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
think! (thinkThin) High Protein Bars - Brownie Crunch, 20g Protein, 0g Sugar, No Artificial Sweeteners** Gluten Free, GMO Free*, 2.1 Ounce (10 Count) - Packaging May Vary
  • Thinkthin is now Think! our packaging may vary as we transition.
  • Every bite of our Brownie crunch bar is filled with the rich flavor of brownies and almonds covered in delicious chocolate providing an indulgent taste that satisfies hunger.
  • 20 grams protein: Our highest protein bar is for consumers seeking a multipurpose nutritional bar that can go from an energy boosting snack to a meal replacement when paired with a piece of fruit. Helps support lean muscle, muscle recovery and growth, and satiety.
  • 0 grams Sugar: No artificial sweeteners - Does not contain sucralose, saccharin, aspartame, Acesulfame potassium, neotame or advantame. Great for those watching their sugar intake (low GI).
  • We take pride in selecting ingredients that are gluten free, GMO Free* and Kosher with no artificial colors or flavors. *All ingredients have been produced without genetic engineering.
Bestseller No. 2
Fit Crunch Protein Bars, Snack Size Variety Pack, Gluten Free 18 Pack
  • Variety Pack: This pack contains 18 snack size protein bars (6 Peanut Butter, 6 Milk & Cookies and 6 Mint Chocolate Chip)
  • The award-winning FITCRUNCH Baked Bar is arguably the best protein bar ever made. Created by co-founder and celebrity chef, Robert Irvine, to provide 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. Sold world-wide, enjoyed by athletes, fitness enthusiasts and families.
  • Our 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.
SaleBestseller No. 3
Pure Protein Bars, High Protein, Nutritious Snacks to Support Energy, Low Sugar, Gluten Free, Chocolate Salted Caramel, 1.76oz, 12 Pack
  • You will receive (12) Pure Protein Bars, Chocolate Salted Caramel, 1.76oz
  • A DELICIOUS HIGH PROTEIN BAR: Pure Protein Bars are the perfect combination of high protein, only 3g of sugar and great taste. This delicious Chocolate Salted Caramel bar has 19g 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. 4
Pure Protein Bars, High Protein, Nutritious Snacks to Support Energy, Low Sugar, Gluten Free, Dark Chocolate Coconut, 1.76oz, 12 Pack
  • You will receive (12) Pure Protein Bars, Dark Chocolate Coconut, 1.76oz
  • A DELICIOUS HIGH PROTEIN BAR: Pure Protein Bars are the perfect combination of high protein, only 1g of sugar and great taste. This delicious Dark Chocolate Coconut bar has 19g 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. 5
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
SaleBestseller No. 6
ONE Protein Bars, Maple Glazed Doughnut, Gluten Free Protein Bars with 20g Protein and only 1g Sugar, Guilt-Free Snacking for High Protein Diets, 2.12 oz (12 Pack), Donut, Maple Glazed
  • THE ONE PROTEIN BAR: Congratulations, You've Found the ONE. Protein bar, that is. This Gluten-Free Maple Glazed Doughnut Protein Bar tastes as decadent as it sounds, but with 20g of protein and just 1g of sugar, there's nothing to feel guilty about.
  • GLUTEN-FREE PROTEIN BARS: There's nothing to feel guilty about in these Gluten-Free protein bars, so you can always give into your cravings. Stressful day? Pre-workout snack? Late for work? Grab your ONE protein bar for guilt-free snacking.
  • HIGH PROTEIN, JUST 1G SUGAR, NO REGRETS: Whichever ONE bar flavor you grab, from Salted Caramel to Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake, you'll be getting 20g of protein, 1g of sugar and zero regrets. Our gluten-free bars are a perfect guilt-free snack when your energy is low.
  • TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE SNACKING: At ONE, we believe that great taste and good health are not mutually exclusive, which is why we created the ONE Protein Bar. High protein, just 1 gram of sugar and highly indulgent flavor make this protein bar the one you'll keep eating.
  • ONE PROTEIN BAR IS THE ONE: You won't be disappointed when comparing our bars to bars by brands like Gatorade, Pure Protein, Clif Bar, RXBAR, Quest Bar, Think Thin, Optimum Nutrition, Power Crunch, MusclePharm, Premier Protein, Kind, Lara Bar & PowerBar.
SaleBestseller No. 7
Pure Protein Bars, High Protein, Nutritious Snacks to Support Energy, Low Sugar, Gluten Free, Birthday Cake, 1.76 oz, Pack of 12
  • You will receive (12) Pure Protein Bars, Birthday Cake, 1.76oz
  • A DELICIOUS HIGH PROTEIN BAR: Pure Protein Bars are the perfect combination of high protein, only 3g of sugar and great taste. This delicious Birthday Cake 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. 8
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. 9
Kirkland Signature Protein bar energy variety pack, 20 Count
  • Certified Kosher, Certified Gluten Free and Non-GMO^15 Grams of Fiber^No Artificial Flavors^Made with Real Chocolate
SaleBestseller No. 10
Pure Protein Bars, High Protein, Nutritious Snacks to Support Energy, Low Sugar, Gluten Free, Birthday Cake, 1.76 Ounce (Pack of 6)
  • You will receive (6) Pure Protein Bars, Birthday Cake, 1.76oz
  • A DELICIOUS HIGH PROTEIN BAR: Pure Protein Bars are the perfect combination of high protein, only 3g of sugar and great taste. This delicious Birthday Cake 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

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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