9 Best Protein Bars For Women

·7-min read

At times, getting enough protein from your three daily meals can feel like an impossible task, especially if you’re counting macros with a view to building muscle. Some days you’ll need a satisfying snack to fight pre- and post- workout hunger, so why not make it one of our best protein bars for women?

Sure, on-the-go snacks should never replace a healthy balanced diet. But for those moments when you need a boost but don't feel like downing yet another protein shake, these bars deliver on the nutrition front while actually tasting delicious.

Note, the bars in this roundup are all whey-based. If you’re a full-time vegan or you’re just trying to cut back on dairy, check out guide to the best plant-based protein bars.

How much protein do women need?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that the average woman consumes 0.8g of protein per kg of bodyweight per day. If you weigh 60kg, that means getting 48g of protein down you.

But if you’re highly active or training hard in the gym, these protein guidelines might be too low, says Olga Hamilton, Head of Nutrition at NGX. She suggests getting in between 1 and 1.8g of protein per kg of bodyweight per day, depending on your activity levels.

Don’t overdo it, warns Hamilton. “Chronic high protein intake – more than 2g per kilo of bodyweight – can result in all sorts of digestive, renal and vascular issues, and should be avoided.”

Why is protein so important for women?

We all know by now that it’s important to include protein in our diet for muscle growth, strength development, injury prevention and well, our overall health.

“Protein plays a vital role in just about every function of the female body, including tissue and cell repair, hormone production, bone health and immune function,” explains Hamilton.

“It can also help minimise age-related muscle loss, and supports healthy skin, hair and nails,” she adds.

The best protein bars can help us reach our protein goals when life gets hectic (basically always) and thankfully, there are a plethora of vitamin- and mineral-enhanced products on the market designed for what women need.

WH Lab Approved Protein Bars

For the 2022 Women's Health Sports Nutrition Awards, we enlisted a panel of 200 industry experts and fitness fans to test a range of protein bars from some of the buzziest brands out there.

They tried the bars for a month before scoring them on their nutritional value, flavour, texture, ease of use and, crucially, their impact on gym performance. In-depth feedback from testers was shared with our team of in-house experts, who awarded each bar a final score. Our winners below are stamped with the coveted Sports Nutrition Awards logo.

So, without further ado, here are the best protein bars to *add to basket* RN. Happy munching!

1) Best protein bar

Barebells Protein Bar: White Salty Peanut

Per 56g bar: 209kcal, 20g protein, 14g carbohydrates, 9.3g fat

You’ll spot our winner on pretty much every protein bar roundup, and with good reason. This salty peanut delight delivers an impressive 20g of protein and just 1.5g of sugar, and it’s legit delicious. Our testers likened it to an “indulgent” white chocolate Snickers (um, yes please?!) and found it filling, easy to digest and helpful for curbing their sugar cravings – all without an artificially sweet aftertaste.

2) Best innovation

The Protein Works Protein Grazers: Salted Caramel Crunch

Per two biscuits: 220kcal, 11g protein, 23g carbohydrates, 12g fat

Not a bar per se, but these protein-enriched biscuits are a fun alternative. Our testers couldn’t get enough of their buttery caramel taste and satisfyingly crunchy texture, declaring them a refreshing change from your bog-standard protein bar. They’re not the biggest hitter in the protein game, but they’re a mega tasty way to bump up your macros come 3pm and the slow-release carbs will keep you full until dinner.

3) Best availability

Fulfil Vitamin & Protein Bar: Chocolate Salted Caramel

Per 55g bar: 204kcal, 20g protein, 15g carbohydrates, 8.3g fat

Forget scouring the internet to bag your favourite fitness fuel. Found on the shelves of just about every supermarket, Fulfil is certainly fulfilling a need for accessible protein bars. There are 12 temping flavours to choose from, but our panel tried the chocolate salted caramel – think a combo of malty chocolate and chewy caramel for that classic chocolate bar taste. Not just a sweet treat, it’s fortified with vitamins, including B1, B2, B3 and E for an extra health kick.

4) Best for recovery

Foodspring Extra Chocolate Protein Bar: Double Chocolate Cashew

Per 65g bar: 240kcal, 21g protein, 21g carbohydrates, 10g fat

High level athlete or not, this bar is brimming with a mighty 21g of protein plus a decent hit of carbs to help you recover and make gains after a big session. Sure enough, our testers declared it a satisfying post-workout snack and reported a noticeable energy surge after chomping. They also loved the Nutella-esque flavour and chunky nutty consistency. Just one word of warning: the texture is a smidge dry so eat it with a glass of water.

5) Best sweet protein bar

Grenade Protein Bar: Peanut Butter & Jelly

Per 60g bar: 230kcal, 20g protein, 20g carbohydrates, 10g fat

It’s easy to see why Grenade remains a cult favourite among protein bar aficionados. The PB and jelly flavour is high in protein, low in sugar and will keep you going from AM through to PM, according to our trusty testers.

The blend of earthy roasted peanuts, sweet milk chocolate and fruity caramel makes it a must if you’re craving something sweet. Some may find it a tad sickly, but given the exciting array of flavours – hello white chocolate cookie and lemon cheesecake – there's bound to be something for everyone.

6) Best healthy swap for a snickers

Optimum Nutrition Protein Crisp: Fruit & Nut

Per 70g bar: 256kcal, 20g protein, 20g carbohydrates, 9.7g fat

Okay, so nothing can truly imitate a good old Snickers bar, but our testers reckon this is a great healthy alternative thanks to the combo of roasted peanuts, oozing caramel and sweet, sweet chocolate. Flavour aside, it ticks the nutrition box, providing 20g of the muscle-building macro plus a mega 11g of fibre to support a healthy gut.

Our only niggle is the slightly dry texture, but that’s a recurring theme with many protein bars, so just sip some water as you tuck in.

7) Best for endurance fiends

Decathlon High Protein Bar: Chocolate & Nuts

Per 60g bar: 238kcal, 22.2g protein, 23.9g carbohydrates, 7g fat

The packaging might not be super cute but there’s plenty to shout about with this Decathlon bar. Thanks to the high protein, carb and sugar content (14g) it’s one to slip into your pocket ahead of a long run, hike or bike ride. It earned a resounding thumbs up from testers for being tasty, filling and easy on the stomach. Tick, tick, tick.

They gave it bonus points for its non-crumbly texture that holds together for mid-activity snacking.

8) Most filling protein bar

OTE Sports Protein Bar: Peanut Caramel

Per 70g bar: 238kcal, 21.4g protein, 24.2g carbohydrates, 6.9g fat

Peanut caramel is a stacked flavour category, but this OTE bar stands out from the crowd. Not only is it hella tasty (think gooey caramel, nutty chunks and melt-in-the-mouth nougat), but it has also been designed to ensure you get a healthy dose of protein and carbs post-workout.

The dense, nutty texture meant our testers couldn’t get it down in one go, but it's a filling snack that’ll curb your hunger and pep you up.

9) Best low-calorie protein bar

Maxi Nutrition Creamy Core Protein Bar: Peanut Caramel

Per 45g bar: 182kcal, 14g protein, 15g carbohydrates, 9.2g fat

This new release is an ace little sweet treat, coming in at just over 180 calories. It doesn’t skimp on flavour – our testers raved about the taste and texture of its crunchy chocolate peanut coating, soft nougat centre and oozing caramel core – but it contains next to no sugar and zero artificial flavours or colours.

The tempting other flavours include blueberry muffin, strawberry yoghurt and dark chocolate coconut. Drool!

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