It’s May, which means it’s the start of summer, which means that it’s time to have your summer body ready for beach days and pool parties. Is my body ready though? Nope. I’ve gotta hit the gym, and hard. But I’ve always had a problem when it comes to working out: I never know what to eat. If I have something big like a sandwich or pasta, I want to vomit the entire time. If I settle for a snack like a handful of nuts I go the opposite direction and have to concentrate all my energy on not passing out on the treadmill.

After some Googling on the best pre-workout foods, I decided protein bars were the best option. In theory, their high levels of protein promise to keep you energized and feeling full at the gym. Even better, the best protein bars have low levels of sugar to keep you from crashing. So, before I could get to work on my six-pack abs I had to find the best protein bars to fuel my workouts. Here are my favorites:

ONE Brands:

Gabriela Blanco
Gabriela Blanco

ONE Brands’ ONE Bars are the best of the best when it comes to prepping you for an intense workout. They have the perfect combination of nutrients to keep your energy levels high, with 20 grams of protein, only one gram of sugar per bar and high-quality, gluten free ingredients. I tried six of their most popular flavors: dark chocolate sea salt, salted caramel, chocolate brownie, cookies & crème, chocolate chip cookie dough and peanut butter cup, their newest flavor.

Of all of them, the peanut butter cup was my favorite. It had the perfect combination of salty and sweet and kept me full during my grueling cycling class. The dark chocolate sea salt and chocolate brownie were extra chocolatey without being overly sweet, and the cookie dough and cookies & crème made me feel like I was eating dessert without any of the guilt. Even better, all of them had a gooey interior with a slightly crunchy exterior. That way, you get the chewiness of a good snack bar without having to workout your teeth for 20 minutes with each bite. I had these bars every day before my morning gym sessions and I never felt tired or hungry. All in all, if you want a summer body, you need to try ONE Bars.

RX Bar:

Gabriela Blanco

RX Bar was founded in 2013 in response to the wave of protein bars that were chalk full of artificial sweeteners, protein powders and all sorts of ingredients whose chemical names are practically impossible to pronounce. In fact, RX Bars are unique because of their short and natural ingredient list: egg whites, dates, and nuts. With a little less protein per bar than ONE Bars, RX Bars have 12 grams of protein. They also have zero grams of added sugar. I tried these before my cycling workouts in the chocolate peanut butter and blueberry flavors.

Overall, they were delicious and it felt good knowing exactly what I was putting into my body. As every one of their wrappers indicates, these bars have “No B.S.” The only downside was that they left me feeling a little hungry towards the end of my class and took practically hours to chew because of their gooey date base. I’d say RX bars are delicious and perfect to eat before less intense workouts like yoga or Zumba.

GoMacro Bar:

Gabriela Blanco

The last of my favorite pre-workout bars were GoMacro Bars. Born in 2003 after the founder’s turn to a plant-based macrobiotic diet to treat her breast cancer, these bars are 100% plant-based with ingredients coming from organic, non-GMO growers. And because of their high-quality grains, nuts, seeds, plants and natural sweeteners, these bars are also vegan, gluten free, Kosher, R.A.W. and C.L.E.A.N.

I sampled two of their protein bar flavors: protein pleasure (peanut butter chocolate chip) and protein decadence (dark chocolate + almond). These were slightly less healthy than the other options, with 11 grams of protein and 14 grams of sugar, but arguably more delicious. Something about the salty-sweet flavor combinations and the surprising bits of texture like chunky chocolate chips and almond pieces made it hard for me to stopping eating after just one bar. They kept me so energized that I started to run an extra mile each time I got on the treadmill (crazy, I know right). Thanks to them, I think I’m one step closer to being summer-body-ready.

Out of all the protein bars I sampled (and I tried a lot of them), these are the ones I stand behind 100%. So, if you’re looking to feel full, energized, and ready to build muscles and burn fat, these are the best bars to get you there. Happy Summer!