Protein bars

I’ve been trying a few different protein bars over the past couple of weeks, and here are my findings.

  • Aussie Bodies make the best-tasting ones so far. Their Protein FX mini bars were on special at the supermarket, so they were the best choice last week. Every flavour I’ve tried (choc mint, choc raspberry, choc caramel) has tasted exactly as promised without that weird flavour that protein bars often have.
  • Quest bars are seriously overrated. I tried the most popular ones, which were double chocolate chunk, chocolate cookie dough, and the peanut butter cups. Double chocolate chunk was the best, because it was literally like eating blu-tack with bits of chocolate. The cookie dough one was just okay, it did taste a bit like cookie dough, but it had that weird protein aftertaste. And the peanut butter cups were just foul. I have a packet left, and I am definitely not eating them. Because they are bigger than the other two bars, they also have a higher calorie count.
  • Horley’s Carbless Delight were okay, not as bad as the Quest bars, but definitely some flavours were better than others. The chocolate coconut and the raspberry shortcake ones were probably my favourites, but it still tasted very fake.

This week I’ve got a couple more ProteinFX bar flavours, Choc Honeycomb and Rocky Road. Can’t wait to give those a go 😀

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New this week

I’ve upped my kilojoules slightly and placed an emphasis on protein, from this week onwards. It’s hard, definitely, because carbs are so delicious, and I’ve been making a lot of feijoa jam and wanting to try it every day (you know, to make sure it still tastes like feijoas).

But to make things a little easier for myself and for Tony, I cooked a batch of meat slop. Most of us who frequent /r/fitness on reddit will be familiar with it: Basically beef mince and cabbage with spices, a good easy way to get some protein in you. I added in some onion, garlic, carrots and celery and fish sauce, and have a big bowl of it in the fridge that I have been chipping away at all week. As you may know, I absolutely love Korean food, and I’ve found that adding a drop of sesame oil, a tiny bit of soy sauce, and a big teaspoon of gochujang to a serving of meat slop transforms this otherwise average dish into something deliciously Korean-esque. Rather than having it for main meals, I’ve been having a bowl of meat slop as a late afternoon snack, and then preparing something more exciting for dinner.

The other new thing this week is my protein powder. I’m now lactose-intolerant, so my taste tests of 2012 aren’t of use to me anymore. I ended up choosing Nutra Life’s Whole+ protein powder in the chocolate flavour.

It does not taste like chocolate.

It does taste healthy. It is kind of gritty, a strange, fine grittiness, but as part of a smoothie it becomes quite enjoyable.

ChocPeanutBananaSmoothie

I kind of want another one now.

Gym-going is going well, but I’ll write a bit more about that in a separate post later.

An unexpected setback in my protein adventures

Recently I’ve been getting headaches a lot. They begin in the afternoon, around 14:00, and don’t go away until I’m asleep. They’ve been going on for just over a month (and also the the month or so after my Asia Adventures), on the days that I work out. I assumed it was just more neck issues.

But I realised that on one day that I worked out, I didn’t have a headache. What was different? It turned out that on that day, I had tried the Reactiv protein powder (the natural, NZ-based one). And I had mixed it with water instead of milk.

It’s not a coincidence. I have replaced the milk in my protein shake with rice milk yesterday and soy milk today, and worked out on both days, and I have not yet had a headache. This is after one month of headaches on workout days.

So unfortunately, that may be the end of my protein adventures – for now. I prefer soy milk but it has a strong flavour, making any further protein flavour tests difficult to compare with my previous tests. In future, after I get used to the taste I may start the experiment from scratch.

So with everything I have learned from my protein flavour tests, what have I decided?

  • Optimum Nutrition’s Delicious Strawberry flavour was tied as my favourite, despite it not mixing completely smooth
  • I will try Reactiv’s whey again, with (soy) milk, probably adding cinnamon or cocoa
  • I will definitely try Balance Vanilla again; it was delicious and tied for my favourite flavour, next to ON’s Delicious Strawberry
  • Powders marketed towards women have fewer calories, and also less protein; I probably would not choose female-centric powders because of the lower protein content

Horley’s Sculpt: Vanilla Creme

After the great success with Balance Vanilla, I thought that Horley’s vanilla offering would be very similar.

It’s… okay. Still has that “rubbery” whey flavour, and not as strong-tasting as the Balance Vanilla. It also has a milk powder flavour, like milk biscuits! I like milk biscuits so this is a good thing. It’s not too sweet though, and it froths up quite a lot. The texture is slightly gritty (like tiny particles, rather than sand). 

Like the other Sculpt flavour, it’s lower in calories, and as a result also lower in protein than the other choices. I’ve decided that for women = lower calories = less protein.

I’d try this flavour again if I was in a pinch – I got these sachets from the supermarket for about $2.50 NZD each. The protein powder offerings at the supermarket are limited – and more expensive than buying protein powder online.

 

Powder Flavour Kilocalories Protein (g) Fat (g) Carbs (g) Sugar (g)
Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Double Rich Chocolate 120 24 1 3 1
Balance Vanilla 111 25 0 2 0
Gaspari Myofusion Chocolate 150 25 3 5 2
Horleys Sculpt Swiss Chocolate 94 18 1 2 1
Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Delicious Strawberry 110 24 1 2 1
Reactiv Supplements Pure NZ Whey Unflavoured 122 23.7 1.7 2.4 2.4
Horleys Sculpt Vanilla Creme 96 18.6 1.3 2.2 0.9

Reactiv Supplements Pure NZ Whey

Okay, I’m pretty excited and hesitant to try this one. Excited, because its interesting… Locally made, hormone free, and unflavoured. Hesitant, because, well, unflavoured.

I mixed this one up with water because it just felt weird mixing it up with milk. That, and I suspect milk has been upsetting my tummy lately. I’ll try it with milk next time.

Flavour: Have you ever had milk made from milk powder? And then added too much water? This is what it tastes like. There’s that weird “rubbery” flavour which I think I will just have to accept as just the way whey tastes. It’s not delicious. It is drinkable.

It leaves an aftertaste like cheese (reminds me specifically of Kapiti Ramara, a stinky but yummy washed rind).

Texture/mixing: It mixes really well (with water). No lumps at all.

Other thoughts: I would probably drink this again. I’d experiment with adding cocoa powder, cinnamon, etc, or using milk instead of water. It would make a really nice protein smoothie as it’s a pretty mild milky flavour.

Powder Flavour Kilocalories Protein (g) Fat (g) Carbs (g) Sugar (g)
Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Double Rich Chocolate 120 24 1 3 1
Balance Vanilla 111 25 0 2 0
Gaspari Myofusion Chocolate 150 25 3 5 2
Horleys Sculpt Swiss Chocolate 94 18 1 2 1
Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Delicious Strawberry 110 24 1 2 1
Reactiv Supplements Pure NZ Whey Unflavoured 122 23.7 1.7 2.4 2.4

Other news: As I was typing this, more samples arrived! This time from another NZ company, KSL. Super stoked that I get to try out all these different brands and flavours.

Optimum Nutrition: Delicious Strawberry

I was really looking forward to trying Optimum Nutrition’s Delicious Strawberry. I love most berry-flavoured things, so I had high hopes.

Flavourwise, it doesn’t disappoint. It’s not too sweet, and doesn’t taste like completely fake strawberries (kind of like a milkshake with a couple of real strawberries chucked in). It has a smell of something like medicine, but that doesn’t eventuate when tasted.

Texturewise… There were little lumps of powder 😦 I am not sure if this is because I didn’t shake it immediately after pouring the milk in, or if it is just the way it is. For the record, I shook it up about 20 secs after pouring the milk. Normally I screw the shaker lid on as fast as possible and shake it up and put the milk away afterwards. Would this have an effect on texture?
After leaving it for a few minutes, the lumps mostly dissolved.

Looking at the macros, it’s pretty decent. 10 calories less than ON’s Double Rich Chocolate, with the same amount of protein.

This flavour has my vote so far!

Powder Flavour Kilocalories Protein (g) Fat (g) Carbs (g) Sugar (g)
Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Double Rich Chocolate 120 24 1 3 1
Balance Vanilla 111 25 0 2 0
Gaspari Myofusion Chocolate 150 25 3 5 2
Horleys Sculpt Swiss Chocolate 94 18 1 2 1
Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Delicious Strawberry 110 24 1 2 1