Quest Bars are probably one of the most recognizable and popular protein bars on the market. Known for their high protein content, they’re a favorite among athletes and people on the go. There are about a hundred different flavor options and they all sound like straight up dessert – chocolate chip cookie dough, mocha chocolate, and blueberry muffin just to name a few.
Quest Bars are not 100% Paleo
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way though – Quest Bars use whey protein. Automatically, this means they’re not 100% Paleo-friendly. That being said, whey protein is definitely a gray area in the Paleo world – and most experts agree that as long as you’re not intolerant to dairy, whey protein can be included in your diet occasionally.
Don’t take that to mean you can subsist only on protein shakes and Quest Bars and still considered that a Paleo diet. As always, your diet should consist of vegetables, grass-fed, pastured meat and eggs, wild-caught fish, fruit, and healthy fats.
But we do live in a modern world, and we have conveniences, like protein bars, for the times when we may need them.
So how do Quest Bars stack up compared to the rest of the protein bars out there? Let’s talk about it.
Quest Bar Ingredients
So we know that Quest Bars use whey protein – which makes them decidedly more “primal” than Paleo. But what about the other ingredients?
Well, for starters, there are about a million different flavors, and they don’t all have the exact same ingredients list obviously. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to just focus this review on the 5 different flavors of Quest Bars that I was able to try. These were: coconut cashew, strawberry cheesecake, cinnamon roll, lemon cream pie, and double chocolate chunk.
Coconut cashew: Protein Blend (Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate), Soluble Corn Fiber (Prebiotic Fiber), Almonds, Water, Erythritol, Dried Coconut, Natural Flavors, Cashews, Palm Oil, Sea Salt, Steviol Glycosides (Stevia)
Strawberry cheesecake: Protein Blend (Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate), Soluble Corn Fiber (Prebiotic Fiber), Almonds, Water, Erythritol, Natural Flavors, Dried Strawberries, Palm Oil, Sea Salt, Steviol Glycosides (Stevia)
Cinnamon roll: Protein Blend (Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate), Soluble Corn Fiber (Prebiotic Fiber), Almonds, Water, Erythritol, Natural Flavors, Palm Oil, Sea Salt, Cinnamon, Calcium Carbonate, Steviol Glycosides (Stevia)
Lemon cream pie: Protein Blend (Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate), Soluble Corn Fiber (Prebiotic Fiber), Almonds, Erythritol, Water, Natural Flavors, Palm Oil, Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Steviol Glycosides (Stevia)
Double chocolate chunk: Protein Blend (Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate), Soluble Corn Fiber (Prebiotic Fiber), Almonds, Erythritol, Water, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Natural Flavors, Cocoa Butter, Palm Oil, Sea Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Steviol Glycosides (Stevia)
A few things worth discussing –
Soluble corn fiber – what is it? According to Today’s Dietitian, soluble corn fiber is “ produced through the enzymatic hydrolysis of cornstarch. It’s poorly digested in the small intestine but partially fermented by gut bacteria in the large intestine and exhibits the same physiological benefits of dietary fiber. It has a low viscosity, is water soluble, and is stable under heat, pH, and processing stresses.”
This ingredient is relatively new in Quest Bars. Before switching to soluble corn fiber in 2016, these bars contained Isomalto-Oligosaccharides – prebiotic dietary fiber with a light sweetness profile that has functional properties (moisture retention, low viscosity) well-suited for nutrition bars.”
Again – is soluble corn fiber considered strict Paleo? No. Corn is a grain and grains are a no-go So, if you’re looking for a protein bar that is 100% Paleo-friendly, this one isn’t for you.
Research has shown that soluble corn fiber has some beneficial properties, like building and retaining calcium in bone and increasing overall fiber content in the diet. That being said, corn is one of the highest genetically modified foods in our diet – and while we don’t officially know where the corn is coming from – chances are it’s genetically modified. Also, an isolated fiber source – like soluble corn fiber – can cause digestive distress for some.
The bars that I tried all contain erythritol. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that is used as a food additive to replace other forms of sugar in low-sugar or sugar-free products. Again, erythritol is derived from cornstarch, so the same issues discussed above in regards to corn apply here too.
And, once again, digestive distress commonly occurs with sugar alcohols. This could include gas, bloating, stomach aches, and diarrhea.
That being said, if I HAD to choose, I would rather choose a protein bar with erythritol than one sweetened with sucralose.
So – Quest Bars aren’t the best. Obviously. But, when it comes to the world of protein bars, they are definitely not the worst.
Taste & texture
Overall, I think Quest Bars all kind of have that “artificial sweetener” taste. Not only that, but the protein powder seems to be really apparent in the taste as well. Another thing to consider about these bars is that the source of the protein powder is unknown. And, as you probably know by now, some protein powders have really low-quality (aka – junky af) ingredients.
Out of the five bars that I taste tested, I liked the taste of the cinnamon roll bar the best. Straight up, it tasted like a Cinnabon. My second favorite was the Double Chocolate Chunk. The Coconut Cashew is REALLY coconut-y – which can be a good thing for a coconut lover like me, but may want to be avoided if you’re not such a fan. The Lemon Cream Pie and Strawberry Cheesecake both ranked pretty low on my scale. I honestly wouldn’t recommend them.
The texture of these bars can be on the harder side – a little chalky even. But – because I have friends who love Quest Bars and know the tricks – they told me to warm the bars in the microwave for about 10 seconds before eating them.
The result? A gooey, warm, melty bar reminiscent of a fresh-out-of-the-oven cookie. The honestly did help to eliminate the hard, chalky texture problem.
On Amazon, you can get a box of 12 Quest Bars for ~$25 (that’s about $2/bar). That’s about an average price from a standard protein bar. That being said, there’s just a few things about these bars that don’t completely sell me on them.
While they are definitely not the worst bars on the market, by any means, there are other choices out there that are better. The ingredients in Quest Bars aren’t as clean as they could be. There’s the issue with the whey protein – we definitely don’t know what quality of whey protein is being used in these bars. Conventional protein powders can be filled with a lot of junky ingredients, so that has me a little wary of these. The use of soluble corn fiber and erythritol also have me a little skeptical because of the issues discussed above.
If I have the choice, I’d go with RXBARs or Exo Bars instead. These may be a little pricier, but the quality of ingredients is much higher.
That being said – Quest Bars are an okay choice if you’re in a bind or a location that doesn’t offer better options. Remember, on a Paleo diet, you don’t have to be PERFECT. You just have to make the best choices you can as consistently as you can. Occasionally eating a Quest Bar won’t set you back far – and depending on your situation – it could be your best option.
What other snack or protein bars would you like to see us review? Let us know in the comments.
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