I've tried dozens of protein bars, and none of them compare to these mouthwatering wafer treats
- A high-quality protein supplement tastes good without a nasty aftertaste, has plenty of protein with minimal calories, and it's easy to grab and consume on the go.
- I like the Optimum Nutrition High Protein Wafer Bars because they taste better than any protein product I've ever had, go down easy, and have 15 grams of protein.
- Though they're on the pricier side (currently starting at $14.91 for 9 bars on Amazon), the wafers have a 4.6-star average customer rating on Amazon, and Optimum Nutrition puts meticulous care into keeping their products free from contaminants.
When you want to stimulate muscle growth after a workout, protein is the way to go. But while you should get your protein from natural sources, such as lean meat, legumes, and dairy products, it's not always easy or convenient to scarf these foods down. This is where good protein supplements come in handy.One name that has emerged as a leader in the protein supplement space is Optimum Nutrition. ON is a subsidiary of Ireland-based Glanbia, which is one of the largest manufacturers of American cheese. I've tried a broad array of ON products, and I'm a big fan of most of their offerings. Yet the real game-changer is the tasty and convenient High Protein Wafer Bars.
SpecsThere are currently four flavors of the ON Protein Wafers: vanilla crème, chocolate crème, chocolate raspberry crème, and mocha crème. And they come two wafers to a package and nine packages to a box. Each package has 15 grams of protein. All of the protein is from dairy sources, including whey isolate, milk isolate, and acid casein.
The nutritional content varies by flavor and breaks down like this:
- Vanilla: 200 calories, 9g fat, 105mg sodium, 6g sugar (2g added sugar)
- Chocolate: 210 calories, 10g fat, 115mg sodium, 5g sugar (all added)
- Chocolate Raspberry: 190 calories, 9g fat, 95mg sodium, 6g sugar (5g added sugar)
- Mocha: 210 calories, 10g fat, 115mg sodium, 6g sugar (2g added)
What makes the protein wafer bars stand out
Ever since I wrote a guide to the best whey protein powders, manufacturers have sent me protein products of every description. I've tried them all, and my favorite when it comes to taste and ease of consumption is the Optimum Nutrition Wafer Bars. Unlike most protein products, there's no unpleasant aftertaste.I'm not alone in my love of the Protein Wafers. In June, I - along with several other journalists - had the opportunity to tour Optimum Nutrition's facilities just outside of Chicago. When we broke for lunch, ON presented us with a spread of supplements in addition to regular food. Everyone swarmed the protein wafers, grabbing extras for later. I'm not ashamed to admit that I grabbed a significant pile at the end of the day to give to my wife, who enjoys the bars even more than I do.
Part of the Chicago experience included a tour of Optimum Nutrition's massive production facility in Aurora, Illinois. Covered from head-to-toe in cleanroom garb designed to keep the protein free from contaminants and allergens, I got to see the many precautions ON takes to ensure their products remain pure. From the quarantines and examinations of new ingredients coming in to the regular thorough cleanings of the facility, I was blown away by the company's focus on quality.
I've tried all four of the flavors, and chocolate raspberry crème is my favorite because I like the combination of fruit and chocolate. However, I am happy grabbing any of the flavors when I need a light afternoon snack to tide me over or when I need some quick protein after a workout.
Cons to considerI don't like artificial sweeteners. Though the FDA has shown that they are safe for consumption, artificial sweeteners may play harmful tricks on your body. In my case, I sometimes get digestive discomfort from products containing sucralose. Fortunately, I did not have these ill effects thanks to the minimal use of sucralose in the Protein Wafers.
I brought a pack of Protein Wafers along to snack on after a 5K race. It was a summer day, but it was early in the morning so the temperatures were still reasonable. I was disappointed when I opened the packaging and found the chocolate had melted. It was still edible and tasted good, but it was messy. I'm telling you this so you can learn from my mistake. Keep your wafer bars at room temperature or below. Better yet, try freezing them for a soothing treat.
The bottom line
Thanks to their excellent taste and convenience, I almost always have some of the Protein Wafers with me when I'm on the go and know I'm not going to have time to grab a meal. But should you buy them? And what other alternatives are there? Let's explore these questions below.
Should you buy them?Short answer: Yes.Long answer: The ON Protein Wafers are for people who are looking for a convenient way to supplement their diet with more protein. They can serve as a snack to quell cravings between meals or to help with muscle growth after a workout. Whatever your use case may be, you should check with your doctor before adding a protein supplement to your diet. But if you have the green light, the ON Protein Wafers are an attractive option.
Which flavor should you get?
As I mentioned above, my favorite is the raspberry chocolate crème. But looking at the Amazon customer reviews, it appears vanilla crème and chocolate crème are in a battle for flavor dominance, and vanilla has the edge. I found all four flavors were exceptional and pair well with a cup of strong coffee. If you don't have coffee nearby but want the flavor, consider the mocha crème.
What are your alternatives?I've tried a lot of protein bars in my time. Here are three others that I've enjoyed:
- OHi Organic Plant-Based Protein Bars ($31.92 for 8 bars): There's a lot to like about these protein bars: They're vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, organic, and non-GMO. Plus, they taste great. You're supposed to keep them refrigerated for long-term enjoyment, but they're also stable outside the fridge for up to a week. The downsides are the high price (nearly $4 a bar) and low protein content (between 7 and 10 grams per bar depending on the flavor.)
- RSP Protein Brownie ($22.97 for 12 bars): I tried the birthday cake flavor, and it tasted wonderful with no gross aftertaste. I like that there's also some fiber (4 grams). And, the price per gram of protein (12 cents) is less than the ON Protein Wafers. The negatives are that the brownies are quite chewy and feature little crunchy pieces on top that make a mess. You can read my full review here.
- BSN Protein Crisp Bar ($24.99 for 12 bars): BSN is another Glanbia brand, the parent company of ON. With flavors starting at $1.67 a bar and 8 cents per gram of protein, the BSN bar is affordable and tasty. I tried the Cold Stone Mint Chocolate Chip flavor and found it refreshing, though it was a little gritty and left my mouth dry. I like that these bars have the recommended post-workout 20 grams of protein.
Overall, though, when I turn to my giant grab bag of protein bars for a snack, I almost always fish around for the ON Protein Wafers. I strongly recommend picking up a box if you're looking for an easy and delicious protein supplement.
Pros: Unbeatable taste, four flavors, portable, commitment to food safety, minimal use of artificial sweeteners, low calorie-to-protein ratioCons: No vegan options, not gluten-free, expensive
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