Glen Talks Protein Bars

Since I prefer to eat vegan and hike hard, I’ve been looking for a way to get a little extra protein into my dinners, to help muscle recovery.  What better way than to have a protein bar for dessert?  So I bought a bunch of protein bars from a variety of sources, and tasted them over the last few months.  The main parameters I was interested in were:

  1. Caloric Efficiency – since I don’t want to carry any more food weight than necessary.
  2. Protein Density – since the goal is to get some extra protein, what percentage of the bar weight is protein?
  3. Taste – at the end of a hard day, it has to taste good.

This was a completely unscientific test, and reflects my personal taste, but you are welcome to check out the spreadsheet. A couple of observations:

  • The bars I found tastier tended to have a lower % protein
  • The bars that were generally more ‘wholesome’ tended to have a lower % protein
  • Eating peanuts (or almonds) does a pretty good job in terms of extra protein

Those of you that eat protein bars, do you have a favorite I’ve missed?  Any other supplemental protein strategies not involving animal products?

32 Responses to Glen Talks Protein Bars

  1. John B. Abela February 10, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Wow that “ISS Oh Yeah! Almond Fudge Brownie” has got some amazing numbers!!

    30g of protein is beyond awesome, and add to that 350 calories.

    My favorite is the “Pemmican Fruit ‘N Nut” which has 420 calories and 17 g protein, though it is far from the most exciting thing to eat and is a bit heavy at a little over 100 grams per bar.

    Thanks for the research and sharing it Glen!!

  2. Ben Smith February 10, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    I calculated a final score based on: (calories/g)*(% protein)*(taste score) to yield the 3 best bars as:

    BNRG – Power Crunch – Peanut Butter Fudge (score = 6.50)

    ISS – Oh Yeah! – Chocolate Mint (score = 6.11)

    ISS – Oh Yeah! – Almond Fudge Brownie (score = 5.81)

  3. Curt February 10, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    Nice list! For a commercial bar, check out Quest Bars. Best ingredient list out there. Also, toss anything with soy protein.

    Best option in my opinion? Make your own! Coconut oil, coconut flakes, almond chunks, maybe some whey protein, maybe a little honey. Delicious. Real food. Lots of good fat. Hard to beat!

  4. Ken February 10, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    I have also found the Pure bars tasty though they are lighter in pristine than Glen probably wants.

  5. Walter February 10, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    Glen

    You ought to try the Protien bars and brownies from Lenny & Larry.

    https://www.lennylarry.com/

    Walter

  6. JJ Mathes February 10, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    I can’t get the spreadsheet to open on my Mac, but would be very interested in seeing it.

    Perfect timing, I’m looking for similar type bars, vegan is not a requirement for me but NO GLUTEN is.

    These all have great flavor, but may not hit the protein requirements nor vegan
    Pure Organic bars- Cranberry Orange 6g protein, 190 cal, vegan
    Bumble Bars- Almond- 7g protein, 210 cal, no animal products listed on label
    Zing bars Cashew Cranberry Cashew- 10g protein, 200 cal, no animal products listed on label
    Kind bars Cranberry Almond- 3 g protein, 110, no animal products listed on label
    Think Thin bars Chocolate Mixed Nuts- 10g protein, 190 cal, milk listed in ingredients
    Justin’s Maple Almond Butter- 6g protein, 200 cal, no animal products listed on label

    after sweet snacks during the day and just before bedtime I prefer a handful of salted cashews

  7. Glen February 10, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    Wow, thanks for all the great analysis and ideas! Walter – any particular flavor of the Lennys and Larrys protein brownies you like? Curt – any recipes? I’m trying to remember, I’ll have to comb the archives, sems like Disco posted a recipe awhile back, or maybe it was somebody else.

  8. John February 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    Just plain peanuts run right there with the “3 best bars” (Ben Smith) if you are willing to give them a taste score of 4.3-4.9!

  9. Basti February 11, 2012 at 5:31 am #

    Great comparison. Unfortunately I’m living in Germany which means we’ve got completely different brand and protein bars over here.
    As a veggy I’m looking for some good and healthy sources of protein in my everyday live, too. And most of these can be also used as trail food. Of course there are all kinds of nuts. But a dinner including beans will help to boost up on protein, too.
    And for those that have read “born to run” the chia seeds are not only full of healthy ingredients but also amazingly lightweight. Took a single bag of those on our four weeks of hiking in Iceland last year. Mixed it into our morning muesli as well as in the hot chocolate or consumed pure with water. Works a treat!

  10. Jacob D February 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    Glen, we must be on the same wavelength. I just saw this on my FB feed… I also posted an article about bars on the 10th! Not specifically protein, although that woulda just been too much of a coincidence. I’ll have to try some of these bars. When it comes to protein bars, I tend to like the smaller sized ones… I think I’d have to be half-bear to finish 30g of protein in one sitting ;)

    http://hikeitlikeit.com/2012/battle-of-the-bars/

  11. Gary K February 11, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    Hammer nutrition is just now coming out with a protein recovery bar that you might want to sample. http://www.hammernutrition.com. I’ll be ordering some real soon myself.

  12. Glen February 11, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    Jacob –

    Wow, your analysis is much more impressive than mine! Nice job. I’m glad you included the link so people can check it out. I actually wrote this piece awhile ago, it just came up in the queue this week.

  13. Glen February 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    Gary –

    I’ll look for those Hammer protein recovery bars in stores and try a couple, thanks for the tip.

  14. Wendy February 16, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    Glen,
    ZING bars are great– especially the chocolate coconut— tastes like a MOUNDS bar.
    Zing are the only bars without soy ( cannot tolerate soy) I have found that are edible to my taste buds. I did many taste tests during my planning to hike the JMT last summer. Zing won by far.
    Anyone know of any others?
    Wendy

  15. Doug February 16, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    Google “Endurance Cracker” for a good recipe that combines pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and chia seeds. The chia seeds combine with the liquid (water) to make a gel that holds everything together. The recipes calls for adding garlic + onion which I’ve tried, though I may go for milder versions.

    The recipe also calls for baking the mixture, but mine turned out well in a dehydrator overnight.

  16. Ed February 16, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    This is a great resource, but unless I missed it some measure of price was not included. It might be difficult to do given the many sellers, but these bars do differ greatly in price.

  17. Mr WIzard February 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    Hi Glen,
    As you know I’m a big fan of ProBars on the trail. To get a little extra protein kick I like Primal Strips–vegan, all natural, and very tasty. http://www.primalspiritfoods.com

  18. marcelebrate February 17, 2012 at 2:38 am #

    Can’t recommend the “Protein” flavor Organic Food Bars enough: http://www.organicfoodbar.com/products/Protein

    22g protein, vegan, soy free and only 7 ingredients. I know Whole Foods carries them.

  19. Deborah February 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    Make your own bars!

  20. Glen February 19, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    Good point about not including the price. I only get out about 20 days a year, so the price of the bars is not a huge consideration for me personally, but might have been good information for others. Thanks for ideas on some of the other options!

  21. Jake February 23, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    Mule Bars are my personal favourite, but I’ve no idea if they’re available in the states or not: http://www.mulebar.com/

  22. JerryW February 25, 2012 at 2:03 am #

    I’m one of the “make your own” (or ask your wife to :-) crowd and her home made granola definitely beats any bar out there for flavour.. anyone got any idea how it might stack up in calories & protein?
    Thanks for confirming that peanuts also beat any bar!

  23. Walter February 25, 2012 at 8:06 am #

    Glen

    I like the camel and the cookies and cream bars, But I really like the Complete Cookies they make.

    Walter

  24. Dave March 1, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    Glen,
    Nice rundown. Its interesting, as always, how we all have our 2cents that we just gotta post. So here’s mine.

    Soy or Whey? That would be a worthwhile column to add to your spreadsheet and re-post.

    I would predict that the bars you scored as having good taste come from a Soy based mix.
    The Whey, for me…. no Way! Generally that’s the nasty stuff that smells like a high school weight room with the jug of Whey powder by the water cooler.

    But Kudos to you for emphasizing the key thing that a PROTEIN BAR for dessert is a wise choice to rebuild muscle. IE: post exercise; the end of a long day of hiking and leg muscle usage.

    Thanks Glen and GG.
    Dave

  25. Matt April 16, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    Hey – we’re doing an article on this – can I interview you?

  26. Matt April 16, 2012 at 1:56 am #

    Great stuff – mind if we send a link your way?

  27. Glen April 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    Sure, but I’m no expert. Email me directly glen@gossamergear.com

  28. Steve July 31, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    +1 on the Hammer recovery bar. Also you can boost your electrolyte and protein intake with their drink mix product “Perpetuem”, vegan and GF I believe.

  29. best protein October 21, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    It’s nearly impossible to find well-informed people for this topic, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about!
    Thanks

  30. Brady November 5, 2012 at 11:53 pm #

    Why be stuck with a bar? Have a shake and only carry a little powder to help boost the protein intake. Hammer Nutrition has a soy powder that is GMO free and kosher on top of being vegan friendly. It even has the gluten free guys covered. If vegan isn’t a factor then go for whey protein. Part of going light is making use of multiple use items. So why not add water to that list. Make it hydrate and provide nutrition. I don’t see many backpackers of any sort using these supplements and that seems to be a missed opportunity for everyone. Just something else to throw out there. http://m.hammernutrition.com/products/hammer-soy-protein.soy.html?navcat=recovery

  31. Dann Schifo September 29, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

    Amazing!

  32. proteinpulver October 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    It’s really a nice and useful piece of data. We are contented that you simply provided this helpful info here. Remember to remain united states informed in this way. Many thanks for spreading.

Leave a Reply