Ever since switching to a Paleo diet several months ago and a daily Crossfit workout regime, I've been looking for ways to increase the amount of protein I consume as part of my daily intake. When I say Paleo diet, what I really mean is my personal goal of being100% Paleo about 80% of the time. That seems to be working well for me and showing good results.
I've been focusing on two very specific areas of my diet in which I want to increase my protein intake. The first is pretty obvious and is directly after a strenuous work out, typically within the 30 minutes right afterward. I don't work out at home so I'm normally in my truck and driving home from the Box during this time, requiring my food options to be mobile and convenient. The second is when I'm in the backcountry as part of my overall trail menu options. I feel like I don't get enough protein especially in some of my non-cook menus and even though I carry lean beef jerky, I get tired of eating that all the time - jerky lovers don't hate me.
So long story short, I've been trying all sorts of protein shakes and bars recently to find something that fits the bill. The ones I'm discussing here are by Premier Protein. I'll post about some of the other bars I've tried soon. By the way, this is a highly non-scientific test and review based on my personal preferences :)
I don't know about you but I've eaten a lot of not so good protein bars in my time and have to say that there aren't very many that I can truthfully say that I really enjoyed eating. I tend to prefer chocolate over any other flavor and discovering that a lot of bars of this type use chocolate "flavored" coatings (fake chocolate) kinda grosses me out. Some bars just taste funky to me or leave a strange after-taste in my mouth. That could possibly be a result of the added protein in the bar, I don't know for sure, but do know that those are not to my liking.
I'm also not a big fan of bars that are hard to bite into, the last thing I want to deal with after a workout is having to chew like crazy to eat my snack bar. Texture and consistency play a factor in my selection and I've found that I tend to prefer the bars that are easier to bite and chew - maybe I'm fussy.
Premier Protein bars come in three flavors: Chocolate Peanut Butter, Double Chocolate Crunch, and Yogurt Peanut Butter Crunch. Each bar has:
- 30g protein
- 0g trans fat
- 0g hydrogenated oils
- 0g high fructose corn syrup
I've tried two out of the three flavors, Double Chocolate Crunch and Yogurt Peanut Butter Crunch, and have enjoyed both. My favorite of the two was the chocolate variety because it tasted like a real chocolate bar and not some fake flavor, it didn't leave any funky after taste, and to be honest that's just partly how I roll - I like chocolate. The yogurt covered bar was not at all sickly sweet like I had expected it would be and I could really taste the peanut butter in it. Both bars were velvety smooth on the inside, easy to bite through (even when cold) and had no funky after taste that I could detect. They definitely passed my basic taste test. At 270-290 calories per bar, these are not a viable meal replacement option, nor are they advertised as such.
Premier Protein shakes also come in three flavors, albeit different to the bars: Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry. I can tell you right off the bat that I'm not a fan of strawberry flavored anything, although I absolutely love fresh strawberries, so that left me with chocolate and vanilla. Each of the shakes has:
- 30g Protein
- 160 Calories
- 1g Sugar
- Low Fat
The shakes are best served when cold and need to be shaken well before you drink them due to particles settling to the bottom when stored. Besides, who doesn't like a frothy shake? The chocolate shake tasted delicious and almsot identical to a regular chocolate milkshake, which is what they are trying to replicate after all. The vanilla shake was just plain nasty. I don't know what they are using to flavor the vanilla shake or whether the protein in the shake causes it to taste that way, but it was sickly sweet and fake tasting.
To be fair though, all vanilla flavored protein products that I have tried over the past months, whether they were bars, shakes, or powders that I had to mix, all tasted like crap to me regardless of the brand. I don't know what it is about vanilla flavored protein products, but I'm amazed that anyone would buy these a second time after tasting them. I guess your tastes and mileage may vary, and it wouldn't be good for us to all like the same thing.
The Bar Melting Test
Another type of test I like to perform and one that may just be a personal pet peeve, is how easily a bar will melt inside its wrapper after being carried inside my backpack for a day or two of hot weather. I really don't like it when I try to unwrap a bar to enjoy it and find that all of the covering has melted and stuck to the inside of the wrapper. I destroys the bar's taste and is a big mess to deal with. I know it's a first world type of problem, but it matters to me.
This test goes hand in hand with the type of coating used on the bars and eventually the taste. For example, I've seen some bars that no matter how hot they get from being in my backpack, they do not melt - leaving me to wonder exactly what they are made of? After tasting them and a taking a quick look at the label, it usually confirms my suspicions of there being no ingredients that I can pronounce.
I carried a handful of Premier Protein bars with my on my recent Mt. Whitney trip in California where the temperature stayed in the high to mid-nineties all day long. The neither of the two flavors I carried had any issues with melting, or more accurately they had not issues with sticking to the inside of the wrappers. You might be able to make out in the photo above that the coating of the bars look as though they have melted at some point. I'm guessing they did but were not a problem while I was on Whitney in the heat, or after I got home and opened them up. No melting bar issues.
Amount of Protein Provided
Finally, and one of the most important reasons for wanting to try these bars is for the amount of protein they provide in one serving. Many of the protein bars, and shakes for that matter, that I've tried recently have between 14g-20g of protein per serving. That's roughly equivalent to three eggs, a small chicken breast, two handfuls of peanuts, or a small can of tuna. Each of the Premier Protein bars and shakes have 30g of protein in them, and third more than many of their competitors.
If you've ever purchased protein bars you'll have noticed that they do not come cheap. Sure they are convenient, but the price adds up unless you can buy them in quantity, something not typically offered at specially outdoor or nutritional stores. Fortunately you can purchase Premier Protein bars and shakes at nearly all of the big box stores and the wholesalers like Costco, Sam's Club, and Walmart.
I buy just the chocolate flavored bars and shakes. I've tried the others and find that I enjoy the chocolate varieties the most. That could be 100% personal preference, I'll freely admit to being a chocoholic, but don't take my word for it, why not try them for yourself!
The generous folks at Premier Protein have agreed to give five lucky readers of Brian's Backpacking Blog each a prize pack stuffed with Premier Protein goodies including: 6 Premier Protein bars: 2 bars in each flavor (Chocolate Peanut Butter, Double Chocolate Crunch and Yogurt Peanut Butter Crunch), 4 Premier Protein shakes: 2 shakes in each flavor (chocolate and vanilla), and a cool Premier Protein nylon bag that doubles as a great workout bag.
If you've entered any of my recent giveaways you'll already know the drill. To enter you have to leave a comment, follow on Twitter or Facebook and maybe share this post with your Facebook and Twitter friends to gain extra entries. Help spread the word about my blog and these products and in return you can win free stuff. Who doesn't like free stuff? If you are one of the lucky winners, I'll invite you to share your thoughts about the Premier Protein products on this blog in the form of a brief guest update - kinda cool. The giveway will end on Friday Nov 2nd. Good luck!
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Disclosure: Premier Protein provided Brian's Backpacking Blog with complementary samples of their products when approached about this taste test.