Cleanest Protein Bars: Top Picks

April 9, 2024
Cleanest Protein Bars: Top Picks

Let's be honest. 

We've all picked up a protein bar, squinted at the label, and thought, “What the heck is all this stuff?” 


Polydextrose? Xylitol?

Partially Defatted Peanut Flour?

… do you mean peanut flour?

Sometimes I feel like I need a PhD in food science and chemistry just to make sense of ingredient lists. I often find myself stuck in the snack aisle, reading through nutrition labels and googling whether maltodextrin is safe or not. (Or why Red 3 is banned in Europe but not in the US.)

Which is why I tried to find the cleanest protein bars with the most pronounce-able ingredients.

But first of all…

What Makes a Protein Bar “Clean”?

When it comes to Clean Protein Bars, the bar is set high – pun intended. These bars not only satisfy your taste buds but also keep your health in check. But what exactly makes a protein bar clean? Let’s break it down:

  1. Simple Ingredients: Clean Protein Bars are made with a short list of whole, real ingredients. Think nuts, seeds, and natural sweeteners like dates or maple syrup.
  2. No Artificial Additives: Say goodbye to chemicals and additives. Clean bars steer clear of artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners.
  3. Adequate Protein Content: True to their name, these bars pack a protein punch. Look for bars with at least 10-20g of protein to keep you fueled and satisfied.

But it’s not just what’s in Clean Protein Bars that matters; it's also what’s not. Here are a few things you won’t find in a clean bar:

  • Excessive Sugar: Clean bars keep sugar in check, opting for natural sources like fruits or minimal amounts of natural sweeteners.
  • Artificial Preservatives: No need for funky preservatives here. Clean bars keep it fresh with natural ingredients and smart packaging.
  • Junk Fillers: Clean bars skip the fillers and focus on nutrient-dense ingredients to give you quality energy.

Put simply, the cleanest protein bars are made with high-quality, natural ingredients. That much is pretty obvious.  

They should also have a short and simple ingredient list — without artificial additives, preservatives, colors, flavorings, bulking agents, anti-caking agents, emulsifiers, humectants, or stabilizers. 

Phew! That was a mouthful. 

Hope I didn’t miss anything… but you never know.

Ingredients Matter

When it comes to Clean Protein Bars, the ingredient list is your new bestfriend. You want to see a lineup that's cleaner than a whistle and tastier than a double chocolate fudge sundae on a Sunday afternoon.

So, what makes these bars the superheroes of snacks? Let's spill the (clean) beans:

In compiling my list of the cleanest protein bars, I had some pretty simple but important criteria… the most important being on whole food ingredients, which are ingredients you can actually pronounce and should recognize! Think nuts, seeds, coconut oil, and superfoods like chia and flax seeds for that extra health boost.

The best and cleanest protein bars should also contain a good balance of macronutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. They should be an excellent source of energy and help support muscle recovery after workouts. I mean that's kind of the point of a protein bar, isn’t it?

Some of my top picks also include additional superfood ingredients with functional health benefits like MCT Oil, adaptogenic mushrooms, and specific seeds and prebiotic fiber for appetite control and GLP-1 production. But that’s entirely optional, and is usually reserved for the best of the best.

You’ll see that many of the protein bars on this list don’t have any unique superfood ingredients or functional health benefits, but that’s a reason to exclude them from my list of the cleanest bars on the market.

When it comes to clean protein bars, taste is just as important as nutrition. I rolled up my sleeves (and opened our taste buds) to put some of the top contenders to the test. The bars listed below aren't just snacks; they're a powerful fuel source that satisfies cravings while keeping it pure.

From elevating your energy levels naturally to passing the ultimate taste test, my top choices for clean protein bars deliver on all fronts.

Remember, what's inside counts, and these bars are packed with goodness that your body will thank you for.

Okay let’s go from best to worst.

1. LyfeFuel Essentials Bar

The best bar on this list? I think so.

LyfeFuel might be the cleanest bar on this solely because of their macros, ingredients, and the fact that I’ve spoken to their founder Chris Manderino (which I covered in this post).

With 12 grams of plant based protein, 11 grams of fiber, and only 9 grams of net carbs, this bar is definitely gonna fill you up. This is the most fiber you’ll find in any protein bar... that's not on this list. Plus superfoods?


“For the same reasons we never set out to create basic protein shakes (a complete waste of time and money IMO), just creating a protein bar seemed too basic.”
— Chris Manderino

So, instead of a basic protein bar, Chris created a protein bar with a little something extra in ‘em. 

For example, his Essentials Bars have: 

  • MCT Oil, 
  • Ginger and Turmeric / Cacao and Maca
  • AimSlim (a seed extract which helps curb hunger), and 
  • An organic fruit and vegetable blend with 25% of your daily RDA of vitamins and minerals.

You won’t find this anywhere else because Chris created his own supply chain to get these niche ingredients to his manufacturer. (You can read more here.)

Plus he made sure to avoid all the crappy ingredients I talk about in the detailed product reviews. No artificial ingredients, no preservatives, no fillers. 

Just real whole foods — which is why these bars only last 6 months.

✅ - Vegan

✅ - Excellent Source of Fiber

✅ - High Protein (12g per bar)

✅ - Low in Net Carbs (9g Net Carbs)

✅ - Grain-Free + Gluten-Free

✅ - Soy-Free

✅ - Additional Vitamins & Minerals

✅ - Functional Superfoods

✅ - Made from 100% Real Whole Foods

2. BodyHealth

BodyHealth's bar is pretty similar to LyfeFuel's but it has only 9g of protein.

The BodyHealth Perfect Amino bar also has none of the bad stuff you’d find in other protein bars. No artificial ingredients, no preservatives, no fillers. 

Actually, wait.

Sunflower Tocopherol is a preservative. And you’ll see it at the bottom of the ingredient list.

But everything else looks clean.

And even BodyHealth boasts superfoods in the form of:

  • Amino Acids
  • MCT Oil
  • Coffee and
  • Organic fruit and vegetable blend.

But BodyHealth doesn't mention vitamins or minerals anywhere on their product page, which leads me to believe that this fruit and vegetable mix might just be for show. 

Saying “support your immune system with organic superfoods” without having enough of it to mention in your nutrition facts isn’t a great look. 

They also have pretty low amounts of protein with just 9 grams in their bar. But they have a lot of fiber (11 grams) and low net carbs.

✅ - Vegan

✅ - Soy-Free

✅ - Made from 100% Real Whole Foods

✅ - Functional Superfoods

✅ - Low in Net Carbs (8g Net Carbs per bar)

❌ - High Protein (9g per bar)

❌ - Additional Vitamins & Minerals

❌ - Grain-Free + Gluten-Free

3. Tusol

Super clean ingredient list but only 9g of protein. Also 12g of net carbs.

Tusol is another clean “superfood” protein bar you can try. Again, no artificial ingredients, no preservatives, no fillers.

The superfoods here are: 

  • Chaga Mushroom and Goji Berries
  • Reishi Mushroom and Lucuma Fruit Powder
  • Maqui berry and Blueberry

Each of these sets of superfoods are found in their three flavors.

This one just like BodyHealth’s bar has only 9 grams of protein. But it’s also on the higher side of carbs with 20 grams of carbs and 12 grams of net carbs.

If you’re looking for a clean low carb protein bar, then this isn’t the best option.

✅ - Vegan

✅ - Soy-Free

✅ - Made from 100% Real Whole Foods

✅ - Functional Superfoods

❌ - High Protein (9g per bar)

❌ - Additional Vitamins & Minerals

❌ - Low in Net Carbs (12g Net Carbs per bar)

❌ - Grain-Free + Gluten-Free

4. Aloha Bar

14g of protein is great. But some flavors have cheap ingredients like palm oil.

Aloha has the highest protein out of the list with 14 grams of protein. 

Plus they have a lot of fiber, around 8-10 grams. But they still end up with 16 grams of net carbs. So, they might not be the best option if you want a low carb bar.

On top of that some of their bars like Chocolate Mint uses sunflower butter and oil, and their peppermint candy flavor even has palm oil in it. As long as you avoid those flavors, you should be fine.

But they’re still pretty clean compared to everything else on the market.

✅ - Vegan

✅ - Soy-Free

✅ - High Protein (14g per bar)

✅ - Made from 100% Real Whole Foods

❌ - Additional Vitamins & Minerals

❌ - Low in Net Carbs (16g Net Carbs per bar)

❌ - Grain-Free + Gluten-Free

❌ - Functional Superfoods

5. Truvani

7g of protein is too little. But the ingredients are squeaky clean.

Truvani might be the simplest clean protein bar on this list. Why? Because some of their flavors (like the coconut cashew) have as little as 5-6 ingredients.

Just one problem.

Barely any protein.

All their bars have 7 grams of protein, but their coconut cashew has just 5 grams. Yeah, that’s nothing.

Second problem:

All of their bars have over 15 grams of net carbs. The coconut cashew has 22 grams of net carbs, out which 14 grams is just sugar. 

Not the best.

✅ - Vegan

✅ - Soy-Free

✅ - Made from 100% Real Whole Foods

❌ - High Protein (7g per bar)

❌ - Additional Vitamins & Minerals

❌ - Low in Net Carbs (22g Net Carbs per bar)

❌ - Grain-Free + Gluten-Free

❌ - Functional Superfoods

6. Kize

Clean ingredient list but too much sugar 😢

Another protein bar with just 6 ingredients (on average) is Kize. 😢

10 grams of protein is pretty good in a 43 gram bar. But the problem with so few ingredients is you end up with too much sugar and barely any fiber.

All their bars have around 19 grams of carbs and 16-17 grams of net carbs. 

Also they are not vegan if that’s something you want in your bar. Their bars use egg protein or whey protein to hit their 10 gram protein target.

✅ - Made from 100% Real Whole Foods

✅ - Grain-Free + Gluten-Free

✅ - Soy-Free

❌ - Vegan

❌ - High Protein (10g per bar)

❌ - Additional Vitamins & Minerals

❌ - Low in Net Carbs (16g Net Carbs per bar)

❌ - Functional Superfoods


Well, there you have it. My rundown on the cleanest protein bars I could find online. You can’t really go wrong with any of these bars, as long they match your goals. Whether it’s high protein or low carb or something else.

Find what works for you.

I would personally pick LyfeFuel's Essentials Bar mainly because I like Chris. He’s really passionate about his protein bar and he created it for himself. Plus he’s a chill dude.

FAQ - Clean Protein Bars: Top Picks

Q: What makes a protein bar "clean"?

A: A clean protein bar typically contains minimal, whole food ingredients, with no artificial additives, flavors, or sweeteners. It prioritizes natural sources of protein and avoids processed ingredients.

Q: Why are clean protein bars important?

A: Clean protein bars are important because they provide a convenient and healthy snack option for individuals looking to maintain a balanced diet. They offer a source of protein without the added sugars, preservatives, and artificial ingredients commonly found in traditional protein bars.

Q: What should I look for in a clean protein bar?

Before making a final decision, evaluate your pick against the following points: 

  • Ingredients: Look for protein bars that have clean and natural ingredients, such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, and minimal added sugars or artificial additives.

  • Protein Source: Consider the type of protein used in the bar. Opt for bars that use high-quality sources like whey protein isolate or plant-based proteins like pea or hemp.

  • Sugar Content: Check the amount of sugar in the bar. Aim for options with low sugar content or those sweetened with natural alternatives like stevia or monk fruit extract.

  • Fiber Content: Look for protein bars that are also high in fiber to promote digestion and satiety. Choose options with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.

  • Allergens: If you have any food allergies or sensitivities, make sure to check if the protein bar contains any common allergens like gluten, dairy, soy, or nuts.

  • Calorie Count: Consider the calorie content of the protein bar based on your dietary needs and goals. Some bars may be higher in calories than others due to additional ingredients like nuts or nut butter.

  • Taste and texture: While not directly related to cleanliness, it's important to find a protein bar that you enjoy eating. Read reviews or try different brands/flavors until you find one that suits your taste.

Q: Are clean protein bars suitable for everyone?

A: While clean protein bars can be a nutritious option for many people, it's essential to consider individual dietary preferences and restrictions. Some clean protein bars may contain allergens such as nuts or soy, so it's crucial to check the ingredient list for any potential allergens before consumption.

Q: What are some red flags in protein bars?

  • Carrageenan Warning: A common thickening agent that's linked to potential health risks. Considered “possibly carcinogenic” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, it may disrupt normal epithelial function and promote intestinal inflammation.

  • Say No to Sucralose: Commercially known as Splenda, this artificial sweetener alters the beneficial bacteria in your gut, which could lead to poor blood sugar control, inflammatory bowel disease, mood changes, and metabolism disruption.

  • Beware of Maltitol: Despite its lower caloric value and glycemic index, this sugar alcohol is not fully digested by your bodies, often leading to bloating, gas, and diarrhea. 

  • Avoid Processed Soy: While organic, unprocessed soy is nutrient-dense and healthy, processed soy often acts as a filler and may cause adverse reactions in many individuals.

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup Alert: This ingredient, frequently found in candy-like protein bars, is a major driver of inflammation and may lead to obesity, fatty liver, insulin resistance, and diabetes. Plus, it provides no essential nutrients, offering no health benefits.

Q: What are some key ingredients to look for in clean protein bars?

A: Look for protein bars that list whole food ingredients such as nuts, seeds, and natural sweeteners like dates or honey. High-quality protein sources such as whey protein isolate, pea protein, or hemp protein are also desirable. Additionally, fiber-rich ingredients like oats or flax seeds can add nutritional value to the bar.

Q: How do I know if a protein bar is truly "clean"?

A: To determine if a protein bar is clean, carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition label. Look for bars with a short list of recognizable ingredients and minimal added sugars. Avoid bars containing artificial additives, flavors, or sweeteners. Third-party certifications like USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified can also indicate a cleaner product.

Q: Can clean protein bars help with weight loss or muscle gain?

A: Clean protein bars can be a convenient snack option for individuals looking to support their weight loss or muscle gain goals. However, it's essential to consider overall dietary habits and physical activity levels in conjunction with protein bar consumption for optimal results.

Tejesh Reddy

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