Energy Bar Taste Test

August 27, 2010 at 7:16 pm 2 comments

Energy bars are everywhere.  They all boast nutrients, energy, and muscle building protein.  But which one tastes the best?  Do you have to buy every brand and every flavor to figure it out?

The answer is No You Don’t!  I have taken care of that for you by performing an (unscientific) taste test with a group of teenage boys!  They were willing participants (especially since dinner was included afterwards!).   We couldn’t really taste ALL available bars, so I picked seven popular bars and flavors.  The boys (taste test participants) accompanied  me to the grocery store and informed me of the popular bars.  What is the point in testing bars that would never get eaten anyway?  The test was blind so the subjects did not know which bar was which.

The bars were ranked on a scale of 1(YUK) to 3 (OK) to 5 (YUM) in categories of Taste, Texture and Appearance.  The results and nutrition information are as follows:

#1.  Clif Mojo Peanut Butter Pretzel

Calories:  200    Carbs:  21g    Protein: 10g     Fat:  9g

This bar received high marks in all categories of Taste, Texture, and Appearance.  Athletes generally need about 1g carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight 1 hour before practice.  An average 150lb. weight would convert to  68kg (150lbs/2.2 = 68kg).  This bar falls short in the carb department and contains too much protein and fat to be used as a pre-workout energy bar.  In terms of a nutrition bar for recovery, the optimal ratio is 3g carbs to 1g protein.  This bar is 2:1.  Clif Mojo would be good as a snack during the day.  Bonus:  this bar is 70% organic.

#2.  Zone Perfect Fruitified Strawberry Yogurt                                    

Calories:  200    Carbs:  25g     Protein: 14g     Fat:  6g

The Zone Perfect bar is fortified with vitamins and minerals.  It has even more protein than the Clif bar.  Uh-oh.

#3.  Clif Builder’s Cookies ‘n Cream

Calories:  270     Carbs:  30g      Protein:  20g    Fat:  8g

The Clif Builder’s protein bar was a favorite going in to the taste test, but remember that the participants did not know which bar was which during the experiment.  I think the subjects were surprised that this bar did not receive top scores.   I would not suggest this bar to be eaten as a pre-workout bar because with all this protein, the bar would still be digesting in your stomach when you need the energy in your blood and muscles.

#4.  Balance Cookie dough

Calories:  200      Carbs:  21g    Protein:  15g     Fat:  7g

This bar also has added vitamins and minerals.  The Balance stands for a balance of 40% carbohydrates, and 30% protein and fat.  Not really a good balance at all!

#5.  PowerBar Vanilla Crisp

Calories:  240      Carbs:  45g      Protein:  8g       Fat:  3.5g

This bar contains a better combination of carbs, protein, and fat than any of the other bars, making it an optimal pre-workout energy food:  plenty of carbs and not too much protein or fat.  It would also be a good post-work out snack with a carb:protein ratio of 5:1 which is a little low, but better than any of the other bars.  Unfortunately, this bar did not receive rave reviews from the taste-testers!  The texture is not particularly appealing.  Adults can often overlook taste and texture when they know a bar is good for them.

#6.  PowerBar Cookies & Cream

Calories:  240    Carbs:  45g    Protein:  8g    Fat:  3.5g

Same bar as above with a different flavor.  Apparently, Vanilla Crisp tastes better than Cookies & Cream according to the teenage palate!

#7.  Clif Kid Organic Z Bar Chocolate Chip

Calories:  130     Carbs:  24g    Protein:  3g     Fat:  4g

I snuck this bar into the experiment because I was curious to see their reaction.  Last place!  It is a good sized bar for easily eating more than one bar and getting in a good amount of energy.  It is also organic and made with natural ingredients.  But, that’s speaking from a nutritionist’s standpoint, as well as a mother’s.  If it doesn’t taste good, it is not going to be eaten!  Maybe this bar would taste better to the younger age group for which it is geared.

We also tested gel blocks and liquids.  I only offered one candy-like energy snack:  Clif Shot Bloks, which are electrolyte chews, in Black Cherry flavor.  They contain, per serving, 100 calories, 24g carbs, 0g protein and 0g fat.  They are really for re-fueling during a training session as they contain sodium and potassium along with the carbs.  This item did not receive favorable reviews!

I FORCED the subjects to try three gels:  Gatorade G-Series Prime 01 Orange (ranked #1), Clif Shot Organic Mocha (ranked #2), and Clif Shot Organic Razz (ranked #3).  This was a difficult sell.  I think the consistency was not well tolerated by this test group.  All gels received low scores.

Gatorade G-Series Prime 01 is what Gatorade calls its Pre-Game Fuel.  In a serving size of 4 oz., the gel contains 100 calories, 25g carbs, 0g protein and 0g fat.  Like most gels, it is to be used 15 minutes before exercise or competition.  The Clif gels contained the same nutrition information but in a small 1.1 ounce size.  Some flavors contain caffeine.

Gatorade and Powerade were also compared for taste.  Both drinks provide 50 calories and 14g carbs, so it was really all about flavor (and COLOR!).  Gatorade Orange came out slightly ahead of Powerade Blue.

There you have it!


Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

Uh-oh! My latte is how many calories?! Deciding to go Wheat-free?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Meg  |  August 30, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Really interesting inforamtion Marcia.

    Thank you for sharing this & thank you to the boys!

  • 2. Orval Champany  |  August 6, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Hey There. I discovered your blog the usage of msn. This is an extremely smartly written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and return to read extra of your useful info. Thank you for the post. I will certainly return.


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