If you’ve been here at all, you know I’m a fan of real food, real, whole, naturally gluten free food. In fact, I think it’s the easiest way to eat a gluten free diet.
But sometimes, you need or want a shelf stable, premade, small meal or snack. That’s when a store bought protein bar can come in handy.
Gluten free protein bars
I’ve eaten a lot of protein bars in my time, both prior to learning I had celiac disease and after. After celiac (AC) the challenge has been to find a true gluten free protein bar. There really were very few up until recently. I’ve already reviewed several here, my favorites being VixiBars and ZingBars. And now, we have 3 more contenders. And my new hands down favorite. (Full disclosure: The 22 Days and Luna bars were provided to me free of charge for review purposes. As always, this in no way influenced my review.)
A general comment about protein/snack bars: if you are keeping one in your bag or car for “emergencies” remember that a chocolate/yogurt coated bar WILL MELT and make a damn mess!! (Yes, this is experience talking 😉
First, 22 Days Nutrition Bars:
- 22 Days bars are vegetarian/vegan, and the protein they use is is hemp and rice. This is a bonus to the dairy sensitive, and obviously to vegans.
- I like the idea of 22 Days, I like that they are gluten, HFCS, and soy free.
- I like that I can read and understand the short ingredient list.
- I did not like that the protein content was a bit low in my opinion, at 10-11 grams per bar.
- I did not like that the texture was very dry, in my opinion.
- Out of the 3 flavors I tried, the only one I remotely liked was the Daily Mocha Mantra. Again, everyone’s tastebuds are different, so your mileage may vary.
Next, Luna Bars new line of gluten free Protein Bars:
- As some of you may know, Luna Bars were NOT gluten free in the past. Here is the information that is on Luna’s website:
At the beginning of 2011 we started to transition all LUNA Protein flavors to be gluten free. To do this, Clif Bar & Company has looked at all aspects of making our bars. Our ingredient suppliers have confirmed that all ingredients are gluten free, so they contain no gluten from wheat, rye or barley. The location where we make our food is capable of making a gluten free food and we test our finished products to confirm that they are gluten free. Our newest flavors, Mint Chocolate Chip and Chocolate, are all labeled gluten free. As of March 2011, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookie Dough, and Chocolate Cherry Almond transitioned to be gluten free, as well. You can tell if your LUNA Protein bar is gluten free by looking at the packaging.
- Luna Bars use soy as their protein source. For me, this is a downer. I prefer to not use soy protein. These bars also had the longest ingredient list of these 3 bar brands.
- I tried 3 flavors. I liked only one, the Chocolate Peanut Butter. The others tasted very artificially flavored and had a funny aftertaste to me. I expected to love the Cookie Dough and was really disappointed in that one.
- Again, in my opinion these were skinny on protein at 12 grams. This all depends on what you shoot for as your daily protein intake. For me, as an active, weight training athlete, I generally shoot for at least 1 gram per pound of body weight.
Last, but certainly not least, and my new favorite: Quest Bars:
- Quest now has 5 flavors in their line up. I had tried the Peanut Butter and Vanilla Almond in the past, and they were good but not great. They have just added 3 new flavors, and now they are great. In fact, the Chocolate Brownie is on auto-ship to my house. Not lying. My husband and I both really enjoy them, and a bar is now my “dessert” on a regular basis.
- According my taste buds, here’s my listing from most to least favorite (although I thought they were all good) Chocolate Brownie, Apple Pie, Peanut Butter, Mixed Berry, Vanilla Almond. I did hear there is a Chocolate Peanut Butter coming soon…
- Ingredient list for the Chocolate Brownie: Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate), Isomalto-Oligosaccharide* (100% Natural Prebiotic Fiber), Almonds, Cocoa, Water, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Lo Han Guo, Sucralose.
- Here’s the low down on the ingredients that may look unfamiliar:
- Isomalto-Oligosaccharide: In order for Quest Bars to be usable as a complete meal, we wanted to ensure that they contained enough fiber to really matter. Almost every ounce of carbohydrate in our bars comes from fiber, which will keep your insulin levels low and your stomach satisfied. Fiber has been shown to do many things such as controlling hunger, improving digestive health and preventing certain diseases. IMO is a 100% natural fiber derived from plant sources that is very similar to the better known chicory root fiber. The two fiber sources are almost identical in taste, feel and texture but with one minor exception: IMO does not cause any intestinal upset whatsoever even for people with very sensitive stomachs. We use it to make sure that Quest bars can be complete meals for use whenever you want something convenient.
- Lo Han Guo: A natural herb that’s been used as a sweetener in China for over 1,000 years. It only takes a TINY amount as it’s 300 times sweeter than sugar.
- They do use some sucralose, which is the one thing I would change if I could. I have heard that they are working on removing this as well.
- Quest Bars all have 20 grams of protein. That’s what I’m talking about.