There's isn't a ton of variety out there when it comes to protein bars. Most are chocolaty, chalky bricks that are more of a pain to eat than a pleasure. Their flavors are usually something enticing like "chocolate peanut butter" or "fudge caramel crunch," but when you actually bite into them, they taste dry, chalky and artificial. They just don't taste like real food!
The Tanka Onnit Warrior Bar is not your average protein bar. It forgos the chalky, faux-chocolate taste in favor of real food. Its two main ingredients are buffalo meat and dried cranberries, and it essentially resembles a hefty strip of beef jerky.
But different doesn't automatically mean good. We tried the Warrior Bar to see if this unique snack is worth venturing off the beaten path for.
Protein bars are mostly to munch on to build muscle and increase performance, so their nutrition facts are extremely important.
With 140 calories, 14 grams of carbohydrates and 14 grams of protein, the Warrior Bar is low in calories and carbs yet high in protein, making it a paleo-friendly choice. As expected with a dried meat product, it is fairly high in sodium at 520 milligrams—but this isn't really a problem if you consume it in and around sweat-drenched training sessions. The Warrior Bar also has 12 grams of sugar—less than most protein bars but still a considerable amount—likely due to the inclusion of dried cranberries.
The bar also provides 8 percent of your daily fiber, which is key for digestion, and 8 percent of your daily iron, which helps endurance and muscle growth.
The Warrior Bar's nutrition facts make it an overall attractive option for athletes looking to take in a good amount of protein without a ton of calories or carbs. But where do those nutrients come from?
According to the Onnit website, the Warrior Bar is based on a recipe "that has fueled the Lakota Sioux Warriors for centuries." In a time when eating like our caveman ancestors is the new big thing, that sounds intriguing.
The main ingredient of the Warrior Bar is buffalo meat. We've written in the past about the benefits of buffalo meat. It's naturally lower in calories and fat than most red meats yet higher in protein. It's also a big plus that the meat used in the Warrior Bar comes from prairie-fed buffaloes that eat an exclusively vegetarian diet and aren't treated with antibiotics or hormones.
The rest of the ingredients are refreshingly simple and pronounceable—stuff like dried cranberries, sea salt, celery juice, black pepper and garlic. The only ingredient that might raise eyebrows is "encapsulated lactic acid." This is a common preservative that allows the product to be shelf-stable and keep its taste. It's nothing to worry about.
No added nitrites or MSG are present in the Warrior Bar. In all, it contains only 12 ingredients, and eight of them are common seasonings and spices. After that, you're left with the lactic acid preservative, dried cranberries, celery juice and buffalo meat.
"It's nice to have an option that's guaranteed to have no nitrites, antibiotics or added hormones. The ingredient list isn't filled with chemicals, which is always a plus," said a STACK staffer.
OK, the Warrior Bar's nutrition and ingredients are solid. But is it actually enjoyable to eat?
In short, yes. The Warrior Bar has a savory-sweet taste, which the majority of our staff found enjoyable. It's sort of like a sweeter beef jerky with a slight spicy kick.
"The combination of buffalo and cranberries actually goes well together, and the spices add a nice kick that makes it extra enjoyable," one STACK staffer commented.
Another added, "it wasn't gamey, and the cranberry was a little strange but good!"
The Warrior Bar has a firm, chewy outer layer similar to jerky, and a soft interior dotted with dried cranberries. Some loved the texture, others found it a little funky. "I felt it had a texture that was natural and not 'beef dust held together by intestine,' as you'd get with a Slim Jim," a STACK editor said. Two of his colleagues thought the addition of cranberries made the texture a little "off."
The Warrior Bar was judged capable of knocking out mid-afternoon hunger. As one STACK editor said, "It's surprisingly filling; you can eat it and feel full for a while."
Most of the STACK team said they'd gladly eat the Warrior Bar again. "I'm not really a beef jerky person, but I found the bar to be tasty," one editor said.
"I loved them. I could eat a whole box," enthused another staffer.
Summary Judgment: The Tanka Onnit Warrior Bar is a great alternative for anyone seeking a different kind of protein bar. Its ingredient list is short and recognizable. It's low in carbs yet high in protein, and its taste is a welcome departure from the norm.
If you'd like to try the Tanka Onnit Warrior Bar for yourself, head to Onnit.com.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock