Is Quest Still Number 1?
Picking the best protein bar a couple of years ago was pretty easy. You had traditional protein bars which tasted okay but had relatively weak nutritional value and you had the Quest Bar, a revolutionary protein bar which introduced an entirely new type of bar powered by prebiotic fibres and high quality protein isolates to deliver a genuine low carb bar. Not surprisingly Quest took the market by storm outselling every other bar combined by a country mile.
The success of Quest has been a phenomenon but it has led to some of the biggest names in the industry hitting back recently with protein bars featuring similar ingredients to Quest in an effort to supplant Quest as the number one bar on the market. With so many new bars being released we felt it was time to find out if Quest Bars were still streets ahead of the rest in terms of nutritional quality, taste and health benefits or if it has been superceded by a new bar.
Taste vs Nutritional Value
When it comes to protein bars people fall into two camps - those who prioritize taste and those wanting high quality nutrition. In the past this was very much a case of choosing one or the other but modern food science has progressed to the point where both can be found in the same protien bar. Still, we can still generally say that the best tasting ones will be those with natural sugar, rather than sugar alcohol, as well as a higher than average fat content. At the same time, the higher the protein content, the thicker the overall texture.
With that in mind the following shows protein bar reviews of a few popular protein bars on the market; comparing the taste, nutritional value, and suitability as part of a healthy lifestyle.
B-Up bars contain 20g of protein per bar and only 27g carbs, 20g of which being prebiotic dietary vegetable fibre and only 2g sugar. The protein is sourced from whey protein isolate and milk protein isolate. These are high quality sources both with a complete amino profile. B-Up bars are also sucralose free and average around 180kcal per bar.
Along with a great nutritional profile, B-Up bars come in a wide range of flavours, including unique ones such as ‘sugar cookie’ and ‘peanut butter jelly’. Although the bars are all natural, the taste is exquisite and sweet with a soft texture.
Snickers Protein Bars:
Snickers is a hugely popular chocolate bar so it should not be hard to imagine why you would want to try the protein bar version of Snickers. They don't disappoint with caramel and peanuts and the taste is similar to 'normal' Snicker bars.
First of all, with 18g of protein in a 57g bar it has to be said that this is more or less identical to most of the bars on the market but while it provides a good deal of protein, here at Predator we tell it straight and have to say that the inclusion of collagen is not the best thing in the world. While collagen has some useful properties with respect to its effects on joint integrity, it is not a great thing to see it as the primary protein in this.
With a triple layer of chocolate and a crisp texture worthy of a snap, crackle and pop; Carb Killa bars taste like heaven. Available in caramel chaos flavour, the bars are rated as one of the best tasting around.
The taste is no doubt the highlight of the bars, as the ingredients used aren’t of the greatest quality. Protein is sourced from milk protein, while there are many added extras such as palm fat, xylitol, sucralose and polydextrose. At only 214kcal per bar, they’re ideal for a sweet treat when dieting, but if you’re looking for a top grade nutritional profile you won’t find it here.
Crucially, unlike most protein bars, which fall behind their mainstream snack counterparts in flavour and texture, FitJoy bars deliver a truly gourmet taste experience that has had even the most discerning clean-eating food snobs across the web salivating.
With a blend of fast-and slow-release proteins to support muscle repair and growth, no genetically modified ingredients, gluten, sucralose or preservatives, and no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners, they deliver virtually everything that today’s health-conscious individual could possibly want from a protein bar, all this and 20g of protein and 10g+ fibre per bar.
Probably one of the most delicious bars we have ever tried! MusclePharm goes against the smooth chewy bars and comes up with a crunchy deliciousness. With a chocolate coating and crunchy texture, if you could measure moreishness on a scale…you would need new scales!
MusclePharm haven’t just concentrated on taste though like most brands. They have used high quality protein sources (whey protein isolate, milk protein isolate) and prebiotic fibre, to ensure you get a great boost of vital nutrients. Around 210kcal per bar, Combat Crunch is way up there in the best bars of 2017 if not the best. One of our customers said ‘they have more calories than a quest bar, but in a blind tasting they would stand up against a simple chocolate bar’…says it all really.
Mars Protein Bars:
For fans of Mars Bars your dreams have been realised as we now have high protein Mars Bars. Mars have retained the taste you will remember and combined it with 19g of protein per bar and moderate levels of carbs. This makes these bars ideal not just for promoting muscle recovery but by supplying 22g of a mix of fast and slow releasing carbs, Mars Protein Bars will fuel performance or, to coin a phrase, help you work, rest and play:)
Nitro-Tech Crunch Bars:
Nitro-Tech Crunch Bars deliver 22g of protein per bar and that makes these exceptionally high in protein content while retaining a texture that avoids the taffy like texture that puts some people off Mission 1 and Quest Bars. Nitro-Tech Crunch Bars taste more decadent than MuscleTech's previous bar with a delicious coating that varies based on each bar and with visible inclusions that really help to bring out the flavours in each bar.
Chef Robert Irvine, well known for Fit Crunch Bars, has brought another supreme tasting bar to the table. Fit Elite bars are baked soft, with both cookies and cream and cookie dough flavour tasting absolutely flawless and even containing real cookie pieces.
Whey isolate and milk isolate make up the 20g high grade protein blend and 15g prebiotic fibre, the nutritional profile along with the mouth-watering taste make Fit Elite bars one to put straight in your basket.
No Cow Bars:
D's Naturals No Cow Bars redefines what a vegan protein bar should be. Forget about poor ingredients like soy or about bars struggling to get to even 15g of protein since No Cow Bars deliver 20g or more in every flavour and uses vegan protein sources like brown rice and pea but does it while making these bars taste INCREDIBLE.
Muscletech Mission 1 bars have a soft texture and contains real cookie pieces and chocolate making it one of the nicest bars on the market.
With 21g protein per bar, made up from high quality whey isolate and milk isolate protein, 17g dietary fibre and only 1g sugar, Mission 1 offers a nutritional profile up there with the best of them.
When Quest first released their bars, the taste was a jaw dropper; smooth, sweet and with a soft texture it was like a breath of fresh air in the industry compared to the bitter tasting bars we were too familiar with. Since then they have changed the ingredients slightly and although still a nice taste compared to many, it’s simply not the same taste we have come to love.
The nutritional profile also took a drop down in grade, still using high quality ingredients such as milk protein isolate and whey protein isolate to provide the 20g protein per bar, but adding ingredients such as corn fibre in place of vegetable fibre doesn’t do well for the taste. Quest are still a good choice but not the number one choice as they used to be.
Reflex R-Bars have a delightfully soft texture and are available in 6 unique flavours including the likes of cherry bakewell and white choco raspberry ripple, each one with a distinctive, titillating taste.
Every bar is free from GMO’s, palm oil and glucose, all now commonly found in protein bars. At 20g protein per bar sourced from milk and whey, you get a sufficient dose of good quality protein. A mere 10g of carbs per bar is perfect for those dieting. Reflex offer one unique ingredient, adding antioxidants to their R-Bars. All in all the R-Bars are a great tasting, high quality bar perfect for those watching their caloric intake.
Quest Beyond Cereal Protein Bar:
Breakfast bars have become very popular in recent years, as people have less time in the morning to sit down and eat a proper bowl of cereal. The problem with these bars is that they are very high in sugar, probably one of the reasons why they are so popular, but with sugar comes calories.
Quest Beyond Cereal bars are made with a natural sweetener called 'Allulose' which is found in figs, dates and maple syrup. The difference with Allulose in comparison to sugar is that it contains 10% of the calories. It has the same texture and taste of sugar, so you can have the same sweet taste that people expect from Cereal bars but with 12g of protein, 3g of carbs and only 110kcal's.
Fit Crunch are the brilliant work of Chef Robert Irvine. There’s no taste quite like it with a chocolate layer, bits of chocolate cookie and real peanuts in their ammo it’s possibly the nicest bar to ever be on this planet.
A huge 30g protein is in every bar sourced from whey isolate, whey concentrate, milk isolate and soy isolate. There’s slightly higher carbs and sugar content than other bars, with 27g carbs and 6g sugar, this is possibly the only downfall in the bar itself. Fit Crunch are certainly a bar worth trying and a great snack for those bulking.
Everyone love’s Predator Brownies and if you haven’t tried them, I’m guessing you don’t have the internet and you live on Mars. Made from the best-selling Trutein Chocolate Truffle, the brownies have a rich chocolate taste (made with 55% cocoa) and a super soft texture perfect for those with a sweet tooth.
Admittedly the brownies contain a fair amount of calories at around 340kcal each. This is due to the use of light soft brown sugar and unsalted butter, but the brownies aren’t really made to be the healthiest snack in the world. There is 15g protein, around 25g carbs and 17.5g fat per brownie. My advice though…give them a try if you have enough will power not to eat another 10 straight after!
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the man, the legend, has offered us a little taste of him in a bar. With a chocolate coating and a soft texture they are sensational! All three flavours (frosted cinnamon, chocolate brownie and chocolate peanut butter) are superb and backed up by a very high nutritional profile.
The bars are primarily made up of whey isolate and whey concentrate protein to give 30g protein and maltodextrin as its main source of carbs. A great fact about the Muscle Bar’s is they have zero trans-fat.
Oh Yeah One Bars:
Oh Yeah! Nutrition have recently discontinued their highly popular line of Oh Yeah! Low Carb Bars in favour of Oh Yeah! One Bars which had already been sold in the USA to widespread acclaim. Following in the same vein as popular low carb bars like the Combat Crunch and Quest Bar, the new One Bar is still quite distinctive in both its texture and taste and it is that which has made these a runaway success in the USA.With up to 22g of protein per bar, One Bars score higher than the likes of Quest and do so without increasing the bar size meaning they contain a higher protein percentage than Quest and most other low carb protein bars.
We cannot possibly review every protein bar on the market but we hope this review is of assistance to people who are bewildered by the best protein bar to pick. Ultimately, it depends on personal preference but use this to guide your decision.
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Author: Reggie Johal
Reggie Johal is a former Great Britain American Football player with a background in strength and fitness coaching with articles published in many leading online and print magazines including Muscle and Fitness. Reggie is the founder of Predator Nutrition.