Pros: Diet friendly, sustained energy, high protein, high fiber, edible
Cons: High sugar content, not low carb, taste
Sports and fitness are a big part of my life, and I try to stay on top of the current diets and weight loss programs, as well as nutritional supplements and diet foods. I recently tried the Kashi GoLEAN bars and wanted to share my thoughts and recommendations, so you can make an informed decision about integrating these into your fitness or diet regime.
Kashi GoLean Bars - My Experience
It's been a while since I tried a new energy bar, but I came across the Kashi Go Lean bars in the market and decided to give them a try. At $1.55 per bar, they were significantly more expensive than my average price per bar, but I had a coupon and figured I'd give them a whirl.
The two flavors that I tried (two bars each) were Cookies and Cream and the Chocolate Peanut Butter. These are fairly large bars, weighing in at 2.75 ounces each and measuring about 6" long and 1.5" wide. This is about half again as big as either a Balance Gold bar or a Clif Luna bar, my normal energy bars of choice. The Kashi bars also are about 30-50% higher in calories, though, at 290 calories per bar.
The texture is bumpy, with chocolate coating and a crunchy inside. There is a mixture of creamy and crunchy insides, giving a nice mixture of textures as you eat the bar.
The Kashi line is known for being extremely high fiber, and these bars are no exception. On the one occasion that I tried the Kashi Go-Lean cereal I found that it's high fiber content (10 g per 3/4 cup bowl) affected my body significantly (putting the emphasis in "Kashi GO lean" on GO GO GO!) So I was concerned about the bars having the same laxative-like effect. Fortunately, my body was able to tolerate these much better although I think anyone who has tried them will tell you that you will definitely notice a mild laxative type side effect. I mean, you cannot simply drop an extra 6 grams of dietary fiber into your body in a single sitting and not expect it to have some type of side effect -- obviously the effect will vary from individual to individual. My body type is small and shows the effect of adding the equivalent of 1.5 bran muffins to my system; others may not be affected as significantly.
I did find that these bars provided me with a sustained energy source with no post-meal fatigue, as can happen with many other bars. I credit the high carb count and 13 grams of protein for this. I had honestly expected more of a sugar crash since these bars do contain 31-35 grams of sugar each, far more than the other energy bars I've tried. I ate these as a meal replacement though and not a pre-workout snack so I cannot state if they would have been sufficient to hold me through a high-energy exercise session. My gut reaction is yes, due to the high carb content, but that I would have needed a large non-sugar based meal afterwards.
I would put the Kashi Go Lean bar into a diet-bar category and not a fitness-bar category. The high-sugar content is not compatible with sustained energy as needed by a training athlete, but it does serve to make these bars somewhat more palatable than they might have otherwise been. I would say that these are competing for shelf space with the Jenny Craig and Slim Fast meal-on-the-go bars, versus with the Clif Bars and PowerBar products.
To be honest, though, I probably won't buy these again. I did give each of the bars two tries (four bars) and found that while these are edible, they are far from the best tasting bars I've had. There is somewhat of a bitter taste that comes in part-way through. The chocolate coating covers it initially but eventually it cannot hide the off-flavor these bars have. Are they the worst I've eaten? Not at all-- these are far more palatable than most of the low-carb bars and many of the regular bars I've tried. Two of my friends love these, and think I'm weird for not liking the taste -- so you may not object to the flavor at all. Compared to some energy bars these are great, but I can firmly say that you won't be mistaking these for a candy bar after the first bite!
Given a choice, I'll lean back toward the Clif Luna bars or the Balance Gold bars, both of which also can be used for either a pre/post-workout snack or a small-meal substitute. Both suffer the same weakness in heat as the Kashi bar, though (the coating will melt in heat) so none are truly pocket-compatible in warm weather.
I would say that for a dieter, with no exercise requirement, these are probably a better choice than the Slim Fast or Jenny Craig bars. For a serious athlete, other bars may provide a better nutritional balance for your needs. Hence I give these three stars, which is a weak recommendation, with the caveat that you must assess your needs and decide accordingly.
I'm going to copy the nutritional information directly from the website, for anyone who wants it, and will post it at the very bottom of this review.
The Kashi Go Lean bar is an edible but not terribly appealing product that is a recent entrant to the nutrition bar market. As a high fiber high protein bar it has found a distinct market niche; however, with the higher than average caloric count, significantly elevated sugar content and slightly bitter taste I'm not sure how well positioned it is for the diet market, and it's not terribly well positioned for the fitness market either. If you simply want to get your fiber intake for the day, an apple will provide 5 grams of fiber with far less sugar and calories, and at far less cost.
I'm not recommending against the Kashi Bar, simply because it is a non-offensive bar that many people may find far more palatable than I do. For me, personally, though, I'd far rather spend my money on a Clif Luna bar and grab an apple -- totalling up to almost the same calories and fiber content, only slightly less protein, but with less sodium and far higher levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron... and tasting a lot better to boot.
This is taken directly from the Kashi Website at www.kashi.com, and represents the contents of the Cookies & Cream Bar.
Dietary Exchanges: 3.5 Carbohydrates + 1 Lean Protein
Kashi Seven Whole Grains & Sesame Flour (Stone Ground Whole: Oats, Long Grain Rice, Rye, Hard Red Winter Wheat, Triticale, Buckwheat, Barley, Sesame Seeds), Corn, Wheat Bran, Evaporated Cane Juice, Corn Bran, Oat Fiber, Soy Protein Concentrate, Salt, Annatto, Soy Protein Isolate, Cookie Pieces [Unbleached Wheat Flour, Naturally Milled Sugar, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Oat Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Cocoa, Corn Flour, Caramel Color, Corn Starch, Salt, Leavening (Baking Soda, Ammonium Bicarbonate), Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor], Brown Rice Syrup Solids, Evaporated Cane Juice, Pear Juice Concentrate, Evaporated Cane Juice Syrup, Whey Protein Isolate, Brown Rice Syrup, Inulin (Chicory Root Fiber), Water, Nonfat Dry Milk, Brown Rice Crisps, Oat Fiber, Honey, Vegetable Glycerine, Flaxseeds, Salt, Natural Vanilla Flavor, Chocolate Coating (Evaporated Cane Juice, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa, Nonfat Dry Milk, Lecithin, Vanilla).
Serving Size: 1 Bar (78g)
Serving Per Container: 1
Calories From Fat 50
*Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Amount/Serving %DV* Amount/Serving %DV*
Total Fat 6g 10% Total Carb 54g 18%
Saturated Fat 4g 20% Dietary Fiber 7g 30%
Cholesterol 0mg 0% Sugars 35g
Sodium 100mg 4% Protein 13g 20%
Potassium 85mg 2%
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 0% Calcium 2% Iron 4%
Riboflavin 2% Zinc 2% Niacin 2%
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