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Belly Up to the (Protein) Bar

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

If you are into protein bars, then the place to try the World’s Biggest Selection (please add lightning bolts and flashing lights to that phrase) is at the Natural Products Expo West (NPEW). We  came home probably with our weight in protein bars (Alexandra is only 100 pounds…plus some bonus points).

We shall now discuss in essay form, using a blue book and number two pencil, all the bars that passed our tantalizing taste buds test. It was the easiest test of our lives (well, maybe excluding the ice creams we tried, but we won’t talk about that). Yet…

My hero, Daniel Lubetzky, founder of KIND.

Alexandra’s Faves:
KIND KIND KIND KIND. Can you tell I love KIND bars? Even though I didn’t win the iPad they were giving away, I’m still a winner because I got about 5 (okay, maybe 6) of my beloved Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate, Gluten free, non-GMO bars. My friend Danielle (you should read her blog, Kitten a Go-Go) and I have “friendly” discussions about the best KIND bar, because she swears by the cherry cashew. I also love the yogurt apricot, and they have two new flavors out: Nuts & Spices (sounds like my college boyfriends) and Healthy Grains (sounds like no-one I know).

While on the topic of PB and choco, I discovered, and am now hooked on, the PROBAR Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip whole food meal bar. Vegan. Organic. That is the world’s longest title for a really big bar. They were actually developed by a snowboard instructor *slash* chef who didn’t like the food at the ski lodges where he worked. I know they have flax in them, but they don’t have any chia. Have you seen any of our wacky chia videos?  Watch them, I tell you! Oh, look, I have one of the bars left. Around here we call that DINNER! They also gave me a berry blast bar with cashew butter and oats, but I haven’t tried it yet. Not much for berry seeds. But what do I see in the ingredients list but chocolate liquor? Might have to eat this one tomorrow.

I go loco for Koka Moka - Oh Oh Oh

Right after I eat the Koka Moka they just sent in a big ol’ care package. By “big ol” I mean – one of every flavor. I just love getting packages. Food. Flowers. College financial aid.

The folks at Odwalla make more than juice, oh yes indeedy. Blueberry Swirl, White Chocolate Macadamia, and Dark Chocolate Chip Walnut. Hello my sweet triplets of deliciousness. Yes, they have other flavors, but to my mind they are the Pips, not Gladys. If you have no idea what this music reference is, please eat a bar while asking your parents! Or go watch Dancing With the Stars, Kymberly’s favorite show!

Two more quick shout-outs before I turn that space down there (points toward the center of the earth) over to Kymberly: One is to the go raw Real Live Apricot bar (organic sprouted flax, apricots, raisins, dates and lime juice – that’s it), and Bear Fruit bars. The ingredients are…fruit. That’s it. No more, no less. Just fruit. So you get 1 ½ servings of fruit in a bar, and that’s it.

Kymberly’s Raising of the Bar

Ok, so DWTS is on and I just want to get the picture of the Attune Probiotic bar downloaded so I can finish eating it – the bar, not the picture. These pronoun referents can be so demanding.

So I’ll be brief — I eat energy or protein or superfood or granola or fruit bars when I am out and about and have no other food handy. In my world, bars are meant for my gym bag, not as a meal replacement. Except Justin’s Chocolate Peanut Bar,  which is really a candy bar. That never made it home, so forget getting a pic or a sniff of it. Loved it.

I tried all the bars Alexandra mentions plus still have in my possession:
Nature’s Path Organic  Peanut Choco Crunch, which is made with Ancient Grains (no snarky jokes about who and what are ancient around here) and is Certified Organic.  Have not yet tried it, but it sounds crunchy. I appreciate the organic aspect for sure.

The EAS Lean 15 Chocolate Mint bar – This bar is part of the new “Get Lean and Toned”  product line from EAS. What I like best about it are Jon 1, Jon 2, Kelly, and Brittany of EAS. They are super helpful and nice both in person and online. As for the bar — it’s in my gym bag waiting for the right moment.

Same with the Eco Trek Fitness Whole Food Bar, which sports 6 servings of fruits and veggies and 10 grams of protein. In the interest of accuracy, we did not get this bar from NPEW, but from our Fellow FitFluential pal, Tara Burner as part of a giveaway she held. We won an entire box of Chocolate Raspberry, so hello gym bag and my husband’s lunch satchel (Yes, I really do say “satchel” now and then. It’s such a lovely word.)

And no bar round-up would be complete without mentioning the Pure Organic bar. Flavor? Dark Chocolate Raspberry. Are you seeing a pattern with my sampling habits? This baby is Non GMO, also certified organic, and delicioso. Yes, I ate one two three.

The important part of this post is for you to see that you have LOTS of choices. The energy bar world is exploding with options to suit every taste, allergy, goal, social preference, ingredient, value set.  We saw at least 30 other bars at the show, all of them with unique properties. But, hey, we can only fit in so much. Fit into our schedule, of course. And our swag bag. What did you think I meant? Fit into our bellies?

Readers: What energy, protein or other type of health bar do you recommend? Avoid? Actually buy?

PS Yes, Kymberly snuck in a picture of a Non GMO, certified organic, vegan, ethically tradedDaily Dose of Dark” Nib Mor bar. You have proof it existed because if it disappears, look to Kymberly’s husband as the culprit.

All opinions are our own. All bars are our own (except the ones Kymberly’s husband ate). We were paid a fee by NutritionFix to let you know about their site. They have 195 kinds of protein bars. Check it out.


About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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21 Responses to Belly Up to the (Protein) Bar

  1. body by hcg diet April 3, 2012 at 8:04 am #

    I never heard about NPEW but I am not in that kind of story but I love always to learn something new.
    body by hcg diet recently posted..HCG BanMy Profile

  2. Tara Burner April 3, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    ROFL you said satchel!
    Tara Burner recently posted..April Photo A Day ChallengeMy Profile

  3. Shira April 3, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    While visions of number two pencils and blue books made me flashback briefly to the SAT (I took them back when President Reagan was in office for make-me-feel old context), I’m going to shake that abysmal memory aside and instead focus on the delightful protein bar education just received from reading this post. You really did open my eyes to what’s now available in the market. Honestly, i thought most of them were still closer to cardboard in texture with ingredients that sound like a chemistry experiment. Boy, was I glad to be wrong. I like the KIND bars and had no idea they married chocolate and peanut butter in such a loving manner. And some of those others that Kymberly mentioned during her break from DWTS sound just fab too. My only concern is I might down some of these like candy treats once I get started!
    Shira recently posted..Pass the Frozen Peas…for Your KneesMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit April 4, 2012 at 7:56 am #

      Well, Shira, you would be full after eating just one, so I imagine you’d be fine. We were not that surprised at all the options, since we went to NPEW last year, and deal with students who don’t eat a proper breakfast a lot (I keep bars in my bag for my silly U students), but we sure do recall the days when there was only 1 option for a bar and the texture was, er, interesting.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..New Exercise Equipment: Try TheseMy Profile

  4. Calla Gold April 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    Thank you, ladies, for taking on the daunting and difficult task of personally taste testing all of those bars. We appreciate your bravery and your sacrifice. Thanks for sharing all the tasty info!
    Calla Gold recently posted..Online Wedding Ring Costs vs. Custom Made Wedding Ring CostsMy Profile

  5. Michele April 3, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    I just love the Vega Sport line. It’s a pure plant based line. or my
    The chocolate coconut protein bar is Fantastic and offers 15g of protein.

    The ThinkThin bars, brownie crunch are great too and they offer 20g of protein. I prefer the plant based as I am a vegan.

    • Fun and Fit April 3, 2012 at 10:56 pm #

      Thanks for letting our readers know of even MORE MORE MORE options. What is so neat is that people are creating companies to meet all needs and preferences. And if Vega wants to send samples our way, why we stand ready to serve — up a bar!
      Fun and Fit recently posted..Belly Up to the (Protein) BarMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit April 4, 2012 at 7:58 am #

      Hey Michele, I’m aware of the Vega line, but there were no samples offered when we stopped by their booth so we missed the chance to try them. I am not a vegan, but I am a vegetarian who loves plant-based snacks. I will try those soon. As to the ThinkThin, we tried those last year at NPEW. The peanut butter was very smooth! I heard a rumor that the ThinkThin booth this year had all the gorgeous models!
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Exercise KindnessMy Profile

  6. Julie April 5, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

    My husband is a body builder so the whole family must be a big fan of protein bars. At the beginning I was sceptic and I didn’t like them at all, but now I got used to it and it’s an important part of our everyday nutrition.
    Julie recently posted..teeth straightening costMy Profile

  7. AlexandraFunFit April 6, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

    I’m with you Julie. Back when protein bars first came out, they were not all that delicious, and the texture was weird. Now there are so many delicious choices. And it’s easy to avoid the junky ones.
    AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Easter WorkoutMy Profile

  8. anxiety in children treatment April 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    Great guide. Thanks for sharing your recommendation of best protein bars.

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  9. Chris Hemmel April 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    My biggest problem with protein bars is the sugar content. I had gastric bypass so I need to get 40grams of protein daily, but the bars with 30+ grams usually have 15 or more grams of sugar which I cannot have.

    Did you find any that would be suitable for someone in my situation?
    Chris Hemmel recently posted..Cheap Water CoolersMy Profile

    • Fun and Fit April 8, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

      Hi Chris: Here’s hoping I saved the wrappers so I can read the ingredients again. Otherwise I will go through the websites to check. I am pretty sure I recall some of the exhibitors touting their low sugar content. So let’s see if “low” meant under 15 grams. Stay tuned. Must research sugar on a day other than Easter.
      Fun and Fit recently posted..Easter WorkoutMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit April 23, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

      Hmm, I grabbed a KIND PB & Choco – 7 g protein, sugar 10g, PRO Bar Berry Blast – protein 8 g, sugar 17g, Fruition Lemon – protein 3 g, sugar 18g, NuGo Raspberry – protein 15 g, sugar 2g, PureFit almond crunch – protein 18 g, sugar 13 g. These are the ones I have at hand today. I’ll keep you posted if I find more.


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