T Nation

Protein Bar Quality

Okay, so the T-Mag staff points out how much most protein bars suck ass, with a bunch of unusable protein in most brands, horse hooves, etc. So is this for all the protein bars out there or just the cheaper ones? Are any protein bars reliable to buy at the present time? EAS? Met-Rx? Labrada? Sportpharma? I hated hearing about this, because I used to eat them all the time and I’ve been scared to ever since. Anybody know?

You’re better off if you think of protein bars, at least the ones that are currently available, as glorified candy bars. While there’s likely some variation in quality between them, for the most part they’re the same. Stick with food, MRPs, and protein powder for the bulk of your protein intake.

I would say that, protein bar-wise, if you’re avoiding soy (and I believe you should be), your best bet for quality is Met-RX protein plus. Although, I also have to say that I’m not sure if I buy the unusable protein argument… although hydrolyzed gelatin may be an incomplete protein, I haven’t seen too many bars that use that as their main protein and it is always part of a protein blend, so the overall quality goes up. Also, the importance of protein quality drops dramatically as intake rises.

Actually, you can’t be too casual about the protein quality in those bars. I recently took a punt on some ProLab bars. The protein blend is made up of two proteins only. The first is hydrolyzed protein, the second is calcium caseinate. This means that the ratio could be about as bad as 99% hydrolyzed and 1% casein protein. By the way, does any protein really combine with gelatin to increase its quality?

I have a hard time believing that a reputable brand such as Met-Rx is unable to meet its label claims. Has anyone actually had their bars tested? Is the protein really that low quality? While we are on the subject of bars, what about Balace Bars or Ironman bars? I am not wondering about their choice of proteins, because I know they use soy, but haven’t they been repeatedly tested and met or come close to the ratios that are advertised on the label?

Those bars (i.e., balance, etc.) might just be tested for overall protein quantity, which says nothing about the quality. If you look at bars like Met-RX, pure protein, etc., they usually start with Calcium Caseinate, then hydrolyzed protein, they some form of whey. Met-RX uses the same blend that they use in their shakes (the protein plus has hydrolyzed protein as well, but I was told 2nd hand that that was hydrolyzed casein… to be sure, call met-rx… there’s probably an 800 number somewhere on the packaging). As far as proteins combining with gelatin to form complete proteins, I’m not sure. But with the first protein usually being casein, you’re usually looking at an absolute minimum of ~20 g of quality protein per bar.