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 - (6) Chocolate Peanut Butter, 1.76 oz, (6) Chocolate Deluxe, 1.76 oz, and (6) Chewy Chocolate Chip, 1.76 oz
  • DELICIOUS & GLUTEN FREE: Pure Protein Bars feature the combination of high quality protein and great taste. This delicious, gluten free, chewy chocolate chip bar has 20 grams of protein to help fuel your super busy day.
  • ON-THE-GO PROTEIN: Pure Protein Protein Bars provide high-quality protein essential to a nutritious balanced diet and important for supporting lean muscle and an active lifestyle. Pure Protein bars are a convenient, on-the-go, pre- or post-workout snack.
  • When finding time for fitness comes first, how you feed your body makes a big difference. Packed with protein and loaded with flavor, Pure Protein bars, shakes and powders serve up the energy you need to keep crushing it in & out of the gym, pre- and post-workout.
  • COMPARE PURE PROTEIN bars and shakes to: Gatorade, Dymatize, Syntha-6, Quest, Clif Builder's Protein, thinkThin, RXBAR, Zone Perfect, ISS, Optimum Nutrition, PowerBar, Premier Protein, One Protein, MusclePharm, Luna, FitJoy, MuscleTech, or Power Crunch.
SaleBestseller No. 2
BSN Protein Crisp Bar by Syntha-6, Low Sugar Whey Protein Bar, 20g of Protein, Peanut Butter Crunch, 12 Count (Packaging may vary)
  • GLUTEN FREE, 230-240 CALORIES PER BAR - help fuel your body with this macro-friendly protein bar
  • PREMIUM PROTEIN BLEND -20g blend of protein-packed whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, and milk protein concentrate
  • 4G SUGAR OR LESS - satisfy your sweet-tooth while taking in 2-4g 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
Bestseller No. 3
CLIF BAR - Energy Bar - Variety Pack - (2.4 Ounce Protein Bar, 16 Count)
  • SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE: Each variety pack contains 16 bars, two each of the following flavors: Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Brownie, Sierra Trail Mix, Crunchy Peanut Butter, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, Cool Mint Chocolate*, Peanut Butter Banana with Dark Chocolate, and Blueberry Crisp.
  • NUTRITION FOR SUSTAINED ENERGY: CLIF BAR is made to feed the adventure in all of us. Our bars are purposefully crafted to deliver the protein, fiber, and carbs to sustain active bodies. A perfect energy snack to fuel up with, before, or during activity.
  • WHOLESOME INGREDIENTS: Keeping your energy up never tasted so good. Every bar is made with wholesome non-GMO ingredients like nuts, dried fruits, organic rolled oats, and real chocolate.
  • DELICIOUS FLAVORS, ENDLESS VARIETY: Satisfy any taste with a dazzling array of craveable CLIF BAR flavors to choose from.
  • ENERGY ON THE GO: Power up with wholesome, delicious energy, all wrapped up and ready to go.
Bestseller No. 4
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. 5
Pure Protein Bars, High Protein, Nutritious Snacks to Support Energy, Low Sugar, Gluten Free, Birthday Cake, 1.76oz, 6 Pack
  • You will receive (6) Pure Protein Bars, Birthday Cake, 1.76 oz
  • DELICIOUS & GLUTEN FREE: Pure Protein Bars feature the combination of high quality protein and great taste. This delicious, gluten free, chewy chocolate chip bar has 20 grams of protein to help fuel your super busy day.
  • ON-THE-GO PROTEIN: Pure Protein Protein Bars provide high-quality protein essential to a nutritious balanced diet and important for supporting lean muscle and an active lifestyle. Pure Protein bars are a convenient, on-the-go, pre- or post-workout snack.
  • When finding time for fitness comes first, how you feed your body makes a big difference. Packed with protein and loaded with flavor, Pure Protein bars, shakes and powders serve up the energy you need to keep crushing it in & out of the gym, pre- and post-workout.
  • COMPARE PURE PROTEIN bars and shakes to: Gatorade, Dymatize, Syntha-6, Quest, Clif Builder's Protein, thinkThin, RXBAR, Zone Perfect, ISS, Optimum Nutrition, PowerBar, Premier Protein, One Protein, MusclePharm, Luna, FitJoy, MuscleTech, or Power Crunch.
SaleBestseller No. 6
Pure Protein Bars, High Protein, Nutritious Snacks to Support Energy, Low Sugar, Gluten Free, Chocolate Peanut Butter, 1.76oz, 12 Pack
  • You will receive (12) Pure Protein Bars, Chocolate Peanut Butter, 1.76 oz
  • DELICIOUS & GLUTEN FREE: Pure Protein Bars feature the combination of high quality protein and great taste. This delicious, gluten free, chewy chocolate chip bar has 20 grams of protein to help fuel your super busy day.
  • ON-THE-GO PROTEIN: Pure Protein Protein Bars provide high-quality protein essential to a nutritious balanced diet and important for supporting lean muscle and an active lifestyle. Pure Protein bars are a convenient, on-the-go, pre- or post-workout snack.
  • When finding time for fitness comes first, how you feed your body makes a big difference. Packed with protein and loaded with flavor, Pure Protein bars, shakes and powders serve up the energy you need to keep crushing it in & out of the gym, pre- and post-workout.
  • COMPARE PURE PROTEIN bars and shakes to: Gatorade, Dymatize, Syntha-6, Quest, Clif Builder's Protein, thinkThin, RXBAR, Zone Perfect, ISS, Optimum Nutrition, PowerBar, Premier Protein, One Protein, MusclePharm, Luna, FitJoy, MuscleTech, or Power Crunch.
SaleBestseller No. 7
PowerBar Protein Plus Bar, Chocolate Peanut Butter, 2.12 oz Bar, (15 Count)
  • Each bar contains 20g protein and 4g fiber
  • Delivering high quality protein, a good source of fiber, and great taste in each bar, they are designed especially for everyday athletes, Enjoy the convenience of these grab and go bars to help replenish muscles and recover with ease post-workout or as a snack any time of day
  • Available in 4 delicious flavors: Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookies and Cream, Vanilla, Peanut Butter Cookie
  • NO ARTIFICIAL Colors or Flavors, NO Trans Fat, GLUTEN FREE
  • Each carton contains 15 bars
Bestseller No. 8
FITCRUNCH Snack Size Protein Bars, Designed by Robert Irvine, Protein Snack, Whey Protein, Low Sugar, Low Carb, High Protein & Gluten Free (18 Snack Size Bars)
  • 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
MusclePharm Combat Crunch Protein Bar, Multi-Layered Baked Bar, Gluten-Free Bars, 20 g Protein, Low-Sugar, Low-Carb, Gluten-Free, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Bars, 12 Servings
  • MULTI-LAYERED PROTEIN BAR: MusclePharm's Combat Crunch Protein Bar is a multi-layered Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup bar that delivers balanced nutrition and a soft yet crunchy texture with superior taste
  • 20 GRAMS OF PROTEIN: This protein bar is packed with 20 grams of protein, is gluten-free, contains no GMOs, and is low in sugar and carbs. Combat Crunch Bars follow the standard of gluten-free < 20 ppm gluten
  • AMAZING-TASTING PROTEIN BAR: The Combat Crunch Protein Bar is the three-time recipient of Protein Bar of the Year.
  • BANNED-SUBSTANCE TESTED and certified by Informed-Choice. Athletes who see the Informed-Choice logo on a product can be assured it has undergone rigorous checks and testing to ensure that it is not contaminated with banned substances and is safe to use
  • 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEE: All MusclePharm products are backed by a 30-day full money-back guarantee.
SaleBestseller No. 10
Premier Protein 30g Protein Bar, Peanut Butter Crunch, 2.53 oz Bar, (5 Count)
  • Each bar contains 30g protein, 3g Fiber, 10% DV Calcium, 25% DV Iron
  • Packed with protein for sustained, good energy throughout the day.
  • Available in 5 delicious flavors: Chocolate Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate Mint, Dark Chocolate Almond, Peanut Butter Crunch, Salted Caramel
  • NO ARTIFICIAL Sweeteners, Flavors, or Colors, GLUTEN FREE, No Trans Fats
  • Great for a meal replacement or a snack on-the-go.
SaleBestseller No. 12
Quest Nutrition Protein Bar Adventure Variety Pack. Low Carb Meal Replacement Bar w/ 20g+ Protein. High Fiber, Soy-Free, Gluten-Free (12 Count)
  • QUEST NUTRITION ADVENTURE VARIETY PACK (PACKAGING MAY VARY). Indulge your taste buds by trying our best-selling 12 flavors! Flavors Include: Cookies & Cream, S'Mores, Blueberry Muffin, White Chocolate Raspberry, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cinnamon Roll, Coconut Cashew, Double Chocolate Chunk, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Apple Pie.
  • CHEAT CLEAN. Eat toward your goals and love every bite along the way! With 20-21 grams of protein and plenty of fiber, these delicious protein bars are soy free, gluten free, have no added sugar, and are free of unnecessary carbs.
  • END METABOLIC DISEASE. These bars were created from a simple idea: food should taste as good for you with zero compromises.America's Favorite Protein Bar leads the charge in Quest's mission to end metabolic disease and make clean eating fun.
  • COMMITTED TO NUTRITION. Committed to developing and marketing innovative nutrition products that are both delicious and good for you, Quest Nutrition isis driven to engineer foods that don't compromise on taste or nutrition.
  • PROTEIN BAR OF THE YEAR. GNC's 2012 and 2013 Protein Bar of the Year, Quest Nutrition pushes forward daily on their mission to transform global health and eliminate obesity for good. Welcome to the Quest!

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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