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Tested: Clif Bar

clif bar logo

I think I was eating Clif Bars even before I got into endurance sports. They were one of the few energy bars that tasted good enough to eat for enjoyment, rather than pure caloric needs.

It was also cool to read the story about how Gary started the company out of his mom’s kitchen, after being fed up with crappy tasting energy bars. (And the company still seems pretty cool, as well as environmentally conscious, since they’re a “1% for the Planet” member and have been recognized as a good place to work.)

Over the years, I’ve tried most flavors of Clif Bar, and I’ll be writing about the ones I remember below…

 

Clif Bar Ingredients and Nutrition Facts

Let’s start by looking at the ingredients and nutrition facts…

Oatmeal Raisin Walnut ingredients list: Organic Brown Rice Syrup, ClifPro® (Soy Rice Crisps [Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Malt Extract], Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soy Flour), Organic Rolled Oats, Raisins, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Walnuts, ClifCrunch® (Organic Oat Fiber, Inulin [Chicory Extract], Organic Milled Flaxseed, Organic Oat Bran, Psyllium), Organic Soy Butter, Molasses Powder, Natural Flavors, Ground Cinnamon, Sea Salt.

You’ll notice the first ingredient is brown rice syrup, rather than your typical sucrose or fructose. While all these sweeteners are highly processed, brown rice syrup ranks relatively low on the Glycemic Index, so it’s possible that this sweetener is every so slightly healthier than straight sugar.

And Clif was using brown rice syrup before sucrose substitutes garnered so much attention.

Other than that, the part that stands out is the quality of the ingredients. It’s not that they’re using space age ingredients, but they’re using more natural options. For example, most everything is organic. And they choose the more natural sea salt over regular salt.

As far as energy bars go, healthiness is pretty standard. It’s basically a bar of sugar, with some fat and protein thrown in. That means it is not a healthy snack to replace a piece of fruit, but it’s a good source of calories during endurance sports.

And the nutrition facts breakdown goes like this:

240 calories
5g fat
43g carbs (20g sugar)
10g protein

That is fairly typical.

Clif Bar Taste Test

My thoughts on some of the Clif bar flavors I have tried…

Carrot Cake

I first tried the carrot cake Clif bars around 2002, and I was so sure I’d love them that I started out with two 12-bar boxes. They turned out to be pretty good, but I got sick of them, and today is the first time I’ve had one since!

The bar starts out nice and spicy – spicier than any carrot cake I’ve had. I’d say it’s nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.

The texture is very soft and chewy, possibly the softest Clif bar I’ve had. But then you get the little pieces of carrot, which are hard and chewy, which is a nice change if you’re looking for variety.

Those little carrots do get stuck in your teeth though!

carrot cake clif bar

Overall the bar is soft and chewy, spicy, and has an interesting texture. It’s not my favorite flavor, but I’ll give it a “pretty good.”

(Want the carrot cake flavor without the carrot chunks? Try a Spiced Pumpkin Pie bar from the Clif Seasonal flavors.)

Lemon Poppy Seed

I really like lemon poppy seed muffins, and these bars are close to that. This is a really good flavor.

It’s actually like biting into the crunchy edge of a delicious muffin top! The texture is actually close to that, which is a great job on Clif Bar’s part! The lemon flavor is nearly identical, and to top things off, there are little poppy seeds in there!

Crunchy Peanut Butter

This bar has the taste and texture you expect from Clif. The peanut butter taste is fairly mild, but strong enough, especially during exercise. There’s a nice crunch, too, partly from the peanut halves. This isn’t my favorite flavor, but it’s still pretty good.

[Note that I like the Clif Mojo and Builder’s bars in peanut butter flavors a lot more than this one.]

Banana Nut Bread

banana nut bread clif bar

This bar has some banana nut flavor, but not as much as I would like. It’s definitely not as strong or realistic as the lemon poppy seed flavor.

It’s kind of like a pre-packaged banana nut muffin from a factory, rather than fresh banana nut bread from a good bakery. It’s not bad, but it’s not as good as I was expecting.

I do like the latest update though, and that is how the newest Banana Nut Bread bars contain little chocolate chips. (I think that’s new for 2009.)

Blueberry Crisp

Blueberry Crips offers a soft, chewy texture like other Clif bars. It’s kind of like blueberry oatmeal as opposed to blueberry crisp, since there is lots of crisp, with just a few blueberries. But it still has a good blueberry flavor throughout.

I didn’t fall in love with this flavor, but it was definitely a good one. If you like blueberry, give it a shot.

Chocolate Chip

This bar tastes like brown rice syrup with chocolate chips in it. The chocolate chips are good, but I wish the base flavor tasted more like granola or a cookie than the brown rice syrup, which is a little too strong and sweet in this one.

Even if you like chocolate chip cookies, I’d stick with the other chocolate related Clif Bar flavors.

Chocolate Almond Fudge

This one looks like big fudge brownie, with almond chunks. It has a very moist, soft texture, as well as a strong flavor – much like a good brownie.

Some brownies are certainly more delicious than this bar, but this bar is better than some brownies. Poorly made brownies, as well as cheaper snack cakes like Little Debbie, taste worse than this bar (if memory serves me well – I haven’t had anything like that for years.)

Chocolate Almond Fudge makes a treat for all chocolate lovers. No wonder it is such a popular Clif Bar choice.

Oatmeal Raisin Walnut

This bar was very soft and moist, even more so than other Clif bars I’ve had. It was kind of like an oatmeal cookie, but not as sugary. Still tasted good though. Actually, this bar was more decadent than the cheaper oatmeal raisin cookies!

oatmeal raisin walnut clif bar

The first two bites weren’t that powerful, but then the flavor built up in my mouth and I loved it! I must have finished the bar in 30 seconds. If I were buying a dozen Clif bars tomorrow, I’m pretty sure I’d go with this oatmeal raisin walnut flavor.

Sierra Trail Mix

Unlike true trail mix, this looks just like a regular Clif bar (i.e. a square brown slab.) It’s based on peanuts, chocolate chips, and raisins, though, so it’s quite a bit like eating a handful of trail mix, except quicker and simpler since it’s a solid bar you bite into.

For some people that might not be as fun as regular trail mix in a bag, but to each his own. This is more convenient, and for the most part, the taste is there! It smells and tastes like chocolate chips, and as you chew, it gets very peanut buttery!

It didn’t get me nearly as excited as the Panforte, but I liked it, so it passes my taste test with flying colors.

sierra trail mix clif bar

Nuts & Seeds

Smells like a PayDay candy bar thanks to the nuts and the syrup holding them together. Visible chunks of nuts add to the appeal. Tastes sort of like those bars that look like bird seed! (And I loved those things growing up!) Sweet, salty, and delicious!

It’s so simple but it could become one of my top 3 favorite Clif Bars!

Berry Pomegranate Chia

Smells like strawberries and raspberries, and I see the chia seeds everywhere! The bar itself is a bit hard and dry though, especially compared to the other new flavor (Nuts & Seeds.) Reminds me of one of the Kashi granolas with dried strawberries in it. It’s a pretty good bar, but not nearly as good as I was expecting based on the awesome name! If you crave dried berries and the unique crunch of chia seeds, this could be for you.

In the end, you can’t really go wrong with any Clif Bar flavors.

Clif Bars While Riding

Last but not least, let’s consider the practicality of eating these bars while out on a ride or run.

Good news – along with the good taste, these bars stay in bar form. They don’t melt and get nasty.

And I’ve never had a problem with eating or digesting a Clif bar during exercise. Powerbars are a bit easier to get down quickly, but for a casual ride, Clif bars have worked fine for me.

My final verdict is…

Clif bars are one of the best tasting energy bars out there. The texture is consistently soft and chewy, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a flavor that was anything less than “very good.”

I do limit the number of processed, sugary bars in my diet, but if you need an energy bar for use during hiking or biking, Clif bars work just fine.

Official website: www.ClifBar.com

Buy online: www.Amazon.com


Product Review Details
Company: Clif Bar
Product: Clif Bar
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Date last updated: 2016-11-02
Obtained Product: Purchased at retailer.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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coach levi
Hi, I'm Coach Levi. I'm a USA Cycling Certified Level 3 Coach as well as Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition. Want to feel better, ride faster, and look great? Let's work together!

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Coach Levi is my favorite child and favorite cycling coach. I'd choose him over Christoper McCarmikael even. Did I mention that Levi can coach you to a healthier lifestyle where you look and feel your best?
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