Best Protein Bars for Kids that are Healthy and NutritiousThis post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure.
Is your family always on the go? Busy families need smart alternatives to quick snacks so that kids stay healthy and energized for all their daily activities. This guide will help you determine what to look for when buying protein bars for your kids and what to avoid. You’ll learn which protein bars for kids I recommend that are actually nutritious (not full of all those sneaky sugars and chemicals!).
Prioritizing your own healthy eating is hard enough; convincing your kids to do the same may feel nearly impossible.
That’s especially true when it comes to breakfasts and snacks. You might love starting off your day with a smoothie filled with greens or avocado toast, but your kiddo might want toaster pastries and sugary cereals. We all want to encourage our kids to develop healthy habits from the start, but that can be so challenging when pretty much every convenient snack for kids is filled with sugar! But when you’re in a rush or you need to run a quick errand, it’s a lot easier to give your child a protein bar to keep them full, than to make a healthy snack from scratch.
Which is why I’ve rounded up a few protein bars for kids that you will love and that are actually good for them! This guide will help you find the best protein bars for kids (in terms of both taste and nutrition).
15 Best Protein Bars for Kids
These contain no artificial colors, no artificial flavors, no preservatives or fillers — and most varieties contain no soy, dairy, or gluten, either. Egg whites is the primary source of protein for these bars. Their kid-friendly versions just have a little less protein and calories than the adult varieties (a more appropriate serving size for kids!) The kids bars have 130 calories, 4g fiber, 7g protein and 9g sugar (0g added sugar) each.
These are non-GMO and made from organic fruits. They’re also gluten-free and contain no preservatives. They have no added sugar (the sugar is from fruit purees like pear, dates and berries). Each bar has 120 calories, 3g fiber, 2g protein and 8g sugar (0g added sugar)
Have trouble getting your little one to eat their veggies? These might do the trick by making spinach and carrots a lot more enjoyable. Packed with whole grains, fiber, and protein, these bars are also gluten-free, organic, and non-GMO. Each bar has 90 calories, 4g fiber, 2g protein and 8g sugar (0g added sugar)
With three delicious flavors to choose from, these gluten-free, vegan, and non-GMO bars are perfect for both kids and parents. They also contain no soy and are Kosher certified. Each bar has 100 calories, 5g fiber, 3g protein, and 3g sugar.
Parents might already be familiar with this brand — and now these Fair-Trade certified bars are the perfect size for kid-sized hands. They’re gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and non-GMO. Each bar has about 100 calories, 2g fiber, 3g protein and ~8g sugar (0g added sugar).
KIND bars are low-glycemic, gluten- and dairy-free, have zero trans fats, and are low-sodium. Many varieties are nut-free (which is great news for kids with allergies!) Each bar has 90 calories, 3g fiber, 3g protein and 3g sugar (2g added sugar).
These paleo- and vegan-certified bars are also non-GMO, grain-free, and soy-free with zero added sugars. They contain only fruits, nuts, spices, and seeds. Each bar has 130 calories, 2g fiber, 3g protein and ~13g sugars (0g added sugar).
These organic, vegan bars are gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free with no refined sugar. And with only four ingredients, this is a simple and truly wholesome option your child will eat right up. Each bar has 100 calories, 2g fiber, 3g protein and 10g sugar (0g added sugar).
These energy nutrition bars are gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan, wheat- and soy-free, and contain no artificial sweeteners. Each bar has 100 calories, 3g fiber, 5g protein, 4g sugar.
Gluten-free, nut-free, non-GMO, and vegan, these bars are ideal for a snack. They are on the bigger side, so for younger kids I recommend 1/2 the bar. 1/2 a bar has 100 calories, 1.5g fiber, 3g protein and 5g sugar.
These are non-GMO, have no high-fructose corn syrup, zero trans fats, and contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Each bar has 130 calories, 2g fiber, 3g protein and 5g sugar.
They’re vegan, gluten-free, contain no added sugar, and contain just five to seven ingredients, depending on the flavor. Donned “buckwheat super snacks,” these might switch things up in a good way. Each package has 3 mini bars in them, and I’d recommend one mini-bar as a snack for kids. Each mini-bar has 65 calories, 2g fiber, 2g protein, and 4g sugar (0g added sugar)
Packed with whey protein with none of the bad stuff, these kid-friendly bars are the real deal. They contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives and are both gluten- and soy-free. While they aren’t vegan, they’re naturally a good choice for health-conscious families. Each bar has 140 calories, 6g fiber, 9g protein and 7g sugar (6g added sugar)
HealthWarrior is already on the list for their chia seed bars, but these pumpkin seed protein bars are worth mentioning. They’re certified organic, free of gluten and soy, non-GMO, paleo-friendly, and contain eight grams of protein from plants (thanks to those pumpkin seeds). Each bar has 170 calories, 2g fiber, 8g protein and 6g sugar. For littler kids, I recommend 1/2 a bar.
These vegan and gluten-free granola bars come in several flavors and have only a few grams of sugar. They’re also packed with protein, are non-GMO, and are all natural. They’re a family friendly option that snackers of all ages will love. Each bar has 180 calories, 14g fiber, 15g protein and 2g sugar. For little kids, I recommend 1/2 a bar as a serving.
These are the kids protein bars on the market that I’d recommend if you’re looking for a healthy and nutritious option for your family. So what should you be looking for and what should you avoid when it comes to protein bars for kids?
Ingredients to Avoid When Buying Protein Bars for Kids
No Artificial Sweeteners: Artificial sweetener consumption has been tied to weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and more. Artificial sweeteners can be “hidden” under many names – so look out for the following ingredients…
- Aspartame sold as NutraSweet, Equal, or Sugar Twin,
- Acesulfame potassium sold as Sunnet or Sweet One
- Aspartame-acesulfame salt, sold as TwinSweet
- Neotame, sold under the brand name Newtame.
- Saccharin, sold as Sweet’N Low, Sweet Twin, or Necta Sweet.
- Sucralose, sold as Splenda
No Processed Soy Isolate: It provides no nutritional value, contains unhealthy additives, and is usually non-GMO. Soy isolate protein is derived when the soybean undergoes processing to strip it of its nutrients and “isolate” the protein. Through this process other substances such as aluminum and hexane are left behind. In addition, the method used to isolate the protein can form nitrites which can form carcinogens in the body.
No Heavy Metals: Avoid protein bars containing heavy metals as these have been linked to cancer, brain damage, and reproductive problems.
No Trans Fats: Trans fats can increase cholesterol, along with the risks of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
No Artificial Colors or Flavors: Many of these are banned in Europe and have been linked to hyperactivity in kids.
Qualities to Look for In the Best Protein Bars for Kids
- Organic or Non-GMO: Organic is best, but non-GMO will at least ensure that the ingredients have not been genetically modified
- Minimal Added Sugar: Keep it to 6g or less per serving, as excessive sugar can lead to diabetes, weight gain, heart disease, tooth decay, and even attention/hyperactivity issues in children
- Fiber and Protein: Aim for at least 2g of each per serving, as this is what will keep your child going (without crashing) throughout the day.
Are Clif Z-Bars healthy protein bars for kids?
Clif Z-Bars are healthier than most kids protein bars on the market, but they still contain 11 grams of sugar. That’s the same as a fun sized Milky Way Bar! Unfortunately, while the public perception of these bars tends to be associated with wholesomeness and health, the reality is that many of the granola bars you see on the market are essentially candy bars with clever marketing campaigns.
Many other of the most popular granola bars on the market contain lots of processed ingredients, fake and added sugars, artificial colors and flavors, and other additives you don’t want anywhere near your kids. While not all sugars are created equal (some of what you might read on the label may be attributed to real fruit rather than high fructose corn syrup, which is good!), it’s important to do your research and read the ingredients label to determine whether the sugar in the bar is coming from real fruit (e.g. dates) or a “hidden” added sugar (e.g. honey).
If you can limit your child’s sugar intake now, and try to reinforce healthy habits like healthy eating and dental health, you might not have to worry as much about cavities or other negative health consequences later on.
What brands of protein bars for kids should I avoid?
There are plenty of unhealthy granola bars on the market that are peddled as nutritious or wholesome. Although some parents are more inclined to trust bigger, well-known brands, their bars tend to be a big no-no.
Kellogg’s protein bars, Nutri-Grain bars, Quaker Chewy granola bars, and General Mills cereal bars might have kid-friendly packaging and lots of healthy-sounding lingo on the box. But they’re actually hiding a lot of sugar and processed ingredients. All of their products are basically dessert masquerading as a snack or breakfast option.
It’s not always easy for parents to know what’s really healthy when looking at packaging in the store. And even though 67% of millennials say they love ordering healthy options when they’re eating at a restaurant, your kids probably don’t have the sophisticated palate necessary to appreciate the same dishes you do. Some products might seem nutritious, but the labels might contain a lot of meaningless buzzwords. When you know which brands to trust (and which protein bars actually taste good!), you’ll be able to make better shopping decisions that can keep your kids both full and healthy. And best of all, you’ll probably end up enjoying these options, too.