth. Several customer reviews said that only one flavour tasted good, while the others tasted bad. The bars are not as sweet as other protein bars due to the natural ingredients. This can be a turn off for some people.
I have mixed feelings about RXBARs. For one, I like that the bars only use natural ingredients. While I’m not super restrictive about my diet, I try to avoid food with high amounts of artificial ingredients. With RXBARs, I know I’m eating a natural, healthy protein bar. The flavours were hit and miss. Some were delicious, while others were so-so. The standouts were the Blueberry and Peanut Butter flavours. The biggest sticking point for me was the texture. The bars have an oily/greasy layer on top which easily smudges onto your fingertips. I was constantly wiping my fingers with a tissue or napkin. I also found these bars extremely chewy, and small chunks did stick to my teeth. Therefore, this is not the best bar to eat if you have braces. The one thing I did like about the texture was the crunch from the whole nuts.
- Natural ingredients.
- Transparent marketing and packaging.
- Filling, help satisfies hungry.
- Texture is extremely chewy, pieces get stuck to teeth.
- Flavours are hit or miss, some better than others.
For this buying guide, our team spent over eight hours researching and testing various protein bars. We only considered items rated four or more stars by customers on Amazon. We tried to select protein bars that balanced taste and nutrition. In other words, the bar was delicious and had good nutritional values. We tried to taste every bar listed in the guide, but some flavours were unavailable. Our team also read articles from health and fitness websites for further information on protein bars.
Frequently asked questions about protein bars
Where can I buy protein bars?
You can buy protein bars in-store or online. Supplement stores are the best place to find protein bars in person. Some example retailers include Popeye’s Supplements Canada and Supplement King. Fitness/sports stores like Sportchek and MEC sell protein bars near the checkout counters. Grocery stores usually sell protein bars in the Health section or Natural Foods aisle. You can also buy protein bars from Amazon and various online fitness stores.
Are protein bars healthy?
The answer to this question depends on the brand and the ingredients used. The healthiest protein bars prioritize whole foods rather than artificial ingredients. Healthy protein bars also have a low amount of sugar and have little to no added sugars (e.g., sugar alcohols). According to healthline, processed ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, glucose, and processed plant oils (canola, plam etc.) are harmful when consumed in excess. Many brands use at least one of these ingredients in their protein bars. In terms of calories, the amount can either be beneficial or a drawback based on your lifestyle. Athletes and active people will benefit from a high calorie count. For people looking to lose weight, low-calorie protein bars are a better option.
The bottom line is that most protein bars are healthy. They provided added protein and other nutrients to your diet. However, some protein bars are not far off from being labelled candy bars. Always check the nutritional values and ingredients list to see if the protein bar fits your lifestyle.
Should protein bars be eaten before or after a workout?
Protein bars can be either be eaten pre or post workout. Eating a protein bar before a workout gives your body energy for the upcoming exercises. Eating a bar after a workout delivers protein to your muscles for growth and recovery. Go with whatever works for you. I like to eat a protein bar post workout, but I sometimes eat one beforehand as a quick snack.
How do I make my own protein bars?
Making your own protein bar has two benefits. First, it’s usually cheaper than buying them online or from the grocery store. Second, you have greater control over the ingredients and nutrition. You’ll find countless protein bar recipe online. There are two types of homemade protein bars: baked and no baked. Common ingredients for homemade protein bars include:
- Protein powder: usually flavourless or vanilla flavoured
- Peanut butter
- Mable syrup or honey
- Flour or rolled oats
- Dried fruit
- Raw nuts
Here are some great protein bar recipes
How many protein bars should you eat per day?
This depends on your fitness goals and your lifestyle. For building muscle or gaining weight, you can eat more than one protein bar. This will give your body enough calories, protein, and carbs for repairing and growing muscle mass. However, stick to low sugar protein bars if you’re eating more than one per day. Also, try limiting yourself to two bars. Eating anymore than that in one day can upset your stomach; too much protein can negatively affect your health. People trying to lose weight should stick with one protein bar per day. Pick one that is relatively low in calories and sugar.
What are the pros and cons of protein bars?
Protein bars have several pros and cons.
- Convenience: Protein bars are great for a quick snack during the day, or as a simple breakfast for busy mornings.
- Protein intake: For an added source of protein, protein bars are a good food to eat. Most contain between 12-20g per serving. This amount is great if you want to build muscle, gain lean mass, or maintain a healthy weight.
- Nutrients: Protein bars contain healthy nutrients like fibre, carbs, and calcium. Some bars are high in potassium, iron, and other healthy minerals.
- Flavour: Most protein bars have a tasty flavour. Some even taste like a candy bar, except they have better nutrition.
- Amount of sugar: Some protein bars have a high amount of sugar. Some bars listed in this guide have up to 29g of sugars per serving. That amount is equal to and even higher than the sugar found in chocolate bars.
- Additive and artificial ingredients: To improve the flavour, some brands include additives and artificial ingredients in their protein bars. Sweeteners like xylitol, sucralose, and sugar alcohols are common examples. Processed plant oils like palm, canola, and peanut are also commonly added to protein bars. Additives and artificial ingredients can have adverse affects on your body, such as bloating and excessive weight gain.
- Calories: Depending on your goals and lifestyle, the calories in a protein bar can either be a pro or con. Athletes and weightlifters benefit from calorie dense bars; they replenish the calories used in their workout/sport. But for people looking to stay in shape, calorie rich protein bars are not beneficial.
Who should eat protein bars?
Protein bars are not just for bodybuilders and athletes only. They can be eaten by anyone looking to add protein to their diet. Protein bars are also suitable for people who want a healthier alternative to a candy bar. Lastly, protein bars are good for anyone in need of a quick and convenient snack.
Protein bars vs. granola bars, what’s the difference?
The main difference between protein bars and granola bars is the protein amount. Granola bars typically have less than 5g of protein. Protein bars usually have 10g-20g of protein per serving. In terms of ingredients, there is a lot of similarities. However, protein bars contain whey concentrate or isolate, pea proteins, and eggs. Protein bars and granola bars have similar calorie counts. But in general, protein bars tend to have more calories per serving.
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