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FITNESS

Bellying Up to the Sports Bar

January 26, 1998

There they were, five people in search of the perfect sports nutrition bar. Is there such a thing? In our never-ending efforts to serve you, the athlete, we chose to evaluate seven nutritious products that can be purchased in gyms or health food stores. Each bar was rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being best. We tested the chocolate version of each bar, but as a fair warning: Anyone looking for a Snickers-bar taste won't find a nutritious alternative in this group.

No. 1 Think! (chocolate almond coconut raisin)

This was the No. 1 choice of the group, with three people preferring it to all the other bars. This bar earned a 7 for flavor: "Tastes most like a candy bar." "Not real sweet, which is good." One taster, however, found it a little bland.

And everyone appreciated the irony that, although this bar tastes great, it's not the most nutritious of the bunch.

Think!

Calories: 230

Fat: 5 grams

Saturated fat: 2 grams

Vitamin A: 20%

Vitamin C: 20%

Calcium: 20%

Iron: 10%

Protein: 6 grams

No. 2 PR* Ironman Triathlon (chocolate praline)

The PR* came in No. 2 with an overall 6 for flavor. From our judges: "Chewy, satisfying. Nice chocolate aftertaste." "Nice texture, consistency." "Not that appealing."

PR* Ironman Triathlon

Calories: 230

Fat: 7 grams

Saturated fat: 3 grams

Vitamin A: 50%

Vitamin C: 50%

Calcium: 25%

Iron: 50%

Protein: 17 grams

No. 3 Clif Bar (dark chocolate)

Although it came in No. 3, it rated only a 5.4 for taste and the overall verdict was mixed. "Makes you think you're eating something healthy. A chocolate mixed with grain flavor," from one judge. "Pretty bad from first bite to last. Could provoke prison rioting," from another.

Clif Bar

Calories: 250

Fat: 2 grams

Saturated fat: 0.5 grams

Vitamin A: 0%

Vitamin C: 0%

Calcium: 4%

Iron: 10%

Protein: 5 grams

No. 4 Balance (chocolate)

Rating a 5 in taste and coming in at No. 4, this bar got the most consistent of the scores. Everyone sort of liked it. "Tastes like chocolate vitamin . . . chocolate is pretty good." "First taste good . . . bad aftertaste." "Good consistency, a little bland."

Balance

Calories: 190

Fat: 6 grams

Saturated fat: 3 grams

Vitamin A: 50%

Vitamin C: 100%

Calcium: 20%

Iron: 20%

Protein: 14 grams

No. 5 (tie) Creatine Crunch (Dutch chocolate)

It got only a 4 for flavor, but was ranked No. 5 with the judges ahead of Power Bar, which got a 4.4 for flavor, so we tied the bars for No. 5. The judges' main complaint was the bar's aftertaste. "Pleasant taste on first bite, but quickly fades to pasty, flat taste." "Tastes good at first, finish is a bit chalky."

Creatine Crunch

Calories: 240

Fat: 5 grams

Saturated fat: not available

Vitamin A: 100%

Vitamin C: 100%

Calcium: not available

Iron: 100%

Protein: 11 grams

No. 5 (tie) PowerBar (chocolate)

It tied at No. 5, with a 4.4 for flavor. The main problem was the bar's tough consistency. "Way too tough, bitter." "Very chewy . . . better than drywall." "Very tough, but good."

PowerBar

Calories 230

Fat: 2 grams

Saturated fat: 0.5 grams

Vitamin A: 0%

Vitamin C: 100%

Calcium: 30%

Iron: 35%

Protein: 10 grams

No. 7 MET-Rx (fudge brownie)

Despite its fudge brownie flavor, this bar came in last at No. 7, earning only a 1.8 for flavor. "Tastes horrible. A person would have to force me to eat this." "Tastes like mud." "Yuck."

MET-Rx

Calories: 320

Fat: 2.5 grams

Saturated fat: 0.5 grams

Vitamin A: 90%

Vitamin C: 100%

Calcium: 70%

Iron: 40%

Protein: 26 grams

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

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