PROTEIN BAR BATTLE
We like a bar or two. We often either make our own granola bars or 'cheat' and buy them in our weekly shop! The market for fitness bars is becoming extremely competitive all offering similar and various benefits to their brand. It probably, like a lot of things, comes down to the individual's taste and needs. We've been cycling now for around 11 years and know what we want in a bar in terms of our own personal needs. Something not stodgy, something not overly sweet, something which is not a brick to chew and something easy to open especially if we're taking it out on rides. So we thought we put two appealing rivals up against each other in our first Protein Bar Battle...the gloves are off!
In the red corner...
Their name is either because the founder was a man called Clif or was a mountain climber. Well one of them is true and you only have to look at the packaging to see which one we are referring to! Clif are quite established in the energy bar world and their range of products include chews, shots and even granola so they've got pedigree. They also have their own charity project too, the Clif Bar Family Foundation...
In the blue corner...
They're a new kid on the block and compared to their opponent, you could say they are a millennial bar seeing as they were founded in the noughties. KIND offer a wide range of bars focusing on flavours as well as having a great ethos behind the brand with a mission of their own, the KIND Foundation. We had a selection box to try out which included Crunchy Peanut Butter, Double Dark Chocolate and Toasted Caramel Nut. The big bold title of PROTEIN is definitely eye catching and it's the nuts which are providing the support for this nutrient.
Round 1 - Taste
We've come across Clif at bike shows and around other riders but never indulged. Sam, who races for Saddledrunk, swears by their nut filled bars but we had a couple of their energy bars and a protein bar to try out on our rides. We used the energy bars during our morning break at work as we do get a lull mid-morning so often look to some fruit or a bar to keep the hunger at bay. The energy bars were chunky, slightly dry but a good sizing. The White Chocolate Macadamia Nut was a nice surprise, the nut coming through strong. The Chocolate Almond Fudge wasn't memorable compared to other chocolate based bars. We're also not a fan of almond either and it was this one we found more chewy than chunky. The ace in the pack though was the Chocolate Mint Builder's Protein bar. Solid and thick, a mouthful or two was more than enough to keep you going but it was the taste that impressed us, more After Eight treat than minty toothpaste!
KIND was a brand new product to us and we liked how the transparent packaging gave you a glimpse of what you were in for. Due to a new addition in the household, we were resigned to indoor sessions on Zwift so it was here we put these bars through their paces. All the bars were a solid construction of peanuts bound together by the added flavouring. Prepare yourself for a crunch, there's no softness here obviously but you get good sized peanuts and lots of flavour. We found the Crunchy Peanut Butter bar had a tinge of salt as an after taste which went down very good in our books. The Toasted Caramel was probably runt of the litter in our opinion but was still decent, we just felt a bit more of a goo from the caramel would of done it justice. What's to say about the DDC? It's chocolate and there's double of it, what more do you want?!
Clif 7 / KIND 9
Round 2 - Performance
We do not live in a science lab or have access to facilities to measure lactic acid or take blood samples to measure sugar levels, we do however a mini man-cave and as we have mentioned before, we are bound to indoor training at the moment as lil Notinthepeloton is now with us and taking over! So we've been snacking whilst Zwifting. Knowing what type of ride you have planned really determines your nutrition, if it's a long ride, an energy gel or two won't do. If it's a quick 10mile blast, you don't want to be bloated with carbs so finding what works for you is quite important. We were taking part in the Zwift tour, a stage or two of each world you can ride in. The world of Innsbruck which was home to last year's road race World Championships has a nasty climb which at pace, is roughly 25mins of hard graft so we turned to Clif for this ride. In a 68g bar, you will find 20g of protein, pretty meaty then! But I knew not to chomp down the whole thing though so took a third of the bar during my warm up and left some for the 'descent' off the climb (for those who are anti-Zwift, yes you descend, the magnetic resistance just becomes really light so you're literally pedalling air!). As the climb started, I was holding around 250w and there was no bloating. It could of been the tough resistance brought on by the climb but the final kick of the climb hurt, I was wondering what the protein would do later on in the stage as this ride took on the hill twice. Now, you sweat like there's no tomorrow on a trainer so you lose a lot of salts, staying hydrated is as important as being nutritionally topped up. Safe to say, Clif did a good job, I powered on the second ascent and even though it wasn't as fast as my first attmept, I ended up finishing 159th/847, good job Clif.
To vary up the Zwifting and instead of just exploring worlds, online racing is great fun. You've either got to be something special of be guilty of virtual doping of having a chance of getting close to winning. I just enjoy finding a group pushing out similar watts then going for a sprint at the end, think I'm a bit too eager at the moment as I keep going early and being pipped at the line as my legs die! So I thought these races would be a good fit for the KIND bars. Now, the bars are dry in comparison to the mint Clif bar, it's full of nuts so you need to be hydrated to chew otherwise it could take a while to chow down. Because it is full of peanuts, it's light on the stomach so for a quick blast or a high tempo ride, these will do you good. Just a shame they're half the thickness of the Builder's Protein Bar!
Clif 8 / KIND 8
Round 3 - V.F.M.
Value for money, that's what we're talking about. You do have to ask yourself if you are one for buying bars, what are you willing to pay? For the Clif Protein bars, you're looking at £1.50 whereas KIND will set you back around £1.95. It must be said, do shop around online and in stores because you'll probably find a deal somewhere and obviously you do save money if you invest in a box.
Although it's a tad more expensive, the KIND bars do feel more natural when compared to the Clif bars and we like that. In the past, we have reviewed similar brands such as Primal Pantry and Veloforte and the difference in natural ingredients and the freshness it brings can not be ignored.
Clif 7 / KIND 8
Ladies and gentlemen...
Your winner by a way of points judged by notinthepeloton of 22-25 and the new Protein Bar Champion is KIND (looks around and it's just the turtles staring out of their tank in the living room!). For us, KIND covers the bases well. It's crunchy but light with some great flavours. It might be a small thing but using transparent packaging shows you what you're in for, we like that. Clif did put up a good fight but it doesn't feel any different to bars from other big brands like SiS. It seems the underdogs are becoming the breed to look out for...