Technically, it depends on your goals, but in terms of the sheer protein to “everything else” ratio, yes, Quest bars are worse. In their need for both a palatable texture and an enjoyable flavor, are forced to pump in further nutritionally void ingredients in pursuit of their final product. This applies to protein bars in general, but we’ll explain the specificity regarding Quest Bars in a moment. On the other hand, protein shakes needn’t look further than some sugar at most, which is often even excluded in favor of caloric sweeteners. This, again, depends on what you seek out of them, but even if your goals favor a more calorie-heavy approach, there are some extra factors at play that you should consider
And what factors are those, exactly?
Many things need to be taken into account when comparing the viability of these two options, from more immediate and apparent aspects such as the nutritional value, monetary viability, digestive impact, and so on (all of which will be alluded to further on), to the deeper and more debatable factors at play such as the manufacturer’s credibility, the health repercussions of other ingredients within the product that don’t directly play into its caloric weight, as is the case with aspartame in some zero calorie drinks, or sucralose in others. The amount of thought that one should put into their dietary choices, when weighed up against the amount of thought that often does, shows a startling disparity. Thankfully, we’re here to level things out a bit, by taking the temporal burden of time and energy required to investigate and inform oneself of your hands, and handing over the final product. Now, with all that said, let’s dive right into the first, but by no means the most damning factor; buckle up, there’s quite a road ahead.
Why Exactly Are Quest Bars Worse Than Protein Shakes?
Let’s clarify that by “worse”, we mean less efficient at accomplishing their goal, which assumedly, is protein dispensation, leaving Quest Bars in the losing spot. This can vary though, as some use them more so as a dessert with high protein content, or favor the high-calorie count, or the convenience they offer. Generally, though, when this is discussed, it is meant in a “best nutritional option” sense. And in that sense, I’m afraid, protein shakes take the metaphorical cake. They possess a low calorie-to-protein ratio, are more readily absorbed, and are substantially cheaper in the long run, making them more viable as a supplementary staple in one’s diet. The first of these points, though, was not always the case. This doesn’t mean that protein bars don’t have their place, though, be it as a slightly more nutritionally complete snack, a fiber boost, or simply an indulgence with a tad more balance to it. When it comes to protein dispensation, however, the cards are down, and no four-of-a-kind is beating the royal flush. Finally, the time has come to explain why “Quest” is sitting there bold and bright in the title. It serves as an example of just the kind of b.s. that occurs with products like these, and leads to options like these being less reliable when it comes to foods that will be frequent contributors to your diet.
The Lawsuit That Put Protein Shakes on Top
We’re in fact talking about the Nutritional Content Accuracy Lawsuit filed against Quest Nutrition LLC in 2018 in the U.S. District Court of D.C. The plaintiffs alleged that Quest Nutrition LLC was understating the calorie contents of their protein bars by a full 20% margin, while also significantly overestimating the fiber content within each bar. Quest responded by providing the nutritional testing records of their products, which seemingly cleared their name. This testing, however, was faulty. Quest Bars themselves are composed of approximately 30% isomaltooligosaccharides, or IMOs.These IMOs require anywhere from 12-16 to fully digest, and thus, depending on local government regulations, can be discarded as dietary fiber given that the human body will fail to fully break them down before they exit the digestive system. One defendant countered a plaintiff by claiming that “saying IMOs are calorically available according to conventional American testing methods (which incubate the matter in question for ~16h in digestive-enzyme-like chemicals) is like saying that the Empire State Building is water soluble because the grand Canyon eroded after millions of years”. A wee bit exaggerated to say the least, but the same principle nonetheless. The problem is, though, that despite most people’s inclination to divide the world into black and white, reality is simply not binary. IMOs break down gradually, meaning that while their full caloric potential is not utilized by the human digestive system, it’s a countdown, not a switch-flip. And Quest had failed to account for the fact that at least a portion of the caloric content would indeed be digested. The ruling was in the plaintiff’s favor, and Quest ended up altering the nutritional info on its products to more accurately reflect their true content, giving us a conclusive answer to the “Are Quest Bars Worse Than Protein Shakes?”. The implications of this, though, stretch far beyond a single case.
What This Means for Quest Bars and Protein Shakes
Many will claim that, as an isolated incident, one needn’t really worry about what implications this could have regarding other similar products. I, however, would disagree, pointing to a principle most clearly expressed in this conversation in the “Ozark” TV show, even more concisely refined into the last line: “It’s not the first time she stole from you. It’s the first time you caught her.” There are numerous biases found in human thought processing and rationale that contribute to why many people would shrug this off as a one-time thing, but this would be an incorrect conclusion. When wrongdoing is found, it is exactly that; the wrongdoing that has been found, not all that there is. You think when a farmer finds a pest on one of his plants, he just shrugs it off? Hell no, he immediately takes action because he knows his whole damn crop is infected. This lawsuit tells us that within this particular food group, there is f**kery afoot. Similar issues are not regularly found in protein shakes (at least, whey in particular), and given their nature, there isn’t really much room for these hijinks to begin with. All this leads to the conclusion that, when faced with the choice, protein isolate powders now have a rather decisively sturdier track record, something paramount when considering which to use regularly.
Is One Really Worse Than the Other?
The aforementioned point, however, evaluates both products as a whole within the industry. On an individual basis, we allow for a little more leniency, particularly when we’re not contemplating them as regular dietary choices but rather as one-time tools. Other factors, such as:
- Taste Preference
Will dictate more immediate choices, and rightfully so. As long as we’re self-aware in our decisions and don’t allow short-term remedies to become long-term solutions, as warns the quote “There’s nothing more permanent than a temporary solution”, then one needn’t worry too much about the nitty-gritty of each option. Just remember to take what comes on all these labels with a grain of salt, because, at the end of the day, these are corporations doing the minimum legally necessary, not the dogmatic word of Demeter passed on to man. There’s a reason why the nutritional info of the same Quest Bar is different in the U.S.A. than it is in Canada: because it’s about following the rules, not about informing the customer.
Goodies Besides Supplements to Keep Your Eyes On
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