Meal Replacement Bars, Nutrition Bars
By Dave Slagle, General Manager of Paradise Fitness Centers
Remember Powerbars? I do! I used to love malt nut Powerbars as a "safe cheat food" during my pre contest diet. With only 10 grams of protein, 45 grams of carbohydrates and 2.5 grams of fat plus a few vitamins and minerals, Powerbars saved me from many all out binges. Powerbars now are available in a variety of flavors. They seem to cater mainly to the endurance athletes (runners, bicyclists and triathletes) because of the high carbohydrate levels. I think that Powerbars are an okay snack food. I know that Powerbar is still the most widely consumed nutrition bar, and they still rank among MY top twenty favorite bars. But now there is a cornucopia of other bars. There are meal replacement bars, low carbohydrate bars, high fiber bars, etc., etc. Here is a list of MY TEN favorite bars and their macro nutrient (protein. carbohydrate and fat) profiles.
#1 The KING SIZED SNICKERS Bar
Yeah, I know it's not a "bodybuilding bar" but I said MY favorite BARS, so I had to include it. The King Sized SNICKERS bar has a great taste and is made up of moist nougat and chewy caramel. Plus it's chock full o' peanuts. I guess you could say that I find SNICKERS bars very satisfying. This bar has 9 grams of protein (slim milk, peanuts, egg whites and soy lecithin), 63 grams of carbohydrates (63 grams of sugar) and 24 grams of fat (9 grams of saturated fat). Sure, it may not be the optimum choice for a pre contest diet. But you probably won't mistake it for a meal replacement bar. I usually enjoy a few of them at once and round out the meal with a 44 oz Coca-Cola soft drink (mmmm!). Oh well, it's called cheat day for a reason.
#2 The MESOTECH CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER Bar
Muscletech makes excellent tasting bars. This bar has 25 grams of protein (whey peptides, whey protein concentrate, ion-exchanged whey protein, soy protein isolate and calcium sodium caseinate), 44 grams of carbohydrates (29 grams of sugar) and 7 grams of fat (3.5 grams of saturated fat) and some vitamins and minerals. The MESOTECH bar is my absolute favorite non-candy, candy bar. The problem I have with the MESOTECH bar is that it tastes like candy. Just like the King Sized SNICKERS bar, I can eat 2 to 3 of them in one sitting. Then I ask myself, am I pigging out on junk food OR bulking up my muscles on "quality" bodybuilding nutrients?
#3 The PROMAX COOKIES & CREAM Bar
Sportpharma spent several years and thousands of dollars on prototypes before they finally marketed a bar. Did they get it right? YES, I believe they might be on to something! The PROMAX bars taste awesome. Although I enjoy all the great flavors, I iike their cookies and cream bar best. Many people whom are not "hardcore" bodybuilding or fitness competitors have embraced these bars as a dietary staple. Why? Well my guess is because that as a supplement this bar has 20 grams of protein (whey protein concentrate, calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed whey protein concentrate, l-glutamine, l-leucine, l-isoleucine, l-valine), 38 grams of carbohydrate (31 grams of sugar) and 6 grams of fat (3.5 grams of saturated fat). Along with the blend of vitamins and minerals it seems like a pretty decent bar with an awesome taste. The couch potato/weekend warrior type now has an alternative to both candy bars and "eating cardboard'' as I've heard many people describe their experience with most nutritional supplement bars. I'll repeat that the PROMAX bars taste awesome but...I think of them as another kind of "safe cheat food". It's not a good choice for a precontest diet but it's not "junkfood'' either.
#4 The SIMPLY PROTEIN CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER Bar
When Experimental and Applies Sciences (EAS) first introduced their MYOPLEX bar to the market I became an enthusiastic consumer. The chocolate peanutbutter MYOPLEX bar still ranks among my top twenty bars. The problem I have with MYOPLEX bars is that they have more carbobydrates and less protein than I prefer. I first tried a SIMPLY PROTEIN bar with high expectations. It has 32 grams of protein (calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed protein and whey protein concentrate), 16 grams of carbohydrate (8 grams of sugar) and 10 grams of fat (4 grams of saturated fat). Along with a blend of vitamins and minerals, nutritionally this barar Iooks pretty good. While I like the ratio of 32 grams of protein and only 16 grams of carbohydrates, this bar can't match the MYOPLEX bar in taste. But I like the SIMPLY PROTEIN bar, even though it has a mild (glycerin?) aftertaste.
#5 The MET-RX PROTEIN PLUS CHOCOLATE ROASTED PEANUT Bar
The original MET-RX bars were made of this weird kind of vanilla substance. They never really tasted fresh and they were hard to chew. I tried to nuke one once. I placed the unwrapped bar on a small plate and set the microwave for 24 seconds on medium high temperature. It just kind of puffed up. After the bar cooled down, I had to use a steak knife to saw through it. I tried a small chunk of it. I had to gnaw on it for a few minutes and then it became like gum. So I ended up with a bar that was chewy but now it tasted like burnt vanilla nougat. That was ancient history though and the newer MET-RX chocolate roasted peanut bar is moist and it really tastes good. lt has 34 grams of protein (milk protein isolates, caseinates, whey protein concentrate, egg white, and glutamine), 13 grams of carbohydrates (3 grams of sugar) and 8 grams of fat (6 grams of saturated fat). This bar has a really good vitamin and mineral profile and would make an excellent choice as a snack or meal replacement.
#6 The PURE PROTEIN BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE Bar
Worldwide Sport Nutrition was the first to market a great tasting low carbohydrate bar. The proem was that the bars did not meet label ciaim (they had a higher percentage of carbobydrates than the label listed). That was several years ago and I guess they fixed that problem. The PURE PROTEIN bars are all pretty good, especially if you are starting a competion diet. The blueberry cheesecake bar has 30 grams of protein (calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed protein, whey protein isolate), 14 grams of carbohydrate (4 grams of sugar) and 4 grams of fat (3 grams of saturated fat) and a variety of vitamins and minerals.
#7 The LABRADA NUTRITION LEAN BODY MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP Bar
This bar has 30 grams of protein (whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, hydrolyzed whey protein isolate peptides, milk protein isolate, caseinate) 19 grams of carbohydrates (12 grams of sugar), 7 grams of fat (4 grams of saturated fat) and a spectrum of vitamins and minerals. The cookies & cream bar is also really delicious! In fact, I really enjoy all the great flavors of the LEAN BODY bars. The Labrada Nuirition Lean Body bars are great tasting, high quality, meal replacement bars. I recommend them as part of a high protein, moderate carbohydrate diet.
#8 The BIOCHEM LO-CARB S'MORES Bar
Anyone that has eaten one of these bars, about four days into a ketogenic diet, will swear that it is the best damn thing they have eaten...EVER! The BIOCHEM LO-CARB S'MORES bar has 20 grams of protein (soy protein isolate, whey protein concentrate), 3 grams of carbohydrate (O grams of sugar) and 6 grams of fat (3 grams of saturated fat) and a few vitamins and minerals. For those of us not on a keto diet, the bars still taste pretty good. They are kind of chewy but with only three grams of carbohydrate you should expect it. These bars also come in a delicious Fudge Brownie flavor. The cappuccino flavor is also pretty good. I like most of their bars except their Raspberry bar. They need to start over on that one. BIOCHEM owns the IRONTEK supplement company. The IRONTEK LO-CARB bars are the SAME bars as the BIOCHEM LO-CARB bar. They just have different wrappers. Either bar is an excellent choice for anyone trying to cut back on his or her carbohydrate intake.
#9 The SOLID PROTEIN CHERRY VANILLA Bar
This bar tastes great! The CHERRY VANILLA bar has 34 grams of protein (calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed protein, whey protein concentrate), 11 grams of carbobydrates (1 gram of sugar) and 4.5 grams of fat (2.5 grams of saturated fat). And a good vitamin and mineral spectrum. The SOLID PROTEIN line of bars are all low carbohydrate (chocolate peanut butter is the lowest with only 8 grams of carbs and O grams of sugar) and taste great. I actually have a few favorite flavors of SOLID PROTEIN bars. The S'mores bar is probably their best tasting bar, but I already have a favorite S'mores bar. I also really like the Cookie Dough Chip and the Chocolate Mint bars. I even like the Blueberry Cheesecake SOLID PROTEIN bar. I think these bars are a good meal replacement and can be consumed as part of a pre contest diet.
#10 The CYTOSPORT MUSCLE MILK Bar
The MUSCLE MILK bar is nutritionally #1. It has 32 grams of protein (micellar casein, whey concentrates and potassium caseinate) 5 grams of carbohydrates (5 grams of sugar) and 9 grams of fat (2 grams of saturated fat) and a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Due to the superior protein content and the low carbohydrate count these bars are a great meal replacement. In fact you could enjoy these bars as part of a pre contest diet. The Supplement wizards at CYTOSPORT came up with a radical approach for their bar, they had SEE'S CANDY (yes, that SEE'S CANDY) manufacture the MUSCLE MILK bar. The problem was that while SEE'S makes some of the finest candy on the planet, they don't have much experience with protein products. Their bars tasted awesome but after a few days they started to dry out. So CYTOSPORT took their awesome bar formula to a supplement bar manufacturer, M.L.O. Well M.L.O. makes most of the supplement bars for the "BIG BOYS" in the supplement industry, so they know how to keep protein bars fresh. The M.L.O. version of the MUSCLE MILK bar is now available. CYTOSPORT makes my favorite powder, MUSCLE MILK, so you might wonder why I ranked their bar #10. Well because I think of bars as mostly candy, the MUSCLE MILK bar is not my #1 bar. But it's my #I choice of bars that are high quality and awesome tasting. This bar is really good during a precontest diet. In fact if you want to know my five favorite high quality bars, read this list backwards from #10 to #6 with the MUSCLE MILK bar as #1.