9 Refrigerated Protein Bars That Will Make You Rethink Your Go-To Snack
Are Refrigerated Protein Bars Healthy?
If you've walked by the refrigerated convenience section at any health-focused supermarket lately, you've likely noticed a growing number of refrigerated protein bars. One of the pioneering brands, Perfect Bar, is even sold at Costco now—i.e. the trend is fully mainstream.
These protein bars require refrigeration to hold their shape, texture, and flavor, and to avoid spoilage, as they're made with whole-food ingredients and no preservatives. Unlike boxed bars, they usually have an expiration date within a few weeks or months, though most can handle being out of the fridge for up to a week.
So, are these refrigerated protein bars any healthier than the shelf-stable options you're familiar with?
"From a nutrition perspective, refrigeration alone is not a good indicator of a product's healthfulness," says Samantha Cassetty, R.D., director of nutrition at The Healthy Mommy. "The best snacks are low in added sugars and high in wholesome ingredients. If a bar checks most of these boxes, it can be a convenient snack." (Related: Are Protein Bars Really Healthy?)
In addition to being a good source of protein and heart-healthy fats (nuts or nut butter are often the top ingredients), another benefit of some of these refrigerated protein bars is gut-boosting probiotics. A new line called ProBar Live, for example, contains the strain bacillus coagulans GBI-30, which has been well-studied and may help the body better absorb protein, says Cassetty.
That said, some—but not all—of these refrigerated these bars can be high in added sugars, which is why Cassetty suggests avoiding them for everyday snacking. Many are also pretty caloric (think, around 300-ish calories per bar), which would push them into mini-meal territory instead of a snack, she says. (Related: Is It Bad to Eat a Protein Bar Every Day?)
However, they do get high marks in the taste department, and can come in handy when you're going a long stretch in between meals—say, when you're traveling or in back-to-back meetings—or pushing it extra hard at the gym and needing something more substantial to tide you over. All in all, here are nine refrigerated protein bars worth trying.
Hello, lover. The Powerful Peanut and Hazelnut Cacao flavors of Wella Organics bars are great, but the new plant-based options—made with functional ingredients such as chaga, turmeric, moringa, and maca—are seriously delicious and have a soft texture that doesn't break apart. Order a case of Cashew Chai Maca (240 calories per bar with only 6 grams of sugar), and you won't regret it.
The main ingredient in Perfect Bars is nut butter, which makes them extra creamy; each one also contains up to 17 grams of whole-food protein and a combination of 20 superfoods (think organic flax seed oil and kale). They're plain tasty, though high in fat and sugar. Opt for the coconut peanut butter flavor as more of a treat than pre-workout fuel. (Related: Best Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks for Every Workout)
Clio Greek Yogurt Bars
Meet your new favorite dessert. With a different texture than a traditional protein bar, Clio Greek Yogurt Bars taste like chocolate-covered cheesecake in bar form, in delicious flavors like vanilla and limited-edition salted caramel. They're under 150 calories but pack about 8 grams of protein. Just don't try to eat one on the go; the chocolate coating gets a little messy.
A Chicago chef came up with the idea for Phyter Bars, which have organic pureed vegetables and fruits as the main ingredient. Described as "produce in a bar", they last three days out of the fridge but are pretty crumbly on the go. That said, Sweet Potato + Coconut tastes like Thanksgiving in the best way.
Clocking in around 250 calories and 7 grams of satiating fiber per bar, Core Bar refrigerated protein bars are made with organic oats, nuts, dates and chia seeds, plus a hefty dose of probiotics. Yet, unlike some of the bars on the market that utilize dates for a chewy texture, they're soft and won't get stuck in your teeth. The blueberry banana almond flavor makes an excellent stand-in for breakfast. (Related: Study Suggests Carbohydrates That Are High In Fiber Are Key to Healthy Life)
Packed with more than 1 billion CFUs of live probiotics, ProBar Live bars have around 300 calories each with zero added sugar. The chocolate chip peanut butter flavor is the best, but not the easiest to eat, as it easily breaks apart when out of the fridge. (Related: 5 Legit Benefits of Probiotics—and How You Should Take Them)
BHU Foods Keto Bars
While most of the bars on this list have too many carbs to fit into the keto diet guidelines, BHU Foods Keto Bars have only 4 net carbs and about 20 grams of fat. Reach for these only if you can stomach a strong fake-sugar flavor, though; the aftertaste of monk fruit sweetener is intense. That said, the white chocolate macadamia cookie dough is a nice option. (Related: The Best Keto Protein Bars, According to Nutrition Pros)
OHi Superfood Bar
Made in small batches with ingredients like organic coconut and cacao nibs, and coconut nectar as a natural binder, plant-based OHi Superfood Bars are free of refined sugar and preservatives. If you don't like a "green" taste, skip Super Green; flavors like peanut butter and double chocolate are universally appealing. (Related: The Best Vegan and Plant-Based Protein Powders That Don't Taste Like Dirt)
NuttZo Bold Bitez
New Nuttzo Bold Bitez are basically the brand's popular seven-seed nut butter in bar form. With about 200 calories and 10 grams of protein each, they're a solid snack; plus, they have additions like collagen, matcha, and probiotics, depending on the flavor. The downsides: They're small, have a rather crumbly texture and the flax seeds get stuck in your teeth.