Luna protein bars were created by the Clif Company, a popular energy bar company created by a man that was sick of eating horribly tasting energy bars, so he decided to create his own recipe. He claims to have developed the first Clif bars in his mother’s kitchen, an endearing story for sure.
Years later, these bars are a trusted brand of energy bar and yet the Clif Company is still family and employee-owned. Luna bars are a partner product made and designed to benefit and entice women in particular.
These bars are designed to satisfy the common cravings a woman would have while filling them up on protein, a macronutrient that many women tend to overlook. With flavors like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Salted Caramel, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Mint Chocolate Chip, I’m guessing they think chocolate is the way to a woman’s heart. At least they have a flavor for those struggling non-chocolate loving women; Berry Greek Yogurt. Let’s take a deeper look at these bars and see how they hold up to their intended purpose.
In all flavors of these bars, the main ingredient is soy protein isolate. This type of protein is one of the very few proteins that offer a complete amino acid profile and has a very high digestibility rate, meaning that your body will use this type of protein to its full ability. Soy has been scrutinized a lot over the past few years and there are still plenty of ongoing debates about the health benefits of this plant.
The main objection is that in order for the plant to be used by humans it must undergo an onslaught of processes, many of them using chemicals. It’s important to note that Luna does not list this ingredient to be organic and could very well contain many of these chemicals and even added pesticides.
Another problem that many consumers claim makes soy a “bad” plant is that it is a phytoestrogen, meaning it mimics estrogen in its physical makeup and can disrupt our natural hormonal balance.
Its phytoestrogen is probably why Luna bar chose this type of protein since it is thought to be the best choice of protein for women. Studies have shown that soy may help with osteoporosis, menopause, and ovarian cancer. All these claims back and forth about the benefits of soy prove just one thing- we still don’t know all we need to know about soy.
A surprising ingredient in Luna protein bars is inulin or Chicory extract. This was probably added to improve the taste but it comes with a dose of healthy side effects. Inulin helps to lower any bad fats like cholesterol or triglycerides from the consumer. It also improves digestion and blocks the production of certain fats, making weight loss easier as well.
It does this in a remarkable way. It isn’t a nutrient that the body can absorb. What it does is get eaten by the good bacteria in our gut. This bacteria is our friend and increases the health of our bowels and evens out our blood sugar levels, helping to combat diabetes. Inulin does all this and even tastes good! The only possible bad side effect of inulin is that some people may feel stomach cramps. This journal talks about everything I’ve discussed and more.
There are plenty of added sugars out there to use and Luna protein bars use one of the best but also one of the worst. Organic cane syrup is their main sweetener and it is a relatively healthy choice for sweetening but the fact that it is the second ingredient means there is a lot of cane syrup. As if that wasn’t enough sugar, they added brown rice syrup.
Now brown rice syrup is a different story. In order to get sugar from brown rice, you basically strip away any nutritious part of the rice until you are left with 100% glucose. Glucose is a better sugar than fructose, so it has that going for it but brown rice syrup has a higher Glycemic Index than any other sweetener, according to the University of Sydney.
This high GI in brown rice syrup will make your blood sugar skyrocket and then crash. This will leave you with crazy cravings, lack of energy, and hunger. Since these are supposed to be “energy bars” it seems to be a bad choice for a sweetener.
This bar doesn’t boast an amazing nutritional content. It contains slightly under 200 calories and in those calories, it delivers 12 grams of protein, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fat and 3 grams of fiber. It will definitely give you a boost of energy, not only from the aforementioned nutrients but also because of its high sugar content but this energy might not last. Most flavors have around 15 grams of sugar, 3 more grams than their protein content.
I wouldn’t consider it to be a muscle builder, although it does have a decent amount of protein. This amount of protein is perfect for women since they can’t digest as much protein as men. It also delivers two different kinds of protein; soy isolate and whey concentrate. This will help the consumer get a wider range of the amino acids. It will help to satiate the appetite for a time, but again, the sugar content will come back to bite you in the behind.
Don’t think this bar will replace any meal. It is small in size and what little fiber it has won’t keep you full. It can be a good choice for midmorning or afternoon snack or to eat post workout.
With a healthy diet and active lifestyle, this bar could help you lose weight. With a higher than 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein, this bar will help maintain lean mass while fueling the body with enough energy to burn excess fat. However, the excess saturated fat and added sugar might undo this benefit.
Luna bars do a good job of providing many of the vitamins and minerals you need even if some of them have less than 20% of the daily needs. They contain a third of the daily needs for folic acid and vitamin E, as well as a quarter of the daily needs for calcium. They contain 20% of the daily needs of vitamin C, and vitamins B6 and B12. This is a pretty good chunk of added vitamins and minerals but they also contain thiamin, riboflavin, iron, vitamin D, and vitamin A.
The sodium content in these bars is decent ranging from 270 mg to 150 mg. It is obviously higher in the salted caramel flavor but a few other culprits are the cookie dough flavor and the peanut butter chocolate flavor. These bars also have a decent amount of potassium. These two minerals make these bars the perfect post-workout snack as they would replenish the electrolytes lost during a good sweaty workout.
Flavors, taste, and texture
In general, these bars taste pretty good for a protein bar and they had better considering all the sugar and fat that they contain. Some people have complained about the density of the bar and the small size but overall, they did what they were meant to do: deliver protein and satisfy a sweet tooth. Each Luna bar flavor has its own little pros and cons but they all have a taste of a candy bar that missed the mark in some way.
Chocolate peanut butter
Luna describes this flavor as having peanut buttery soft nougat with a light crunch. Of course, all this is covered in chocolate. This flavor is the favorite of many. I suppose they were going for mimicry of Reese’s peanut butter cups. They can pass for it when you first bite into them but the grainy texture and aftertaste let you know that you aren’t eating a Reese’s.
Chocolate chip cookie dough
This flavor boasts a vanilla and chocolate chip flavor with actual cookie dough flavored chunks scattered within. This one is actually soft and chewy and will satisfy any cravings you might have if you’ve been dreaming about cookie dough.
Mint chocolate chip
This flavor is a bit more refreshing than the rest. It still boasts plenty of chocolate content with the chocolate chips inside and the chocolate coating.
Chocolate salted caramel
This flavor is supposed to have a balance of salty and sweet but it has some weird flavors going on. The caramel isn’t the gooey, sweet buttery flavor that you would expect. It’s more of a burnt toffee. They are very sweet.
Chocolate walnut fudge
This bar tastes a bit like a fudgy brownie with chocolate icing. It isn’t of course and you will notice that but passes off pretty well.
Berry greek yogurt
Last but not least, this bar has a fruity, nutty flavor with a tangy Greek yogurt base. It is a good swap for a blueberry muffin or a fruit parfait with a lot more protein. This is one of the less sweet varieties of the Luna protein bars.
Overall, these bars taste decent compared to some of the competition. It is hard to make a protein bar taste perfect and have the perfect texture. Protein is hefty stuff and in order to get that much into one little snack, it isn’t going to be a light and fluffy bar. Be ready with a glass of milk to wash down the sweetness and graininess and you’ll be good to go.
Pricing and where to buy Luna protein bars
The price ranges from between $1 to about $1.50 depending on the flavor. Most protein bars cost about $2 per bar but have double protein than these do. They are also smaller than the average protein bar. I know it is intended for women that have a smaller daily caloric need but that doesn’t mean they have to pay more for less food.Check price
Pros and cons
It’s always good to write a pros and cons list to get a mental image of how the scales are tipped. It couldn’t hurt to write a side by side list of these points.
All in all these bars are better than eating a candy bar. They will provide women with a boost of protein and energy. They claim to have a low glycemic index but it is hard to believe considering the brown rice syrup content unless there is very little of it in them. The sugar content is high but the taste is relative to this. If this is the only sugar a woman gets since she is on a strict diet, it’s acceptable. There are better choices out there with more whole food ingredients but this won’t derail you if you eat every once in a while.