*Disclaimer: I was sent these products for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way for my time. As always, all opinions are 100% honest and 100% my own. All pictures for this post were taken from the company website with permission.
Sorry for the two “review” posts in a row. I wanted to squeeze a recipe post in the middle of these two, but between work, looking into grad schools, and house hunting there just wasn’t time (aaaaahhhhhhhhhh – growing up is scary!!!).
I was contacted about a month ago by someone from Extend Nutrition and they asked if I was interested in doing a review of their “Extend Bars” on my blog. I’m always on the lookout for new bars and/or shakes because I so frequently recommend them to my surgical weight loss patients, and as anyone who has tried a few different bars and shakes knows, there are some that are pretty good, and some that are just down right disgusting. The Extend Bars were a completely unknown product to me, but their website claims that they can control blood sugar for 9 hours overnight or 6 hours during the day, which I thought was a pretty bold statement, so I was definitely intrigued.
Extend Nutrition kindly sent me 12 bars – 4 each in Chocolate Caramel, Cookies and Cream, and Chocolate Peanut Butter. Now, being a dietitian, of course the first thing I did was check out the label. Here’s what these bars have to offer in the way of macronutrients (this is for the chocolate caramel flavor, but they’re all about the same):
Overall, my first impression of this info is fairly favorable. 130 calories is about perfect for a snack bar. It has some fat, which is good because fat free things generally taste like crap (just being honest). And it has 10g of protein, which is perfect for a snack (not quite enough for a meal in my book). What’s interesting about these bars, is the carbohydrates. 22g of total carb, but 5 of that is fiber, and 8g is maltitol (a sugar alcohol), neither of which will be fully digested. Now, side note: if you’re very sensitive to sugar alcohols, this is not the bar for you. I am pretty sensitive to sugar alcohols (ie gas, bloating, stomach cramping when I eat too much of them – I know, super sexy…), and I was able to do about half the bar without a problem, but more than that and you didn’t want to be around me…. If you’re not sensitive to sugar alcohols, then this won’t be an issue for you. If you’re not sure whether or not you can tolerate them, eat an Atkins bar and give it 30 minutes to see what (if anything) happens. Atkins bars have around 10g of sugar alcohol so it will be a good reference test for you. Most people can do up to around 25g of sugar alcohol per day before it becomes an issue. Now, you’ll notice that this label lists 9g of “other carbs”. Okay…… so what does “other carbs” mean? Well, in this case it means slow digesting carbohydrate such as “uncooked corn starch” that doesn’t have much effect on blood sugar. So if you’re someone who counts “Net Carbs” or what you could call, “short acting carbs” you’re looking around…….0g. Not bad, eh? So to sum it up, this bar is a good amount of calories, has a decent amount of protein, and the carbs in this bar really won’t affect your blood sugar – all good things!
Now, let’s talk for a second about taste, because of course if something doesn’t taste good we’re not going to eat it, no matter how good it is for us. I have to say, I was actually pleasantly surprised by the taste of these bars. My favorite was hands down the chocolate caramel. I would eat 1/2 a bar in the afternoon at work between lunch and dinner, and it was like a delightful little chocolatey mid-afternoon pick-me-up. And it was only half a bar, but it did a great job of making me feel like I had a satisfying treat and also holding me over till dinner. I also liked the cookies and cream. To be perfectly honest, I did not like the chocolate peanut butter, but to be fair, I don’t like really anything chocolate peanut butter flavored (unless it’s actual dark chocolate and a big spoonful of peanut butter), and yes, that means I don’t even like Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. I know, I’m weird.
In addition to the three flavors they sent me, they also have Apple Cinnamon (which sounds awesome), Mixed Berry, Rich Chocolate, Yogurt and Berry, and plain Peanut Butter. The company also makes other products like shakes, “drizzles”, and crisps. But as I have not tried any of those I can’t speak to their taste or quality.
One thing I will mention for those of you who like to delve a little bit deeper into your processed food choices and examine ingredient lists, is that these bars’ primary ingredient is a blend of soy protein isolate and whey protein isolate. I generally like to stay away from soy because my body doesn’t react well to it, but obviously that will vary person to person. If you’re not trying to avoid soy then these will be great for you, but if you have a soy allergy or intolerance then you may want to think twice. Also, these bars do contain carageenan, which I know some people are very sensitive to, so if that’s you then keep that in mind. And they do contain Stevia as well, which I generally prefer as an artificial sweetener, and most people tolerate Stevia better than aspartame or Splenda (sucralose), so I thought that was worth noting (although the bars get a lot of their sweetness from the sugar alcohols as well). If you don’t have any food sensitivities or allergies than you can ignore everything you just read.
Who would these bars be good for? Well, I think there are lots of people who might benefit from these bars. They’re convenient (like all bars) so that makes it a good choice for people who travel a lot or for those who frequently find themselves skipping meals because they’re just too busy running from one thing to the next. For people with diabetes, these would be a good alternative to a typical sweet treat as they won’t impact blood sugar. For those of you who have had weight loss surgery, I think these would be a good option for a snack (not enough protein for a full meal). For people who tend to experience reactive hypoglycemia (low blood sugar after eating a high carb meal/snack), these would certainly be a better alternative to your typical cereal/granola bar as they shouldn’t give you that same low blood sugar reaction. I will also add that I think these bars are very reasonably priced. Some protein bars can be anywhere from 2-4 dollars a bar. These bars are $20 for 15, which works out to about $1.30 a bar.
So there you have it – my 100% honest review of the Extend Bar. What do you guys think? Does this look like something you would be interested in trying out? If you have tried these already, leave a comment and let me know what you think!