One: Happy Birthday

Since I liked the Quest Birthday Cake bar, I picked up a “Happy Birthday” flavour One protein bar on first sight. I am glad I did as I had to wait two weeks to see it again!

These bars used to be known as “Oh Yeah One”. I have no idea why they changed the name. Anyway, lets review the One Happy Birthday bar:

At a glance, the One Happy Birthday bar seems pretty keto friendly. After all, high protein and 1g of sugar is pretty good to me. Sound too good to be true? Let’s review the bar to find out.

Nutrition

Not so good…

A quick glance at the full nutritional information reveals this bar has at least 8g net carbohydrates — not a great start.

This is a good demonstration as to why you should never trust the claims made on the front of a product — always check the nutritional information on the back!

Everything else on the label seems fine. Lots of protein, some fats, and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Note this bar includes 5g of sugar alcohol. Not all sugar alcohols are equal, it could affect the net carbs and even spike blood sugar levels. More on this later.

Now let’s move on to the ingredients:

There’s a lot going on. Safe to say, this isn’t Paleo friendly!

This is the first time I have seen Isomalto-Oligosaccharides (IMO). I had to do some research on this and found it was initially introduced as a fibre based sweetener. It has a GI value of 55, which is bang on the definition of “low” but is high in comparison to Erythritol’s GI of 1. Note that in 2018 the FDA issued advice that Isomalto-Oligosaccharides is not a fibre. It is digestible and will spike sugar levels.

As Isomalto-Oligosaccharide is digestible I would treat it like Maltitol. The advise from Keto Connect would be to consider adding half the Isomalto-Oligosaccharide ‘fibre’ as carbohydrates.

I had to find out how that has affected the nutritional label on this product and went out searching for the old label. So here it is:

What surprises me is that fibre is exactly the same. So I would assume that the label has not been changed as per the FDA’s advice. This means you may need to include some of the Isomalto-Oligosaccharide as carbohydrates.

In addition, the sugar alcohols used to include glycerine, which the new label now includes as a net carbohydrate.

Finally, we see our old nemesis maltitol. In my review of the ThinkThink Caramel Fudge Bar, I went over this sugar alcohol in greater detail than I will here. Essentially, maltitol is an ingredient you want to avoid. It has a GI of 35, which means it will raise blood sugar levels and that you should count it as a carbohydrate. Typically people will count either a third or a half of maltitol as carbs.

Taste

I actually like the taste of the One Happy Birthday bar; however, I do find myself comparing it to the Quest Birthday Cake protein bar!

The cake ‘icing’ has a nice fruity flavour to it. This may be due to the sprinkles being squashed into the icing. It also has that awesome “melt in your mouth” texture. Sadly, there isn’t enough icing on the bar and you don’t get the crunchy texture when you bite into the bar.

The inside is another story. It has no flavour (or a whey-like flavour), which (again) leads to comparisons to the Quest bar. This problem is exacerbated by the paper-thin icing layer, which is unable to make up for the insides.

As you will often find with protein bars the texture is a little chewy. This is an issue with most bars and generally, the only way around the problem is to microwave the bar.

I was able to microwave a part of the bar for 10 seconds. The insides softened up and were no longer chewy and — as expected — the bar was better for it.

Overall

Whilst I like the taste of the One Happy Birthday bar, it comes up short in many areas. So I cannot recommend it to anyone doing a ketogenic or low carbohydrate diet. Due to the inclusion of some questionable ingredients, I would even avoid it as a general protein bar.

  • Contains two sweeteners that raise blood sugar levels: Maltitol and Isomalto-Oligosaccharide (IMO)
  • Even if you don’t count those sweeteners, at 8g this bar is carb heavy.
  • Potentially misleading nutritional label, which seems to count the IMOs as fibre.
  • Despite being nice, the “frosting” was rather thin compared to the Quest Birthday Cake bar.

I have been able to find other flavours of the One range in Natural Lawsons. The ingredients are the same, so when I review those flavours I won’t go into as much detail.

Bang Keto-Coffee: Cookies & Cream Craze

This “Bang Keto-Coffee” was an interesting looking pickup on my last full day in Los Angeles. I’ve seen protein coffees before and tried a few MCT coffees in Japan but never have I tried a coffee specifically marketed for keto.

So for the first time — let’s review a drink!

I picked up Bang Keto-Coffee’s Cookies and Cream Craze flavour because it was the closest I could find to “Coffee with Cream” or “Latte” — I like coffee and not coffee flavoured drinks! I noticed a Hazelnut flavoured alternative, but stuck with this one.

Bang Keto Coffee: Cookies & Cream Craze

Nutrition

You would hope that a product marketed as keto would have suitable macros for keto or a low carb diet. Personally, I would say that Bang Keto Coffee is borderline keto-friendly. A 443ml can contains 6g net carbs, which for some diets could be a little high. On the other hand, for those following a more relaxed ketogenic diet or a low carb diet, six grams is fine. Furthermore, at 443ml the can is big enough to divide into two servings.

I do see Sucralose towards the end of the list of ingredients. Sucralose is another sugar substitute that is infamous within the keto community. The Sucralose in the form of Splenda has a high GI of 80 (sugar is 100) and will spike insulin. Still, in its pure form, it has a GI of 0 and is not meant to raise blood sugar levels/insulin production. With most sweeteners, it’s worth trying a single product and checking for side effects.

Bang Keto Coffee includes some BCAAs, 300mg of caffeine, and one gram of Straight 8. I had no idea what that was, so I had to look it up! Turns out its caprylic glyceride otherwise known as caprylic acid or C8 MCT. So Straight 8 is Bang’s marketing name for a shorter chained MCT oil.

The fibre comes from “soluble corn fibre”. I presume this is the American term for “indigestible dextrose” that is used in various Japanese products. This is also used in Quest Bars and I’ve not had any problems with those.

All values are for a single can (443ml/15 fl oz).

Calories140kcal
Total Carbohydrates11g
Fibre
5g
Sugar AlcoholsN/A
Net Carbohydrates6g
Protein20g
Fat
2g
Saturated Fat1g
Bang Keto Coffee: Cookies & Cream Craze: Nutrition Facts

There isn’t much information on the BCAAs. As you can see the drink contains Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine — but no information on the quantities. I don’t stress over BCAAs, so that’s no biggie for me. If you do care about them, I’d look for your BCAA take elsewhere!

Taste

Sadly this was another disappointing product.

The coffee seems to taste like it does in ‘coffee flavoured sweets’ like in Cadbury’s Roses, etc. Whilst the Cookies and Cream flavour just adds a lot of sweetness to the drink.

I was hoping for more of a real coffee flavour. Unfortunately the coffee takes the back seat and a sugary flavour dominates. I guess you could call this the Starbucks of canned keto coffee — a coffee flavoured drink and not coffee.

So for me taste is a bad combination — a sweet coffee flavoured drink. If that’s what you like when you buy coffee, you may like it.

As previously mentioned, I like to try things a few times before reviewing — but it’s taken me a while to drink the can! I am only going to drink the second can because I want to stay up all night so I can sleep on my flight back to Japan!

I like to try things a few times before reviewing — but it’s taken me a while to drink the can… I am only going to drink the second can because I want to stay up all night so I can sleep on my flight back to Japan!

Interestingly, in the morning I found the drink was a little better. I forgot to put the can in the fridge and for some reason, the drink had less of a sweet taste. It did manage to keep me up and got me through airport security! 😺

Overall

As much as I like coffee, I cannot recommend Bang Keto Coffee: Cookies and Cream for a number of reasons:

  • In my opinion the tase is too sweet and is not enjoyable; however, there are many other flavours. I could have picked the worst flavour!
  • High on carbs for stricter diets (6g in a 140kcal drink)
  • If protein is what you want, then I would recommend any Whey Isolate. A good isolate will have 1-2g net carbohydrates per serving.
  • For convenience, there are better tasting MCT / Coffee combinations (without the protein)

Now I’d like to try a few other items from this range; however, I’ll be back in Japan next week. I doubt I will be able to find this product in Japanese stores. If I can source a variety pack online I will try the other flavours — don’t hold your breath!


ThinkThin Caramel Fudge

Second review time! After much looking at labels I picked up this ThinkThin (I think it’s meant to be written as thinkThin) Caramel Fudge protein bar. At first glance it looked pretty good, only 1g net carbs! Could this be a winner?

Now I thought I had eaten this before and this would be a good second review. Turns out, I was wrong. I believe ThinkThin have multiple lines and I had some Salted Caramel bar. I only noticed when I saw the bar was coated in chocolate…

ThinkThin Caramel Fudge

Nutrition

At first, you may think that the ThinkThin Caramel Fudge bar has great macros for anyone doing Keto or a low carb diet. After all, the Caramel Fudge bar has only of 1g net carbs per bar, right? Well… that depends on who you speak to.

Each bar contains 21g of Maltitol. Now, whilst Maltitol is a sugar alcohol it actually has a high GI value and will spike insulin. The general advice I’ve seen is to count 3g of Maltitol as 1g of sugar — so you could say each bar has 8g of carbohydrates. Still the effect seems to vary on a person by person basis — so Maltitol might be fine for you.

Maltitol is notorious for one other problem… It can act as a laxative and some people seem to be more sensitive to its effects. So, if you haven’t had a project sweetened with Maltitol before it might be wise to be careful. Although personally, I’ve not had a single problem with Maltitol.

All values are for a single bar (60g).

Calories230kcal
Total Carbohydrates23g
Fibre
1g
Sugar Alcohols21g
Net Carbohydrates1g? (or 8g?)
Protein20g
Fat
8g
Saturated Fat2.5g
ThinkThin Caramel Fudge: Nutrition Facts

Taste

The flavour of the ThinkThin Caramel Fudge bar is very familiar… it reminds me of other bars I’ve had. I guess I am a sucker for the chocolate and caramel combination.

Unfortunately for ThinkThin, this bar is nothing special. The flavour starts out nice and caramelly, but it fades away. To me the final taste isn’t very nice, I can’t put my finger on it… but it’s close to a tobacco flavour — which is something I’ve noticed before in chocolate and orange chocolate flavoured bars. I guess it’s like a bad version of a Riesen Dark Caramel Chocolate Chew.

The bar has a thin layer of what tastes like dark chocolate. It’s pretty bitter, but that would be fine if the inside of the bar was sweet. Unfortunately, the caramel/fudge centre is pretty rubbish. It’s not sweet and has a very mild flavour.

The ThinkThin bar has the usual chewy texture you’d expect. It’s on the lighter side, — I’ve had some bars that were closer to chewing gum! Thankfully, this isn’t one of those.

If I had a microwave right now, I’d try microwaving this bar. Sometimes a bar is completely different after a quick blast in the microwave, so that gives me something to try if I spot this bar again.

Overall

I cannot reccomend the ThinkThin Caramel Fudge bar for number of reasons:

  • Taste is nothing special and doesn’t make up for the choice of sweetener.
  • Slightly high on calories (220kcal).
  • Maltitol can have adverse affects (Insulin spikes, laxative)

Now I’d like to try a few other items from this range if I can find them. Also I prefer to try something multiple times before reviewing it — a mistake caused this review!

Quest Birthday Cake

This is the bar that made me start this site! I randomly picked up a Quest Birthday Cake bar in El Segundo whilst looking for any Keto friendly protein bars. Afterwards, I tried a variety of other Quest protein bars and found them to be very different. Thus I thought I would try out the various flavours before buying a 12 park on Amazon or iHerb. This process of sampling the Quest bars turned into this little blog.

I picked the Quest Birthday Cake bar as I was interested in what the flavour was! I tend to buy the more traditional flavours: Chocolate, Caramel, etc. I was informed that this is the most popular flavour — I have no idea if that’s true.

Quest: Birthday Cake
The glorious packaging — I have no idea what the old look is.

Nutrition

These have great macros for anyone doing Keto or a low carb diet. Only of 4g Net Carbs per bar.

All values are for a single bar (60g).

Calories180kcal
Total Carbohydrates24g
Fibre
14g
Sugar Alcohols6g
Net Carbohydrates4g
Protein21g
Fat
6g
Saturated Fat3.5g
Quest Birthday Cake: Nutrition Facts
Nutritional info on the bar.

Taste

I’ve had a few of these Birthday Cake bars now, as I was able to find them in various stores around California. I find I enjoy the difference in texture between the ‘icing’ or ‘frosting’ and the insides of the bar — this is what puts this bar ahead of many other Quest bars. I find bars are like flavoured rubber and are way too chewy — thankfully the icing ensures Birthday Cake isn’t like that!

The icing is great. It’s sweet and has a nice crumbly texture that melts in your mouth as you eat the rest of the bar. Like real icing I reckon I could eat a bowl of this ‘icing’. In contrast, the inside of the bar isn’t so great. I found — on its own — the insides were dull, just a slightly sweet chewy substance. Fortunately, you eat them together — so it’s not a problem!

Like most Quest bars the Birthday Cake bar can be microwaved for a few seconds (don’t put the wrapper in the microwave!) This softens the insides of the bar and is worth a try.

Overall

I like the Quest Birthday Cake bars. In fact, whilst I was trying out different bars and flavours I still ate this one about 6 times in 2 weeks!

For me, this bar is the standard other bars should be judged against. For a number of reasons:

  • Actually tastes nice and has contrasting textures.
  • Uses a sweetener (Erythritol) that does not spike insulin.
  • Just under 200k
  • Just 4g of net-carbs

Like the rest of the standard Quest range, this bar has great macros for someone on Keto or a low carb diet. It’s sweetened with Erythritol and there’s no Maltitol, Dextrose, or other high GI alternatives in sight.