Are Protein Bars Good for You?

Are your protein bars really good for you, or are they filled with junk ingredients?I read a blog post recently that listed a handful of food products that we generally believe are good for us, but many times are actually bad. Protein bars was one of them, so I decided to compare three of them.

The first bar is the Fiber One Oats & Chocolate Chewy Bar. It is readily available. I usually buy the Mega Pack with 15 bars at Walmart.

The second bar is the Dark Chocolate Walnut Kit’s Organic Fruit & Nut Bar from Clif Bar & Company.

The third bar is the new Chocolate Nut Kenzen Paleo Bar from Nikken. It is only available through an independent Nikken distributor.

Disclaimer

I am an independent Nikken distributor and I wanted to know if Nikken’s new Paleo Bars were something to get excited about or not. Then I read the post I mentioned above about protein bars not being the healthy food that we have been lead to believe. I got really curious and decided to include the Fiber One bars that I had been eating.

Are Protein Bars Good for You?

The argument for protein bars, or fiber bars, not being good for you has to do with the sugar content and all of the other unhealthy ingredients that you don’t expect to be in something that is supposed to be healthy.

First, let’s look at the nutrition info for each of our protein bars.

Fiber One Kit’s Organic Paleo Bar
Serv. Size 40g 46g 35g
Calories 140 180 160
Total Fat / Sat. Fat 4g / 2g 9g / 2.5g 10g / 1g
Sodium 95mg 95mg 0mg
Total Carbs 29g 26g 16g
Fiber 9g 4g 4g
Sugar 7g 21g 11g
Protein 2g 3g 4g
Calcium 10% 2% 4%
Iron 4% 6% 8%

The Fiber One bar is high in fiber, and in processed ingredients.Here’s what really stands out to me:

  • The organic bars (the Kit’s Organic and the Kenzen Paleo Bar are both certified organic) are higher in total fats.
  • The Kenzen Paleo Bar has NO sodium.
  • The Fiber One bar is much higher in Fiber (duh!) and calcium.
  • The Kit’s Organic bar is a lot higher in sugar.

Based just on the nutrition label it looks like the Fiber One bar is the best choice. It has fewer calories, less fat and sugar, lots of fiber, and a little bit of protein too. If only the nutrition label painted a complete picture.

What About the Ingredients?

On the surface, the Fiber One bars look great. They have no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. They are whole grain. They have 35% of your daily fiber. Heck, the box is even 100% recycled paperboard. To be honest, the ingredients list is where the Fiber One bar falls flat on its face. It isn’t organic and it contains a lot of the ingredients that you really want to avoid:

semisweet chocolate chips (contains sugar), sugar, corn syrup, canola and palm kernel oil, vegetable glycerin, corn starch, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, salt, fructose, malt extract, cellulose gum.

There’s a lot of processed sugar there. You have sugar in the chocolate chips, sugar by itself, sugar in the corn syrup, and fructose is another kind of sugar. They are all processed sugars. Then there is added processed salt and a bunch of other junk. Most of those ingredients come from either corn or soy and are probably GMO.

Ingredients for the Organic protein bars

Kits protein bar made with real food ingredientsI really like the ingredients for the organic protein bars, the Kit’s Organic bar and the Kenzen Paleo Bar. They both contain only real ingredients that you can easily recognize as food.

The Kit’s Organic bar has six ingredients: organic dates, organic walnuts, organic unsweetened dark chocolate, organic almonds, sea salt and organic vanilla beans. It’s mostly dates flavored with the dark chocolate, vanilla and salt with some walnuts and almonds added in. There are definitely more walnuts than almonds, so you don’t notice a lot of crunch. There are so many people who have to watch their salt intake so I don’t understand why they added salt, even if it is sea salt. It’s still salt, just better sourced.

The Kenzen Paleo Bars from Nikken have only four ingredients: organic dates, organic almonds, organic walnuts, and organic cocoa powder. Again, it’s mostly dates. They are soft, so they form the substance and glue that hold everything together instead of using all the oils and syrups that the other bars use. There are a lot more nuts, especially almonds, in the Paleo Bar. Almonds are second on this list of ingredients instead of fourth like they are for the Kit’s bar. It is flavored with the cocoa powder only and does not have any added salt.

Both of the organic protein bars are higher in sugar and fat than the Fiber One bar, but you have to look at where it came from. Here the sugar comes from the dates and the fat comes from the nuts, much healthier sources. The Kit’s bar has a lot more sugar because it contains a lot more dates. The Paleo Bar has more fat because it has more nuts, especially almonds.

How Do They Taste?

Nikken organic protein bars have only 4 ingredients. All real food.Who cares how healthy they are if they taste like crap, right?

The Fiber One bar tastes exactly like what you would expect – a commercial cereal bar with chocolate chips and drizzled in chocolate. That’s what it is and what it tastes like. Nothing to get excited about, but not too bad either.

The Kit’s Organic bar you would expect to taste like dates. Honestly, I don’t know what dates taste like. I think I tried one before and didn’t care for it. I’m very happy to say that the Kit’s bar tastes pretty good. It does have chocolate and vanilla, so you really can’t go wrong. The dates do make it kind of dense, let’s call it fudgy. Texture-wise, I would compare it to those Little Debbie Fudge Brownies, just a lot healthier. The only downside is it would be nicer if they had more nuts to give them a little more crunch, again like those Little Debbie brownies. They would be better with more nuts on top too.

The Kenzen Paleo Bar is very similar to the Kit’s bar in that it is made from dates. Again, it is flavored with cocoa powder, so it tastes pretty good. The Kit’s bar tastes a little better, but it has more sugar and salt, so you would expect that. The Paleo Bar has a lot more nuts though, so the texture is a lot better. For me, I want to keep the sugar and salt down and get more crunch, so I choose the Kenzen Paleo Bar.

And Of Course, The Price

I paid $7 for a box of 15 Fiber One bars which brings the price per bar to just under $0.50. The Kit’s Organic bar was about $1.50. The Paleo Bars are $40 for a box of 12 making the per-bar price $3.33. Even though I believe that the Paleo Bars are a better protein bar, and the almonds make them a lot more expensive, that price is still kind of high. Fortunately, the autoship price is only $30 for the box bringing the per-bar price down to $2.50. I will definitely pay the dollar extra to get the Paleo Bar. I know that almonds are expensive (my wife LOVE’s almonds), so they justify the extra cost.

It looks like, as far as protein bars go, you get what you pay for.

Your Turn

Do you eat a protein bar of some kind? Have you ever looked at the ingredients? I was amazed that there was so much unnecessary junk in the Fiber One bar when it sounded so healthy. Let me know what you eat in a comment below. I’d really love to hear your thoughts on all of this. Also, please share this with your followers on Twitter and Facebook.

Again with the Disclaimer

I am an independent Nikken distributor and I may earn a commission if you order the Kenzen Paleo Bars through the links on this page. Nikken products are only available through independent distributors like me.

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