The Quest protein bars were like the pioneers of the protein bar world. They were the first to decide to try and make a healthy bar that people actually wanted to eat. They are just seven years old but have become very popular, first with bodybuilders and fitness models, then to the general public.
Unlike some other nutrition companies that decided to add protein bars to their repertoire due to demand, Quest started with the mission to make the perfect protein bar and branched out from there.
They now offer cereal bars, protein powders, chips, pasta, and what they call cravings- basically their best attempt at making candy that is healthy. They have really widened their scope in the short amount of time that they’ve been in business.
They obviously taste good. They wouldn’t be so popular if they didn’t. Let’s face it, our taste buds are stronger than our desire to eat clean. Let’s check out if that really is true.
We will delve into the nutrition and ingredients (and of course, taste) of this bar and uncover the information you need to make a smart decision on whether or not to add the Quest bar to your grocery list.
At first glance, these bars look wonderful. In fact, they look so great, it makes you suspicious. At least, it makes me suspicious but I’m supposed to be a skeptic. I need to make a decent investigation into their claims if I want to make a worthwhile review of this protein bar.
Let’s see what type of ingredients they chose for their recipe.
For the protein in these bars, they decided to use a protein blend of milk protein isolate and whey protein isolate. Why a blend? Pure whey protein is the fastest digestible protein out there.
Pure whey protein would be good for those who are bodybuilding superstars but Quest protein bars are marketable for the more average Joe who needs a longer release of protein supply for the daily schedule.
A blend of milk protein and whey protein will do a little of both. The whey will give you a boost of immediately digestible protein as well as the slow release of milk protein to get you through the day. Seems like a pretty ingenious idea to me.
Quest bars boast a hefty amount of fiber. The fiber they use is not a natural fiber as you would expect from oats or whole wheat. They use soluble corn fiber which is a gelatinous fiber derived from corn.
They recently switched to soluble corn fiber from IMO or isomalto-oligosaccharides to get a better texture and added health benefits but many people are getting anxious because it comes from corn. Everything comes from corn these days.
That poor vegetable is being dissected under a microscope and genetically modified to be a super crop. And yes, we are scared of corn but soluble corn fiber is actually good for you. I recently read a handout on soluble corn fiber and its benefits. You can read it here.
Basically, the handout explained that soluble corn fiber will give you lots of fiber without all the extra fiber problems like gas and bloating. It is extremely well tolerated even for the sensitive stomach.
Soluble corn fiber even aids in the digestion of your foods. It supports the intestines by acting as a prebiotic, feeding the good bacteria in your gut that helps keep the bad bacteria out. It also helps the body absorb calcium, which in turn helps your bones stay strong.
Another important ingredient to talk about is their sweetener, Erythritol. In order to keep the calories and sugar content low, Quest Nutrition used this sugar alcohol to make their bars taste sweet. This sugar substitute has almost no calories to count and won’t cause any digestive discomfort like other sugar alcohols often do.
Erythritol can’t be digested in our bodies. It basically goes in the mouth, makes our taste buds rejoice, and virtually all of it passes right on out through the urine, with no harm done to our bodies. Read this quick study result to see how erythritol is harmless.
There are two more ingredients that we need to look at because they aren’t something most people really understand or know about. These two ingredients are cellulose gum and xanthan gum.
Both of these ingredients are used as a stabilizing and thickening agent. Cellulose gum is found naturally in wood pulp and other plant cell walls. It helps to make fat free products feel like they have fat in them.
Think of a nice salad dressing. You want to have thick, creamy dressing but you don’t want to consume all the fat that comes along with it. Cellulose gum is used to create a fat-free creamy salad dressing.
Xantham gum acts in closely the same way as cellulose gum but this additive is made from mixing corn sugar with bacteria. Eww. Still, it is a very popular additive to help smooth out texture and consistency in low-fat products.
Both of these are additives that are not natural or whole foods. If this is important to you, it’s important to know.
The nutritional claims on this bar are pretty amazing when you think about it. Very low carbs, sugar, and fat with 20 grams of protein or higher seem almost impossible.
The bars only contain 5 grams of carbs, which won’t give you enough energy for a hard workout, so don’t think this is a pre-workout bar. You could possibly use it post workout or as a snack.
What it is great for is weight loss. With so little carbs to turn into sugar, and no sugar to begin with (only sugar substitute Erythritol), this bar is ideal for those who are looking to get plenty of protein without adding bulk.
The Quest protein bars also have reasonably low-fat content, with all bars having less than 10 grams of fat and none of that fat is trans fat.
Yet another aspect of these bars that make them great for weight loss is the fiber content. Quest bars have a whopping 15 grams of fiber. This fiber will fill you up and keep you from ravaging your fridge when you are trying to eat right.
These bars also deliver a healthy dose of essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium.
Although this bar claims to be natural, it does have enough added ingredients to make you say “hmm.”
Flavors, taste, and texture
As far as flavors go, this bar has to be the one with the most variety to choose from. They have 22 flavors as well as three variety packs available for sale! That will keep anyone from getting bored of the same old bar day after day!
There is no way I’m going to go over 22 flavors but I will pick the most popular and talk about how they range in the taste and texture factor.
Just a little heads up about Quest protein bars: they almost always taste better when warmed up. I don’t know why but the texture and flavor is much more palatable. If you want you can bring them in your bag or car with you because they won’t melt. The bars aren’t dipped in chocolate like many other protein bars. This was a smart move on Quest nutrition’s part.
Chocolate peanut butter
This taste somewhat like Reese’s cup but you can definitely tell you are eating something healthier. That isn’t necessarily bad. Warmed up, these bars taste like a brownie dipped in PB.
Peanut butter and jelly
Oddly enough, this bar was satisfying. It made me feel like a kid again. You can definitely taste a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when you bite into this bar.
You can definitely taste the graham crackers and chocolate but not really the marshmallow. It still tastes delicious and if you warm them up and close your eyes and imagine really hard you can almost smell the bonfire.
Amazingly, Quest found a way to make protein taste a lot like apple pie. They really did it justice. It almost makes you want to throw some vanilla ice cream on there.
This one does taste a lot like sweet cinnamon and icing. Want them to taste like fresh cinnamon rolls straight from the oven, warm them up.
Cookies and cream
My favorite kind of ice cream turned into a protein bar? I’m in. You will find pieces of cookie in these that are yummy and the texture doesn’t ruin the flavor.
Banana nut muffin
If you are a fan of warm banana bread, you’ll love this bar heated up. Tastes less indulgent than the rest of the flavors but maybe that can work in your favor.
Chocolate chip cookie dough
Many people try to make a chocolate chip cookie dough flavor and bomb horribly. Not Quest Nutrition, theirs taste just as it should. This is definitely one of my favorite. Again, heat it up for a warm gooey mini vacation in a bar.
Mint chocolate chip
Refreshing enough to be minty, rich enough to be chocolate. Tastes just like a Girls Scouts thin mint cookie. Instead of heating this one up like the others, try putting it in the fridge to intensify the mint flavor.
Double chocolate chunk
For chocolate lovers or brownie cravings, this one takes the cake. Big chunks of chocolate in a brownie-like protein bar make for a great tasting snack.
Pricing and where to buy Quest protein bars
These bars aren’t cheap, neither are they extremely high on the price scale. They run slightly higher than average at a little over two dollars per bar.
For most who are looking for a quick way to get half their daily protein needs and not much of anything else, they will gladly pay this price. So all in all, they supply and demand chain is fulfilled. But there will be some who can’t afford to pay this much if times are tough. Hey, we’ve all been there.Check price
Pros and cons
This section will be a little lopsided but that’s a good thing because it will favor the pros.
These bars are definitely a good choice for those who are looking to shed the fat and keep lean muscle mass. They would be good for women and men alike but I wouldn’t use them if you are trying to gain muscle mass.
The ingredients seem well thought out and safe but there will be some people whose quest for purity would shy away from these bars due to some additives. If you don’t mind a little bit of chemistry in your food, these bars use this science to make them taste good and have a less grainy texture.
The biggest factor that might make some people think twice about buying these bars is the cost. If you buy them in the stores individually they can range between two to three dollars per bar, usually in the higher range. Online you can buy them in a pack of 12 for $25. If you are on a budget, these might not be doable.
I would use these bars as a back up to other more wholesome bars using all natural and organic ingredients.