Quest: Still the King of Protein Bars

Posted: June 2, 2013 in Nutrition

So I had promised to do a head-to-head-to-head comparison of Quest bars vs. the two new kids on the block, VPX’s Life Lift bar and ISS’s Victory bar. These two bars have clearly positioned themselves in direct competition with Quest. Before they were recently introduced, Quest had essentially zero threats in the form of any bar with a similar nutritional profile. These new entrants are both trying to appeal to a much more health conscious consumer, particularly the fitness enthusiast and bodybuilding crowd.

Here are some of the key similarities:

  • Calories are in the range of 160-200
  • Loads of prebiotic fiber (15-20g)
  • Very high quality protein sources
  • Low in fat
  • Low sugar and low net impact carbs

Of the three, the Victory bar easily falls to the bottom of my list. I don’t think they taste particularly good (I actually dislike them), the texture/consistency is not right (too soft and ‘mushy’), and the nutrient profile just doesn’t hold up to the other two. There are too many ‘extra’ ingredients to make these bars truly healthy and close to a whole food substitute, I think the fiber source is inferior to the IMO in the other two bars (both nutritionally and for what it contributes to texture), and there’s more sugar than either of the other two.

In terms of Quest vs. Life Lift, Quest still comes out on top. Quest bars just have so much better flavor and texture/consistency. They’ve done a fantastic job perfecting that side of the equation. Life Lift bars aren’t terrible in that department, but they certainly are inferior, in my opinion of course. With respect to the nutrient profiles, they are actually quite comparable. Both have minimal amounts of ingredients compared to other bars. The protein sources are almost identical, as is the fiber source. Isomalto-oligosaccharide (IMO) is a really fantastic fiber source with a whole host of benefits. If you don’t know about it, I suggest looking it up or ask me about it. They both have healthy fats and little-to-no artificial ingredients or sweeteners.

Unfortunately for VPX, it’s going to take some serious R&D to be able to match Quest’s execution. I don’t mind eating the Life Lift bars, but Quest has managed to make theirs taste heavenly. Combined with an advantage as first entrant into this space and the tremendous amount of brand equity and reputation they’ve built, I don’t think anyone will unseat them anytime soon.

If you have any specific questions about the ingredients in these bars, feel free to reach out to me.

Comments
  1. Meggie Price says:

    HI – I am wondering if you have tasted QUest since their reformulation? They are now doing something to keep them softer and fresher- bars are paler and IMO the flavors are not nearly as good- they have an unfinished quality and lack that nuttiness of the dark bars. I would love to hear your thoughts.New ones are in lots dated 4/2014 or after.

    • cdrotman says:

      Hi Meggie,

      Yes, I am aware that they reformulated the bars to improve the texture/consistency. Personally, I like them better this way. The problem with the old formulation is that they were OK if you got them really fresh from the factory, but they were sort of a taffy-like consistency and had no room for getting any harder. Since these bars have no preservatives and a very short shelf-life, they were getting tough and, in some cases, almost rock hard. The new ones have a better shelf-life and are easier to chew. I have found that most people like the new ones better, to be honest. Which flavors do you like / dislike? But if you have specific questions, check out their facebook page and ask them. They put a lot of time and effort into the R&D for these things, so I am sure they had good reason to change it. Literally half the time with the old ones they would be wayyyy to hard and difficult to chew. Btw, what did you mean by lack of old flavors? I don’t think the flavors have really changed much at all. The ONLY bar that seems to taste slightly different is the coconut cashew. All the others taste almost identical to me, but are just softer and more enjoyable. Oh and btw, I have probably had every single flavor, both before and after the reformulation. I did notice they are lighter in color though. It’s been a while since i had the old ones tbh.

      Best,
      Cole

  2. Meggie Price says:

    Oh and BTW I am an enormous Qust fan, they are a maunstay for me in my post weight loss surgery 12 hours of exercising a week life. I think the new texture and lack of old flavors is a mistake but I am interested in how others feel. I have heard that the newer batches (5/2014) are better than the 4/2014 batches so maybe they have compromised. For me the dark nuttiness and chewiness were a great thing, not a detriment.

  3. Meggie Price says:

    I got absolutely wonderful help and response from them over a four week period and actually it turns out that probably only those boxes with a 4/2014 expire are that bad- they changed them again after that to better the flavors and yet keep them soft. They are sending me a 5/2014 box to let me taste this lol. I expect you did not ever have one of the bars I refer to because they were spongy,and the flavors were all off. Yipes though- coconut cashew is my favorite and that is what they are sending me lol! My favorites are CC, Vanilla Almond, and Cinnamon Roll. I have had them all…the only ones I don’t particularly care for are the brownie and the chocolate PB. I taste more protein in those. Unfortunately I am cursed with exquisitely sensitive taste buds…it is a blessing and a curse. I was the person in a very upscale bakery who passed or vetoed every product. But I also taste even a tiny difference in flavors. At this point I am able to say I can continue having my precious Quest bars. They are truly the best!!! They are the rage of the weight loss surgery community with their low net carbs. We look for a ten to one calorie to protein ratio and they fit perfectly- and can satisfy a sweet craving without making you binge or feel guilty. wow-long reply but as you can see I am passionate about my Quest bars! Thanks for the reply- I never myself got a really hard bar- and I liked the chewiness myself but can see how it could go South rapidly. Keep on Questing and blogging!

  4. cdrotman says:

    Thanks for visiting and reading my page Meggie. If you haven’t tried the banana nut muffin or cookie dough, I definitely recommend them highly. I think the CC was the one that got changed the most when they reformulated. It seems OK to me now. I also like apple pie a lot. The chocolate brownie is good now since they reformulated it. Give it another try. Glad you are also a fan of their products. They are very good people.

    In good health

    -Cole

  5. Meggie Price says:

    Yes and I also love your instagrams of doggies- I have a border terrier. I tried a CC yesterday- it is indeed better though I so love it golden brown for the nuttiness. I will miss that. How is vanilla almond now? I suspect the nut flavors may miss that browning the most. The cinnamon I tried is fine. I will take your advice and give brownie another try- I love chocolate. I have new ones of cookie dough and banana to try too. Thanks! will keep reading…

    • cdrotman says:

      Meggie

      Thank you very much! They are my angels :) All 3 of them. Vanilla almond tastes great to me. They all taste good in the recent batches, but I guess it comes down to personal preference. The choc brownie is much better than it used to be. Cookie dough is a big crowd pleaser. Thanks for following my blog and checking out my website. Take care.

      -Cole

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  7. Brandy says:

    TRY THEM HEATED IN THE MICROWAVE! OMG!! Take them out of the wrapper of course, put on a plate and into the microwave for about 10-15 seconds. Especially the brownie, choc. chip cookie dough and the banana nut bread flavors.

  8. Angel says:

    I eat both and must admit, Quest CCCD is the tastiest bar by far for my tastes. In fact, I stopped buying them cause I would eat like 5 of em a day. My question is, if Life Lift and Quest bars have similar nutrient profiles, why are quest bars soooo much sweeter? This worries me, as I don’t want to consume added sugar. Any responses greatly appreciated.
    Angel

    • cdrotman says:

      They just use more sweetener. The nutrient profile is very similar, but that doesn’t mean natural or artificial sweetener amounts are the same. Quest bars do not have a lot of sugar at all. Some of them actually have no sugar, but all have very low amounts.

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