*Updated October 2022*
They say diversity is the spice of life and, as much as I enjoy ordering and reviewing meal plans in Singapore, it's time to mix things up a bit.
I've mentioned in other posts that I aim for 2,500–2,600 calories each day, as well as daily macro targets for Protein (175+), Carbohydrates (200) and Fats (100). As a vegetarian who is trying to increase my muscle mass, it can be difficult for me to hit my protein target with just the food I eat each day. This is why I use supplements, such as protein powder and protein bars, to boost my protein intake, which helps build muscle, speeds up recovery and keeps hunger at bay for longer.
I feel protein supplements have a bad reputation among people that don't consume them; commonly this is attributable to a sip of a friend's protein shake they had in the past, which they thought was gross. I want to do my part to help change people's opinion of protein and can't think of a better place to start than the most convenient of protein supplements: the humble protein bar.
To do so, I hastily and haphazardly put together this plan while trekking between different supermarkets in Singapore: buy as many brands of protein bars as I could find, eat one bar each day, and then classify and rate them in an easy-to-understand way (rather than focusing on just the calories and macros)
A quick caveat before we go any further: I believe that supplements should never be used as a replacement for real food. You should always try to eat proper meals and use products like protein bars to supplement your diet. I ensure I can conveniently access healthy foods by ordering from meal-plan providers each week.
The ground rules
There are hundreds of protein products on the market ranging from powders and gels to ready-made drinks and protein-infused snacks, so I had to set some rules for what I'd buy and review, which were:
It had to be available in Singapore
It had to have a minimum of 20g of protein
It had to be relatively easy to find and buy
With that out of the way, let's dive into the bars I tried over several days (in no particular order). Whether you're a protein-bar veteran or a complete newbie, I'm certain we can find the bar for you.
Quick jump to:
PROBAR Mint Chocolate: 280kcal, P20, C33, F8 (vegetarian)
BSN Protein Crisp Chocolate Crunch: 190kcal, P20, C22, F7 (gluten-free)
Think! Creamy Peanut Butter: 230kcal, P20, C22, F9 (gluten-free)
*Updated* MyProtein Xtra Cookie Double Choc Chip: 316kcal, P38, C20, F10
*Updated* MyProtein Xtra Protein Bar Chocolate Orange: 263kcal, P30, C24, F6
PureFit Chocolate Brownie (vegan)
220kcal, P20, C22, F5 (Total Sugars 7g)
Reading PureFit's packaging – non-GMO soy, plant-based, 100%, gluten-free, non-dairy, reduced sugar – I was left wondering what holds the bar together! It had a bitter dark-chocolate taste and this is not a bar for those that have a sweet tooth to satisfy. I enjoyed it chilled from the refrigerator, which gave it a substantial, slightly crumbly and satisfying texture. This is the bar for you if you've got specific dietary requirements or want a vegan (isolated soy) protein boost.
I bought this bar for S$3.95 and found it at one of the larger NTUC FairPrice.
PhD Smart Bar Dark Choc Raspberry
237kcal, P20, C22, F11 (Total Sugars 0.4g)
I'd seen PhD protein bars before but never bought one, which I now regret as it was great! I was impressed with the total sugars (0.4g is one of the lowest I've seen) and appreciated it being palm oil-free. The bar seemed more substantial than others even though it was a similar weight to other bars and had a great flavour, helped in no small amount by the little pieces of freeze-dried raspberries that gave a nice freshness.
PhD uses a blend of milk protein and soy protein, which is important to note as I thought it was vegan-friendly at first glance. I've since learned that PhD does have a Smart Bar Plant range available which I'll certainly try in the future.
I bought this bar for S$5.60 and found it at Cold Storage.
Barebells Cookies & Cream
194kcal, P20, C17, F7 (Total Sugars 1.4g)
While eating (read: devouring) Barebell's bar, I couldn't help but be reminded of a British chocolate bar called MilkyWay manufactured by Mars – are those still around? Sure, it didn't do anything remarkable, but that also meant it didn't do anything bad. This was a tasty protein bar (albeit with far more cream than cookie) with a great texture that managed to keep the calories and sugars low.
I bought this bar for S$5.00 and found it at Cold Storage.
Fulfil Chocolate Hazelnut Whip
214kcal, P20, C15, F10 (Total Sugars 1.4g)
For my money, Fulfil's protein bars are among the most accessible for those that aren't used to protein supplements – it feels like you're eating a regular chocolate bar.
While the calories and fats are a little higher than other bars, it uses that wiggle room to create a satisfying (whey protein isolate) bar with an as-promised "whipped" texture and a strong hazelnut flavour. If you're looking for a great entry point into protein bars, you won't go far wrong with Fulfil.
I bought this bar for S$5.50 and found it at Cold Storage and (rarely) 7-Eleven.
PROBAR Mint Chocolate (vegetarian)
280kcal, P20, C33, F8 (Total Sugars 15g)
Let's get this out of the way: PROBAR was my least favourite of the protein bars I bought. It's high in calories, carbohydrates and sugars, and quite dry, which made it tough to swallow. The mint flavour, which I was looking forward to trying, was also very synthetic-tasting and not enjoyable.
The only things this has going for it is an unusual flavour (I've never seen mint chocolate before), a larger size (70g) and the fact that it is plant-based (soy protein isolate), but honestly, just try PureFit bars if vegetarian/vegan is what you're looking for.
I bought this bar for S$5.40 and found it at Cold Storage.
Quest White Chocolate Raspberry
200kcal, P20, C22, F8 (Total Sugars 1g)
I see Quest products everywhere in Singapore and it's one of the most prolific high-street nutrition brands out there today. Their products range from protein bars to protein chips (or crisps as we properly call them in England), and everything in between.
I've had many Quest protein bars in the past purely because they're so widely available in 7-Eleven stores. I like them because they are convenient, are available in a good variety of flavours and are relatively cheap. Having said that, I wouldn't recommend these particular bars to newbies, the texture is sticky (to a problematic degree when they are warm) and has an uncommon texture akin to a big block of rubber.
I bought this bar for S$4.95 and found it at 7-Eleven and GNC Singapore.
BSN Protein Crisp Chocolate Crunch (gluten-free)
190kcal, P20, C22, F7 (Total Sugars 2g)
There's not much to say here – BSN's bar is gluten-free, the flavour is fine and it had the nostalgic texture of a chocolate Rice Krispies cake, which I used to make and eat when I was younger, but otherwise, it's fairly average. In fairness, I do recall it being quite filling, so if you're really hungry and find yourself near a GNC store, BSN might be one to consider picking up.
I bought this bar for S$6.00 and found it at GNC Singapore.
Grenade Carb Killa Birthday Cake
221kcal, P20, C20, F9 (Total Sugars 2g)
I'm not sure why Grenade calls this range of protein bars "carb killa" because it had just as many carbs as any other bar. The draw from an otherwise standard protein bar was the birthday cake flavouring, which I'd never seen before and turned out to be pretty good – it's a white chocolate flavour with colourful sprinkles (which get everywhere!) The texture was substantial and kept me full for a workout and through to a late lunch.
Grenade looks like it has some great flavours – Peanut Butter & Jelly, Jaffa Quake, Caramel Chaos, Peanut Nutter etc. – some of which go up to 23g of protein for under 220 calories. I'd love to try some of them but sadly there is limited availability in Singapore (get some more stock out here, Grenade!)
I bought this bar for S$5.50 and found it at Cold Storage.
Think! Creamy Peanut Butter (gluten-free)
230kcal, P20, C22, F9 (Total Sugars 0g)
I was looking forward to trying Think! as I'd been recommended it by a friend, however, I wasn't that impressed. Even though the bar was one of my favourite flavours, the peanut butter flavour was synthetic and didn't deliver the "creamy" texture it promised on the packaging.
One thing about this bar I was initially impressed by was the 0g of total sugars, however, it also listed "11g of Sugar Alcohol" in the nutritional information. I did a little research on this and discovered that while sugar alcohol has fewer calories than sugar and less of an impact on blood sugar, it can also be difficult for some people to digest and can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhoea. Certainly, this is something I will keep an eye out for and avoid in the future.
I bought this bar for S$5.30 and found it at Cold Storage.
MyProtein Xtra Cookie Double Choc Chip
316kcal, P38, C20, F10 (Total Sugars 7g)
Yes, I'm breaking my own rules with this one, but I couldn't put together a list of protein bars without calling out my favourite supplement brand. Call me biased if you like (the brand is based out of Manchester, England) but, in my opinion, MyProtein makes some of the best supplements on the market. It's my go-to for protein and the only downside is that you have to wait up to 14 days for shipping and delivery to Singapore.
The cookie, which is packed with protein (38g) for comparatively low calories and is soft and moreish with rich chocolate chips, can be split in half for two 19g-protein snacks and can be enjoyed chilled or warmed up.
I bought this cookie for S$7.99 and it can only be bought online (other MyProtein products are also stocked in Watsons Singapore).
*Updated* MyProtein Xtra Protein Bar Chocolate Orange
263kcal, P30, C24, F6 (Total Sugars 4g)
Yes, I'm breaking my own rules again by listing a protein bar only available online, but this one has become a personal favourite over the past few months.
Much like the Xtra Cookie, this bar is packed with protein, with a reasonable amount of carbs and it is low in fat. I'm an absolute sucker for chocolate-orange flavouring, so this was always going to be a winner for me. Pro tip: if you want to make this bar seem more substantial, store it in the fridge and pull it out for a minute before you eat it – the texture will be harder, which requires you to chew it for longer.
I bought this bar for S$9.67 and it can only be bought online (note that MyProtein frequently runs sales of 30%+ which drastically reduces the cost per bar).
Looking back at the protein bars I bought and ate, there wasn't that much difference between them. Some are undoubtedly better for newbies but if you're used to consuming protein supplements then it'll just come down to what taste and texture you prefer. For ease, I've included a quick reference below so you can make quicker decisions next time you're looking for a quick protein fix:
Highest protein: MyProtein Cookie
Lowest carbs: Fulfil
Lowest calories: BSN
Lowest fats: PureFit
Best for newbies: Fulfil
Best for vegetarians/vegans: PureFit (cheapest too!)
My highest ⭐️ rating: MyProtein
My lowest ⭐️ rating: PROBAR
Did I miss your favourite protein bar or are there any that you order online and love? What other supplements could you not live without? Let me know on Instagram, I'd love to hear from you.