Quick Bites: our favorite protein bars for endurance athletes


Getting enough calories and protein can be a challenge during endurance training. Here are some of our favorite options for filling your tank.

As an endurance athlete, getting enough protein and calories to keep up with my training has always been a challenge. Constantly on the move, I favor quick snacks that will support me throughout my longest and most difficult workouts.

During my years as a competitive runner, I have experimented with a number of different nutrition plans over the years and regularly see my doctor for the healthiest ways to stay fueled as a distance runner. .

Protein bars have always been my favorite because they are a quick snack that I can eat before, during or after a workout for an energy boost. Like many athletes, I am careful about what I put in my body and want to make sure I am successful with energizing and nutritious food. With so many bars to choose from, it can be difficult to find what’s right for you.

I’m currently training for a marathon and have tried a number of different protein bars – here are seven of my favorites.

The best protein bars for endurance athletes

RX bars

Best for health Nuts

During training, I am hyperconscious of the foods I put in my body. Where many protein bars are filled with sugar and artificial ingredients, RX bars are made from clean, herbal ingredients that I know and recognize. Common ingredients include nuts, dates, egg whites, and chocolate, and the bars are flavored with oils, essences, and extracts from natural sources.

Containing 12g of protein, RX bars don’t offer as much protein as a traditional protein bar, but they’re made with clean ingredients, so you’ll need to weigh what’s most important to you. I found that RX bars are good straight from the closet, but when you pack them up for a long run or adventure, they tend to melt and have less taste.

RX bars have become my go-to for a healthy snack. But when I’m looking for a protein boost before, during, or after a long workout, I tend to look elsewhere.

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Cliff bar

Cliff bar

Better for the taste

There isn’t much more classic than a Cliff bar. Clif Bar was founded in 1992 to satisfy a craving for tasty, nutrient-dense snacks, and has been a leading protein bar ever since.

At Clif Bar they are dedicated to the preservation of the planet and as a result 82% of all ingredients used are organic and / or certified as sustainable. In addition, 90% of their waste is diverted from landfills and incinerators at their bakeries, and they use 100% green electricity for electricity in their facilities.

Their bars are also designed to support athletes on the go and are packed with energizing carbohydrates, functional fats, 9g of plant protein, and authentic flavor. While 9g of protein isn’t a ton, these bars are one of the more filling options out there and taste amazing, making them easy to swallow.

They’re flavored with traditional sugars, which means they’re not as healthy as other options, but when you’re packing, sugar isn’t the worst thing. Easily available and offered in a wide variety of flavors, Cliff bar is a solid option for everyone.

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IQ bar

IQ bar

Most suitable for food

Keto, vegan and paleo-friendly, IQ bars are plant-based protein bars that are good for your brain and body. As the name suggests, IQ Bars contain six nutrients scientifically proven to support cognitive energy, performance and health: Omega-3s, MCTs, Lion’s Mane, Flavonoids, vitamin E and choline.

Plus, they contain 12g of protein with just 3g of net carbs and 1-2g of sugar. I’ve never heard of a protein bar that was created to support brain health, but I think it’s a great concept and makes a lot of sense.

Running and endurance sports are largely mental, so making sure your brain is in tip-top shape is a great way to set yourself up for success. IQ bars High in nuts and coconuts, so they’re not particularly allergen-friendly, but they’re good for anyone trying to stick to a keto-type diet. Not only do IQ bars taste great, they also provide long-lasting energy while remaining low in sugar and carbs.

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Perfect bar

Perfect bar

Best snack size

Claiming to be “perfect” is quite a bold statement, but Perfect bar is one of the best protein bars I have come across to date. Perfect Bars are USDA Organic Certified and GMO Free. They contain organic honey, complete dietary protein, and over 20 superfoods. The original chilled protein bar, Perfect Bars contain no artificial preservatives, so you know they’re clean.

Aside from the fact that they taste amazing, my favorite thing about Perfect Bars is that they are high in calories and have 15g of protein, which means they can be used as a pre-dinner meal. ‘workout or calorie recharge after a long run.

As a refrigerated bar, Perfect bars are one of the coolest in the game, but keeping them cool can be tricky during a run or long training sessions. I left mine unrefrigerated for the day and had no issues, but Perfect Bars are best for snacks at home or when you have access to a cooler.

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Bar built

Bar built

Ideal for chocolate lovers

Benefiting from 17 g of protein, Bars built are macro-balanced protein bars that deliver essential nutrients without being loaded with sugar or artificial ingredients. Made from whey protein, gelatin, erythritol, glycerin, chocolate and maltodextrin, these bars come in a wide range of delicious flavors.

Each bar is coated with 100% real chocolate, giving it the taste and feel of a candy bar. As someone who doesn’t eat a lot of nuts or meat, I really appreciate that these bars are a quick and easy way for me to get a healthy dose of protein.

However, Bars built aren’t made with ingredients as clean as some other bars, so I tend to only take them on the days when I really need a protein boost. Fun fact: if you order online you can order a case of your favorite flavor or mix and match as you like.

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Quest Nutrition Protein Bars

Quest Nutrition Protein Bars

Best high in protein

With 21 g of protein and less than a gram of sugar, Quest Nutrition Protein Bars are a staple in the fitness community. Made from a blend of milk and whey protein isolate, soluble corn fiber, erythritol, palm kernel oil, almonds and sodium caseinate, these bars are available in a wide range of tasty flavors like peppermint rind and mint chocolate chunks.

Our favorite is the birthday cake, with its sweet but not overly sweet flavor and oddly festive vibe, but cookie dough and pumpkin pie aren’t far off. If you are looking for natural ingredients, this won’t be the bar for you. But if you’re looking for a good protein boost right after a long run, you could do a lot worse.

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Handcrafted energy bars for runners, cyclists and climbers

homemade energy bars

Best Specific Athlete

Manufactured energy believes there is no one-size-fits-all approach to training. That’s why its athlete bars are sport specific, suitable for climbers, runners and cyclists.

Crafted’s bars are made with whole plant-based ingredients, and we love the boost they give after a workout – no matter how you train, these bars are great fuel. Flavors include cherry nut, blueberry cashew, and ginger berry nut.

Best of all, each ingredient performs a specific function for a certain type of athlete. Ingredients in artisanal notes like oats, cashews and pumpkin seeds are slow burning energy; dates, coconut and berries serve as fast-burning energy; and a variety of other fruits and nuts serve to provide antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and more.

Bottom line: If you’re looking for an herbal bar made with clean ingredients that can kick things up a notch, Crafted should be on your list.

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