IQ Bar Review

IQ Bar Review

I’m always on the lookout for a good energy bar. I’ve written about many great bars I’ve found over the last couple years ranging from cricket protein bars like Exo or Chapul, or egg white protein bars like RXBARs, or even typical animal protein bars like Wilde. There are so many bars coming out nowadays that are geared towards Whole30/Paleo/Primal people and it can be pretty exhausting to decide on which bar to spend your money on. The most recent bar I saw when I was on Instagram was actually for a crowdfunding campaign for a bar call IQ Bar.

IQ Bar Review

The image and description grabbed my attention so I quickly went over to their page to read all about these new bars. What I read really intrigued me so I immediately reached out to the owner to see if I could do a review of their bars and he was more than willing!

As always we will be reviewing these bars for: Nutritional Profile, Affordability, Taste. Let’s get to it!

Nutritional Profile

IQ Bar Review
Now when it comes to what these bars are composed of, these guys really get it. I can’t even attempt to go into the science of exactly how great these bars myself, because their crowdfunding page really breaks down the nutritional information for each of these bars and what their goals were. In a nutshell it’s this: too many bars are full of sugar that lead you to a sugar crash not too long after you eat them – but IQ Bars are low carb/high fat (YES!) that will provide you with enough energy without the sugar crash to follow. Please turn your attention to their video that explains their bars and goals in more detail:

So these bars sound pretty great right? That’s because they are. The problem I have with all the Larabar or Nutri-Grain type bars is that there is just way too much sugar and not enough fat! We need more fat, and that’s what these bars provide – more fat and less sugar. One thing to notice about these particular bars that’s different from the rest of the bars I’ve reviewed is that they’re not “protein” bars. That’s ok though because that’s not their market – their market is to go against what I just mentioned was the high carb/low fat bars. So if you’re in need of protein in addition to these bars maybe hit up a hard boiled egg or something.

IQ Bar Review

Let’s take a look at the highlights of these bars nutritional breakdown as listed on their site:

IQ Bars are the first and only nutrition bars optimized for the brain. They’re drastically different than other bars for three main reasons:

  1. IQ Bars are low in net carbs (~8g/bar), high in healthy fats, and packed with 5 brain-critical nutrients.
  2. Our ingredient list is short, and contains 100% all-natural inputs. No ingredients that start with “X”!
  3. IQ Bars comply with vegan, Paleo, Whole 30, low-carb, and kosher diets, and have ZERO grains, gluten, GMO’s, dairy, soy, or added sugar.

Now these are just the highlights of the nutrition in these bars, they have even more complex science on their indiegogo page that goes way more into detail of why low carb/high fat is the preferred nutritional profile for our bodies. I’ve written about how this fits into my primal lifestyle here as well.

IQ Bar Review

Let’s look at IQ Bar Blueberry Walnut compared to say a Larabar and something even worse like a Nutri-Grain bar:

IQ Bar Blueberry Walnut
Total Fat: 14g
Total Carbohydrate: 21g (Dietary Fiber 12g, Sugars 8g)
Protein: 4g
Ingredients: Blueberries, Walnuts, Coconut Flakes, Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, Dates, Cacao Nibs, Cacao Powder, Chia Seeds, Chicory Root Fiber, Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

Larabar Blueberry Muffin
Total Fat: 8g
Total Carbohydrate: 26g (Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 17g)
Protein: 4g
Ingredients: Dates, Cashews, Unsweetened Blueberries, Blueberry Juice Concentrate, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Vanilla Extract.

Nutri-Grain Blueberry
Total Fat: 3g
Total Carbohydrate: 24g (Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 12g)
Protein: 2g
Ingredients: Filling (High Fructose Corn Syrup, Blueberry Preserves [High Fructose Corn Syrup, Blueberries], Corn Syrup, Glycerin, Fructose, Sugar, Maltodextrin, Water, Natural and Artificial Blueberry Flavor, Modified Corn Starch, Sodium Alginate, Calcium Phosphate, Citric Acid, Soy Lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Modified Cellulose, Sodium Citrate, Malic Acid, Red No. 40, Blue No. 1), Enriched Wheat Flour, Whole Oats, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Honey, Calcium Carbonate, Dextrose, Nonfat Dry Milk, Wheat Bran, Salt, Cellulose Gum, Leavening (Potassium Bicarbonate), Natural and Artificial Vanilla Flavor, Soy Lecithin, Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Zinc Oxide, Reduced Iron, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin A Palmitate, Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1) and Folic Acid.

Now looking at just those labels really tells a story. What do we see? Well, we see IQ Bars are far superior nutritionally to the alternatives. Larabars have one thing going for them and that’s that they use real food and their ingredients aren’t weird, but they will still leave you possibly with a sugar crash after you have one. Then if you look at the Nutri-Grain bar it’s absolutely embarrassing. They’re just full of sugar, a ton of ingredients and low fat. Their own website even prides themselves on how low fat they are: Kellogg’s nutri-grain cereal bars, blueberry is made up of low fat, whole grain oats, naturally and artificially flavored. All that really means is “these bars will leave you with a sugar crash after eating this low fat snack bar”.

To really sum it up for the nutritional aspect of these bars is that they’re far superior to anything sold in the stores today on the “energy bar” shelves and I can’t wait to see these in stores all over the country (or world).

Affordability

IQ Bars
Now I normally compare products to one another based on their affordability but that’s kinda hard to do this time around because these bars are only available on their crowdfunding pages. I will list the prices here just for consistency with the other reviews I’ve done, but maybe once these bars are more commercially available (hopefully!) I’ll come back and update this section.

IQ Bar Blueberry Walnut
Price per bar: $2.66 (subscription)
Price per 12 bar box: $32.00 (subscription)
Ingiegogo Link

Larabar Blueberry Muffin
Price per bar: $0.99
Price per 16 bar box: $15.99
Amazon Link

Nutri-Grain Blueberry
Price per bar: $0.25
Price per 48 bar box: $12.00
Amazon Link

Ok now obviously the alternative is going to be cheaper but you know what? The 12 bar box price of the IQ Bars is exactly the same as my favorite protein bars Exo:

Exo Cocoa Nut
Price per bar: $2.66 (subscription)
Price per 12 bar box: $32.00 (subscription)
Exo Link

Sooo, that gives me hope that when the IQ Bars are commercially available I’ll have no problem justifying the cost since I’m already acustom to paying that much for a quality product that will sustain me for hours on end.

Why are the other bars so cheap you might ask? Good question and one I’ve answered in other reviews but it’s simple really – you’re paying for quality, real, whole food ingredients. Nutri-Grain bars are cheap because they use grains and corn syrup. Larabars are getting down there in cost even though they use great ingredients because they’re more widely available, driving cost down I’m sure, and because their ingredients aren’t particularly expensive either. Albeit Larabars’ ingredients aren’t as inexpensive as Nutri-Grain’s ingredients – their ingredients are the cheap of the cheap.

Taste

IQ Bar Review
I’m so stoked that Will was able to send me some samples so I could really get a taste of what these bars have to offer. There are two things about IQ Bars that really stuck out and that I love: They’re not too sweet and they’re satiating. Which is the whole point. The perfect dose of fat to get you through an afternoon or morning, and low enough carbs to not give you a sugar crash. Now onto the taste!

Matcha Hazelnut
IQ Bar Matcha Hazelnut
Very strong coconut flavor at the beginning. Then you get used to it and start noticing the other flavors. Super chewy and didn’t hurt my jaw. Thank you God. I love RXBARs but literally my jaw is sore after I eat them. Not with these though. The texture was on point and the flavor was subtle but pleasant. Not too sweet but just enough little hint of sweetness for me. A little matcha at the end lingers in your mouth. Nice random chunks of hazelnut too that gave the bar a nice crunch.

Almond Cacao
IQ Bar Almond Cacao
Very nice chocolatey taste. Good texture with larger random almond chunks. Not too sweet, just the right amount of sweetness for me. Reminded me of just a really good chocolate cookie that was barely sweetened. Definitely left me feeling full after eating it. Subtle coconut flavor too in there.

Blueberry Walnut
IQ Bar Blueberry walnut
This one was probably my favorite. It has a very strong blueberry flavor, obviously. But not too overpowering. All these bars have the same level of sweetness, which I love. The flavor actually really reminded me of the flavor of the blueberry Exo bar albeit less sweet and less crickety flour taste. This bar really was satiating.

Conclusion

Conclusion
I see a near future where my pantry is full of boxes of my favorite protein bar Exo and my new next favorite energy bar IQ Bars. Allowing me the option of getting a more rounded meal replacement with Exo or allowing me to get a dose of long lasting energy via IQ Bars. I suggest you go back these IQ Bars right now while you still have the chance and like I’ve said multiple times I can’t wait until I can pick a giant pack of these up at Costco. Thanks Will for giving me a sneak peek at these amazing energy bars!

Click here to order some IQ Bars

RXBAR Review

RXBAR Review

So maybe crickets aren’t your thing. The idea of eating crickets for breakfast freaks you out a bit. Well, we’re still not left with many “real” food options for breakfast/energy bars. The hardest part for these energy whole food bars to figure out is what protein source to use. Larabar has one that uses pea protein. Quest makes this low carb one that uses whey protein. Then there are these amazing ones that use cricket flour. Then one day as I was browsing on Instagram I came across Melissa Hartwig (Whole30 co-creator) showing off RXBARs.

 

A photo posted by Melissa Hartwig (@melissa_hartwig) on

I’ll admit the first thing I was drawn to, being that I’m a designer by day, was the package design. The minimalist package design was right up my alley so I tapped the Instagram account of RXBAR and read a little bit and saw that their protein source was egg whites. That’s a perfect alternative for people who are put off by cricket flour, whey, pea or brown rice protein.

RXBAR

Egg whites are a real food. So naturally I was excited to try out these bars. I reached out to RXBAR and they sent me one of each of their flavors. It took awhile to get this review out because I wanted to eat one across the span of a week or so. Eating a bar after swimming and working out and to see how I felt after. I didn’t want to just nibble on each bar and tell you how they tasted, though I’ll cover that, I wanted to see how well they held me over and worked as a meal replacement/addition. As we do with all product reviews here we’ll be talking about the Nutritional Profile, Affordability and Taste.

RXBARs are Whole 30

Nutritional Profile

RXBAR has a total of 7 flavors with 3 core ingredients: Egg Whites, Fruits & Nuts. Each bar has pretty much the same nutritional profile (more or less), so for this we’re only gonna look at my favorite flavor: Coconut Chocolate. All of their bars are Paleo and Whole30 compliant except for the peanut butter since peanut butter isn’t actually from nuts, its from peanuts which are legumes. Nevertheless, I ate the one they sent me and it was delicious. A little peanut butter never hurt anybody (unless of course you’re allergic to peanuts).

RXBAR Coconut Chocolate
Total Fat: 9g
Total Carbohydrate: 22g (Dietary Fiber 4g, Sugars 13g)
Protein: 12g
Ingredients: Dates, Egg Whites, Almonds, Cashews, Cacao, Coconut, Sea Salt, Natural Coconut Flavor

What we see here is pretty amazing. These bars pack 12g of protein. That’s slightly more than the Exo bars I love so dearly. Where they come up short in comparison to Exo bars is how much fat is in the bars. 9g isn’t as much as Exo’s 20g of fat. Don’t get me wrong though, this is still more fat than Chapul or other grain filled breakfast bars. I’m just pointing out it isn’t as much as Exo’s because that’s ultimately what makes Exo a little more sustaining. What RXBARs really are is a Larabar with egg whites. Larabars have about 10g fat (Coconut Cream Flavor) and no protein other than that naturally occurring in the nuts.

These are still a great option for a quick breakfast on the go because they will hold you over longer than Chapul and Larabars but not as long as an Exo bar would. Remember fat is your friend. It’s the body’s preferred source of fuel. Don’t fear the fat and shun these just because they aren’t ultra low fat. They’re like mid fat. I’d prefer them to have a little more coconut. If you compare this to another whole food breakfast it would be something like 2 scrambled eggs in 1/2T butter (12g fat, 2 carb, 12g protein) and a small banana (.3g fat, 23g carb, 1g protein). Not a bad way to start off your day. All in all these bars have an impressive nutritional profile, are a whole food and are quick & easy. These are a winner in my book when compared to the rest of the junk out there.

RXBAR Review

Affordability

RXBARs (All Flavors)
Price per bar: $2.05 (subscription)
Price per 12 bar box: $24.69 (subscription)

The price point of these actually lands in a good range. They’re a whole food bar, like I’ve been saying over and over, and they break down to only about $2 a bar. That’s great! Compare that to Exo bars at about $3 a bar – that’s more expensive yes, but you are paying for a slightly more sustaining bar. But then if you look at these Larabar ALT bars they come out to about $1.25 a bar, which is pretty cheap, but they have 30g carbs and they use pea protein for their protein source which may cause gut irritation for some people.

My point is, there is always a give and take. Cheap breakfast bars are filled with junk, whereas expensive breakfast bars are filled with amazing crickets and coconut (things good for you). RXBARs I feel land in a great spot at $2 because their price is middle of the road compared to the cheap and expensive alternatives – but you don’t have to give up quality.

Cinnamon Apple RXBAR

Taste

These flavors all had the same underlying taste of dates and figs but the differences came out in the nuances of the additional ingredients in each of the flavors. I’m glad I got to check all of them out (even the Peanut Butter).

Chocolate Sea Salt
This was the second least chewy of all the bars. It has a very noticeable salt flavor at first that’s followed by the deep chocolate flavor that left a lingering after taste. There isn’t too much crunch in this bar. If you’re a chocolate lover, you’ll love this bar.

Pumpkin Spice
This one reminds me of a gingerbread cookie. Nice and soft texture with the perfect amount of crunch. This bar was also not too sweet, I like that. Perfect Fall flavors in this bar.

Chocolate Coconut
This bar was my favorite. Still not too sweet and just the right amount of coconut flavor. Just the right amount of crunch from the nuts and cocoa nibs. The chocolate flavor was subtle and not overpowering.

Peanut Butter
This one had softest texture of all of them. Very straight peanut butter taste to the bar. It reminded me a lot of Tiger Milk bars, minus the chocolate. I used to eat those when I was a kid but not any more. If you like peanut butter and if peanuts don’t give you gas, and if you’re not Paleo this is a great protein bar.

Blueberry
Lots of texture from the nuts and dried berries in this bar. If you like blueberry, you’ll love this bar because it’s very blueberry tasting. I happen to like blueberries amongst all other berries: raspberries, strawberries, blackberries – so this bar was right up my alley. Not too acidic or tart flavored either, very mild tasting.

Apple Cinnamon
This totally reminds me of those instant apple cinnamon oatmeals. They hit the nail on the head with this one. Not very chewy, just the right texture for me and not too sweet. The crunch is nice too just like the rest of them.

Coffee Chocolate
This was the first bar I tasted actually and it was very very chewy. It almost made my jaw hurt. Not sure what impacted the bar in that way because not all of them were this hard. Maybe I should’ve set it in the sun for a few minutes. There was a nice subtle and pleasant coffee taste. Not too sweet. Just the right amount of crunch. I really liked the coffee flavor, not bitter at all.

Bye Bye RXBAR

Conclusion

Like I’ve already said if crickets aren’t your thing, this is the next best thing. At $2 a bar, 12g protein and great flavor options these bars are clear winners.

Buy some samples and decide for yourself:*
Get $5 off your first RXBAR order!
RXBAR Sampler Pack
*After you figure out which flavor of RXBAR you like I suggest you sign up for a subscription.

Cricket Flour Protein Bar Review: Exo vs. Chapul

Cricket Flour Protein Bar Review: Exo vs. Chapul

Breakfast is hard. Getting up early for work, packing lunch, getting ready and out the door can be a hinderance to getting a good serving of fat and protein in your belly in the early hours of the day. On some days it may work to just skip breakfast since intermittent fasting has been shown to have a multitude of health benefits. However, for those days that you want to get something Primal in your belly that’s also filling and tastes good, what cricket flour protein bar will do the trick: Exo or Chapul?

Cricket Flour Protein Bar Review: Exo vs. Chapul

Exo started out on Kickstarter where they raised $20,000 in 3 days. I originally backed them and got my first box after they finished production and I have continued to order them every month to have a quick go to Primal breakfast or snack. The kicker for this bar is that the protein isn’t whey, pea or soy – it’s Crickets. They raise crickets, euthanize them and then pulverize them into a flour. So no you won’t have a cricket leg sticking out of your bar. They are very similar to Chapul that showed up on Shark Tank and backed by Mark Cuban. Being the avid Shark Tank viewer that I am I couldn’t wait to get my hands on these bars to compare them to my beloved Exo Cocoa Nut bars. Exo and Chapul both actually get their cricket flour from the same farm in Canada. You can read more about them in this really insightful article on The Verge. But how do they fit into your life? Should you buy them? Let’s take a look at 3 key factors: Nutritional Profile, Affordability and Taste.

Nutritional Profile

Now, I inevitably have to compare Exo to Chapul since they both share the same protein source and are marketed so similarly to one another. When you sit down and have to decide which bar to buy, what nutritional factors should you look at? If you’re following a low(ish) carb/high protein Primal diet, Exo wins when taking a look at the fat, protein and carb profile. I love how Exo doesn’t seem to be afraid of fat and calories. They made a bar that will sustain you through the morning or an afternoon at Disneyland where your food options consist of churros and corn dogs.

Cricket Flour Protein Bar Review: Exo Cocoa Nut
Exo Cocoa Nut
Total Fat: 20g
Total Carbohydrate: 23g (Dietary Fiber 7g, Sugars 13g)
Protein: 10g
Ingredients: Almonds, Dates, Coconut, Honey, Cricket Flour (Acheta Domesticus), Cacao Nibs, Cacao Powder, Ground Flaxseeds, Vanilla Extract, Sea Salt.

Cricket Flour Protein Bar Review: Chapul Aztec
Chapul Aztec
Total Fat: 2g
Total Carbohydrate: 36g (Dietary Fiber 7g, Sugars 25g)
Protein: 5g
Ingredients: Organic Dates, Cocoa, Chapul Cricket Flour (Brown Cricket, Acheta Domestica), Organic Espresso Roast Coffee Beans, Cayenne.

We see a few things here. Chapul is much higher in carbs, much lower fat, lower protein and more sugar. They both share, more or less, the same omega–3 fatty acids, iron and calcium contributed by the crickets. I think the answer is pretty clear when comparing the nutritional profile of both bars. Exo has, by far, a more superior nutritional profile when considering we, Primal folk, are looking for something with enough fat and protein to sustain us. Chapul has very little fat since there are no nuts and coconut. Therefore leaving the Chapul bar a very high carb snack that will leave you with with a sugar crash quickly after consuming it.

Now yes, neither of these bars are low carb by any means. But I still think Exo is a nice quick snack or breakfast choice every once in awhile because when you compare the profile it’s like eating 2 scrambled eggs in 1T butter (22g fat, 2 carb, 12g protein) and a small banana (.3g fat, 23g carb, 1g protein). We need the fat! Otherwise you’re really just eating a cricket candy bar. When looking at both I feel Exo is the winner in all three categories (fats, carbs, protein) lending to a more filling and satiating snack.

Affordability

Exo Cocoa Nut
Price per bar: $2.66 (subscription)
Price per 12 bar box: $32.00 (subscription)

Chapul Aztec
Price per bar: $2.83
Price per 12 bar box: $34.00

It’s important to look at how you can get the most bang for your Primal buck when purchasing one of these cricket bar brands. If you’re spending money on something to fuel your body, you better choose the best option that has the optimal fat, carb and protein profile – while being affordable. For that I would declare Exo the winner again. It’s crazy to think that Exo comes in cheaper but maintains more fat and protein per bar than compared to Chapul.

Now at almost $3 a bar, these aren’t cheap. However, they’re still a better option than all the other “Nutrisugar” bars that are filled with carbs and likely no fat and protein. So are these affordable? Depends on your budget and how often you eat/need them. I don’t suggest replacing eggs and bacon with these bars, but they are very handy when you’re in a pinch for time and you don’t want to resort to pastries or doughnuts a coworker brought to the office.

The only reason that you would dismiss the nutritional profile and affordability advantage that Exo has is if one doesn’t hold up to a taste test. Let’s take a look at how the two compare…

Taste

Lastly and possibly the deal maker or breaker is how these bars actually taste. Now this is totally going to depend on you, you may actually have to buy both and taste for yourself to determine which flavors you like and don’t like.

Cricket Flour Protein Bar Review: Exo vs. Chapul Closeup
Exo Cocoa Nut on the left, Chapul Aztec on the right

Exo Cocoa Nut
Personally, I’m in love with the Exo Cocoa Nut. After purchasing these bars for about a year now it seems Exo has continued to refine their process or something. At first this bar was very dry, tasted amazingly chocolaty and nutty, but very dry. Now they seemed to have nailed down making the bar a little more moist. Not sure how they do it since the ingredients haven’t changed (to my knowledge). I have tried a couple flavors and have still gone back to the Cocoa Nut flavor. The Blueberry Vanilla was not my favorite, pretty gross actually. I ordered one box when it first came out and I just missed the chocolaty/nutty taste of the Cocoa Nut. The now discontinued Exo Cashew Ginger was amazing! I wish they would bring it back…

Not everyone loves the taste of this bar though. I’ve let a bunch of people at my work try it and they say it’s dry and make a face when eating it. Whether or not they don’t like it is really hard to distinguish since they’re still probably stuck on the fact that they’re eating crickets (which you can’t distinguish).

Chapul Aztec
This bar actually tastes pretty good. It doesn’t taste terrible, but I was expecting more. I was really hoping for more coffee taste. All I could really taste was the chocolate, sweetness from the dates and it was finished off with the cayenne. You can definitely taste the cayenne near the end. To be honest, I actually was expecting the bar to be sweeter when looking at the nutritional profile but it doesn’t actually taste that sweet. Kinda makes you wonder why they needed so many dates to make it as sweet as it is. It really could use some nuts or coconut or something… oh wait then it would be the Exo Cocoa Nut bar…

Chapul has a few other flavors which I’m sure taste pretty good also, but I would still have to ask myself if it’s worth all those carbs – for me the answer is no. I’d rather eat a Larabar because that way there’s actually some fat going on. In the end the taste wasn’t terrible but I still prefer the taste of the Exo Cocoa Nut bar.

Conclusion

I think the answer is pretty clear. Exo has a far better nutritional profile, are more affordable and tastes better. I love these bars and am glad I originally looked past the fact that they were made out of crickets. Hopefully you can look past that too and pick some up!

Buy some samples and decide for yourself:*
Exo Sampler Pack
Chapul Sampler Pack
*After you figure out which flavor of Exo you like I suggest you sign up for a subscription.