Gluten Free Sports Supplement Review-Think Thin (TM) Bars

thinkthin TM

Yes, I know these aren’t really sports supplements per se. They are more like a meal replacement or snack bar. I’ve had quite a few people ask me about gluten free protein bars, so this will be the first in a series of reviews. Keep in mind as with any review, the taste bit is obviously my opinion only, so your opinion may be different. I will do my best as be as descriptive as possible. The label/nutrition facts part will be much more objective.
So off we go!

According to an email response I received from Diane Hammer at thinkproducts, Inc “all of our nutrtion bars are certified wheat & gluten free and are processed in a wheat free facility.” They are also labeled as gluten free. We’re off to a good start. Think! Products have several different varieties of nutrition bars, I will be focusing on the Think Thin bars.
At first inspection the Think Thin nutrition facts look pretty good. It’s labeled as sugar free, has about 240 calories give or take depending on the flavor, 20 grams of protein, 7-8 grams of fat, and 26 grams of carbs, 1 gram of which is fiber. However, it also has 10-13 grams of sugar alcohols. This is where it gets interesting.

A quick primer on sugar alcohols-some of you may already be uncomfortably familiar with sugar alcohols. I know I am.
Sugar alcohols, commonly seen as malitol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and lactitol, are frequently used in items marketed
as “sugar free.” They are sweeteners, and not fully absorbed into the small intestine. (Alert!Alert!) What is not absorbed by the small intestine is converted into a short chained fatty acid in the large intestine. Sugar alcohols DO HAVE CALORIES! Approximately 2-3 calories per gram, whereas a “regular” carbohydrate has 4 calories per gram. So when you see labels that subtract out sugar alcohols from carbohydrate grams to give you a “net carb” count-that’s not strictly true.

Sugar alcohols do tend to not affect blood sugar as much as glucose, or sugar. So they’re not a “free food.” OK, now here’s the bad part. Sugar alcohols, due to the whole absorption thing, can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and gas. Our celiac tummies seem to be a bit more susceptible than your average Joe or Jane. I know mine is. Strike 1.

So now a closer look at the rest of the ingredients. First ingredient is a protein blend, OK great, but wait. It has soy protein as a second ingredient in the blend. Strike 2 for me. I can tolerate some natural soy foods, like edamame, but not concentrated into supplements. Then the sugar alcohols next. More soy in “crisps.” The rest of the ingredients appear “mostly harmless” (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference ) and vary dependent on the flavor. They contain 25% of RDA for calcium and Vitamin C, A, B12, B6, and thiamin, 30% for iron, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid. Nothing crazy, nice to have those in there though.

Flavor review:

-Brownie Crunch-tied as my favorite flavor with Chunky Peanut Butter. Had a good chocolate flavor with the “soy crisps” providing the crunch. A little aftertaste. Pretty dry.

-Chunky Peanut Butter-ties with the above. Strong peanut flavor, which to me was good. Also dry.

-Chocolate Mudslide-a “mocha-esque” flavor. If you don’t like coffee you won’t like it. Dry-see a pattern?

-White Chocolate Chip-this was just flat out bad. The others had a fake milk chocolate coating, this one had a fake white chocolate coating that was way too sweet. The bar itself had no good flavor and was like cardboard. ‘Nuff said.

After I ate the first one I only had bites of the others, because my stomach was NOT happy. I do get the side effects of sugar alcohols, so for the sake of myself, my dog, my fiance and anyone else I may come in contact with I minimized the intake.

As with anything, your mileage may vary, and only you know how you respond. Quite frankly, the macronutrient profile
(protein/carb/fat) is good, I’m just not crazy about the ingredients. If you are OK with sugar alcohols and soy, this
would be a good, portable option to have for a safe snack or small meal replacement.
As far as cost, I got them at Whole Foods for $1.25 each on sale, and Amazon carries thinkThin™

Have you tried these? What did you think? Leave your comments below!

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  1. CJ says:

    I tried one – got it at Trader Joe’s. I think it was Brownie crunch…it was ok, nothing great. I did wonder at a “Think Thin” bar that had so many calories…;-)

  2. Erin says:

    Hi CJ!
    Yes, they are a bit higher in calories for a “snack” bar, but they do pack a decent amount of protein. And I agree-if I was stranded with nothing to eat, I’d certainly eat it. But I won’t be seeking them out ;)

  3. Heather says:

    I’ve seen these all over the place, usually next to the Larabars (YUM!!!).
    But, because of the sugar alcohols I’ve decided to steer clear! My already sensitive and damaged digestive tract (from years of gluten intolerance) would hate me!
    I made the mistake about 5 years ago of eating snack bars with Sugar alcohols-big mistake.
    Great blog!! :)

  4. Erin says:

    Hi Heather!
    At my Whole Foods they are the opposite end of the aisle from Larabars (sad, that I have the store layout memorized!) and yes, the Larabars are yum-the cherry pie is my personal fave. I tend to agree-sugar alcohols can be the devil ;)
    Thanks for the compliments and keep commenting-let me know what else you’d like to see!

  5. Pam says:

    I had one of these on an airplane while traveling back from the east coast. I am glad I did as there was not much else for me to eat and these really held me over until I got home. The one I tried was Peanut Butter. Mmmmmm. :-)

  6. Erin says:

    Hey Pam,
    I agree, the crunchy peanut butter was not bad at all :)

  7. Jo says:

    Hi Pam, I have been on a gluten free and sugar free diet for about 3 weeks now. I started to eat the Think Thin bars as snacks, or 1/4 before a work out…and boy did my tummy not like them. How I reacted…I sure don’t think they are good for someones tummy.

    I found a better bar..with nuts and less than 3 grams of sugars…and gluten free. I think I will stick to these. Glad I found your site!

  8. Erin says:

    Hi Jo!
    Sometimes sugar alcohols can upset the stomach-I have the same reaction. Glad you found something that is working for you!

  9. Rebecca says:

    Felt lightheaded immediately after eating. A couple hours later, I had HORRIBLE indigestion. Will not consume again.

  10. Erin says:

    Thanks for the feedback Rebecca. Sounds like you may have had a reaction to the sugar alcohols. Hope you are feeling better!

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