Kirkland Protein Bars Review
Protein supplements have become exceedingly popular in the fitness world. In fact, the global industry, in 2020, is an estimated 18.91 billion dollars! Yes, almost $20 billion a year.
These protein supplements are generally split into two large areas: protein powders and protein bars. Many athletes use a combination of protein bars and powder, although many do prefer one over the other.
Generally, the upside of a protein bar is that it makes you feel full faster, and additionally allows for that feeling to last longer. It is also very convenient to have as a snack or to throw into your gym or work bad.
The upside of protein shakes involve the fact that liquid protein is delivered more quickly to your muscles and – to some degree – you can control the taste.
A general consensus is that a combination of the two provides the greatest benefits depending on your circumstances.
In terms of finding the right protein bars that adequately meet your needs, the process may not be easy. Many protein bars contain chemicals, processed ingredients, and artificial flavors, as well as high quantities of sugar or other sweeteners.
But, like with most things, the right product for you does exist, the problem is just finding it.
Kirkland Signature Protein Bars
Accordingly, from Kirkland Signature comes one of the best protein bars out there, especially for the money.
This certified gluten free, certified Kosher, non GMO, all natural protein bar contains no artificial ingredients with a nice nutritional profile. They also comes in 6 different flavors which is a boon for those that want some variety.
Note: Costco changed the ingredients and taste profile in late 2020. The review has been updated to reflect those changes. The ingredients and nutrition facts shown and listed below are from the newest (current) version of the bars.
As shown above, each 2.1 oz bar contains at most 190 calories and at least 21 grams of protein – a blend of milk protein isolate and whey protein isolate – 7 grams of fat and 22 grams of carbohydrates of which only 2 (!) grams are sugar.
Something to keep in mind is that the ingredients and nutritional profile can vary slightly between the flavors but overall they are very close to each other.
The fact that these bars are also gluten free, Kosher, non GMO, and contain no artificial flavors is a another large plus. Almost all the ingredients used are recognizable and pronounceable, which inspires a lot of confidence in the quality of the ingredients you’re consuming.
There is something to be aware of if you’re highly susceptible to allergens; the bars contain milk and nuts (cashews) and may be processed with other nuts (like peanuts, which is actually not a nut…but I digress).
Once eaten, the 21 gram protein blend allows for a more sustained release of protein of in your body. For example, whey protein isolate is quickly digested, something that is benefits post workout. When you consume whey protein, you get a relatively immediate boost of energy and muscle building amino acids.
On the other hand, milk protein isolate (aka casein protein) is a slow-digesting protein. A simplification but casein protein sits in a “clump” in your stomach for long periods of time, allowing better protein synthesis over time.
Using both types of milk-derived protein allows you to reap the most benefits of protein supplementation. In having a combination of both, Kirkland Signature is pretty unique; most bars use solely whey.
Another great thing about these protein bars is that the ingredients stick mainly to natural ingredients. Instead of sugar, they use stevia extract, which is derived from the stevia plant – a good natural sweetener although some do not like the taste.
Additionally, sunflower lecithin is included as an ingredient, which is a great addition. Lecithin is known to lower cholesterol, improve heart health, and moisturize your skin.
The bars also include 10 grams of fiber, which is incredibly high for a protein supplement. The good thing about this is that fiber acts as a protection for protein. More fiber means the protein will be in your system for longer periods of time, meaning your cells receive an influx of amino acids over a greater length of time.
Taste is obviously individual and highly subjective. As bars go, though, these really are not bad at all…but they aren’t as good overall as they were pre-2021.
While I’ve only had 2 flavors, I find the chocolate chip cookie dough to be pretty tasty. I mean it does contain chocolate and does taste a bit like cookie dough. Is it as good as chocolate chip cookie? No, of course not – but it doesn’t have the nutritional profile of a cookie either!
The bars are also well reviewed on Costco’s website with an average of 4.5 stars although a lot of people still prefer the older version.
My biggest complaint with the bars is that they are a bit hard to chew and they are pretty dense. If you have trouble, I find it helps if they’re a bit warm. Also, having some to drink nearby can help with those chewy pieces that get stuck in your teeth.
The box contains 20 bars, and are also much better priced than the majority of protein bars.
In summary, if you’re on the fence I would still recommend these bars. If you hate them you can always return them and get your money back. No harm, no foul!
In summary, these bars are a great option but, like with everything we consume, they are not for everyone. For that reason, here are three other protein bar options.
KIND Breakfast Protein Bars
These gluten-free, non GMO bars include 8 grams of protein, which is largely derived from soy, per serving. They also come in a few flavors; Almond Butter, Dark Chocolate Cocoa, and Maple Cinnamon.
They contain 220 calories and 26 grams of carbs per serving, which is definitely a bit high, although that number falls when you consider that the serving size is two bars.
These bars also have 10 grams of total sugars, 8 grams of which are added, in the form of cane sugar. While cane sugar is a better option than certain artificial sweeteners, if you’re looking for more of a sugar-free option, this is not the bar for you.
KIND’s biggest strength is in affordability.
RXBar Protein Bar
I find these to be very good tasting overall even if I’m not a huge fan of the peanut butter option. They are a bit chewy and dense (like the Kirkland Signature bars) but ingredient profile makes up for that.
Speaking of which, their biggest claim to fame is that they put the ingredients on the outside of the packaging, to prove that they have nothing to hide. These bars include egg whites, almonds, cashews, and dates; and that’s it.
They are gluten-free and non GMO, in addition to being incredibly healthy, natural, and simple.
Plus, they somehow contain more protein than other options, at 12 grams per serving. They also come in a large variety of delicious flavors, making them even more widely accessible to a greater variety of taste buds.
Despite the cost, RXBar remains one of the more popular protein bar brands, Customers laud this product as a clean and delicious source of protein. If you’re looking for the cheapest place to buy in store, you might check out your local Sam’s Club or Costco to see if they’re stocked there.
Here’s the best place to buy online –
Health Warrior Chia Bars
These are also a decently affordable option for a box of 15 bars. These bars are also vegan, gluten free, soy and dairy free, and non GMO.
They include only 100 calories and 3 grams of sugar per serving, although are low on the protein side, at only 3 grams per bar. Because of that, these bars may work better as a snack than as an energy supplement, like some of the other options.
However, they are still affordable, delicious, and healthy, so shouldn’t be ruled out. In fact, by having a lower protein count than other options, they become healthier to use as a snack or meal replacement, especially if you don’t work out.
Protein bars are a great way to supplement nutrients and protein into your diet. And, of the bars out there, Costco’s Kirkland one of the best options, especially for the price. That said, I recommend any of the bars listed above. Go ahead and give them a try!
I’m a personal trainer based in Denver (Matrix Gym) and a true fitness nerd. If I’m not training clients or working out at my home gym, I’m probably skiing, cycling or hiking with my dog Rufus.
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