‘You do not need Protein Bars, or protein shakes in your diet.’ They simply are not essential, you can get all your protein requirements from ‘real’ food and for 90% of the time that is what I do. However on the odd occasion when I am and about, travelling or simply cannot get away from the gym to have a proper meal; I will turn to one of these types of products in order to stay on track.
Protein bars can also end up being an expensive habit to keep up, when you think that one bar can cost anywhere between £2-3, as opposed to a pack of chicken which will set you back a similar amount and provide more meals. They can also end up being relatively high fat or high carb. Some bars that I have seen will still set you back about 300-400 calories! This is okay if you are replacing a meal with them, but if you are simply adding in as a mid morning/afternoon snack thinking that they are healthy, then they are not so fantastic.
But there are some which I really do enjoy eating so thought I would give you a quick run down in case you were in the market for trying any! I have sampled some awful ones in the past, where they simply taste like you are eating rubber or cardboard. However in the past 6-12months a few companies have upped their game and come out with some tasty offerings. A lot of them now also contain a high amount of fibre, so if you are struggling to hit your target in that respect then they are a good alternative. However if you are eating plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods then fibre consumption shouldn’t be an issue.
1) Combat Crunch Cinnamon Twist
Calories: 210; Protein 20g; Carbs 25g (Fibre 12g); Fat 7g
I first came into contact with this range of bars after a session at Gold’s Gym in Los Angeles as they were on offer so thought i would give them a try. Hands down the best tasting protein bar I had ever had. It has a white chocolate coating and a chewy cinnamon flavour centre. It is quite sweet, but if you like a cinnamon bun then this is the bar for you! It has a nice texture too, a little bit chewy but not so much that you feel like you are going to break your teeth whilst eating it! They also seem a lot bigger than other protein bars which I have tried, which if you have an appetite like mine is always a good thing! The chocolate chip cookie dough is also incredible and I would recommend definitely.
2) Grenade Carb Killa White Chocolate Cookie
Calories: 215; Protein 22.4g; Carbs 15.2g (Fibre 6g); Fat 8.1g
I think this was the fourth flavour of Carb Killa bar which grenade came out with, and it is my favourite one in the range! It honestly tastes just like a milky bar with a few crunchy bits. One of the main things which i like about the grenade bars is that they just taste like you are eating a regular chocolate bar. I know you might be thinking ‘yeh yeh whatever’ but honestly ask anyone who has tried one and i think they will agree. A few people like these warmed up for 20seconds in the microwave so they go all gooey and melty, but personally i just prefer to eat them straight out of the packet. The fat content is slightly on the higher side, but adjust your macros accordingly for the rest of the day and it will definitely be worth it!
3) Quest Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Calories: 190; Protein 21g; Carbs 21g (Fibre 17g); Fat 8g
Quest used to be the top dog in the protein bar market. They contain no added sugar or artificial sweeteners and are gluten free. The type of bar was the first to have that chewy like texture. There are now 22 flavours available!! This one is definitely my favourite, probably followed by double chocolate chunk or cookies and cream. They are high in fibre, 17g in one sitting means that any more than one a day and you may experience some stomach cramping. They have also recently changed their ingredients to using soluble corn fibre rather than isomalto-oligosaccharides (IMOs) as the prebiotic fiber source, this was so that bars would stay fresher for longer. This change has come with mixed reviews, but personally I haven’t noticed too much of a difference.
Now this bar is amazing warmed up in the microwave, there are good sized chocolate chunks in the bar which go all oozy and melty. Delicious. But again not the main reason for buying them as it is rare that i actually eat them at home; although I have been known to put it on the dashboard of my car to heat it up a little bit!
4) Oh Yeah! Birthday cake flavour Low Carb Bar.
Calories: 220; Protein 21g; Carbs 24g (Fibre 9g); Fat 7g
Who can dislike a protein bar which is topped with sprinkles?! This is a really popular bar in America and I was looking forward to trying it out at body power back in May but it wasn’t available, so i was excited when I noticed musclefood selling them a couple of weeks ago. I am not too sure what birthday cake flavour is meant to taste like but it is certainly the flavour ‘in vogue’ at the moment, taking over from everything cinnamon it seems. (I did order some birthday cake flavour protein powder from myprotein recently too!) It has a very strong vanilla taste, and is a nice texture, a little bit similar to the texture of marzipan. It also makes a change from all the chocolate flavoured bars which are on the market. I have also tried a few other flavours from this range and can recommend the Jaffa Cake and Chocolate Brownie ones, and although I haven’t tried the peanut butter one, my sister says it is amazing!
5) Grenade Carb Killa Caramel Chaos
Calores: 214; Protein 23.2g; Carbs 13.5g (Fibre 6.7g); Fat 7.9g
This was the first offering from grenade which I tried and it is still one of my firm protein bar staples. I have no idea how they have managed to make a protein bar taste so good, and so reminiscent of an actual chocolate bar. This one even more so than the white chocolate one due to the silky layer of caramel under the outer chocolate layer. There are also crunchy bits throughout. These feel like an actual treat when I am eating them, and I could eat one everyday without failure if I didn’t force myself to keep them to when I really need them! the macronutrient breakdown is good, again it is slightly higher on the fat side (worth it) but then carbs are fairly low in comparison to some bars and with an adequate amount of fibre. You can also now buy these bars from Tescos or i have seen them in Petrol Stations near me. This is great as it gives you a better option for a snack if you aren’t prepared and don’t have to turn to a regular chocolate bar.
I had written up this blog post before I was able to get my hands on the latest offering from Mars, but after trying it, i felt it was only appropriate to tag it onto the end!
Mars Protein Bar
Calories: 200; Protein 19g; Carbs 22g; Fat 4.6g
This tastes JUST like a regular Mars bar. It has the chewy ‘nougat’ type filling topped with a layer of caramel and coated in milk chocolate. I cant remember the last time I had a regular Mars bar but I do like the little ones which you get in the tubs of Celebrations at Christmas if you put them in the freezer! It also has a fairly low amount of fat for a protein bar. I think it is great that companies such as Mars are coming out with protein varieties of their products (there is also a Protein Snickers Bar now), however like I mentioned before, just because it has protein in it doesn’t automatically mean that it is good for you and you can eat in infinite amounts. It still contains calories, but in comparison to a regular Mars bar which contains 230 calories; 4.3g Protein; 69.3g Carbs and 16.9g Fat, this is definitely a better alternative.
What are your favourite protein bars? Is there one which is going to change my life and I must try? Let me know and i will try and get hold of it!
Love Abi xxx