Clif Builders is the Clif brand’s protein bar series, with full-size bars (68 g per bar) and Minis (half a bar at 34 g per). The full bar provides 11 g of fat, 20 g of protein, and 29 g of carbohydrates. The flavor, consistency, and ingredients are candy bar-like, which may concern health-conscious individuals. Read on for full Clif Builders review.
Clif Bar and Company is one of the early brands in the energy bar industry and is widely credited for this fuel format’s crossover into the everyday snack market. Clif Bars have long been a staple of our trail running and outdoor experiences.
With a few big goals coming up, I have ramped up training and have tried to be more diligent with post-workout nutrition and protein intake. So it’s great timing to try the Clif Builders protein bar series. The flavor selected for this Clif Builders review is Chocolate Peanut Butter.
What is Clif Builders?
Clif Builders is the Clif Bar brand’s protein bars, with full-size bars (68 g per bar) and Minis (half a bar at 34 g per). They come in seven flavors based on what’s available in the company’s online shop.
Each CLIF Builders provides 20 g of protein. The bars contain no trans-fat, no high fructose corn syrup, and no genetically engineered ingredients, according to Clif. They’re also kosher, gluten-free, and low glycemic, claimed the company.
Understanding Clif Builders Protein Bars Nutrition: A Detailed Look at Their Ingredients and Health Impact
Clif Builders Chocolate Peanut Butter is a 68 g protein bar with 290 calories. It provides 11 g of fat, of which 6 g are saturated fat, 20 g of protein, and 29 g of carbohydrates, of which 17 g are from sugars. It also contains a broad range of micro-nutrients.
It’s a hearty bar that packs it in. The high content of saturated fat and added sugar might concern more health-conscious individuals.
Let’s take this opportunity to learn a little more about saturated fat.
What is saturated fat?
Fat, along with protein and carbohydrates, are the three macronutrients the human body uses in the largest amount. There are three types of fats: saturated fat, unsaturated fat, and trans fat, all made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules.
Saturated fat is saturated with hydrogen molecules, which results in it being solid at room temperature. Sources of saturated fats include red meat, dairy, and plant-based oils such as coconut oil and palm oil.
Saturated fats are likely not as horrible or healthy as proponents from both sides made them out to be. While studies have linked saturated fat consumption to heart diseases, they’re far from conclusive.
Saturated fats are widely used in junk foods, contributing to their bad reputation. However, they also exist in healthy foods such as cheese and whole milk. Like many foods, saturated fats are likely harmless when consumed in moderation and may even provide some health benefits.
What are the ingredients of Clif Builders?
That’s a long list. While I applaud that many ingredients are organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified, some can be categorized as unhealthy. (We recently reviewed a Larabar, which only contains two ingredients.)
I’m also curious how this bar can be marketed as low-glycemic since cane syrup, cane sugar, and brown rice syrup are the third, fourth, and fifth most abundant ingredients.
Several items on the list caught our eye:
- Palm kernel oil is high in saturated fat. Palm oil farming is also one of the most environmentally destructive agricultural sectors.
- The majority of protein comes from soy protein isolate and soy protein. They’re plant-based proteins that might be superior to whey protein for pre-workout. However, Clif Builders Chocolate Peanut Butter is not vegan-friendly and aimed at post-workout recovery. One thing worth mentioning is that the cost of soy protein is significantly lower than that of whey protein.
- High oleic sunflower oil is a monounsaturated fat high in omega-9 and vitamin E. Possible benefits include the reduction of bad cholesterol and positive effects on cell and tissue health.
- Chicory root syrup, as the name suggests, is extracted from chicory root. It is a natural, low-glycemic sugar and may have gut health benefits.
Are Clif Builders Protein Bars Healthy?
The healthiness of Clif Builders Protein Bars is subjective and depends on your individual dietary needs and health goals. These bars offer a substantial 20g of protein per bar, supporting muscle recovery and growth, and a range of micronutrients. However, they also contain a high amount of saturated fat and added sugars, which should be consumed in moderation.
The ingredient list is extensive, with a mix of health-conscious and potentially concerning components. While the bars use organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified ingredients, they also include high-saturated-fat palm kernel oil and added sugars. The primary protein sources are soy-based, which are cost-effective but may not be as beneficial for post-workout recovery as other protein types. As with any processed food, these bars should complement a diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods.
What are the taste and consistency of Clif Builders?
Clif Builders Chocolate Peanut Butter is a candy bar disguised as a protein bar. The taste is similar to many chocolate- and peanut butter-flavored snacks, so it’s rich and sweet with 20 g of protein added.
I placed one in my running belt for recovery immediately after a 15km run. The texture is just right, not too chewy despite the chilly weather, and it held together well. The run and the pressure from the belt didn’t crumble the bar.
We recently reviewed another chocolate and peanut butter bar from the brand. Have a read.
Let’s get the bad out of the way. Clif Builders protein bars are probably not for you if you’re a health nut. If it looks like a candy bar, tastes like a candy bar, and the ingredient list is long and complicated like a candy bar, it’s pretty much a candy bar.
The good thing is candy bars usually taste good. Clif Builders Chocolate Peanut Butter also packs 290 calories, 20 g of protein, and 29 g of carbohydrates in a compact form factor. When going long and hard in the wild or after a tough session, something with a richer flavor and provides a caloric punch is not a bad option.
Due to the ingredients used, we wouldn’t recommend Clif Builders as an everyday snack for health reasons. But its candy bar-like flavor should hit the spot during various athletic excursions.