Are your go-to protein bars on this list? Don’t worry if so! We’ve also included healthier alternatives from the brands you love.

Protein bars are popular for a reason. When done right, they pack a nutritious punch of energy-enhancing ingredients to help you power through your workout or demanding day. When done wrong, however, these “health” bars can be worse for both your body and energy levels than a regular candy bar. Before you grab your next protein bar, be sure it isn’t full of stuff that will slow you down.

1. Luna Lemon Zest: We’ll be the first to admit that this bar tastes great, but it shouldn’t be your first choice for a protein bar. Vitamin D2 and other difficult-to-process minerals and vitamins bog this bar down alongside a bunch of soy, which some people, like those with thyroid disorders, need to watch more than others. Opt instead for one of the Luna Protein bars, like Lemon Vanilla. You get more protein for fewer calories.

luna lemon zest

2. Odwalla Banana Nut: This bar doesn’t offer much protein compared to other varieties and instead it contains a whopping 17g of sugar. That’s far too much sugar for any health snack. Look for the Sweet & Salty Almond bar by Odwalla instead for 9 fewer grams of sugar.


3. Power Bar Harvest Energy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie: If you thought 17g of sugar in the Odwalla bar was bad, take a look at the Power Bar Harvest Energy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. This bar packs in 22g of sugar and 250 calories. Pick the Power Bar’s Harvest Energy Fruit And Nuts instead. It’ll save you 40 calories and 14g of sugar.


4. Kashi Go Lean Dipped Peanut Butter Chocolate: This unhealthy protein bar is yet another sugar offender with 17g of sugar per bar. A simple and healthier choice would be Kashi’s Cherry Dark Chocolate bar. It’s tasty and only has 8g of sugar instead.

Kashi Go Lean Dipped Peanut Butter Chocolate

5. Met-RX Big 100 Colossal Brownie: This fudgy “health” food carries 390 calories, 330mg of sodium, 12g of fat, and 18g of sugar. A smarter Met-RX choice than the Big 100 would be the NOS Pumped Chocolate Mixed Berry. It’ll save you in calories, fat, and sugar.

Met-RX Big 100 Colossal Brownie

6. thinkThin Caramel Fudge: thinkThin bars promote a lack of sugar in their products, but there’s plenty of sugar alcohol (a reduced-calorie sweetener that sometimes causes gastric distress). On top of that, this Caramel Fudge bar has 300mg of sodium! That’s more than two servings of potato chips. Buy the thinkThin Crunch Cranberry Apple Mixed Nuts bar instead for fewer calories, a fraction of the sodium, and no sugar alcohol.

think Thin Caramel Fudge High Protein Bars

7. Clif Chocolate Almond Fudge: This bar will hit you with 23g of sugar and 250 calories. Choose the Clif Crunch Honey Oat Instead for a healthier amount of both sugar and calories.

Clif bar

8. Pure Protein S’mores: This bar will leave you with nearly 300 calories, 31g of carbohydrates, 8g of fat, and 21g of sugar between the sugar and sugar alcohol. Choose Pure Protein’s Chewy Chocolate Chip for less of all of this.

Pure Protein S’mores

9. NuGO Organic Bar Double Dark Chocolate: We have to give this bar credit for being both organic and vegan, but 15g of sugar per bar isn’t doing anyone any favors. Grab the NuGO Slim Roasted Peanut instead for just 2g of sugar.

nugo bar

10. Larabar Key Lime Pie: This dessert of a bar contains 24g of sugar and just 4g of protein. Balance those numbers slightly better by choosing the Larabar Peanut Butter & Jelly.

lara bar key lime