Best Protein Bars for Weight Gain

Written By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: December 18, 2022

Meeting daily protein needs for muscle gain can be tough when you’re busy. Protein bars are a convenient snack, but which one is best for your fitness goals?

Protein Bars for Weight Gain

There are hundreds of protein bars available in convenience stores and online. But all those options make it challenging to know which protein bar is the best choice for you.

In this article, I’ve compared 16 top-selling protein bars for weight gain based on nutritional value and cost. So you can easily find the best protein bar to reach your fitness goals.

What Are Protein Bars?

Protein bars are a health food designed to be eaten as a snack or meal replacement for active individuals. Also, there are many types of protein bars to fit the needs of different people.

For example, some protein bars have high carbs to provide energy and maintain muscle during endurance exercise. At the same time, others have low carbs to fit into a weight loss meal plan.

However, protein bars for weight gain generally have a specific nutritional profile to maximize muscle recovery and growth while following a resistance training program.

Best Protein Bars for Weight Gain

What to Look for in Protein Bars for Weight Gain

When shopping for weight gain protein bars, there are a handful of things to look for.

First, check the nutrition label for protein and calorie content. Then look below that to see if it has healthy ingredients.

Finally, you’ll probably want to look at the price tag and find something with a reasonable cost.

Protein Content

A decent protein bar for weight gain should have at least 20 grams of protein. Anything less than that won’t make a big dent in your daily protein target.

For this reason, I’ve only included protein bars with 20 or more grams of protein on this list.

Total Calories

Another vital factor for weight gain is the total calories in a protein bar. More energy in a bar makes it easier to hit your daily calorie surplus.

But you also don’t want a protein bar containing tons of sugar and fat, which could lead to excess body fat gain.

Healthy Ingredients

In addition, be on the lookout for added sugars and artificial sweeteners with complex names. A protein bar shouldn’t require you to sound-out half of the ingredients!

Instead, look for a few whole food ingredients like nuts or egg whites. And a whey protein isolate or concentrate is usually a high-quality ingredient.


Like anything else, you get what you pay for with protein bars. More expensive bars usually provide better nutritional value.

But it would be best if you also considered the cost per calorie and gram of protein. That way, you get the best-value protein bar without breaking the bank.

Best Protein Bars for Weight Gain

Now let’s get into the best weight gain protein bars list. Below is a table showing the macros, calories, and cost of 12 top-selling protein bars.

I’ve sorted this table by calorie content from high to low. So this is not necessarily a list from best to worst, but it helps you quickly compare the nutrient profile and cost.

Table 1. Comparison of Protein Bars for Weight Gain

Bar Name Protein Carbs Fat Calories Cost/Bar
MET-Rx Big 1001 30g 47g 12g 410 $3.00
FITCRUNCH 30g 27g 16g 380 $3.17
Gatorade2 20g 43g 10g 340 $1.43
MET-Rx Protein Plus 31g 29g 10g 310 $3.18
Promax 20g 37g 7g 280 $1.67
Rise3 20g 20g 16g 280 $1.92
ONE 20g 23g 8g 230 $2.25
PowerBar Protein Plus 20g 27g 5g 210 $1.18
No Cow 21g 24g 7g 210 $2.25
Pure Protein 20g 16g 6g 200 $1.11
Barebells 20g 18g 8g 200 $2.42
Quest4 20g 23g 8g 190 $1.92

1 – most calorie dense, 2 – best value, 3 – healthiest ingredients, 4 – most popular

Next, I’ll go into more detail about each protein bar so you can make an even more informed decision. I’ve segmented the list by high-calorie, low-cost, and healthy ingredients to make it easier for you to find a bar that works for your needs.

Best High-Calorie Protein Bars for Weight Gain

For weight gain, getting more calories should usually be your priority. So the protein bars in this section are the most nutrient-dense available.

These weight-gain protein bars work best for road trips or other days when meal prep isn’t an option. Remember, they may not be the healthiest, but they pack a wallop in terms of protein and calories.

High Calorie Protein Bars for Weight Gain

MET-Rx Big 100

The MET-Rx Big 100 is the most energy-packed protein bar on the list, with a whopping 410 calories. In addition, this bar has 30 grams of protein to fuel your muscle-building efforts.

On the downside, the Big 100 has 28g of sugar, 12g of fat, and over 500mg of sodium. So if you eat this bar regularly, you will likely gain fat and water weight.

Still, I’ve bought this bar at gas stations on long drives when I just needed something with high protein and calories. And you can get a 9-pack on Amazon for as low as $21.

Big 100 Protein Bars for Weight Gain


The FITCRUNCH bar contains the next highest calories, with 380 and 30 grams of protein. But it’s a step up in cost from the Big 100.

Also, the FITCRUNCH has a ton of sodium and is tied for the highest fat content on the list. That means it tastes great, but it’s not the healthiest option.

FITCRUNCH Protein Bars for Weight Gain

MET-Rx Protein Plus

Another bar from MET-Rx is called Protein Plus. Compared to the Big 100, it has one more gram of protein but 100 fewer calories due to a significant reduction in sugar.

Also, the Protein Plus bar is made with whey protein and drastically reduced sodium. Unfortunately, those quality improvements make it the most expensive bar on the list.

MET-Rx Protein Bars for Weight Gain

Best Low-Cost Protein Bars for Weight Gain

If cost is your main concern, I’ve got you covered. But I’m not going to simply show you the cheapest weight gain protein bars.

Instead, I calculated the cost per 100 calories and per gram of protein. That way, you can see the best value protein bars for weight gain.

Gatorade Whey Protein Bar

The Gatorade Whey Protein Bar is probably the best bang for your buck in terms of cost per calorie and gram of protein. Each bar costs about $1.43 and contains 340 calories with 20g of protein.

On the downside, the Gatorade bar has 28 grams of sugar and no fiber. So it’s not ideal from a blood sugar standpoint.

Gatorade Protein Bars for Weight Gain

Pure Protein Bar

Pure protein bars are the cheapest on the list at just over $1 per bar. And they’re the lowest in terms of cost per gram of protein.

Unfortunately, each bar only contains 200 calories, so it’s not exactly the best meal replacement option.

Pure Protein Bars for Weight Gain

PowerBar Protein Plus Bar

PowerBar offers another inexpensive protein bar that has lower sodium and fat.

But the biggest downside to this bar is that the first ingredient is soy protein instead of whey. They also have limited flavor options available.

PowerBar Protein Bars for Weight Gain

Promax Protein Bar

The Promax protein bar rounds out the bottom of the low-cost list. With 280 calories and 20 grams of protein, it’s comparable to the Gatorade bar.

However, the Promax bar has soy protein as the first ingredient, which isn’t a good sign for quality.

Promax Protein Bars for Weight Gain

Best Healthy Protein Bars for Weight Gain

A healthy protein bar isn’t usually the cheapest option. So you may need to put the price aside to get natural ingredients from quality sources.

Barebells Protein Bar

Barebells protein bars have a bit more transparency on their nutrition labels. And you can probably recognize most of the ingredients without being a food industry expert.

Unfortunately, this Swedish brand has one of the highest costs, which could add up quickly on a high-calorie diet.

Barebells Protein Bars for Weight Gain

No Cow Protein Bar

As you may have guessed, the No Cow bar is a dairy-free protein snack. Instead, it’s a plant-based protein bar is made from brown rice and pea protein.

Related: Pea Protein vs Whey Compared

Vegan-friendly protein products are generally on the pricier side. But the No Cow protein bar is great if you’re vegetarian or want to reduce animal consumption.

In addition, No Cow bars claim to be keto-friendly due to the high fiber content and low net carbs. But that doesn’t mean you can over indulge without repercussions.

No Cow Protein Bars For Weight Gain

ONE Protein Bar

This protein bar is made with a milk protein blend with low sugar and sodium. It’s also one of the more affordable healthy bars concerning cost per calorie.

ONE Protein Bars for Weight Gain

Quest Protein Bar

Quest bars are the best-selling protein bars on Amazon and for good reason. First, they are relatively low cost at just 10 cents per gram of protein.

In addition, Quest protein bars have 14 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and no soy products. Plus, there are 14 delicious flavors like “chocolate sprinkled donut.”

The only downside is that Quest bars typically only contain 190 calories. So you might be tempted to eat more than one per day.

Quest Protein Bars for Weight Gain

Rise Whey Protein Bar

From a health food standpoint, Rise protein bars take the cake (and throw it out the window). Each bar contains just 3 to 5 natural ingredients depending on the flavor.

For example, the almond honey bar contains only almonds, honey, and whey protein isolate. The nutrition profile is also solid, with 280 calories, 20 grams of protein, and just 25 mg of sodium.

In addition, Rise protein bars are one of five on the list that cost less than $2 per bar. As a nutrition coach, I’d call this the best all-around protein bar for weight gain or any fitness goal!

Rise Protein Bars for Weight Gain

3 Weight Gain Protein Bars to Avoid

Now you know the best protein bars for weight gain. But I wanted to share a few not-so-good protein bars with you so you can avoid them.

Think! Protein Bar

At first glance, Think protein bars look pretty decent. They have 20 grams of protein, 0 grams of sugar, and a fair price. I’ve even bought a pack from Target while traveling to get a quick protein fix.

But, upon closer inspection, the first ingredient is soy protein, which is usually a red flag. And really, the cost should be lower, given the protein source.

Furthermore, the lack of sugar is only because there’s a bunch of sugar alcohols. While these alcohols are lower on the glycemic index, they still affect blood sugar to an extent.

So I won’t be purchasing these again, and I can’t recommend that you do either.

Think Protein Bars for Weight Gain

BSN Protein Crisp Bar

BSN is a sports nutrition brand customarily associated with bodybuilding supplements. But they have dabbled into the protein bar world as well.

While the BSN bar does contain milk protein, it also has a host of syrups, oils, and soy products. On top of that, this bar gets into the higher end for cost per calorie and gram of protein.

So it’s not worth purchasing, in my opinion.

BSN Protein Bars for Weight Gain

PROBAR Protein Bar

The PROBAR protein bar is another middle-of-the-road option for the price. But a closer inspection of the label reveals that it’s entirely soy-based.

This, combined with the high sodium content, make it one of the weight-gain protein bars worth avoiding.

Probar Protein Bars for Weight Gain

CLIF Builders Bar

CLIF is another famous brand whose energy and protein bars I’ve purchased many times. And there are situations when their products work well.

However, the CLIF Builders protein bar doesn’t stack up well against the competition. First, they are made entirely from soy protein and various sugar syrups.

In addition, CLIF Builders bars are the most expensive in terms of cost per gram of protein. Together, these details mean I’ll be making a hard pass on this bar next time.

Clif Builders Protein Bars for Weight Gain

At this point, you should know which protein bars are the best for gaining muscle mass and body weight. But if you need to, go ahead and review the summary table one more time.

Weight Gain Shake Recipes

Shakes and smoothies are fantastic alternatives to protein bars. These grab-and-go meals take just minutes to prepare and give you more control over the ingredients.

If that sounds good, I’ve got 11 simple weight gain shake recipes you’ll love. Each one is packed with healthy ingredients, high protein, and plenty of calories.

Weight Gain Shake Recipe

Weight Gain Meal Plan

A high-protein snack or meal is like laying a single brick in the path to your fitness goals. But the road to bodybuilding success is long.

So you need a high-protein weight gain meal plan. This is your easy-to-follow roadmap to building muscle over weeks and months.

Click the button below to learn more about what you get with your personalized weight gain meal plan.

metabolic confusion meal plan

Custom Meal Plan

Get a personalized muscle-building meal plan designed for your body, activity level, and goals! Including daily menus and recipes for just $17.99 per month.

Finally, I have tons of other great articles on everything from supplements to alternative exercises. So check out the content below to keep reading!

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By |December 28, 2022|Nutrition|0 Comments
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