I really love trying different protein bars (with as many natural ingredients as possible) and thought I would review my two favorite brands. This is not to say that I don’t like others out there, like Vega or FitSmart or Lara Bar, etc. … But the below two, in my opinion, have the most natural ingredients while still packing a good amount of protein (i.e. more than 10 grams) and fibre (i.e. more than 3 grams).
Quest Bars: I was only recently introduced to these bars. I’ve been seeing quite a bit of hype on various forums/websites/blogs, with talk about the nutritional profile and the protein/fibre levels. I’d also seen them at Popeyes and Nutrition House in Ottawa, where the vast array of flavours caught my attention. Gotta love choices!
So far I have tried the following flavours: double chocolate, chocolate brownie, cookie dough, coconut cashew, fruit, strawberry cheesecake, white chocolate raspberry, apple pie, cinnamon bun, vanilla-almond crunch, banana nut, peanut butter chocolate … In other words, pretty much all of them! Edit: I have also tried the Oreo (newer product released in 2014).
In terms of texture, Quest bars are a little chewier than other protein or meal replacement bars, and admittedly a few of the flavours still have a distinct “protein bar” taste (which I don’t like because it tastes fake). Overall though, I am very impressed with the product. From a flavour perspective, my favorites are: Double chocolate (way better than the brownie, which I found to be dry and fake tasting; double chocolate has chunks of chocolate and more of a cake-like texture), Apple pie (tastes like apple pie filling), Cinnamon bun (delightful) and Banana nut (fulfills my random hankering for banana bread). While a lot of people report loving the cookie dough (and I agree, when microwaved, it is kind of reminiscent of a cookie … Kind of) I thought it was good, but not mind-blowingly so (I think that should be a word but spell check is saying no).
A typical bar comes in at approximately 180 calories, 25 g carbs, 18 g fibre and 20 g protein. An example list of ingredients (from the cookie dough bar) is as follows: Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate), Isomalto-Oligosaccharides (Prebiotic Fiber), Almonds, Water, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Erythritol. Contains Less than 2% of the following: Salt, Sucralose, Stevia, Milk Derived Ingredients, Natural Flavorings.
As you can see, it’s pretty natural and with the exception of the Sucralose which I try to avoid (though it is only in some of the flavors), it’s pretty wholesome! For anyone with blood sugar issues (or diabetes), I think these would be good because they shouldn’t affect your insulin like bars made with a lot of fruit, refined or artificial sugars. The inclusion of prebiotic fibre (from chicory root) is also a plus with respect to keeping blood sugar spikes at bay, as well as keeping you … Regular 😉
Elevate Me Bars: I have been eating these for longer than the Quest, dating all the way back to my Vancouver days (I frequently bought them at Whole Foods … oh, how I loved that place!)
To date I have tried the following flavours: banana nut bread, matcha green tea with cranberry, and cocoa coconut cluster. The texture of these bars is better, in my opinion, as they just seem less chewy/fake and more like a home-made square or dense cookie bar. There are fewer flavors to choose from, and the fibre level is significantly lower than the Quest (this is because Elevate Me don’t use prebiotic fibre, which – while good in many ways – can actually upset some individuals’ digestive systems – Vega bars and Fibre 1 bars, as well as Quest bars, all have some type of added albeit naturally sourced prebiotic fibre). If I had to choose, I would have to say I would pick the banana nut bread or matcha green tea flavors as my favorites, because they taste SO AUTHENTIC. Even more so than the Quest bars. Really just delicious.
A typical bar comes in at approximately 230 calories, 34 g carbs, 4 g fiber and 18 g protein.
An example of ingredients (in this case for the banana nut bar) is as follows: whey protein isolate, organic raisins, organic whole bananas, natural sliced almonds, dates, apples. As you can see, the ingredient list is even cleaner and more natural than that of the Quest bar.
In all honesty, I would encourage you to try both of these brands and then you can decide for yourself which is better. In terms of macronutrients, the Quest bars have it in the bag! I have never seen anything with that much protein AND fibre, yet also quite low in calories and not full of fake ingredients. Overall, if I had to chose 6 bars of all the bars out there, my picks would be (in no particular order):
1. Matcha green tea with cranberries (Elevate Me)
2. Banana nut bread (Elevate Me)
3. Cinnamon Bun (Quest)
4. Apple Pie (Quest)
5. Double Chocolate (Quest)
6. Raspberry White Chocolate (Quest)
I also really like Vega bars (have just tried double chocolate and chocolate almond) however I find they have a tiny bit of a funny aftertaste and a limited selection (I’ve only seen the two flavors). That said, the texture is great as is the nutritional profile! You wouldn’t even know there is broccoli and kale crammed in there …
Anyways, I hope this review was of some help, to someone, somewhere … or at the very least – I hope that it made you want to try a few of these bars out!