Sometimes you just need a little protein on the go, especially if you follow a vegan or plant-based lifestyle. With new vegan protein bars and shakes popping up everywhere, how do you know which ones are no better than a Snickers bar and which will keep you fueled for the next few hours?
First, make sure the bar has at least 10 grams of protein. Bars that are mostly carbohydrate-based (I’m looking at you, granola bars) are just going to leave you hungry soon after. They are not adequate for refueling after a work out OR as a snack to get you to your next meal. Most of the bars in the cereal aisle have a ton of carbs with no protein to balance them out (I’m looking at you Nutrigrain and Nature Valley).
Next check out the ingredients. Does it contain sucralose, high fructose corn syrup, palm kernel oil, or sugar alcohols like mannitol, erythritol, or xylitol? Do most of the ingredients sound like food or a science experiment? Skip it!
Now for the real test: does it taste great or leave you feeling like your chewing up dirt?
I have not been compensated for any review. I tried a ton of vegan protein bars that didn’t make the cut and I continue to update this post as I find new products. The following bars made our “best list” based on taste, ingredients, and nutrient content.
The Best Plant-Based Protein Bars
Simple ingredients, no BS. I’m hooked on these. Go Raw has jumped on the “sprouted” superfood trend with sprouted raw watermelon seeds as the main ingredient. They taste great too. This is the best of the best in the vegan protein bars category.
Zing bars were made by registered dietitians who couldn’t find an adequate snack to recommend to their clients on the go. They’re non-GMO and get most of their protein from a nut blend, rice protein concentrate and pea protein. Zing gets major bonus points for covering 15% of daily iron needs—something many vegans need to supplement. The only downside is that you probably have to go to a specialty store like Whole Foods to find them.
The smallest amount of sugar for the most amount of protein. Does have sugar alcohol (maltitol) which can cause digestive issues for some people.
If you have food allergies and can’t find a vegan bar that meets your needs I would suggest making your own with The Bar Shack. You can customize each and every ingredient, with every superfood you can think of. You get to name your bar and pick a label too, which is pretty awesome.
Similar to the think! bars, Nugo slim packs in 18 grams of protein for 180 calories. The main protein source is soy. You’ll love the chocolate mint if you like the taste of dark chocolate. The downside of these bars is they are pretty dry and crumbly and I would pick the other bars if it was a straight up taste test. The upside is that they tend to be cheaper and a little easier to find. Note that not all flavors of Nugo Slim are vegan.
Vega bars are the highest calorie bars on the list at 260 calories and are designed for those with an active lifestyle. They get their protein from organic sprouted whole grain brown rice protein and pea protein and have bonus nutrients from alfalfa, and SaviSeed. Perfect for post-workout recovery.
Do you have a bar that you think belongs on this list? Let us know! megan[at]orlandodietitian.com
We were not paid to review any of the above products. All opinions are our own. This post may contain affiliate links.
About the author: Megan Poczekaj, RDN, LD, is a registered dietitian nutritionist in Orlando, FL. She owns the private practice, Nutrition Awareness, where she teaches other entrepreneurs how to maximize their productivity and performance with nutrition. She is the author of the book The Optimized Life: A Nutrition Guide for Entrepreneurs and co-host of the Nutrition Awareness Podcast.
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