Protein bars are great to keep on hand, as they are convenient and filling snacks.
Not only are proteins the building block of muscle and other tissues, they are involved in virtually every body function from brain function to the immune response. Additionally, they provide energy and help facilitate digestion and nutrient transport throughout the body (1). According to studies, protein-rich foods are also likely to keep you fuller for longer (2).
As they’re a great source of protein, nuts and nut butters are often used as ingredients in protein bars (3). However, nuts are off the table for many. In the U.S. alone, more than 6 million people have a peanut allergy and nearly 4 million have a tree nut allergy (4).
Because of the widespread use of nuts, finding nut-free protein bars can be frustrating. However, they are out there. Many allergy-friendly protein bars utilize soy protein isolate, brown rice protein, and whey protein as alternatives.
Based on GreenChoice data from over 1600 types of protein bars, here is a breakdown of the best nut-free protein bars on store shelves.
How to choose a healthy nut free protein bar
When choosing a healthy nut-free protein bar, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Allergen statement. If a product is made with peanuts or tree nuts, the manufacturer is required to clearly disclose this in the ingredients list on the label. However, it is not mandatory to disclose potential cross-contact. If the product is made in a facility that processes nuts and/or tree nuts, an advisory statement such as “may contain…” or “processed in a facility that also processes…” is optional (5).
- Fiber. Fiber keeps you satiated, supports digestion, and helps stabilize blood sugar. It’s also important for maintaining a healthy gut and heart. For a good source of fiber, look for nut-free protein bars that contain more than 10% of the daily recommended value (DV) (6).
- Added sugar. Close to 80% of snack bars are sweetened with one or more types of added sugar. Most commonly, this includes cane sugar, brown rice syrup, and honey (7). The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to 9 tsp (36 grams) per day for men and 6 tsp (24 grams) for women (8).
- Level of processing. Some protein bars are highly processed, containing artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Consuming high amounts of ultra-processed foods is linked to an increased risk of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and more (9). The GreenChoice app is an easy way to check if a protein bar contains highly processed ingredients.
ALLERGEN NOTICE: For each of the products listed below, we have included the allergen information disclosed on the packaging of each product, including allergy advisory statements about possible cross-contact. While none of these products contain peanuts or tree nuts in the ingredient list, some may be processed in a facility that processes nuts.
1. 88 Acres Triple Berry Seed Bar
These chewy & fruity bars feature a flavorful combination of cranberry, blueberry, currants, and a touch of cinnamon.
In these nut-free protein bars, an organic blend of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds provide a total of 5 grams of protein per bar.
Due to its nutritious blend of seeds, this bar is an excellent source of essential nutrients such as vitamin E, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Allergen Information: Made in a dedicated bakery free of peanuts, tree nuts, gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, and sesame.
2. Vega Crispy Mint Chocolate Sport Protein Bar
Vega Crispy Mint Chocolate Sport Protein Bar is made with brown rice and pea protein, delivering 20 grams of protein per bar.
It also contains tart cherry powder, which is associated with improved muscle recovery (10). What’s more, it’s gluten-free, vegan, and non-GMO.
Allergen Information: Manufactured in a facility that also processes peanuts, dairy, soy, egg, and tree nuts.
3. Power Crunch Triple Chocolate Protein Energy Bar
This creme-filled wafer-like bar offers a sweet flaky texture with only 5 grams of sugar.
It packs 13 grams of protein per bar, sourced from Power Crunch’s proprietary Proto Whey® protein blend made from hydrolyzed whey protein.
Allergen Information: Contains milk, wheat, soy (from lecithin). This product is manufactured on equipment that also processes peanuts.
4. Clif Bar Cool Mint Chocolate Energy Bar
Minty treat turned nut free protein bar, the Cool Mint Chocolate Energy Clif Bar supplies 9 grams of protein per bar, and a touch of caffeine for a boost.
It is made with soy protein isolate and organic rolled oats – a fiber-rich whole grain. It’s also fortified with added nutrients, including 15% of the DV for iron — a mineral essential for transporting oxygen throughout your body (11).
Allergen Information: Contains soy. May contain peanuts, tree nuts, nuts, milk, and wheat.
5. NuGo Vanilla Yogurt Bar
This nut-free protein bar is best described as nutritious rice krispie treat. It’s packed with 11 grams of protein per bar, primarily from soy protein isolate.
It also provides 40% of the recommended DV for vitamin A, 20% of the DV for calcium, and is loaded with a wide variety of B vitamins. Additionally, this bar is gluten-free.
Allergen Information: Contains milk and soy. Manufactured on equipment that also processes products containing peanuts, tree nuts, milk, and egg.
Key takeaways for choosing nut-free protein bars
We know that finding snacks that fit within your dietary restrictions is not easy.
First and foremost, always double check the ingredients list for peanuts and tree nuts if you are allergic. If you’re concerned about cross-contact, be sure to read the allergen statement — the safest choice is always choosing products made on dedicated nut-free equipment or in 100% nut-free facilities.
As you shop, also consider looking for protein bars that are high in fiber. If a nut-free protein bar contains more than 10% of the DV for fiber per serving, rest assured it’s a good source.
In addition, check the amount of added sugar and try to limit your total daily intake to less than 6-9 teaspoons (24-36 grams) per day. Lastly, be mindful of highly processed ingredients such as artificial flavors and colorings.
Our favorite nut-free protein bars:
GreenChoice, PBC has evaluated and rated more than 340,000 food & beverage products across hundreds of attributes related to diet, health, and sustainability. Easily find the best products for you, the planet, & your budget. Download the free GreenChoice app for Apple iOS or Android!