Sunday, April 19, 2015

Review GNC Advanced Protein Bars

Why I switched from Quest bars to the GNC knock off

A few months ago I was at GNC to buy some Quest bars, and the sales clerk suggested I try the GNC brand Total Lean Advanced Advanced Protein bar. (No, that is not a typo and you're not seeing double. The product's full name contains the word Advanced twice because it is part of GNC's Total Lean Advanced product line.)

GNC Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Advanced Protein Bar
I have always loved Quest bars as a replacement meal or snack when I did not have a whole food alternative at hand; so I was reluctant to stray from a sure thing. But GNC had the same 4-bars-for-the-price-of-3 deal whether you bought four Quest bars or mixed and matched with its private label brand.

So for one of the four, I selected the chocolate chip cookie dough GNC Advanced Protein bar and totally regretted it.

Because the GNC bar had way better flavor and texture; and now I was stuck with three Quest bars.

If you've ever had a Quest bar you know they are kind of hard and have to be microwaved for about 7-12 seconds to be chewable. The Advanced Protein bars are softer and edible right out of the wrapper.

From a nutritional perspective, the two bars are pretty comparable protein and fiber-wise, although the GNC Advanced Protein Bar has 6g net carbs vs the Quest Bar's 3g. So, the Quest Bar is slightly better on that score.

Here are the ingredients in the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough GNC Advanced Protein Bar:

Prebiotic Dietary Vegetable Fiber, Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate, Cashew Butter, Canola Oil, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Natural Flavor, Soy Lecithin, Cocoa Powder, Sea Salt, Safflower Oil, Purified Stevia Extract, Lo Han Guo, Sunflower Lecithin

And here are the ingredients in the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Quest Bar:

Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate), Isomalto-Oligosaccharides (Prebiotic Fiber), Almonds, Water, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Erythritol. Contains Less than 2% of the following: Sea Salt, Stevia, Natural Flavorings, Sucralose.

Quest Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Protein Bar
To view the actual nutrition labels containing protein, carbs, fiber, etc. for each bar click here and here.

Neither bar seems significantly nutritionally superior to the other; so for me it comes down to taste and texture.

And the GNC brand wins that contest hands down. If you have ever tasted halvah, this is about as close as you will get to that Middle Eastern treat in a low carb format. I'm guessing it could be the cashew butter that gives it that great flavor since Quest uses almonds to impart the nutty notes.

I like the GNC Advanced Protein Bars so much I became a GNC gold card member so I could buy them even cheaper. At $20 for two years, I've likely already  recouped my membership fee.

Calorie-wise, both the Quest and GNC Advanced Protein bars are very similar (190 vs. 200, respectively); and both are calorically comparable to Medifast's new line of Maintenance bars, such as the Dark Chocolate Dream bar (200 calories).

Medifast Dark Chocolate Dream Maintenance Bar
Unfortunately, the Medifast bar has way more sugar (13g) and net carbs (20); so I have not even bothered to sample one. They are also more expensive than Quest or GNC Advanced Protein since you can't get the 4-for-the-price-of-3 deal and have to pay shipping unless you are placing a huge order (unlikely once you're on maintenance). The Medifast brand also contain seven bars per box vs. eight for Quest and GNC.

So, while the weight loss line of Medifast replacement meal bars are great for shedding pounds on the 5&1, I opt to shop elsewhere for maintenance bars.

Caution: My local GNC stores also carry an apple pie flavor Advanced Protein Bar which I bought by accident and did not like as much as the chocolate chip cookie dough variety. I think GNC also carries a private label cookie dough bar that is not part of the Total Lean Advanced line; so be careful not to confuse the two.


  1. I tried the GNC Advanced Protein Bar today - it was good as you mentioned. However, the Quest bars are a better value for the money when buying an entire box at the GNC member rate.

    Here's the breakdown:

    Quest Bar Box
    720 grams net weight
    28.81 grams per $

    GNC Total Lean Bar Box
    496 grams net weight
    22.56 grams per $

    1. Yes, I agree Quest bars are cheaper but in my opinion the taste is inferior and they're made with less desirable ingredients -- especially since the switch to soluble corn fiber. To me it's worth paying a little more.

  2. Can look at my blog to see nutritional facts of fat free, and low fat food with protein at grocery stores.