If you're trying to bolster your workout but don't want to consume any animal products, there are still protein bars or powders that cater to a vegan lifestyle. Protein bars especially can be a handy addition to your day, as they satisfy the physical urge to snack and keep your body nourished.
We've conducted hours of research to curate a list of the 10 best vegan protein bars on the market this year. Our favorite is Vega's Sport Protein Bar, which packs a generous amount of protein and contains BCAAs to help muscle recovery. If you need some extra help in deciding which product to buy, take a look at our buying guide. It was reviewed by a registered dietitian, and it's full of helpful tips for you.
Rachel Binkley is a registered dietitian who helps individuals develop healthy habits that fit into their lifestyle. She recommends adequate intakes of all micronutrients to help prevent deficiency as well as chronic conditions that may arise. You can keep up with her recipes, lifestyle, and more on Instagram or her blog, S'more Satisfaction.
mybest US' editing team consists of experienced members who have backgrounds in writing, editing, translation, and more. We are dedicated to researching what makes a product or service the best to users in the US in order to create top-quality articles. From skincare, to kitchen appliances, and to DIY supplies, our mission is to find the best ones for you.
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Table of Contents
There are several determinants when it comes to choosing the right vegan protein bar, some of which include the alternative protein source, the balance of macronutrients, price, and total calories.
Most protein products are sourced from whey, which is a very effective for protein production but is unfortunately sourced from cows. However, there are many plant-based proteins including pea, hemp, pumpkin seeds, brown rice, and soy. These sources are all backed by a raft of scientific studies and are safe and effective.
One of the most popular plant-based proteins is soy protein. It's rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). Many sports companies claim that these amino acids will help to build muscle, but studies have proven this claim to be unwarranted.
Still, BCAAs will help to reduce muscle soreness if consumed after a workout, and soy contains a generous amount of protein. About 35 percent of the calories derived from soybean products are protein. For reference, most meats have a protein content of about 23 percent per serving.
Pea protein is another great vegan protein source. The protein content for a serving of peas is between 23 and 30 percent. Also, pea protein is a rich source of iron, which is well-known to improve muscle mass and aid in weight loss.
Another common plant-based protein is hemp, which derives about 24 percent of its calories from crude protein. Unlike most vegan protein sources, hemp is a complete protein. That means that it contains all nine essential amino acids that the human body must obtain from food. Hemp has an earthy flavor and is also rich in fiber, fats, and minerals like magnesium, iron, and calcium.
You'll find that most vegan protein bars are made from a blend of different plant-based proteins. This is because some vegan protein sources like pea and soy don't contain each of the nine essential amino acids. To ensure your body is receiving the right balance of nutrients, try aiming for a hemp-based bar, or for a bar with a mix of different proteins.
When purchasing a vegan protein bar, it's important to decide how much protein you would need. On average, an adult should consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
But if you're aiming to increase your muscle mass, it's recommended that you eat about 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of your bodyweight.
If you want to lose weight, you should consume from 25 to 30 percent of your total daily calories. Studies have shown that consuming that amount of protein will boost metabolism and help you lose weight.
Many vegan protein bars boast a high amount of protein. However, when looking at the overall macronutrient breakdown, you will notice that they also contain a high amount of carbohydrates and fats. Carbohydrates and fats are not necessarily bad for us, but you may want to consider where these macronutrients are coming from.
Plant-based protein bars have lots of complex carbohydrates due to the plants' fibers and other natural nutrients. You should consider bars with a high fiber content as well since fiber not only enhances your digestive health but also keeps you feeling full for a long time.
However, processed carbs such as sugar may be included in a protein bar to make it taste better. This is normally fine, but if you have dietary restrictions caused by conditions like diabetes, you may want to keep an eye on the sugar content of your protein bar.
We recommend aiming for a sugar content of six to eight grams per protein bar. If this isn't sweet enough for you, it may be a good idea to look into protein bars with artificial sweeteners such as stevia. These will keep things sweet while bringing down the sugar count in your bar, but be aware that artificial sweeteners are highly processed and may leave an unpleasant aftertaste.
Complex carbohydrates are awesome and tend to have more fiber than simple carbohydrates. You will absolutely need some form of carbohydrates if you are using your bar as a pre- or post-workout snack.
Simple carbohydrates are helpful when you need quick energy, like with cardio. Complex carbohydrates provide energy more gradually, keeping you full longer. It is important to be aware of how much fiber is in your bars. Increasing fiber gradually and drinking adequate water can prevent GI discomfort.
Protein bars often have nutrient-filled fatty ingredients like flaxseeds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. These generally fall under the category of saturated fats, which are said to be the healthier type of fat.
Some unsaturated fats that can be found in vegan protein bars include coconut oil and palm oil. If you're worried about your cholesterol, you may want to avoid higher concentrations of these unsaturated fats.
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Vega's Sport Protein Bars contain ample amounts of protein and carbs to boost your workout. They're available in mint chocolate and peanut butter flavors, both of which contain tart cherry extract to aid in muscle and energy recovery. These bars can be used after a casual workout, but they're also certified to be free of substances that would ban them from athletic competitions.
Some reviewers reported receiving expired products when they ordered from Amazon. However, many vegans were thrilled to have such a tasty option for their post-workout snack. Other reviewers added that the bars offer a quick energy boost due to how caloric they are, and make for great meal replacements. Some reviewers have even said the bars tasted like Girl Scout Thin Mints!
This variety pack offers three flavors such as peanut butter chip, almond butter chip, and chocolate sea salt. Each bar contains only three grams of net carbs while providing you with 12 grams of protein.
The brand recently issued a new recipe, which some reviewers have complained tastes bland. Still, most have confirmed that the bars satisfy their sweet tooth and are a great on-the-go snack. Many keto dieters especially were thrilled to have such a wide variety of flavors to enjoy, adding that the nutritional profile suited them due to its low sugar content.
With only four ingredients, Rise's bars are great options if you're worried about allergens or food additives. These handcrafted protein bars use only cashews, coconut nectar, pea protein isolate, and lemon extract to add a healthy boost to your day.
A few buyers don't like the flavor and complained that the bars were too caloric. Still, these bars are popular for their clean, minimal ingredients and zingy, fulfilling flavor. Some reviewers were happy that the bars don't contain major allergens such as gluten, yeast, and peanuts.
Garden of Life's protein bars have a dense protein content while maintaining a moderately low amount of sugar. Each ingredient is certified to be organic by the USDA, and the bars come in four chocolate-based flavors. Their high protein and calorie count make the bars a great choice for sports or for meal replacements.
Some who tried the bars recently complained that the recent recipe change made the texture unpleasantly dry. Still, the bars are popular among those who perform high-energy sports like running or hiking. These reviewers say that they enjoy the texture and taste, as well as the energy boost the bars give. Others simply use the bars as a satisfying snack or meal supplement.
If you're looking for a protein bar that isn't overpoweringly sweet, Aloha's Almond Crunch Protein Bars contain a nice balance of protein and healthy, nut-based fats. The company also pursues ethical standards and has been certified as a B Corporation for its policies. These bars come in a variety of sweeter flavors if you still crave more sugar, and all ingredients are completely organic.
However, the bars did go through a recent recipe change to reduce sugar content, and quite a few reviewers find the new flavor to be too bland. Still, many reviewers pursuing a health-based protein bar enjoyed the milder flavor. They added that the texture was soft as if the bar had been freshly-baked and that the fiber and protein content kept them satisfied for a good while.
Orgain's certified-organic vegan bar sources its bar from various plant-based proteins and contains vegan chocolate chips for an extra boost of flavor. It's available in six different flavors that include s'mores and coconut! These bars contain 10 grams of protein each and are also smaller than other brands. Still, they're a great option for a healthy vegan snack.
Several reviewers complained that the bars were reformulated lately and now have less fiber and a softer, overly-sticky texture. However, most were thrilled to have a soy-free, vegan option that's also organic. Some added that they enjoyed the bars as an on-the-go snack, as the flavor really satisfied their sweet tooth.
Good's Birthday Protein Bar is designed to offer a sweet, protein-packed treat. While the bars have high sugar content, they're also high in dietary fiber.
Some who tried these bars found them to be overly sweet. However, most reviewers loved the bars' soft, moist texture and rich flavor. They added that it was nice to have a high-protein bar without the chalky aftertaste or dry texture.
If you're looking for a low-fat option to snack on after a workout or between meals, No Cow's protein bars are packed with 20 grams of plant-based fiber with only seven grams of fat. These bars contain natural sweeteners like monk fruit and stevia leaves, meaning their sugar calories are low. Those with diabetes or other sugar-related health issues can feel safe snacking on No Cow bars.
Some people complained that the texture was dry and that the stevia left an unpleasant aftertaste. However, these bars are popular in the dairy-free and vegan communities for their excellent macronutrient balance. Reviewers said the bars were best after being refrigerated and that the high fiber and protein contents kept them satisfied between meals.
Macrobars are created by a mother-daughter team in California. Each bar is created using only organic ingredients, and the ingredients themselves are designed to be safe for those with IBS or other digestive issues. The bars are created in factories run by solar and wind energy, and all plants used to make the products are sourced sustainably.
Quite a few buyers had issues with expiration dates when buying from Amazon, so we've included a second site to buy the bars from. However, most reviewers were thrilled with the taste and texture of the bars, saying that they were flavorful but not overly sweet. They loved the clean, sustainable ingredients and found the bars were perfect for snacking on between meals.
If you want to try some vegan protein bars that aren't chocolate or peanut butter, One Plant Protein Bars come in an assortment of unique flavors including carrot cake. These bars have only one gram of sugar and source their protein calories from brown rice, peas, and almonds. These bars are covered in sweet icing that mimics the delicious topping of a carrot cake!
Some reviewers found that the bars were too grainy in texture for their liking and others didn't think the flavor was bold enough. Still, many who tried One Plant bars liked the unique flavors and the frosted coatings, adding that it felt like they were eating candy bars without all the added sugar. Others said that despite the vegan recipe, the bars didn't have any strange aftertaste.
If you want to make your own vegan protein bars, we have an easy recipe for you! This simple recipe, courtesy of Desserts With Benefits, doesn't require baking and only needs seven ingredients. So, let's get cooking!
Here are some commonly asked questions about vegan protein bars and the ingredients you can find in them.
The best source of protein will vary depending on your diet and lifestyle requirements. If you're a practicing vegetarian or vegan, plant-based protein will fit your needs, and in fact, will be your only choice. However, if you're just looking into plant-based or vegan protein bars for health reasons, here are some points to consider.
Plant-based protein will almost always contain fewer calories per serving than animal protein. Furthermore, plant-based products contain lots of fiber, which will help keep you feeling full for longer amounts of time. You may feel fewer urges to snack on a plant-based diet or after eating a plant-based protein bar.
However, plant-based proteins are rarely complete in terms of their amino acids. Animal protein always contains all nine essential amino acids, while many vegan-friendly protein sources are missing one or more. You may have to supplement certain nutrients when consuming plant-based proteins.
Still, plant-based protein can be a better choice for those suffering from health issues such as cardiovascular diseases or type two diabetes. They also contain just as many calories of protein per serving than animal-based products, and sometimes even more.
Plant based proteins are great because they help regulate cholesterol as well as reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is most important that you are consuming adequate protein in your diet.
Plant based proteins tend to be lower in fat, however it does take more planning and a larger quantity of food to consume the same amount of protein. Even if you do eat animal based proteins, I encourage incorporating some plant based proteins, as they bring added nutrients and are typically less expensive.
According to a study run by the National Kidney Foundation, plant protein may actually be better for your kidneys than animal protein. Previous studies have also shown that meat-based proteins create more phosphorous in the blood and intestines. While healthy kidneys function to remove excess phosphorous from your body, too much of it can cause kidney damage.
This isn't to say that meat will damage your kidneys, but if you suffer from kidney-related health issues, plant-based proteins may be a better option for you.
Vegan protein sources can be a concern for those with acute or chronic kidney problems, but they don't have to be excluded from the diet. Plant based proteins tend to be higher in phosphorus and potassium. Ready-to-eat plant based proteins may also be higher in sodium.
Individuals with chronic kidney disease do not want to overwhelm their kidneys with potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium or protein. It can cause additional stress. It all depends on the level of kidney function and treatment plan. Always speak with your doctor and a dietitian before making significant changes to your diet.
Soybeans contain isoflavones, which are hormone-like compounds created by plants. These compounds are similar to estrogen, and as such, it's commonly believed that soybeans can create hormonal issues in male consumers.
However, several scientific studies can confirm that isoflavones don't impact the hormonal balance of a male's body. Isoflavones don't overwhelm male testosterone levels, nor do the estrogen-like compounds "feminize" males who consume large amounts of soy.
Too much of anything can be a problem. Isoflavone is the biologically active component of soy. This does not significantly affect estrogen or testosterone levels.
Soy can potentially lower cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease. The FDA recommends 25 grams of soy per day. It is helpful to get your protein from a variety of sources.
If you're looking for more healthy vegan snacks or protein shakes to supplement your workout, check out our recommended articles below.
Want to see more choices for protein bars? Amazon has a lot to recommend; but keep in mind not all of these are vegan.
The descriptions of each product are referenced from content available on manufacturer, brand, and e-commerce sites.
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