Are you going to eat Protein Bars? Great, me too. I follow a majority whole foods plant based diet but protein bars still carve out a niche. Convenience, fallback whilst travelling, sometimes nutritious, sometimes delicious! If you care about more than just the flavour which are the best gluten free & vegan protein bars though? To answer that read this Protein Bar Nutrition Comparison covering 52 gluten free & vegan protein bars from 15 different brands on sale in the UK.
This article dives into the devil of detail in the form of numbers, glorious numbers. If instead you just want recommendations for what to buy jump over to the companion post Best Gluten Free & Vegan Protein Bars
Protein Bar Nutrition Comparison Criteria
To be included in this Protein Bar Nutrition Comparison bars needed to meet three simple criteria
- Gluten Free & Dairy Free
- Minimum of 15 grams protein per 100 grams
- On sale in the UK
Specifically excluded are:
- Bars using any kind of oats as an ingredient
- Bars with “May Contain” type warnings for gluten with one exception
- Bars with long lists of bizarre ingredients with one partial exception
Rules need exceptions of course. Exception to the Exclusion rule #2 is Primal Pantry. Primal Pantry apply a May Contain warning for gluten. The reason for this is well explained within their Primal Pantry FAQ page. May Contain labels are a mess. They may or may not give useful information! I treat them as a prompt to ask the producer about the risk if I am interested in the product. As a very cautious coeliac I feel comfortable eating Primal Pantry Bars. Please do make your own decision.
Partial exception to Exclusion rule #3 Sunwarrior Sol Good. They get a pass for using my favourite non caloric sweetener, erythritol. Learn about erythritol.
Macro Nutrient Comparison
For full detail click the link to open a Google Docs Protein Bar Nutrition Comparison sheet. The comparison within covers all of the following.
- Calories and Protein per Bar
- Macros per 100 grams to enable direct like for like comparisons
- Per Bar and per 100 gram prices based on purchases of the normally available deals
- Ingredient lists, allergens and May Contain label information
Context and Caveats
This Protein Bar Nutrition Comparison was last updated in April 2019. All information should be accurate to that date but is provided for comparison and entertainment only! Please always check and confirm what is important to you before buying or eating.
- There is a lot of variation within the Brand ranges
- Values are rounded for easier reading
- Prices include frequently available bulk buy and discount deals
- ‘Gluten-Free Label’ and ‘Dairy Free Label’ indicates whether these are specifically claimed on the packaging
- Allergens and May Contain labels are copied direct from packaging as of April 2019
- All Kind Bars are included but of these only 3 make the 15 gram protein threshold
Highest & Lowest Protein (April 2019)
Protein quantity is higher for bars that actually market themselves as Protein Bar. The bottom of the table 9 Barsdo not call themselves Protein Bars. Protein is also higher within bars using one or more protein powders – usually rice, pea or soy – rather than relying on their whole food ingredients alone.
Many Protein Bars, including the excellent Pulsin’ Bars, contain just over 20 grams protein per 100 grams. In contrast to protein powders, animal foods and some less whole food based bars all the bars included have significant carbohydrate and fat content.
Highest & Lowest Sugar (April 2019)
This table presents the bars highest and lowest in sugars together with carbohydrate and fibre values. Higher carbs and even high sugar is not necessarily bad. You might actually want a bar that offers both protein and carbs. You might even want a bar that is relatively high in sugars and lower in fibre, for example if you want a more rapid source of energy. If you are just looking for a general purpose high protein snack I would go for low sugar and high fibre.
Sunwarrior sure does look great at the top of that table. However be cautious about the basic numbers, I would favour the Naturya Bar within the top 5. Why? Lets take a look at the ingredients. The Naturya Bar features only real food ingredients you can see, pronounce and may have in your kitchen cupboard. Okay, I concede, maybe a particularly exotic kitchen cupboard! I do have everything except the agave fibre!
Brand Overview (April 2019)
Prices shown are those available via bulk buys and in some cases frequently available discounts. 9Bars are a clear value winner but there are plenty of reasons to choose other bars too. I personally go for a combination of flavour, low sugar, high fibre, a mix of different proteins and ideally no emulsifiers. Access the Protein Bar Nutrition Comparison sheet to interrogate the detail and find your favourites.
The averages shown for the brands are only for those bars that meet the 15 gram protein criteria. Primal Pantry, Eat Natural and Kind Bars all have bars which do not meet this criteria and those bars are not included.
Best Gluten Free Vegan Protein Bars
Instead of numbers you may like to read opinions of which are the best bars. Best tasting. Most nutritious. Great value. For that and more jump over to Best Gluten Free & Vegan Protein Bars
Before you go, what did I miss? What is your favourite? If you can name another bar that fit the criteria I will taste test it and gift you Amazon credit for the price of 3 of them. Promise! If you spot an error please tell me and I will correct it. Is there some analysis you would like to see added to the comparison? Tell me and I will probably add it.