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?
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.
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.
Exo Cocoa Nut
Total Fat: 20g
Total Carbohydrate: 23g (Dietary Fiber 7g, Sugars 13g)
Ingredients: Almonds, Dates, Coconut, Honey, Cricket Flour (Acheta Domesticus), Cacao Nibs, Cacao Powder, Ground Flaxseeds, Vanilla Extract, Sea Salt.
Total Fat: 2g
Total Carbohydrate: 36g (Dietary Fiber 7g, Sugars 25g)
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.
Exo Cocoa Nut
Price per bar: $2.66 (subscription)
Price per 12 bar box: $32.00 (subscription)
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…
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.
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).
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.
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!