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Vegan Protein Bars Buyer’s Guide

Our uncompromising nutritionist uncovers the best and worst plant-based protein bars

Trying to find a good vegan protein protein bar and feeling a little overwhelmed by all the choices? You’ve come to the right place!

I went deep into the vast land of plant-based protein bars, tasting and studiously reviewing 14 of the most poplar ones–all so you don’t have to!

A lot of what I found was what I call Fake Food: highly processed bars with enough artificial ingredients to cause early onset Alzheimer’s if you ate them regularly.

Remember: Just because it’s vegan and planted based doesn’t make it healthy!

Why Choose Plant Based Protein Bars?

Thousands of years ago, our ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers. They foraged the fields and forests, garnering a healthy, diverse diet for themselves. Historians tell us they succeeded, but only through a lot of hard work and a great deal of effort.

Today, finding products to fulfill our desires for a healthy, diverse diet can seem just as difficult. Finding items that really are good for us is no easy task.

From heavy metals in our herbs and spices to protein bars with more sugar than healthy ingredients, the aisles of the grocery store can be a minefield of false hopes.

Even so-called “health food stores” have a lot of unhealthy options. Some of the ingredients are frankly shocking.

One of the newest products to enter the field of healthy eating is the plant-based protein bar.

Plant-based, or plant-heavy, diets are becoming quite popular. With their popularity has come the inevitable market for bars. Bars for snacking. Bars for breakfast. Bars to replace meals for those on the go.

They’re handy. They’re usually pretty tasty. But they aren’t always as they appear.

Today, we’ll look at 14 vegan protein bars. I personally got hands-on, including taste testing them all in a row (you don’t want to be me!). I’ll rate them on a scale of 1 to 5 and consider some pros and cons for each. We’ll also dive into what makes them good, bad, or just mediocre (and occasionally even ugly!).

By the time we’re done, you won’t have to hunt to gather the plant protein bar that’s right for you. I’ll do the hard work and identify the best (and the worst) for you.

person holding red fruit

 

What to Look For in a Vegan Protein Bar

Before we begin our reviews and ratings of plant protein bars, we need to determine what makes a good plant protein bar good. These are the most important factors when considering the quality of any given plant protein bar.

Does It Contain Dairy?

Plant-based and vegan are not always the same when it comes to labels. And protein bar manufacturers love to use protein-heavy dairy products like whey and casein in their bars. Just because the main protein source is plant-based does not mean that all the protein is.

How Much Sugar?

Some plant-based protein bars contain more sugar than your average Krispy Kreme donut. The sugar to serving ratio can be so high that it can mess with your blood sugar levels and even cause weight gain.

Even natural sugars and sweeteners like maple syrup, agave nectar, and dates can lead to unhealthy spikes. You want a bar with 10 grams of sugar or less. And you don’t want sweeteners to be listed among the first three ingredients. Save those spaces for healthy proteins and fibers.

Did You Check the Oil?

Added oils, even healthier ones like canola, aren’t sources of healthy fats the way almonds, coconut, flax, hemp, chia, and other whole nuts and seeds are. They lack the benefits of the healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber that these whole food fats contain.

Is It a Superfood Superhero?

Goji berries. Chia seeds. Cacao. Mulberries. Spirulina. Baobab. These superfoods can make a plant protein bar go from a snack to a nutritious superhero. And they taste yummy, too.

How Much Protein and Where Does It Come From?

Unless you’re an athlete training for the next marathon, the current recommendations for daily protein intake are 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. That means a 140-pound individual with an average activity level only needs around 50 grams per day.

Most nutritionists suggest choosing protein bars with 8 to 10 grams of protein for snacking, and 15 to 20 grams if replacing a meal.

And you’ll want to make sure that the protein in your plant protein bar has a complete amino acid profile. The best sources include:

  • Pea protein
  • Chia seeds
  • Sprouted brown rice
  • Spirulina
  • Hemp seeds

Do note that pea protein and chia seeds contain lectins, which are unhealthy for some individuals. Also, you’ll want to avoid heavily processed soy proteins, by the way, as they are a source of GMOs.

How Much Fiber and Where Does It Come From?

You want a bar that has a carb-to-fiber ratio of 4 to 1 or less. Take the total number of carbs on the nutrition label and divide it by the amount of fiber listed. If the total is 4 or under, you’ve found a good bar.

Let’s say a plant protein bar has 6 grams of fiber and the total number of carbs is 20. That’s a ratio of 3.33 to 1, placing that bar squarely in the “good” zone. Maybe …

The “maybe” comes when you consider the source of that fiber. Many bar manufacturers use fake filler fiber sources like tapioca. These fake fibers don’t lower your blood sugar the way natural, healthy fibers. Equally scary is that they are sometimes sourced from China.

The FDA is cracking down on these fake fibers, as they aren’t good for your body. Quest Bars was sued for making false claims about their health benefits, and removed them. But lots of other manufacturers still use them. They come with different labels, including:

  • Tapioca fiber
  • IMO
  • Isomaltooligosaccharide
  • Isomaltose

Another common fiber source to look out for is chicory root fiber, or inulin. While considered safe and healthy in moderate amounts, too much can cause gastric issues like bloating, gas, and stomach upset.

What’s the Order?

A vegan bar can have all the goodness in the world, but if it hasn’t got that goodness in the right amounts, and the right ratios, it won’t do you much good.

Avoid bars with sugar sources listed among the first three ingredients. You want your plant-based proteins and fibers right up there at the top. Then, your healthy fats. Last, your sweeteners and flavorings, like cinnamon or vanilla.

Now that we know what to look for in a good vegan nutrition bar, here’s a preview of the bars we’ll be reviewing and rating today.

Product Ingredients Macros Pros Cons

Misfits Vegan Protein Bars

Misfits Speculoos Bar

  • Plant protein blend
  • Confectionary coating
  • Peanut paste
  • Sunflower lecithin
  • Glycerin
  • Coconut oil
  • Natural flavor
  • Green tea extract
  • Steviol glycosides
  • Total fat 9g
  • Total carbs 16g
  • Proteins 15g
  • Healthy sources of fiber
  • Good carb-to-fiber ratios
  • Variety of flavors to choose from
  • Soy protein isolates in every variety

think! Vegan High Protein Bars

think! Vegan High Protein Bar

  • Protein blend (pea protein, brown rice protein, pumpkin protein)
  • Maltitol syrup
  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Chocolate liquor
  • Sugar
  • Alkalized cocoa
  • Total fat 8g
  • Total carb 28g
  • Protein 13g
  • Healthy plant-based proteins
  • No soy
  • Sweetener is 2nd ingredient
  • Poor carb-to-fiber ratio

Health Warrior Pumpkin/Chia Seed Bars

Health Warrior Dark Chocolate Almond Bar

  • White chia seeds
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Organic cashew butter
  • Rolled oats
  • Organic dark chocolate chips (organic cane sugar, organic cocoa liquor, organic cocoa butter, organic vanilla)
  • Almonds
  • Organic agave syrup
  • Total fat 5g
  • Total carb 17g
  • Protein 3g
  • Healthy, plant-based proteins
  • 2nd ingredient is a sweetener
  • Poor carb-to-fiber ratio
  • Low protein

Fast Bars

Fast Blueberry Acai Bar

  • Pecans
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Almonds
  • Honey
  • Flaxseed
  • Natural flavors
  • Coconut flour
  • Salt
  • Rosemary extract
  • Total fat 17g
  • Total carb 13g
  • Protein 4g
  • Healthy, plant-based proteins
  • Good carb-to-fiber ratio
  • Low protein
  • More sugar than protein

Rise Plant-Based Protein Bars

rise Chocolatey Coconut Bar

  • Creamy organic cashews
  • Organic coconut
  • Pea protein
  • Carob powder
  • Total fat 13g
  • Total carb 25g
  • Protein 15g
  • Healthy, plant-based proteins
  • Poor carb-to-fiber ratio

Orgain Protein Snack Bar

Orgain Protein Snack Bar

  • Orgain organic protein blend
  • Organic tapioca fiber
  • Organic tapioca syrup
  • Organic peanut butter
  • Organic chocolate chunks
  • Sea salt
  • Total fat 6g
  • Total carbs 18g
  • Protein 10g
  • Healthy plant-based proteins
  • Specifically made for snacking
  • Contains IMO
  • Poor carb-to-fiber ratio

Vega Sport Protein Bars

Vega Sport Minty Chocolate Protein bar

  • Brown rice protein
  • Pea protein
  • Tapioca syrup
  • Organic agave syrup
  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Natural flavors
  • Cocoa powder
  • Inulin (from chicory roots)
  • Total fat 11g
  • Total carb 27g
  • Protein 20g
  • Healthy plant-based protein
  • Poor carb-to-fiber ratio
  • 3rd, 4th, and 5th ingredients are sugars

good! Snacks Protein Bar

good! Snacks Blueberry Protein Bar

  • Good greens protein blend
  • Soluble tapioca fiber
  • Cane sugar
  • Tapioca syrup
  • Almond butter
  • Blueberries
  • Natural flavor
  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Total fat 8g
  • Total carb 28g
  • Protein 15g
  • Healthy plant-based proteins
  • Good carb-to-fiber ratio
  • Contains IMO

Zing Protein Bars

Zing Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Bar

  • Almonds
  • Prebiotic tapioca syrup
  • Protein blend
  • Dark chocolate
  • Soluble corn fiber
  • Natural cherry flavor
  • Tart cherries
  • Total fat 12g
  • Total carb 22g
  • Protein 10g
  • Healthy plant-based protein
  • Good carb-to-fiber ratio in some varieties
  • Contains IMO
  • Not all varieties/flavors have a good carb-to-fiber ratio

Dang Protein Bars

Crazy Rich Chocolate dang Bar

  • Almonds
  • Chicory root fiber
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pea protein
  • Chocolate
  • Cocoa butter
  • Coconut
  • Natural flavors
  • Chia seeds
  • Sea salt
  • Total fat 15g
  • Total carb 11g
  • Protein 9g
  • Healthy plant-based protein
  • Good carb-to-fiber ratio
  • Inulin is very good for you in moderation. It’s food for your health gut bacteria

GoMacro Protein Bar

GoMacro Mocha Chocolate Chip Bar

  • Organic brown rice syrup
  • Organic almond butter
  • Organic protein blend
  • Organic puffed brown rice
  • Organic sunflower seed butter
  • Organic chocolate chips
  • Organic cocoa powder
  • Organic coffee
  • Organic coconut sugar
  • Organic natural flavor
  • Total fat 9g
  • Total carb 37g
  • Protein 10g
  • Healthy plant-based protein
  • Poor carb-to-fiber ratio

No Cow Vegan Protein Bars

no cow Sticky Cinnamon Roll Protein Bar

  • Protein blend (brown rice protein, pea protein)
  • Soluble corn fiber
  • Glycerine
  • Almonds
  • Palm oil
  • Natural flavors
  • Butter
  • Cinnamon
  • Total fat 4g
  • Total carb 25g
  • Protein 22g
  • Healthy plant-based protein
  • Good carb-to-fiber ratio
  • Claim to be GMO-free, yet use corn soluble fiber
  • Contain palm oil

ALOHA Organic Plant-Based Protein Bars

ALOHA Caramel Sea Salt Protein Bar

  • Protein blend (brown rice and pumpkin seed protein)
  • Tapioca syrup
  • Almonds
  • Coconut
  • Chocolate chips
  • Total fat 13g
  • Total carb 22g
  • Protein 14g
  • Healthy plant-based proteins
  • Contain IMO

Now, let’s look at each bar in more detail, and give you our reviews and ratings.

Misfits Vegan Protein Bars

Misfits Protein Bars

HFB Rating: 2

Misfits Vegan Protein Bars, on the surface, look like a great choice. They are plant-based, contain less than 1 gram of sugar, and have around 15 grams of protein each. They also have 12 flavors to choose from.

What brings their ratings way down, however, is that every one of those wonderful tasting varieties contains soy protein.

Along with soy, they also all contain tapioca starch. Misfits Vegan Protein Bars may be listed as a healthy snack, but they just aren’t as healthy as they’re made to appear.

Read our in-depth Misfits Protein Bars review to learn more.

think! Vegan High Protein Bars

think! Bar taste test

HFB rating: 2

There are three varieties of plant-based protein bars offered in the think! line. They all have 5 grams of sugar and 13 grams of protein. They are all soy-free.

While think! advertises that they use “no artificial sweeteners” in their protein bars, they sure do use natural ones. And they put a lot of them in each bar. The second-most-important ingredient is a sweetener. Each bar contains maltitol syrup, sugar, and stevia.

Then there’s the carb-to-fiber ratio. For two of the three flavors, their carb-to-fiber ratio is 9 to 1. The other? A whopping 24 to 1.

Read our in-depth Think Bars review to learn more.

Health Warrior Pumpkin/Chia Seed Bars

Health Warrior Chia Bar taste test

HFB rating: 2

What began as a promising, healthy premise somehow took a dark turn into a not-so-healthy place. A bar made with all organic ingredients. Pumpkin seeds and quinoa. No soy. No fake fibers. What could be better?

For starters, how about a bar that didn’t include honey as its second ingredient, containing as many grams of sugar as it does protein? Another question: could we get a bar with a carb-to-fiber ratio of less than 5 to 1?

So, what about Health Warrior’s Chia Seed Protein Bars?

They do contain only 3 grams of sugar, but sugar is still the second-highest ingredient. And it’s still equal to the amount of protein in each bar. They have chicory root fiber in them as well.

A sad end to such a promising beginning.

Fast Bars

Fast Bar taste test

HFB rating: 2.5

The Fast Bar is another vegan bar that looks good at first glance but then pales under closer scrutiny.

First and most importantly, they contain all healthy plant-based protein, and everyone raves about how tasty they are. Fast Bars have a good fiber to carb ratio, with most of them coming in at around 2 to 1.

Then you find out that they contain more grams of sugar than protein. For all their good taste, they don’t pack much in the way of good sense.

Rise Plant-Based Protein Bars

Rise bars

HFB rating: 3

The Rise Plant-based Protein Bars seem to have it all:

  • Only 5 ingredients
  • Healthy sources of protein and fiber
  • Some organic ingredients
  • A nut-free variety

But then you look more closely at the nutrition labels and see:

  • Sweetener is 3rd on the list
  • 12 to 14 grams of sugar
  • A carb-to-fiber ratio of 6 to 1, or 11 to 1, or worst yet, 23 to 1

We gave it a rating of 3 since it does have healthy proteins and fiber. We just couldn’t go higher because of the carb-to-fiber ratios.

Read our in-depth Rise Bars review to learn more.

Orgain Protein Snack Bar

Orgain Protein Bar

HFB rating: 3

Orgain’s plant-based protein snack bars live up to their name in the “snack” department. They are specifically made for snacking purposes, with only 150 calories and 10 grams of protein. Unfortunately, not all small packages contain good things.

Orgain bars contain that fake fiber, IMO. And they have carb-to-fiber ratios of 8 to 1 to 19 to 1. Their sugar content is typically right around half their quantity of protein too.

While they have six varieties to choose from and all get rave reviews for how they taste, whether or not they are a good choice for a healthy snack depends on how you define “healthy.”

Read our in-depth Orgain Protein Bars review to learn more.

Vega Sport Protein Bars

Vega Protein Bars

HFB rating: 3

Vega only offers two varieties of their “post-workout” Sport Protein Bars. And maybe it’s a good thing they do.

Both varieties have carb-to-fiber ratios of 8 or 9 to 1 and contain nearly two-thirds the amount of sugar as they do protein, weighing in at a hefty 14 grams (almost as much as a snickers!)

We’re not sure what type of athlete would want to consume that much sugar, albeit natural sugars, after every workout.

Read our in-depth Vega Bars review to learn more.

good! Snacks Protein Bars

good! snacks Bar

HFB rating: 3

good! Snacks Protein Bars have some good stuff going for them. They each contain 15 grams of non-soy, plant-based protein (fava beans and brown rice), and you have six varieties to choose from. Their carb-to-fiber ratio is around 2 to 1. And they are all very tasty.

And that’s where the good stuff ends. The fiber good! uses is our non-friend, tapioca starch. The sugar quantities are equivalent to two-thirds the amount of protein in them.

They may be good tasting. Good for you? We’ll let you decide.

Read our in-depth Good! Snacks Bars review to learn more.

Zing Vegan Protein Bars

testing zing plant bar

HFB rating: 3

The Zing Protein Bar line has one of the most, if not the most, varieties of all the vegan bars we’ve reviewed. One has to be careful, though, when selecting your Zing snack bar. Not all Zing Protein Bars are plant-based/vegan. Some contain whey, a dairy protein.

Most of the plant-based bars have decent carb-to-fiber ratios, but again, not all. Read your labels.

Read our in-depth Zing Bars review to learn more.

Dang Protein Bars

Dang Bar

HBF rating: 3.5

The Dang line of vegan protein bars is the first that we believe deserves a rating higher than 3 out of 5. They offer six flavor varieties and the sugar quantities are very low. Dang bars are full of nuts and seeds and other good, wholesome natural ingredients. And their carb-to-fiber ratio is superb.

Until you find out that the fiber is once again inulin and that it’s the second ingredient on all the nutrition labels, right after almonds. If you are one of those for whom inulin causes gastric issues, Dang bars are not for you.

Read our in-depth Dang Bars review to learn more.

GoMacro Bars

GoMacro protein bar taste test

HBF rating: 3.5

Another bar that, on the surface, seems nearly perfect. No soy. GMO-free. No fake filler fiber. Decent sugar content. Organic. Gluten-free. Kosher. Vegan. Thirteen yummy varieties, with a few flavor combinations you won’t find in other bars.

A deeper dive, however, reveals nutritional labels with carb-to-fiber ratios of 12 to 1, 17 to 1, and even 18 to 1. Even if you aren’t trying to reach the keto ideal of 4 to 1, and are content with the standard 5 to 1 ratio, these bars are still way off the mark.

Read our in-depth GoMacro Bars review to learn more.

No Cow Vegan Protein Bars

Remy’s taste test No Cow Bar

HFB rating: 3.5

Here’s another bar that seems to be nearly perfect. Vegan. Soy-free. Gluten-free. Super low sugar content. Right on the nose carb-to-fiber ratios. 20 to 22 grams of protein, perfect for a meal replacement bar. Healthy sources of protein.

And yet …

They claim this bar to be non-GMO verified, and then list soluble corn fiber as their fiber source. There’s nothing really wrong with corn fiber. It’s certainly better than IMO or inulin. Until you remember that more than 85% of the world’s corn supply is GMO. Note, the world’s supply, not just the US.

And then there’s the oil. Every bar has at least one type of added oil. So much for perfection.

These bars also have an insane amount of fiber at 17g. Looking for a stomach ache? Look no further than No Cow bars.

Read our in-depth No Cow Bars review to learn more.

ALOHA Plant-based Protein Bars

ALOHA bar taste test

HFB rating: 3.5

And here we are again, with a near-perfect protein bar. ALOHA Plant-Based Protein Bars appear to have it all, too. Certified organic. Gluten-free. Soy-free. Low-sugar. Great carb-to-fiber ratios.

Raving customer reviews for taste and value. A wide variety of flavors to choose from, and again, a few that aren’t your run-of-the-mill recipes. It’s almost too good to be true, right? Because they are. Read a nutrition label and you’ll find our old friend IMO in every bar.

Fake filler fiber for a snack, anyone?

Human Food Bar Is the Ideal VEgan Protein Bar

A healthy protein bar that food science approves

HFB rating: 5

It should come as no surprise that our own plant-based protein bar would receive our highest rating. After all, we designed it after finding fault with all the other bars on the market.

So yes, we’re biased. But just because we’re biased does’t make us wrong.

Our Human Food Bar offers 10 grams of healthy hemp protein. We keep the sugar content low by using monk fruit and allulose to sweeten our bars. We’ve made sure they contain a variety of fibers, including prebiotic fiber and resistant starch, to make them as healthy as possible.

The Human Food Bar is packed with great taste and good nutrition. From healthy fats like coconut and almonds, to superfoods like baobab and green banana flour, we’ve done our level best to offer you the most beneficial, healthy, natural, plant-based protein bar on the market.

Check them out and make them a part of your daily, healthy lifestyle.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why are the ingredient ratios so important?

Ratios aren’t important if you just want a healthy snack choice. If you’re following a keto lifestyle, or are actively engaged in weight loss, those ratios become vital to your success or failure. Ingredient ratios determine if an item is truly ketogenic and can help with your weight loss goals.

What’s so bad about soy protein isolate?

While high in plant-based protein, soy protein isolate also contains phytates, which reduce mineral absorption.

What’s so special about baobab and green banana flour?

You can read about baobab in one of our helpful blog articles. And here’s an article all about green banana flour, too.

Founder
Remy is the founder of Human Food Bar. A health and wellness enthusiast based in Berkeley, California with a deep interest in dietary nutrition, he's well versed in the Plant Paradox, Keto, Paleo and Vegan diets. He has a borderline obsession with nutrition bars that eventually gave birth to the Human Food Bar. In his free time he likes to blog, cook, mixologize, garden and mountain bike.
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Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Nutritional Synergy
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Kathy is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Master of Science degree from Michigan State University in Human Nutrition. She's been a Registered Dietitian for 32 years serving in all capacities of my profession from clinical nutrition to public health and education. She's passionate about helping people change their lives for the better using medical nutrition therapy and in the art and practice of writing about all aspects of functional and integrative nutrition.
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Founder
Remy is the founder of Human Food Bar. A health and wellness enthusiast based in Berkeley, California with a deep interest in dietary nutrition, he's well versed in the Plant Paradox, Keto, Paleo and Vegan diets. He has a borderline obsession with nutrition bars that eventually gave birth to the Human Food Bar. In his free time he likes to blog, cook, mixologize, garden and mountain bike.

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