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Fact checked by Andrew Lenau, ISSA CPT & Sports NutritionistFACT CHECKED
April 07, 2023
High-protein foods are staples in all lifter's eating routines. But there are times when it isn't convenient to eat a plate of freshly cooked meat, which is why protein shakes and bars are so beloved by gym goers.
Perfect for any time of the day, especially post-workout, protein supplements provide a high protein boost to help you hit your macro and muscle-building goals. Protein shakes are a go-to for many, but there are times when carrying around a shaker cup and protein powder is inconvenient. In addition, when hunger strikes, sometimes you need something a little more filling.
Enter protein bars, a fast, convenient, and high-protein option.
The problem is, store-bought protein bars can be expensive and are packed with artificial sugars and chemicals, which help preserve the bars for years. The best way to get fresh, healthy, protein-packed ingredients is by making them yourself!
We're about to get into everything you need to know about homemade protein bars. We will explore the best recipes for both muscle gain and fat loss and provide some tips on how to make sure your bars are better than any store-bought variation.
Regardless of your cooking skills or fitness goals, these simple recipes will leave you extremely satisfied and one step closer to hitting your protein goals.
Table of Contents:
A homemade protein bar is a healthy snack that is loaded with protein and other nutrients. Protein bars are typically used as a post-workout protein source or an on-the-go snack for in-between meals.
Protein bars are not meant to be a meal replacement, but rather a quick source of fuel. Homemade protein bars are a cheaper and typically healthier option than store-bought ones, which usually include added sugars and other unwanted ingredients.
Homemade protein bars will save you money and help you reach your fitness goals, all while tasting delicious.
We're going to start with a simple, yet delicious, homemade protein bar recipe. This recipe requires only five ingredients and takes 15 minutes to make.
It's easy to throw together, and we especially love it because of its versatility. As is, this recipe is great for cutting as its protein is relatively high and its calories are relatively low. However, you can also add more peanut butter or protein powder, or any of our suggested add-ins, to make it more calorie dense for muscle building.
Make sure you have a good protein powder to use, as the supplement really is the star of the show. You can keep this recipe exactly as is, or you can take a look under it at some suggested alternatives, add-ins, and substitute ingredients.
After the recipe, stay tuned for a run-down of our favorite ingredients, tips for making homemade protein bars, and four more great protein bar recipes!
This recipe makes 12 servings, each containing approximately 240 calories, 20g of carbohydrates, 13g of fat, and 14g of protein.
This recipe can be customized to your personal preferences and fitness goals. Feel free to swap the cow’s milk for a dairy-free version, such as almond milk, coconut milk, or oat milk.
For this recipe, we recommend unflavored protein powder, because sometimes flavored options leave an unwanted aftertaste due to artificial sugars. If you have a protein powder you love, though, feel free to experiment with different flavors.
If you are looking for a nut-free protein bar, try using sunflower butter and a protein powder that is nut free.
To make your protein bars vegan-friendly, swap the honey for coconut palm syrup or brown rice syrup and be sure to use a vegan protein powder.
The best ingredients to use really depend on what your goal is. If your primary goal is to build muscle, you'll have some additional daily calories to play with, making ingredients like peanut butter a good idea.
If you're in a fat-loss phase, sugar-free products and high protein nuts and seeds will add flavor and texture, while filling you up. Here's a look at some of our favorite protein bar ingredients, no matter what phase you're in!
In a fat-loss phase? Here are some great ingredients to consider including in your protein bars.
Looking to bulk up? Prioritize the following ingredients, but don't feel limited to just these. If an ingredient or two from the fat-loss phase sounds good, include them!
There are several different protein powder options that work great for homemade protein bars. The most commonly used protein powder for most baked goods is whey protein powder. Whey is great for protein bars because it mixes easily with other ingredients without clumping.
Another great option is pea protein. Any of the plant-based proteins that we discussed above are great substitutes if you are vegan or have certain food allergies.
Casein protein can be dry and thick, so it's best to exclude these from protein bars. If a recipe calls for a specific type of protein, we suggest sticking to the instructions.
If gaining muscle is your goal, you are going to want to focus on increasing your overall calories, particularly protein and carbs.
While the basic ingredients like protein powder, peanut butter, and rolled oats provide a solid protein base, we can easily increase this number without sacrificing flavor.
Try adding your favorite nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, or pecans to increase the protein and healthy fats content. Additional grains like quinoa can also increase the protein amount and add healthy carbs.
If you are trying to lose fat, you may be following a carb cycling meal plan, or another low carb option such as keto. If so, this means you're going to want to keep your protein intake high and at least for some of your days, your carb intake low.
Protein is an essential part of burning fat because it keeps us feeling full longer, increases the thermic effect of food, preserves lean body mass, and is hard to store as fat because we use it for energy.
Eliminating unnecessary sugars will prevent you from adding empty calories and keeping your carbs low. Using a sugar-free sweetener or sugar-free syrup is a great tip for keeping your homemade bars' protein high and calorie count low, helping you hit your macros counting goals.
Go for dried fruits and nuts as toppings instead of chocolate chips or sprinkles. Chia and flax seeds are also great additives for aiding in fat loss.
Regardless of whether you are looking to build muscle or lose fat, you want to find ways to increase your protein intake. The best way to increase the protein content in your homemade protein bars is by adding high-protein toppings. Some of the best toppings include nuts and seeds.
Another simple way of increasing the protein count is by upping the amount of protein you use. Adding Greek yogurt to your recipe is another great way to increase your protein content but if you do this, be sure to keep them refrigerated.
Don’t be afraid to use an extra scoop of protein powder or peanut butter. Start slowly to be sure the protein powder still mixes thoroughly, and it doesn’t affect the texture or dryness. We need to be creative when trying to add macros for muscle building so don't be afraid to experiment!
If you'd like to have more than one protein bar recipe on rotation, you've come to the right place! You've got multiple options.
Whether you are a vegan, vegetarian, or simply looking to eat healthier, this recipe is a great option for homemade protein bars and ideal for anyone in a fat-loss phase.
This recipe requires a food processor to mix the ingredients thoroughly; however, a blender should also get the job done. Each bar will have approximately 237 calories, 29 g of carbohydrates, 10 g of fat, and 11 g of protein.
These homemade no-bake protein bars are even better than they sound and are a great low-calorie option for fat loss. This recipe will yield 10 mouth-watering protein bars, each roughly 207 calories, 13 g of fat, 17 g of carbs, and 8 g of protein.
We covered a peanut butter bar above meant to be used as a low-calorie base. But since we can never get enough peanut butter, we also have a muscle-building version of the peanut butter protein bar.
This is the lone recipe in the article that requires baking, and it also contains eggs, which are loaded with nutrients in addition to the high-protein content.
This recipe makes six bars, with each containing roughly 374 calories, 42 g of carbs, 8 g of fat, and 23.5 g of protein.
This recipe combines some of our favorite muscle-building ingredients and is perfect for chefs of all levels. It has a very high protein ratio, which is great for supporting muscle growth and hitting your macro goals.
Each of these flavorful protein bars contains about 250 calories, 16 g of carbs, 12 g of fat, and 20 g of protein.
Let's answer some frequently asked protein bar questions.
Making your own protein bars can be fairly simple and does not require a ton of ingredients. The basic ingredients that should be in a protein bar include protein powder, some form of rolled oats or grains for the base, and some kind of honey, nut butter, or seed butter to help bind the bars together.
Yes, homemade protein bars are much cheaper than store-bought. Typical store-bought protein bars range in price from $1-$5 per bar, depending on the brand, and whether you're buying in bulk. By preparing homemade protein bars, you will be able to make them for a fraction of the cost.
Yes, it is perfectly healthy to eat a protein bar daily, as long as you are not using them as your main source of food or as meal replacements. The bulk of your nutrients and macros should come from complete meals, such as in these high protein lunch ideas or protein pancakes.
Protein bars can play a huge part in one’s fitness journey, as they are convenient and perfect for snacks and post-workout fuel.
Whether you want to gain muscle or build fat, these recipes will help you accomplish your goals and leave your taste buds satisfied.
And if you want delicious protein bars on hand but aren't interested in actually making them, check out these 9 Best Protein Bars!
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