The Inevitable Quest Bar Review

August 13, 2020
Diet Check
Keto Friendly
Volumetricity High
Paleo No
Vegetarian Vegetarian

As a nutritional food product reviewer, I feel it is my duty to provide a Quest Bar analysis since it seems so many writers in this space are heavily opinionated about them. These bars definitely get a lot of hate from some nutritionists, though they definitely aren't the worst protein bars out there. Not in terms of health and especially not in terms of taste.

A lot of people know Quest for their protein bars, but they actually make a lot of products. They make protein bars, chips, protein powders, cookies, ready-to-drink shakes, and PIZZA! This review will focus only on their protein bars.

9 flavors of Quest Bars. That is how many bars I tried in a single day. I also recruited a few people from my household to give second and third opinions about these bars. Keep in mind that tastes are only subjective measures.

We will go analyze each bar for its taste, its macros and its ingredients. I will put small icons next to each ingredient indicate either a good, careful or bad status. Then, on the bottom of this page, I will include explanations of why I marked an ingredient a certain status. Before we start, let's define these statuses:

Good Ingredients: Ingredients shown to have health benefits or not adversely affect health in any way.

Cautionary Ingredients: Ingredients that are speculatively bad but are not currently proven to have substantial adverse health effects OR ingredients that have adverse health effects for some people.

Bad Ingredients: Ingredients proven to have adverse health effects.

Maple Waffle Flavor

The maple waffled flavored bar was so sticky I accidentally ripped the wrapper when trying to peel the bar out of it. It smelled strongly of syrup. On the bar there were pockets of goo that contain most of the strong sweet syrup flavor. The base of the bar was chewy and contained waffle-like flavor. I was pretty surprised about how closely this bar tasted like waffles with syrup on them, though the bar left a classic protein bar aftertaste which I did not care for.

Good Ingredients: Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate, Water, Almonds, Erythitol

Cautionary Ingredients: Soluble Corn Fiber, Natural Flavors

Bad Ingredients: Palm Kernel Oil

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Tough texture, but the bar tasted close to something that resembled the dough of chocolate chip cookies. The chocolate chip flavor, along with most of the flavor, comes from the unsweetened chocolate chunks in the bar.

Good Ingredients Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate, Almonds, Water, Unsweetened Chocolate, Erythritol, Cocoa Butter, Stevia Sweetener, Sea Salt, Sunflower Lecithin

Cautionary Ingredients Soluble Corn Fiber, Natural Flavors

Bad Ingredients Sucralose

Smores

Quest Smores Bar

Similar to the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, this bar had a tough texture and got most of its flavor from chocolate chunks. There are chunks of something that represents a graham cracker in the bar, but they aren't actual graham cracker chunks. The bar had a hint of cinnamon flavor.

Good Ingredients Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate, Almonds, Water, Erythritol, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Sea Salt, Cinnamon, Baking Soda, Stevia Sweetener, Sunflower Lecithin, Xanathan Gum

Cautionary Ingredients Soluble Corn Fiber, Natural Flavors

Bad Ingredients Sucralose

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip

Quest Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bar

A very chewy cinnamon bar. There appeared to be oats in this bar but that's all I could taste was cinnamon. Reminded me of an apple and cinnamon flavored oatmeal.

Good Ingredients Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate, Almonds, Water, Oats, Unsweetened Chocolate, Natural Flavors, Erythritol, Cocoa Butter, Sea Salt, Cinnamon, Sunflower Lecithin, Stevia

Cautionary Ingredients Soluble Corn Fiber, Natural Flavors

Bad Ingredients Sucralose

While Chocolate Raspberry

Quest White Chocolate Raspberry Bar

Another tough-textured quest bar, but one of the best tasting Quest flavors right now. The white chocolate chunks are a burst of sweet flavor with a hint of raspberry. It reminded me of a raspberry fig newton if you'd ever had one of those.

Good Ingredients Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate, Almonds, Water, Cocoa Butter, Erythritol, Raspberries, Sea Salt, Sunflower Lecithin, Stevia Sweetener, Sodium Caseinate

Cautionary Ingredients Soluble Corn Fiber

Bad Ingredients Sucralose

Peanut Butter Brownie Smash

Quest Peanut Butter Brownie Bar

My personal favorite for a few reasons. This bar tastes really close to the flavor and texture it was trying to replicate (a peanut butter brownie), and I LOVE peanut butter. The texture was really soft like a brownie too. However, the main reason why this bar is my personal favorite is because it doesn't use sucralose. As I will discuss below, sucralose is a nasty ingredient to put in your body.

Good Ingredients Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate, Peanuts, Water, Erythritol, Almonds, Peanut Flour, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Sea Salt, Sodium Caseinate, Monk Fruit Extra, Stevia Sweetener, Sunflower Lecithin

Cautionary Ingredients Soluble Corn Fiber

Birthday Cake

Quest Birthday Cake Bar

The odd bar of the bunch. Most quest bars are a little tough and slightly sticky but this bar slid right out of the package. The bar had a crumbly inside surrounded by a solid icing that held most of the cake flavor. The flavor was like a burst of stale vanilla cake on initial bite but it fades quickly into a strange aftertaste. This one was of my other taste tester's favorite bars and understandably so. However, this bar's ingredients leans towards the unhealthy side.

Good Ingredients Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate, Erythritol, Water, Almonds, Sodium Caseinate, Sea Salt, Gum Arabic

Cautionary Ingredients Soluble Corn Fiber, Natural Flavors

Bad Ingredients Palm Kernel Oil, Sucralose

Caramel Chocolate Chunk

Quest Caramel Chocolate Chunk Bar

This one surprised me with how close it got to an actual caramel flavor. The super thick, gooey, sticky caramel flavor was great and not as sticky as your typical caramel candies.

Good Ingredients Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate, Water, Almonds, Erythritol, Unsweetened Chocolate, Sodium Caseinate, Cocoa Butter, Butter, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Sea Salt, Baking Soda, Annatto Extract, Beta Carotene, Sunflower and/or Soy Lecithin, Stevia Sweetener

Cautionary Ingredients Soluble Corn Fiber, Natural Flavors

Bad Ingredients Palm Kernel Oil, Sucralose

Mint Chocolate Chunk

Quest Mint Chocolate Chunk Bar

One of my taste tester's favorite bars out of the 9 we tried. The mint in this bar is fantastic and leaves a linger of peppermint flavor even after you've eaten a piece. The chocolate pieces in the bar also add some variance to the flavor. I initially got excited about this bar because there was no sucralose in it, but unfortunately they are using palm kernel oil.

Good Ingredients Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate, Water, Almonds, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Erythritol, Unsweetened Chocolate, Sodium Caseinate, Sea Salt, Xanathan Gum, Baking Soda, Stevia, Peppermint Oil

Cautionary Ingredients Soluble Corn Fiber, Natural Flavors

Bad Ingredients Palm Kernel Oil

Ingredient Analysis

Milk Protein Isolate

Approximately 80% casein protein and 20% whey protein. Milk Protein Isolate has a complete amino acid profile for muscle recovery. This type of protein is in fresh milk, there is just no lactose.

Whey Protein Isolate

Whey Protein Isolate is another great protein that has the complete amino acid profile. Quest combines this and the Milk Protein Isolate so we get a good amount of both whey and casein proteins.

Cocoa

Great product which is less processed than chocolate is, so its just that much better. Cocoa is proven to have some substantial health benefits such as lower blood pressure and reduced heart disease risk. One publication calls cocoa a super fruit!

Unsweetened Chocolate

Chocolate, just without the unnecessary added sugars. Chocolate has the same benefits oc cocoa, but with some additional fats.

Erythritol

A sweetener that contains nearly no calories that tastes like our common refined sugar. It does not spike blood sugar and possibly reduces risk of heart disease. Human studies show little side effects other than minor digestive issues in some people at larger doses.

Sodium Caseinate

A healthier food additive derived from casein protein, which makes this ingredient not vegan. This additive increases the amount of protein in the bars and adds texture as well.

Xanathan Gum

A zero-calorie emulsifier that is used to thicken or stabilize foods. Studies show it to possibly be beneficial by lowering blood sugar and leaving people feel more full.

Stevia

A sweetener refined from the stevia plant that is about 200 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia has nearly zero calories and is also linked to lowering insulin and glucose levels.

Sunflower Lecithin

An emulsifier that is sourced from hydrated sunflower gum. Sunflower Lecithin studies show that it can lower cholesterol levels and improve digestive health.

Soluble Corn Fiber

Soluble Corn Fiber is a fiber sourced from corn. Due to this, this raises concerns for some people since this ingredient is linked to GMO's. This ingredient may also cause digestive issues when consumed in the amounts that are in these bars. That being said, soluble corn fiber by itself has proven to have a good glucose response.

Natural Flavors

Not-so-natural flavors that have been extracted from a plant or an animal. This can include a large array of sources and we cannot tell where these flavors come from. Quoting the FDA, this can be a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof.

Sucralose

A zero-calorie artificial sweetener made from a long chemical processes that is 400-700 times sweeter than sugar. It doesn't have a bitter aftertaste like other sweeteners do which is why it still finds meddles its way into our foods today. As claimed this publication there is no clinical proof that these type of sweeteners are leading to weight gain, but there is an obvious association with between artificially-sweetened beverage consumption and weight gain in children. Another study shows its likely the sweetener kills healthy gut bacteria.

Palm Kernel Oil

An oil derived from the kernel or seed of the fruit in oil palms. This oil is high in saturated fat and also has conflicting studies around whether or not it is healthy for the heart. Also, the methods of which this oil is obtained generally impacts the environment in destructive ways.

Summary

A look at each individual ingredient in a Quest bar isn't too bad, but when you consider the bars as a whole they seem like a little bit too much for your gut. Almost all of the ingredients, xanathan gum, soluble corn fiber, stevia, sucralose, etc. have substantial effects on the gut. Some of these bars are near 20g of fiber which is a ridiculous amount of fiber, let alone of the other effects of the other ingredients.

That said, the occasional Quest bar is likely not going to hurt you, and the amount of protein you get from them is great! I definitely noticed some moderate discomfort in my stomach after trying a piece of each of these bars, so be careful about how many of these things you're eating; I wouldn't eat more than one a day.