NutritionSupplements

It’s a Bar Fight!: Candy Bar vs Protein Bars

Some people will tell you that “real” food is the only way to build real muscle, while others swear that truly impressive gains are only possible through significant supplementation. I tend to believe that any argument taken to the extreme boarders on lunacy, so my feelings on the matter tend to lie somewhere between the two extremes.

I understand and support the necessity of making nutrient dense “real” food a part of your diet, but at the same time I know from personal experience how much more convenient grabbing a protein shake or bar can be. Many of the protein bars  and shakes I’ve tried pack a powerful protein punch, and actually taste pretty darn good.

Todd from PhitZone.com has a post titled “Top 5 Must-Have Supplements” that is informative, straight to the point, and for the most part reflects the amount of supplementation that I include in my fitness journey. The only supplement not mentioned in the post that I include in my journey is kre-alkalyn. Kre-Alkalyn is a patented form of creatine that comes in a capsule version, but it also has a few additional features that convince me chose it over it’s cousin, creatine monohydrate.

  • The directions on the majority of creatine monohydrate out there that I’ve seen includes a loading phase that requires you to take often 4 times the amount taken in the maintenance phase. In my experience this loading phase results in you burning through about half your container in the first week. Kre-Aalkyln requires no loading phase, no cycling, and requires a lower dosage than many other forms of creatine.
  • One of the number one complaints I’ve heard from those that have used creatine is that it makes them retain water and leaves their muscles feeling bloated . I’ve experienced this feeling myself with several different types of creatine. Kre-Alkalyn is bloat free.
  • A four month study by bodybuilding.com compared a group of subjects taking Kre-Alkalyn to a second group that took creatine monohydrate. An unexpected result of the study was that the subjects who took creatine monohydrate displayed elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, while the LDL (bad) cholesterol levels of the group that took Kre-Alkalyn actually decreased over the test period.

“A Snickers candy bar is just as good for you as a protein bar, they’re basically the same thing!”

I must have heard it about a thousand times this year, especially around holidays like Halloween. I usually just pass a comment like this off as someone who’s just trying to justify the fact they’re about to mow about a half dozen of the little fun size bad boys, but then I started to get curious. Are Snickers bars just as good for fit desk jockeys as many of the most popular protein bars on the market?

Of course for an accountant this means spreadsheet time!

And the Bar Fight Begins!

SaleBestseller No. 1
Pure Protein Bars, High Protein, Nutritious Snacks to Support Energy, Low Sugar, Gluten Free, Variety Pack, 1.76oz, 18 Pack
  • You will receive (18) Pure Protein Bars, Chocolate Variety Pack, 1.76oz
  • A DELICIOUS HIGH PROTEIN BAR: Pure Protein Bars are the perfect combination of high protein, with less than 3g of sugar and great taste. This delicious Chocolate Variety Pack bar has up to 21g of protein for quick and sustained energy, and it is gluten free.
  • ON-THE-GO PROTEIN SNACK: Pure Protein Bars fuel your on-the-go active lifestyle. This protein bar is packed with a high quality protein blend for both quick and sustained energy, and full of flavor to satisfy your sweet tooth one bite at a time. Fuel your workout and nutritious balanced diet.
  • PRE- AND POST-WORKOUT FUEL: Pure Protein Bars are perfect for before or after a workout. Grab a protein bar about an hour before a workout to provide carbs and protein for energy and lean muscle support. Treat yourself after your workout to replenish energy and help the muscle recovery process.
  • COMPARE PURE PROTEIN BARS: Quest, Premier Protein, Oh Yeah! One, Clif Builders, Power Crunch, RX Bar, BSN Protein, Gatorade, Kellogg’s, ThinkThink, KIND, Lupii, Nature Valley, Fitcrunch, Powerbar, Atkins, Orgain, One Protein bar, MusclePharm, Oatmega, MuscleTech, Optimum Nutrition
SaleBestseller No. 2
Pure Protein Bars, High Protein, Nutritious Snacks to Support Energy, Low Sugar, Gluten Free, Chocolate Peanut Butter, 1.76 Ounce, 12 Pack
  • You will receive (12) Pure Protein Bars, Chocolate Peanut Butter, 1.76 Ounce
  • A DELICIOUS HIGH PROTEIN BAR: Pure Protein Bars are the perfect combination of high protein, only 2g of sugar and great taste. This delicious Chocolate Peanut Butter bar has 20g of protein for quick and sustained energy, and it is gluten free.
  • ON-THE-GO PROTEIN SNACK: Pure Protein Bars fuel your on-the-go active lifestyle. This protein bar is packed with a high quality protein blend for both quick and sustained energy, and full of flavor to satisfy your sweet tooth one bite at a time. Fuel your workout and nutritious balanced diet.
  • PRE- AND POST-WORKOUT FUEL: Pure Protein Bars are perfect for before or after a workout. Grab a protein bar about an hour before a workout to provide carbs and protein for energy and lean muscle support. Treat yourself after your workout to replenish energy and help the muscle recovery process.
  • COMPARE PURE PROTEIN BARS: Quest, Premier Protein, Oh Yeah One, Clif Builders, Power Crunch, RX Bar, BSN Protein, Gatorade, Kellogg’s, ThinkThink, KIND, Lupii, Nature Valley, Fitcrunch, Powerbar, Atkins, Orgain, One Protein bar, MusclePharm, Oatmega, MuscleTech, Optimum Nutrition
Bestseller No. 3
Quest Nutrition- High Protein, Low Carb, Gluten Free, Keto Friendly, 12-2.2 ounce assorted flavors variety Pack
  • 20-21g Protein, 4-6g Net Carbs, < 1-3g Sugars, 14-16g Dietary Fiber, 170-200 Calories, 4.5-8g Fat
  • Certified Gluten-Free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization.
  • No added sugar and keto-friendly protein bar
  • Includes 1 bar each of the following flavors: Blueberry Muffin, Double Chocolate Chunk, Chocolate Brownie, Mint Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Mocha Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Hazelnut, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Peanut Butter, S'mores, Cookies and Cream, and White Chocolate Raspberry
Bestseller No. 4
Quest Nutrition Protein Bar Low Carb Gluten Free, Blueberry Muffin 12 Count
  • A BREAKFAST MUFFIN FOR ANY TIME OF DAY: The Quest Blueberry Muffin Protein Bar tastes like a muffin straight from the coffee shop. Only ours has 21g protein, 5g net carbs and 2g of sugar per bar
  • UNWRAP COMPLETE PROTEINS: Quest Blueberry Muffin Protein Bars are made with complete, dairy-based proteins to provide your body with 9 essential amino acids. FIBER IS YOUR FRIEND: Each Quest Blueberry Muffin Protein Bar has 15g of fiber to provide
  • FIBER IS YOUR FRIEND: Each Quest Blueberry Muffin Protein Bar has 15g of fiber to provide your body with a more complete macro profile
  • SWEET WITHOUT ADDED SUGAR: Enjoy your Blueberry Muffin Bar worrying about added sugars. The Quest Blueberry Muffin Protein Bar has no added sugars
  • COMFORT FOODS FOR ANYTIME CRAVINGS: The Quest Blueberry Muffin Protein Bar is a sweet treat, without all the sugar, you can enjoy whenever you want to satisfy your sweet tooth Box contains 12 Blueberry Muffin flavored Quest Protein Bars
Bestseller No. 5
Fit Crunch Chef Robert Irvine's Whey Protein Bars, 18 Count Chocolate Peanut Butter
  • INSANELY IRRESISTIBLE: FITCRUNCH presents the unapologetically unique & insanely irresistible chocolate peanut butter snack bar, the best multi layered protein bar ever made. Classic candy bar is the combination of chocolate, peanut butter and soft cake core.
  • WHEY PROTEIN: Our natural flavored protein bars are made of two unique protein blends (Whey Protein Isolate & Whey Protein Concentrate), which make this gluten free crunch bar the best quality protein meal available in the market.
  • INGREDIENTS: The fit crunch bars are packed with high quality protein isolates in order to meet your daily protein intake needs. Our crunch bar is low in sugar, just 3 gram sugar keep your energy level & nutrition plan balanced.
  • MULTI-LAYER BAKED BAR: Our peanut butter protein bar is the first snack bar with 6 layers, unlike any other combat bar or meal replacement bars. Appearance and taste plays the important role in our fit crunch.
  • ABOUT FITCRUNCH: The award-winning FITCRUNCH Baked Bar is arguably the best protein bar ever made. Created by co-founder & celebrity chef (Robert Irvine). They provide the top quality nutrition and an unmatched taste that you’d expect from a world-renown chef. FITCRUNCH makes getting your protein more enjoyable than ever before.
Bestseller No. 6
RXBAR, Best Seller Variety Pack, Protein Bar, Gluten Free, 1.83 Ounce (Pack Of 30)
  • Anytime high protein snack: It’s always the perfect time for a wholesome snack. That’s why we suggest trying this Real food Protein Bar for breakfast time, lunch time, or as a pre or post workout snack. Eat the whole snack bar or save some for later.
  • Gluten Free and guilt free snack: paleo, Check. Whole30, Check. Guilt and gluten- free, double Check. Rxbars are the perfect protein bar for any healthy lifestyle. Check out Rx nut butter for a Keto snack option.
  • On-the-go protein packed fuel: RXBARs are great for the office, on-the-go snacks, or just a wholesome treat. Grab one bar for a protein-packed pre or post workout snack and get the energy you need.
  • We’re the bar that raised the protein bar, bar: at RXBAR, we make protein bars. Simple real food ingredients, no gluten, No added sugar, and no B.S.
  • This variety pack contains: 3 Chocolate Sea Salt, 3 Blueberry, 3 coconut Chocolate, 3 peanut Butter Chocolate, 3 peanut Butter, 3 maple sea salt, 3 banana chocolate Walnut, 3 mixed Berry, 3 Chocolate Raspberry, 3 Vanilla Almond
Bestseller No. 7
CLIF BARS - Energy Bars - Best Sellers Variety Pack- Made with Organic Oats - Plant Based - Vegetarian Food- Care Package - Kosher (2.4 Ounce Protein Bars, 16 Count) Packaging & Assortment May Vary
  • Includes 16 total energy bars, with 2 of each flavor: Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Brownie, Sierra Trail Mix, Crunchy Peanut Butter, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Flavor, Cool Mint Chocolate, Peanut Butter Banana with Dark Chocolate, and Blueberry Crisp
  • NUTRITION FOR SUSTAINED ENERGY: CLIF BAR is the ultimate performance energy bar, purposefully crafted with an ideal mix of protein, fat, and carbohydrates to sustain active bodies before and during long-lasting, moderate-intensity activity.
  • INGREDIENTS THAT ARE BETTER FOR THE PLANET: As part of our mission to help create a healthier, more sustainable food system, we make every bar with sustainably sourced chocolate and plant-based ingredients like almonds, peanuts, and organic rolled oats.
  • DELICIOUS FLAVORS, ENDLESS VARIETY: Satisfy any taste with a dazzling array of craveable CLIF BAR flavors, including classic favorites like Chocolate Chip and Crunchy Peanut Butter.
  • ENERGY ON THE GO: Whether you need sustained energy for hiking, climbing, skiing, or a long bike ride, CLIF BAR delivers wholesome, delicious energy that’s all wrapped up and ready to go.
Bestseller No. 8
FITCRUNCH Snack Size Protein Bars | Designed by Robert Irvine | World’s Only 6-Layer Baked Bar | Just 3g of Sugar & Soft Cake Core (18 Count)
  • INSANELY IRRESISTIBLE: FITCRUNCH presents the unapologetically unique & insanely irresistible chocolate peanut butter snack bar, the best multi layered protein bar ever made. Classic candy bar is the combination of chocolate, peanut butter and soft cake core.
  • WHEY PROTEIN: Our natural flavored protein bars are made of two unique protein blends (Whey Protein Isolate & Whey Protein Concentrate), which make this gluten free crunch bar the best quality protein meal available in the market.
  • INGREDIENTS: The fit crunch bars are packed with high quality protein isolates in order to meet your daily protein intake needs. Our crunch bar is low in sugar, just 3 gram sugar keep your energy level & nutrition plan balanced.
  • MULTI-LAYER BAKED BAR: Our peanut butter protein bar is the first snack bar with 6 layers, unlike any other combat bar or meal replacement bars. Appearance and taste plays the important role in our fit crunch.
  • ABOUT FITCRUNCH: The award-winning FITCRUNCH Baked Bar is arguably the best protein bar ever made. Created by co-founder & celebrity chef (Robert Irvine). They provide the top quality nutrition and an unmatched taste that you’d expect from a world-renown chef. FITCRUNCH makes getting your protein more enjoyable than ever before.
Bestseller No. 9
Nature Valley Chewy Granola Bars, Protein Variety Pack, Gluten Free, 21.3 Oz
  • GRANOLA BAR: Nature Valley granola bars are made with whole grain oats, salted caramel, and delicious dark chocolate.
  • REAL INGREDIENTS: Hearty whole grain oats with no artificial flavors, artificial colors, or high fructose corn syrup.
  • PROTEIN: An excellent source of protein with 10 grams per serving, for a quick and natural energy boost.
  • PERFECTLY PORTABLE: Easy, wholesome bites for breakfast, snack time or an on-the-go invigorating treat.
  • BOX CONTAINS: 15 bars, 1.42 each
Bestseller No. 10
Gatorade Whey Protein Recover Bars, Chocolate Chip, 2.8 ounce bars (12 Count)
  • Made with 20 gram of high quality whey and milk protein to help rebuild your muscles so you come back strong
  • 42g of carbs per bar to replenishing and get ready for tomorrow's workout
  • Scientifically developed for athletes, each bar contains protein and carbs to rebuild and refuel. The protein bar used by the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB is now available to you, Includes 12 chocolate chip bars
  • 350 calories, 20g protein, 42g Carbs
  • Individually wrapped to enjoy at the gym, off the field, or on the go
SaleBestseller No. 11
MET-Rx Big 100 Colossal Protein Bars, Great as Healthy Meal Replacement, Snack, and Help Support Energy, Gluten Free, Super Cookie Crunch, With Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Zinc, 100 g, 9 Count
  • You will receive (9) MET-Rx Big 100 Protein Bars, Super Cookie Crunch, 3.52 oz
  • HIGH PROTEIN BARS: MET-Rx protein bars are power-packed with high protein for the kind of energy your body demands. MET-Rx protein bars help you build energy for your next workout, game, or competition. Available in a variety of flavors and formulas
  • QUALITY SPORTS NUTRITION PROTEIN BARS: Protein & meal replacement bars from MET-Rx taste great & support a balanced diet. With a variety of flavors, MET-Rx protein & meal replacement bars go beyond grams of protein, bundling energy & taste in a single bar
  • MET-RX PREPARES ATHLETES TO DOMINATE: From protein bars & protein powders to pre-workout & post-workout powders & drinks, MET-Rx makes training fuel with protein & nutrients to enhance your performance, workout, muscle building, & post-exercise recovery
  • MET-RX WORKOUT FUEL: Compare with workout supplements from Quest Nutrition, Clif Builder's, RXBAR, Epic, MusclePharm, Gatorade, Kellogg's Special K, Muscle Milk, Optimum Nutrition, GRENADE, MuscleTech, Supreme Protein, Power Crunch, Bulk Supplements, BPI
Bestseller No. 12
BSN Protein Bars - Protein Crisp Bar by Syntha-6, Whey Protein, 20g of Protein, Gluten Free, Low Sugar, Peanut Butter Crunch, 12 Count
  • Gluten free, 230-240 calories per bar – Help fuel your body with this macro-friendly protein bar
  • Premium protein blend –20 gram blend of protein-packed whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, and milk protein concentrate
  • 4 gram sugar or less – satisfy your sweet-tooth while taking in 2-4 gram of sugar
  • Unique crunchy texture – Sink your teeth into a light, yet satisfying crispy textured protein bar
  • Easy snack option – Convenient enough to travel anywhere you go to support your health and fitness goals while on the go

There are three things that I ALWAYS look at when I’m selecting a protein bar.

  1. High in Protein – Duh, right? The sad thing is that as you can see in the table above, even the second lowest bar has 3 times as much protein as the Snickers Bar, which had the lowest amount on our list. Eight of the protein bars reviewed were packed with over 30 grams of protein per bar, making Snickers’ 4 grams look rather minuscule.
  2. Low in sugar – Several protein bars and most candy bars alike are absolutely stuffed with this simple carbohydrate. As a simple carbohydrate, sugar is digested very quickly and makes it’s way into the blood stream rapidly. Excess sugar in the bloodstream is unhealthy, so the body’s natural response is to store the excess sugar as fat. So where did Snickers stand? Snickers came in second highest in this category, with a jittery 30 grams of sugar, which is equivalent to over 3 1/2 teaspoons of sugar!
  3. Low in sodium – Several of the protein bars that I’ve tried at one time or another contain significant amounts of sodium. The sodium content in the bars we reviewed as all over the board with some containing as little as 55 mg, while others contain over 500 mg of sodium. In this comparison Snickers actually comes in on the low end, relatively speaking, with 140 mg of sodium. The FDA recommends that people aim for a daily sodium intake right around 2,300 mg/day, not that we should base our goals strictly on the recommendation of government agencies. It’s a good starting point at any rate. If you’re an American Fit Desk jockey, according to the American Heart Association you likely have room for improvement. Their studies indicate that the average American sprinkles their way to 3,436 mg of sodium per day. Be mindful and be nutrition aware.

Sugar Alcohol Fit Facts

Many of the protein bars on the above list are made with sugar alcohol (aka polyol, polyhydric alcohol, or polyalcohol) instead of sugar. Sugar Alcohol tastes very similar to sucrose (table sugar), but is derived from various plant products including fruits and berries.

Sugar Alcohols taken as a group are less sweet than sucrose. For instance one type that’s commonly used, Maltitol, is about 75% to 90% as sweet as sucrose. Despite it’s name, sugar alcohol is not the same as the alcohol found in alcoholic beverages.

Sugar Alcohol Positives:

  1. Does not contribute to tooth decay
  2. Has a lower caloric content than sucrose
  3. Produces a significantly smaller increase in blood glucose levels

Sugar Alcohol Complaints/Negatives – Over-consumption may lead to:

  1. Bloating, Diarrhea, and/or Flatulence
  2. Weight gain
  3. Will NOT get you drunk – Hey, I’m sure that bothers someone, somewhere.

The Winner!

As the bar fight comes to a close, the dust settles and the protein bars stand victorious. Don’t get me wrong, I love Snickers! In fact if I ever had a Blizzard from Dairy Queen, my choice would most definitely be Snickers. It’s just that they don’t have enough protein and are a little too high in sugar and fat to be considered synonymous with a protein bar.

I’ve had the majority of the protein bars in the above list, but the two I buy the most are the ONE Peanut Butter Pie, and the QUEST Blueberry Pie. One of the things that no list can quantify is people’s personal tastes. When choosing a protein bar I always start by looking at the nutrition label, but if it tastes like crap it’s not making it into my arsenal.

Sound Off!

Is your favorite protein bar on the list? Did your favorite bar not make the list?  Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below.  Or say whatever pops your cork!
-Matt


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