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Whats the Best Tasting Protein Bar? | Protein Bar Reviews

We Reviewed and Compared Four of the Leading High-Protein Energy Bars to See Which Ones Are Tops in Taste

protein-barProtein bars have gone mainstream. No longer found solely in the bottom of bodybuilders gym bags, protein bars are now turning up in airplane snack carts, in gas stations, vending machines, party-stores, and even peoples desk drawer at the office. Sales of protein and energy bars have exploded over the past ten years, from $200 million in sales in 1997 to over $1 billion in 2003.

But not all protein bars are created equal when it comes to nutrition and flavor. Despite having lots of protein, many protein and energy bars also come with a hefty serving of sugar, along with a list of arcane ingredients that only a PhD in food science could pronounce and decipher.

The Protein Bar Tasters Challenge

So I decided to assemble a 13 person team of intrepid taste-testers to discover which of the protein bars were tops when it came to flavor.

For this round of taste testing, we focused on energy bars that had a minimum of 20 grams of protein. Each taster was given a sample of four top protein bar brands, along with a rating sheet for each. The testers were asked to rate the bar on 1-5 scale (with one being inedible and five being yummy) in two categories: flavor and texture. They were then asked to provide an overall rating, along with any tasting comments.

And then I asked them the ultimate question: Would ever eat it again?

Scores are based on an average rating for each category.

The Protein Bars Tested

The brands I chose to review for this round were:

  • Met-RX Big 100 Bar (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough) Meal Replacement Bar
  • Clif Builders Cocoa Dipped Double Decker Crisp Bar (Peanut Butter)
  • Think Thin Creamy Peanut Butter High Protein Bar
  • Detour Carmel Nut Protein Energy Bar from Designer Whey
Who Were the Tasters?

I chose the tasters at random from across the Marketing Team at the office. The sample included a good mix of people who regularly ate energy bars and those who ate them infrequently or never. The sample also was balanced for gender and age.

 

MET-Rx Big 100 Bar (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough) Meal Replacement Bar

Price: $3

The MET-Rx Big 100 Bar was the second highest in protein of all of the energy bars we reviewed, with 28 grams of protein per serving. It was also the highest in calories, sugar and carbohydrates and the lowest in fiber. Most of the sugars come from high-fructose corn syrup.MET-Rx Big 100 Bar

Our tasters were decidedly mixed on the flavor of this bar. Most people didnt think it tasted like cookie dough, but rather like a soft graham cracker. People also seemed to be put off by its texture, commenting that it was gooey, very sticky and somewhat grainy. One person compared it to cardboard and another observed that it had a strange metallic taste.

Taster Ratings:

Flavor: 2.5
Texture: 2.4
Overall Rating: 2.3

Would You Eat It Again?

No: 9
Yes: 3
N/A: 1

Comments:

Bethany: Tastes more like a graham cracker. Too chewy. Typical nutrition bar

Kelly: Tastes like a graham cracker, NOT cookie dough. Yuck.

Ryan: Not so good

Kriste: Cardboard tasting, Id eat as a last resort.

Art: It does taste like cookie dough.

Courtney: Does NOT taste like cookie dough grainy texture and STICKY!

MET-Rx Big 100 Protein Bar Nutritional Information
Serving Size: 1 Protein Bar

Calories: 360
Calories From Fat: 45
Total Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: 5mg
Sodium: 200mg
Potassium: 500mg
Total Carbohydrate: 51 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Sugars: 25 g
Protein: 27 g
 

Ingredients:

Corn syrup, metamyosyn protein blend (milk protein concentrate, calcium sodium caseinate, whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, dried egg white, partially hydrolyzed soybean oil, l-glutamine), chocolate chips {chocolate drops (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, dextrose, soy lechithin, salt, artificial flavor), confectioners glaze (shellac, beeswax), gum arabic, corn syrup}, vitamin and minerals (potassium chloride, magnesium oxide, tricalcium phosphate, beta-carotene, ascorbic acid, d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate, niacinamide, ferrous fumarate, dicalcium phosphate, retinyl palmitate, zinc oxide, calcium d-pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, manganese sulfate, thiamin mononitrate, copper gluconate, folic acid, biotin, sodium molybdate, potassium iodide, phytonadione, sodium selenite, cyanocobalamin), natural and artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup, vanilla creme(fructose, maltodextrin, water, modified corn starch, salt, carrageenan, natural flavors), glycerin, brown sugar.

Clif Builders Cocoa Dipped Double Decker Crisp Bar (Peanut Butter)

Price: $2

The Clif Builders high-protein bar was nutritionally the best protein bar in the group.  Unlike many of the other bars, it contains no corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup and had a fair amount of fiber. Carbs and sugar were still a bit high, but its ingredient list wasnt filled with hard to understand ingredients.Clif Builders Cocoa Dipped Double Decker Crisp Bar

The Clif Builders bar also did quite well in terms of taste with our reviewers.

Most people described it as crunchy and crisp with good flavor, and one person actually compared it to a Watchamacallit candy bar.  A few people thought it was a little dry and sandy and didnt have enough peanut butter in it.  Overall, however, this bar was a winner with eight of our reviewers who indicated that they would eat the Clif Builders protein bar again.

Taster Ratings:

Flavor: 4
Texture: 3.8
Overall Rating: 3.7

Would You Eat It Again?

No: 2
Yes: 8
N/A: 2
Maybe: 1

Comments:

Bethany: Tastes more like a real candy bar! I would eat as a dessert. Yum!

Kelly: Tastes like a Snickers.

Ryan: Not enough peanut butter.

Nicole: It had a nice combination of crunchy and chewy texture. Tasted like a candy bar.

Art: Tasted sandy and not very peanut buttery.

Courtney: Like the soft/crunchy combination of taste and texture. Tastes more like a sweet treat than a protein bar.

Lisa: Like the crunchy texture.

Chris: Multitude of textures. Its like a health nuts Whatchamacallit candy bar

Josh: Holds very true to a real candy bar

Clif Builders High Protein Energy Bar Nutritional Information
Serving Size (bar) 1

Calories: 270
Fat Calories: 70
Total Fat:  8 g
Sat. Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 260 mg
Potassium: 250 mg
Total Carbs:  30 g
Dietary Fiber:  4 g
Sugars: 19 g
Proteins: 20 g

Ingredients:

Soy Protein Isolate, Chicory Syrup, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Palm Kernel Oil, Dry Roasted Peanuts, Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Soy Protein Concentrate, Cocoa, Vegetable Glycerin, Natural Flavors, Peanut Flour, Rice Starch, Inulin (Chicory Extract), Cocoa Butter, Salt, Organic Milled Flaxseed, Organic Oat Fiber, Soy Lecithin, Organic Sunflower Oil.

thinkTHIN Creamy Peanut Butter High Protein Bar

Price: $2

The thinkTHIN high protein bar, from Think Products, is billed on the companys website as one of the top rated bars in the natural industry. I included this bar in the taste test because is was gluten and sugar free and because, frankly, I thought it had a cool label and package. Created by a Lizanne Falsetto, a former fashion model, I kind of had high hopes for this protein bar.thinkTHIN

Unfortunately, my tasters set me straight.

This was clearly the least favorite protein bar of the bunch with our tasters. In the flavor category, it barely broke a 1 although it did slightly better in terms of texture.

Several people commented that this energy bar had a strange aftertaste and none of our reviewers thought it actually tasted like peanut butter. One person quipped that youll be thin after eating this protein bar because youll never want to eat again.

Taster Ratings:

Flavor: 1.3
Texture: 2.2
Overall Rating: 1.3

Would You Eat It Again?

No: 13
Yes: 0

Comments:

Bethany: Horrible aftertaste! Blaah!

Kelly: Bad aftertaste.

Nicole: Tastes kind of like BEEF! But has the texture of extra thick peanut butter. Very weird.

Ryan: Youll be thin because you wont want to eat again.

Art: No flavor.

Courtney: AWFUL! Tastes like dog food and dust!

Lisa: Tastes like ass.

Chris: Um . Im speechless.

Josh: Horrible. Grade F

Jen: Creamy texture was okay, but taste was not good.

Vickie: Yucky. There is NO peanut butter taste!

Kriste: Tastes like nothing. I could not force myself to eat this.

thinkTHIN Protein Bar Nutritional Information
Serving Size: 1 bar (60g)

Calories: 240
Calories From Fat: 80
Total Fat: 8g
Saturated Fat: 3.5g
Trans Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 5mg
Sodium: 260mg
Potassium: 80mg
Total Carbohydrate: 25g
Dietary Fiber: 1g
Sugars: 0g
Sugar Alcohol: 13g
Other Carbohydrates: 9g
Protein: 20g

Ingredients:

Protein Blend (Calcium Caseinate, Soy Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate), Coating (Maltitol, Cocoa Butter, Chocolate Liquor, Sodium Caseinate, Dairy Oil, Soya Lecithin, Natural Flavors, Salt), Glycerin, Maltitol Syrup, Ground Peanuts, Cocoa Butter, Water, Peanut Flour, Natural Flavors, Soya Lecithin, Tricalcium Phosphate, Salt., Vitamins And Minerals: Ascorbic Acid, D-Alpha Tocopherol, Niacinamide, Zinc Oxide, Vitamin A Palmitate, Electrolytic Iron, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Copper Gluconate, Riboflavin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Folic Acid, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin B12.

Detour Carmel Nut Protein Energy Bar from Designer Whey

Price: $2.09

The Detour Carmel Nut protein bar was the clear winner in our taste test, nudging out Clif Builders for the title Best Tasting Protein Bar. 

Extremely high in protein (30 grams) this bar was a hit with nearly every person.Detour Carmel Nut Protein Energy Bar Relatively low in carbohydrates and sugar, the bars only nutritional sins are its high sodium content (490 mg) and fat content, which was higher than any of the other bars (11 grams.) Like the MET-Rx bar, the Detour Carmel Nut protein bar was also a bit higher in calories than the other products reviewed. Also, its sweetened with sucrolose, so if you are trying to avoid artificial sweeteners, you might want to pass on this particular energy bar.

Our tasters loved this bar, describing it as having great flavor, and tasting like a real candy bar, but less sugary.  Several people noted that the bar had real peanuts in it, which gave it a great chunky, but chewy texture. One person commented that while it initially tasted great, it did have a slightly bitter aftertaste (this could be the artificial sweetener.)

Taster Ratings: Flavor: 4.4
Texture: 4
Overall Rating: 4.3
Would You Eat It Again?
No: 1
Yes: 11
N/A: 1
 
Comments:Bethany: Tasty!Kelly: Strong peanut flavor light and fluffy.Nicole: Had a great flavor like real nuts and caramel. The texture was a little chewy (I dont like chewy.)Ryan: Like a candybar.Art: Good!Courtney:Tastes great! My favorite by far!Lisa: This is a winner! Tastes like a candybar.Chris: Very good. Good nutty flavor.

Josh: Very easy to chew and swallow. No funky aftertaste.

Jen: Tastes like a candybar!

Vickie: Good flavor at first, and then turned bitter.

Kriste: Best of all of them, sort of like a Snickers bar, but less sugary.

Detour Deluxe Whey Protein Energy Bar Nutritional Information
Serving Size 1 bar (80g)

Calories: 310
Fat Calories: 90
Total Fat: 10 g
Sat. Fat : 4 g
Cholesterol: 40 mg
Sodium: 480 mg
Potassium: 150 mg
Total Carbs: 25 g
Dietary Fiber: 3 g
Sugars:12 g
Protein: 30 g

Ingredients:

Designer Whey Protein Blend (whey protein concentrate, hydrolyzed whey protein, pduf whey protein isolate), water, Glycerlean™ (99.7% USP glycerine, L-leucine, L-taurine, CLA), chocolate coating (sugar, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, nonfat dry milk solids, cocoa processed with alkali, whole milk solids, soy lecithin, natural flavor, salt, artificial flavor), peanuts, caramel, soy protein isolate, gelatin, calcium caseinate, inulin, peanut flavor, rice flour, salt, sucralose (Splenda® brand), potassium sorbate.

 

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