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!

Bestseller No. 1
Pure Protein Bars, High Protein, Nutritious Snacks to Support Energy, Low Sugar, Gluten Free, Variety Pack, 1.76oz, 18 Pack
  • One 18 ct box of Pure Protein Variety Pack Protein Bars
  • These 20g and 21g protein bars offer delicious chocolate flavors in every bar
  • Enjoy gluten free pure protein bars with low sugar (1) pre workout, post workout, or on the go
  • This variety pack includes chocolate peanut butter, chocolate deluxe and chewy chocolate chip flavors
  • These low sugar (1) protein bars provide high quality protein, an essential piece of a nutritious, balanced diet
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
SaleBestseller No. 3
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. 4
FITCRUNCH Snack Size Protein Bars, Designed by Robert Irvine, World’s Only 6-Layer Baked Bar, Just 3g of Sugar & Soft Cake Core (18 Snack Size Bars, Chocolate Peanut Butter)
  • PEANUT BUTTER: The classic candy bar combination of peanut butter and chocolate stops cravings in their tracks, while providing 16g of protein and 3g of sugar in a 190 calorie snack.
  • CHEF CREATED: Created by co-founder and celebrity chef Robert Irvine to provide quality nutrition and an unmatched taste that you’d expect from a world-renowned chef. FITCRUNCH makes getting your protein more enjoyable than ever before. Sold world-wide, enjoyed by athletes of all walks of life.
  • WORLDS ONLY 6-LAYERED BAKED BAR: Most protein bars have just one layer, ours stands out with 6 layers and a soft-baked cookie core that all play an important part in our award-winning protein bar appearance and taste!
  • INSANELY IRRESISTIBLE: FITCRUNCH presents the unapologetically unique & insanely irresistible protein snack bar, the best multi layered protein bar ever made. FITCRUNCH bars make getting your protein more enjoyable than ever before.
  • THE PERFECT ANYTIME SNACK: These bars are a quick, perfect snack to help satisfy your dessert cravings. Each bar is gluten free, made with 16g of protein and only 3g of sugar. FITCRUNCH bars are inspired by delicious flavor combinations that we all know and love and can be enjoyed anytime without the guilt!
Bestseller No. 5
N!CK’S Keto Snack Bar, Chocolate Peanut, 3g Net Carbs, 15g Protein, No Added Sugar, 5g Collagen, Low Carb Protein Bar, Low Sugar Meal Replacement Bar, Keto Snacks, 12-Count
  • Crunchy, chewy, and oh-so gooey sugar-free protein bar: An indulgent candy bar texture you can sink your teeth into. Chewy nugget, crunchy peanuts, and gooey caramel encased in a chocolate coating.
  • Keto: With a combo of low carbs (3g net carbs), healthy fats, protein, and great flavor, it’s never been easier to satisfy your cravings.
  • Fuel on-the-go:15g of protein (without that chalky protein taste) in one easy-to-carry package. Take it with you to stay energized all day.
  • Low-calorie snacking: Only 180 calories per bar makes it the perfect treat you’ll want for any occasion: before or after the gym, as an after-dinner dessert, or even as a lunch break snack!
  • Sweet, with no added sugar: That means no sugar crash! Enjoy Swedish-style snacks that taste too good to be true—great tasting AND great for you!
Bestseller No. 6
Quest Nutrition- High Protein, Low Carb, Gluten Free, Keto Friendly, 12 Count
  • YOU DESERVE A SPECIAL TREAT: The Quest White Chocolate Raspberry Protein Bars taste like a raspberry tart from your favorite pastry shop. Only our version has 20g protein, 5g net carbs and 1g of sugar per bar
  • UNWRAP COMPLETE PROTEINS: The Quest White Chocolate Raspberry Protein Bars are made with complete, dairy-based proteins to provide your body with 9 essential amino acids
  • FIBER IS YOUR FRIEND: The Quest White Chocolate Raspberry Protein Bars have 15g of fiber to provide your body with a more complete macro profile
  • SWEET WITHOUT ADDED SUGAR: Enjoy the sweet taste of a raspberry tart without worrying about added sugars. The Quest White Chocolate Raspberry Protein Bar has no added sugars
  • TREATS THAT TRAVEL WITH YOU: Take Quest White Chocolate Raspberry Protein Bars with you in your backpack, purse, car console, cup holder, gym bag or wherever your adventures take you
SaleBestseller No. 7
Quest Nutrition- High Protein, Low Carb, Gluten Free, Keto Friendly, 12 Count
  • YOU DESERVE A SPECIAL TREAT: The Quest Peanut Butter Brownie Smash Protein Bars taste like your favorite treat to make around the campfire. Only our version has 20g protein, 6g net carbs and 2g of sugar per bar
  • UNWRAP COMPLETE PROTEINS: The Quest Peanut Butter Brownie Smash Protein Bars are made with complete, dairy-based proteins to provide your body with 9 essential amino acids
  • FIBER IS YOUR FRIEND: The Quest Peanut Butter Brownie Smash Protein Bars have 14g of fiber to provide your body with a more complete macro profile
  • SWEET WITHOUT ADDED SUGAR: Enjoy the sweet taste of peanut butter and brownies without worrying about added sugars. The Quest Peanut Butter Brownie Smash Protein Bar has no added sugars
  • TREATS THAT TRAVEL WITH YOU: Take Quest Peanut Butter Brownie Smash Protein Bars with you in your backpack, purse, car console, cup holder, gym bag or wherever your adventures take you
Bestseller No. 8
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. 9
Nature Valley Chewy Granola Bars, Protein Variety Pack, Gluten Free, 21.3 oz, 15 ct
  • 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.
  • CONTAINS: 21.3 oz, 15 ct
SaleBestseller No. 10
think! High Protein Bars - Creamy Peanut Butter, 20g Protein, 0g Sugar, No Artificial Sweeteners, GMO Free, 2.1 oz bar (10 Count)
  • Allergen Information: gluten_free
  • Does not contain sucralose, saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, neotame, or advantame
Bestseller No. 11
Built Bar 18 Pack Protein and Energy Bars - 100% Real Chocolate - High Protein, Whey and Fiber - Low Carb, Low Calorie, Low Sugar - Gluten Free (9 Flavor Mixed Box)
  • MIXED BOX - The perfect choice for the undecided. A mixed box with 2 of each of the following flavors: Coconut - Mint Brownie - Cherry Barcia - Salted Caramel - Double Chocolate - Coconut Almond - Raspberry - Cookies ‘N Cream - Peanut Butter Brownie
  • NEW AND IMPROVED - Your mouth won't believe you! Our new bars take everything you love about Built Bars and takes it to a new level. You have to try it to believe it!
  • PERFECT TEXTURE - The typical protein bar is dense, gritty, and difficult to chew. Not Built Bar. Light, fluffy, and covered in perfectly tempered exotic chocolate. With each bite you take, you will think you are cheating on your diet, indulging on a chocolate dessert!
  • CLEAN - Finally, a well-rounded bar without all of the crap. No artificial flavoring, coloring or preservatives. No wax, no junk and Non-GMO.
  • ANYTIME SNACK - Built Bar is perfect for, well…. anytime. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Pre-workout and post-workout. On a hike or in the office. Low carb, high protein. Unbelievably healthy, ridiculously delicious.
Bestseller No. 12
Quest Nutrition Mint Chocolate Chunk Protein Bar, High Protein, Low Carb, Gluten Free, Keto Friendly, 12 Count
  • YOU DESERVE A SPECIAL TREAT: The Mint Chocolate Chunk Protein Bars taste like an indulgent chocolate mint patty. Only our bar has 20g protein, 4g net carbs and 1g of sugar per bar
  • UNWRAP COMPLETE PROTEINS: The Quest Mint Chocolate Chunk Protein Bars are made with complete, dairy-based proteins to provide your body with 9 essential amino acids
  • UNWRAP COMPLETE PROTEINS: The Quest Mint Chocolate Chunk Protein Bars are made with complete, dairy-based proteins to provide your body with 9 essential amino acids
  • SWEET WITHOUT ADDED SUGAR: Enjoy the refreshingly sweet taste of chocolate and mint without worrying about added sugars. The Quest Mint Chocolate Chunk Protein Bar has no added sugars
  • TREATS THAT TRAVEL WITH YOU: Take Quest Mint Chocolate Chunk Protein Bars with you in your backpack, purse, car console, cup holder, gym bag or wherever your adventures take you

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


If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!
Tags

Related Articles

Close