A Tale of 3 Gluten Free Protein Bars-22 Days Nutrition, Luna Protein, and Quest

If you’ve been here at all, you know I’m a fan of real food, real, whole, naturally gluten free food.

In fact, I think it’s the easiest way to eat a gluten free diet.

I also am a fan of making my own protein bars.   And there’s a plethora of naturally gluten free easy snacks you can eat.

But sometimes, you need or want a shelf stable, premade, small meal or snack.  That’s when a store bought protein bar can come in handy.

I’ve eaten a lot of protein bars in my time, both prior to learning I had celiac disease and after.   After celiac (AC) the challenge has  been to find a true gluten free protein bar.  There really were very few up until recently.  I’ve already reviewed several here, my favorites being VixiBars and ZingBars.  And now, we have 3 more contenders.  And my new hands down favorite.   (Full disclosure: The 22 Days and Luna bars were provided to me free of charge for review purposes.  As always, this in no way influenced my review.)

A general comment about protein/snack bars: if you are keeping one in your bag or car for “emergencies” remember that a chocolate/yogurt coated bar WILL MELT and make a damn mess!!  (Yes, this is experience talking ;)

 

First, 22 Days Nutrition Bars:
  • 22 Days bars are vegetarian/vegan, and the protein they use is is hemp and rice.  This is a bonus to the dairy sensitive, and obviously to vegans.
  • I like the idea of 22 Days, I like that they are gluten, HFCS, and soy free.
  • I like that I can read and understand the short ingredient list.
  • I did not like that the protein content was a bit low in my opinion, at 10-11 grams per bar.
  • I did not like that the texture was very dry, in my opinion.
  • Out of the 3 flavors I tried, the only one I remotely liked was the Daily Mocha Mantra.  Again, everyone’s tastebuds are different, so your mileage may vary.
22 Days Daily Mocha Mantra Nutrition Facts label
22 Days Daily Mocha Mantra Nutrition Facts label

Next, Luna Bars new line of gluten free Protein Bars:

  • As some of you may know, Luna Bars were NOT gluten free in the past.  Here is the information that is on Luna’s website: ”At the beginning of 2011 we started to transition all LUNA Protein flavors to be gluten free. To do this, Clif Bar & Company has looked at all aspects of making our bars. Our ingredient suppliers have confirmed that all ingredients are gluten free, so they contain no gluten from wheat, rye or barley. The location where we make our food is capable of making a gluten free food and we test our finished products to confirm that they are gluten free.  Our newest flavors, Mint Chocolate Chip and Chocolate, are all labeled gluten free.  As of March 2011, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookie Dough, and Chocolate Cherry Almond transitioned to be gluten free, as well. You can tell if your LUNA Protein bar is gluten free by looking at the packaging.”
  • Luna Bars use soy as their protein source.  For me, this is a downer.  I prefer to not use soy protein.  These bars also had the longest ingredient list of these 3 bar brands.
  • I tried 3 flavors.  I liked only one, the Chocolate Peanut Butter.  The others tasted very artificially flavored and had a funny aftertaste to me.  I expected to love the Cookie Dough and was really disappointed in that one.
  • Again, in my opinion these were skinny on protein at 12 grams.  This all depends on what you shoot for as your daily protein intake.  For me, as an active, weight training athlete, I generally shoot for at least 1 gram per pound of body weight.

Last, but certainly not least, and my new favorite: Quest Bars:

  • Quest now has 5 flavors in their line up.  I had tried the Peanut Butter and Vanilla Almond in the past, and they were good but not great.  They have just added 3 new flavors, and now they are great.  In fact, the Chocolate Brownie is on auto-ship to my house.  Not lying.  My husband and I both really enjoy them, and a bar is now my “dessert” on a regular basis.
  • According my taste buds, here’s my listing from most to least favorite (although I thought they were all good) Chocolate Brownie, Apple Pie, Peanut Butter, Mixed Berry, Vanilla Almond.  I did hear there is a Chocolate Peanut Butter coming soon…
  • Ingredient list for the Chocolate Brownie: Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate), Isomalto-Oligosaccharide* (100% Natural Prebiotic Fiber), Almonds, Cocoa, Water, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Lo Han Guo, Sucralose.
  • Here’s the low down on the ingredients that may look unfamiliar:
    • “Isomalto-Oligosaccharide-In order for Quest Bars to be usable as a complete meal, we wanted to ensure that they contained enough fiber to really matter. Almost every ounce of carbohydrate in our bars comes from fiber, which will keep your insulin levels low and your stomach satisfied. Fiber has been shown to do many things such as controlling hunger, improving digestive health and preventing certain diseases. IMO is a 100% natural fiber derived from plant sources that is very similar to the better known chicory root fiber. The two fiber sources are almost identical in taste, feel and texture but with one minor exception: IMO does not cause any intestinal upset whatsoever even for people with very sensitive stomachs. We use it to make sure that Quest bars can be complete meals for use whenever you want something convenient.”
    • “Lo Han Guo-A natural herb that’s been used as a sweetener in China for over 1,000 years. It only takes a TINY amount as it’s 300 times sweeter than sugar.”
  • They do use some sucralose, which is the one thing I would change if I could.  I have heard that they are working on removing this as well.
  • Quest Bars all have 20 grams of protein.  That’s what I’m talking about.
There you go!  Have you tried any of these?  What is your favorite/least favorite brand/flavor?

If you want more reading…

luten Free and Fit 101 has more in store!

If you STILL don’t have enough, get my free nutrition guide.

Check out some of the linksto the left side of the screen.

And that should give you enough reading for a while.

If you STILL want more, or you just want a step by step, simple, checklist  approach to cleaning up your diet, check out 7 Quick Start Tips to Living a Healthy Gluten Free Fit Life

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  1. Mike says:

    Check out Hasselbeck’s new GII bars…I think its the name..had one the other day and was great…

  2. Erin says:

    Thanks for mentioning that, Mike. They are NoGII bars, and I haven’t tried them yet, one reason being they are super expensive.

  3. Great summary. Any word if Cliff bars themselves will ever go Gluten Free. Thanks for the write up!

  4. Erin says:

    Hi there! I have no idea. I would guess that if they receive enough emails they may consider it. Email on!

  5. MJ says:

    I am a bar junkie – they’re great to keep in my bag, in my desk, and essential if I’m traveling or at a conference or event where I’m not sure what I can get that’s safe for me. I’d agree on 22Days – the Mocha is the best (Pumpkinseed is interesting and introduced me to hemp protein, haven’t tried Buddhabutter yet) but they don’t have enough protein. I use half of a Mocha as a snack at work on mornings when I need a boost. won’t try Luna, staying away from soy also. LOVE the Quest bars which I found through you Erin (thanks much!). First tried the Vanilla Almond when driving to a yoga class post long-run – sat great in my stomach, which is tough for me to find (my stomach is picky in ways other than being gluten-intolerant), and kept me full but not too full to do yoga. It’s a great on the go lunch or dinner, with a great amount of protein AND fiber, and their fiber doesn’t seem to cause me GI distress. I like the Berry and Apple Pie, about to try the Choc (glad they offered a mixed case). I like the Almond better than the PB – but a Choc PB sounds dangerously good! :) The Quest people also responded very quickly to my query about their change in fiber and reassured me of its GF status. I sometimes use FitSmart bars, but they’re low in protein and fiber for the calories as compared to Quest, and are starting to seem too sugary to me, so they’ll probably be on the “use half as a snack and stop buying them”. I still like Zing bars but have stopped ordering them.

  6. Julie M says:

    NOGII Bars are by far the best bars I’ve ever had! Take it from a gal with Celiacs and type 1 diabetes…………..they ROCK! Yummy, crunchy and delicious with lots of protein!

  7. Susan says:

    Love LOVE your site! Addicted! Any thoughts on Think Thin bars?

  8. Charo says:

    What do you think about the Think Thin bars?

  9. Charo says:

    Also the Pure Fit brand?

  10. Erin says:

    Here’s PureFit:
    http://www.glutenfreefitness.com/purefit-gluten-and-dairy-free-nutrition-bars-review/

    Guess I should make a protein bar page like the protein powder page!

  11. It is my understanding that whey is not gf. Therefore one of the bars mentioned is not gf. Do you know of any strictly gluten free and dairy free?

  12. Erin says:

    Hi Janis,

    Whey can certainly be gluten free. As with anything, it will depend on processing and specific ingredients. There have been other bars on the market since I wrote this post. You can look into the Nosh bar and see if you like that, but always check the labels as ingredients and processing changes. Contact the manufacturer if you are unsure.

  13. Emily says:

    What about KIND bars?

  14. Angeli Yuson says:

    Hi I loved reading your review on the protein bars. I have tried the Quest Bars but was seeing whether there were any other great gluten free protein bars.

    I actually really love the Quest Peanut Butter AND Chocolate flavour and i put it in the microwave for 20 seconds or less and it tastes like a real dessert! Absolutely LOVE it!

    Thanks for your review, and your awesome gluten free website! x

  15. Daniel says:

    Erin, great review!
    I didn’t know the 22 Days Nutrition yet. Quest bars are very popular and one of the top sellers, although I personally don’t really like the texture. Luna Bars always seemed to have a weird aftertaste to me.

    I’m currently building a site about gluten free protein bars with at least 10g of protein. I would love for you to leave some ratings on bars that you’ve already tried on my site.

    Daniel

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