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 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 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 Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars, 1.76 oz, 12 Count
  • One 12 ct box of Pure Protein Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars
  • These 20g protein bars offer delicious chocolate peanut butter flavor in every bar
  • Enjoy gluten free pure protein bars with low sugar (1) pre workout, post workout, or on the go
  • Each chocolate peanut butter protein bar contains 20 grams of protein, 2 grams of sugar, and 200 calories
  • 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, Birthday Cake, 1.76 oz, Pack of 12
  • One 12 ct box of Pure Protein Birthday Cake Protein Bars
  • These 20g protein bars offer delicious birthday cake flavor in every bar
  • Enjoy gluten free pure protein bars with low sugar (1) pre workout, post workout, or on the go
  • Each birthday cake protein bar contains 20 grams of protein, 3 grams of sugar, and 200 calories
  • These low sugar (1) protein bars provide high quality protein, an essential piece of a nutritious, balanced diet
Bestseller No. 3
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
Bestseller No. 4
Pure Protein Bars, High Protein, Nutritious Snacks to Support Energy, Low Sugar, Gluten Free, Strawberry Greek Yogurt, 6 Bars Each 1.76 Oz, Pack of 2
  • Two 6 ct boxes of Pure Protein Strawberry Greek Yogurt Protein Bars
  • These 20g protein bars offer delicious strawberry Greek yogurt flavor in every bar
  • Enjoy gluten free pure protein bars with low sugar (1) pre workout, post workout, or on the go
  • Each strawberry Greek yogurt protein bar contains 20 grams of protein, 4 grams of sugar, and 180 calories
  • These low sugar (1) protein bars provide high quality protein, an essential piece of a nutritious, balanced diet
SaleBestseller No. 5
Pure Protein Pure Protein Bars, High Protein, Nutritious Snacks to Support Energy, Lemon Cake, 12 Count, 12 Count
  • You will receive (12) Pure Protein Bars, Lemon Cake, 1.76oz
  • A DELICIOUS HIGH PROTEIN BAR: Pure Protein Bars are the perfect combination of high protein, only 2g of sugar and great taste. This delicious Lemon Cake bar has 20g of protein for quick and sustained energy, and it is gluten free, NON-GMO and free of artificial sweeteners
  • 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. 6
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. 7
PowerBar Protein Plus Bar, Cookies & Cream, 2.15 Ounce (Pack of 15)
  • 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
Power Crunch Whey Protein Bars, High Protein Snacks with Delicious Taste, Strawberry Cream, 1.4 Ounce (12 Count)
  • DELICIOUS TASTING WHEY PROTEIN BARS: Power Crunch Bars are the perfect protein snacks. With 13 grams of protein and only 5 grams of sugar, these cookies and cream energy bars are the ideal snacks
  • YOU WILL RECEIVE: Twelve (12) Power Crunch Protein Bars, Strawberry Creme, 1.4 oz each
  • EASY-TO-DIGEST SNACKS UNLIKE ANY OTHER: Power Crunch High Protein Bars are made with high-DH hydrolyzed Proto Whey Protein. This is the pinnacle of smart protein nutrition
  • PERFECT SNACK FOR HOME OR ON THE GO: Enjoy Power Crunch Protein Bars on the go or at home. Satisfy your craving while working from home with this high protein snack.
  • COMPARE PROTEIN BARS AND PROTEIN SNACKS: Kind Bars, Clif Bars, think!, Nature Valley, RXBAR, Lara Bar
Bestseller No. 9
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. 10
FITCRUNCH 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. 11
Barebells - Protein Bars with 20g Protein - Low Sugar, Low Carb Protein Bar - Quick Late Night or High Protein Snack (Caramel Cashew, 12 Pack)
  • IRRESISTIBLE PROTEIN BARS: Barebells protein bars are available in four incredible flavors that were born to satisfy both your taste buds and your abs.
  • HIGH PROTEIN CONTENT: 20 grams of protein per bar and never compromising on flavor. Go ahead and enjoy a tasteful snack! You will not regret it!
  • NO ADDED SUGAR: Barebells Protein Bars contains less than 2 grams sugar per bar *.
  • YOUR NEW ADDICTION: Since Barebells Protein Bars are high in protein with 20 grams per bar, they are appreciated by fitness enthusiasts or for anyone on the lookout for a tasty treat, for that matter.
Bestseller No. 12
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

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!

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