Finding The Best Gluten-Free Protein Bar

by Danielle Leavitt ’17

8 am class? No time for breakfast? One class after another? Vending machines not an option? Then it’s time to enter into the world of bars!! I’m not talking about heading out to Queenshead Pub for breakfast, but hitting up one of the stores on campus and stocking up on protein bars! After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

This year, I have an early morning class. If you are anything like me, then you know how hard it is to wake up early enough to eat breakfast in the dining hall. At the beginning of the semester, I faced a dilemma: I wanted to sleep in as late as possible, but also not have to skip breakfast and be hungry the rest of the morning. I needed a quick and tasty meal to satisfy my hunger. Since I eat gluten-free, this made that task much more difficult. This is when I started looking at protein bars as a meal replacement.

I have always been a proponent of snacking on protein bars after sports and exercise, but it wasn’t until recently that I could find several bars that I really liked. Finding a protein bar that is gluten-free, low in sugar and carbs, and still tastes delicious can be very difficult.

On a recent trip to the Mass Avenue CVS, I found that the store carried various types of protein bars. On closer examination, there were many differences in the number of calories and the protein/carb/fat breakdown, and in some of the ingredients used. The one thing these bars had in common was that they were all GLUTEN-FREE. They had between 15-20 grams of protein and boasted only 200-250 calories, which could substitute for a meal or a snack.

According to WebMD, in choosing the best meal replacement bars, you have to rank your priorities. If taste is the most important, there is usually an increased amount of sugar in the bar. If watching your carbs is important, some bars compensate by increasing the amount of fat. Bars should also contain at least 5 or more grams of protein. Because breakfast is early in the day, you need a balance of protein, carbs, and fat. The Pure Protein bar has the most grams of protein (20), the Clif and Power Bar have the most carbohydrates (44), and the Kind Bar contains the most grams of fat (13). All seven of these bars provide an excellent ratio of protein to carbohydrate to fat that will satisfy hunger and sustain energy.

bar pic

Do gluten-free protein bars really taste good? I purchased seven protein bars from CVS: Zone Perfect Chocolate Peanut Butter, Balance Yogurt Honey Peanut, Atkins Chocolate Peanut Butter, Power Bar Performance Energy Peanut Butter, Pure Protein Chocolate Peanut Butter, CLIF Chocolate Chip, and Kind Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate. A random blind taste test was performed on 10 students at Harvard. None of the students were told that the protein bars were gluten-free in order to avoid hesitancy in tasting them. After each of the 10 students tasted the seven different protein bars, the overwhelming winner was the Kind Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate bar. This bar is all natural, non-GMO, low sugar, and a good source of fiber. If you have a sweet tooth, but don’t want too caloric of a snack, this is the protein bar for you. The combination of the salty peanut butter with the sweet chocolate is heaven on your taste buds. The response to the Kind Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate bar was amazing. No student thought that the bar was gluten-free. The cost for the bar at CVS is around $3.00. Not only can these bars be purchased at CVS, but they can also be found at Broadway Market. In addition to the vast enjoyment of the Kind bar, each brand of protein bar appealed to specific students, and there are several different varieties to choose from at stores across campus.

So, if you’re ever in a rush in the morning, reach inside your backpack for a protein-filled, gluten-free bar to satisfy your hunger until your next meal!

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