The name comes from the three disciplines in triathlon, but can also
stand for protein, carbs and essential fats. 3Bar is the
only nutrition and energy bar made by a triathlete for
triathletes. That’s Erin DeMarines in the photo, CEO
and founder of 3Bar, certified sports nutrition consultant, and an
It sure seems like Erin has thought of
everything to produce the healthiest, most effective nutrition bar on
the market designed for athletes. It claims to be vegan, kosher, wheat
free, dairy free, gluten free, trans fat free, cholesterol free, GMO
free, and all natural. Wow, is there anything left? And can it still
The Right Stuff –
All the marketing-speak is another way of saying 3Bar is made with
organic ingredients, is easily digestible, rich in antioxidants, a good
source of protein, and diabetic-friendly. Now that’s asking a lot from
a nutrition bar. 3Bar is formulated to deliver the right balance of
protein, carbs and essential fats to keep the athlete satiated and
energized during and after training or racing.
The Taste Test –
3Bar comes in two or three flavors–chocolate peanut butter (Cocoa
Crunch), chocolate coconut almond butter (Tropical Tri), and berry
peanut butter (Blueberry Blast). “Taste test” is a bit of a misnomer
because I actually prefer not to taste too much when I’m out there for
several hours and need some nutrition. I go for the plain GUs and tend
to grab boiled potatoes and PBJs at aid stations on long trail races.
I just need something with carbs, calories and nutrition that goes down
easy. Too much flavor makes me gag. So I ripped open a Cocoa Crunch
bar during a 3-hr. brick workout the other day.
I detected very little taste in the Cocoa Crunch bar. There was a
hint of chocolate and a small amount of crunch, but it was just what I
needed–something that’s easy to ingest and packed with nutrition. 3Bar
definitely passes the test. PowerBars are so difficult to eat,
especially on cold days, it’s a mystery how they got to be so popular.
I tried the Tropical Tri bar after a 16-mile run yesterday. I’ve never
been fond of anything tropical tasting and I didn’t care for this one,
either. But again, it’s not the flavor I’m after anyway. If I could
tweak the 3Bar recipe just a bit, I would make it a skosh more moist.
The bars didn’t crumble, but they came apart a little too easily. I
like something that holds together well while I’m on the bike or
At the end of the day, 3Bar is my nutrition bar of choice. I just
wish it was sold at a local store so I don’t have to pay for shipping
and handling. I’m taking one of my empty wrappers to the local running
store and suggest they order a supply. They always seem to be selling
new nutrition products. I’ll take the other one to the local Trader
Joe’s. 3Bar seems like the perfect specialty product for the
discriminating shopper at Trader Joe’s.
Since this product is all about the ingredients, let’s break it down a
bit. Cocoa Crunch contains protein from organic whole soybeans and soy
isolate, organic brown rice syrup, maltitol syrup, chocolate chips
[sugar, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, vanilla beans, soya
lecithin (added as an emulsifier)], peanut flour, peanuts, xylitol,
natural flavors, salt, and soya lecithin.
The 3Bar web site does a pretty good job of explaining what is meant by organic, vegan,
diabetic-friendly, and explains the benefits of soy protein. But it
doesn’t explain the kosher thing. In trying to understand this oddity,
I did more research than I care to admit to understand what kosher
really means. Here is
the full description of kosher dietary laws if you’re really
interested. Kosher foods are those that conform to the culture of
Jewish religion, but I’m not sure what benefit there is in a kosher
Note the 6 grams of sugar alcohol. Right under the nutrition facts there’s notation that reads, “Sugar
alcohol is a slow to non-digestable, naturally occurring carbohydrate
derived from corn, fruit, berries, Birchwood and other plants.
Individuals sensitive to sugar alcohols should avoid excessive
consumption.” So what is sugar alcohol and what’s the danger?
The key ingredient is xylitol, a sugar subsitute also used in Trident
Gum. It’s a natural substance that is absorbed more slowly than sugar,
making it diabetic-friendly and won’t give you the sugar crash. The
downside is that for some people, even one serving of sugar alcohol can
lead to bloating, diarrhea and flatulence because it is not absorbed in
the small intestine.
The other interesting label is “GMO free,” which has become
increasingly popular in the past decade. GMOs, or Genetically Modified
Organisms, stem from genetically engineering products for biological,
medical or agricultural applications. The biggest nutritional concern
over GMOs is the risk of allergic reactions. In other words, if you’re
prone to food allergies, GMO-free means 3Bar should be perfectly safe
Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve become a bit paranoid about the peanut
butter scare these days, probably more for my kids than me. Cliff Bars
were on the list of products to avoid. The peanut butter in 3Bar
claims to be ground peanuts and salt–nothing else. But since all 3Bar
products contain peanuts, I would take some comfort in seeing a note
somewhere on the web site explaining that 3Bar is safe and not affected
by the recent peanut butter scare.
Price — I found 3Bar for sale on The Vegetarian Site for a whopping $2.40 a bar, offering all three flavors. The 3Bar web site now
offers only two flavors (is BlueBerry Blast no longer available?) but
at a very competitive price of $1.50. I can buy a dozen PowerBars at
Safeway for $1/piece when they’re on sale. But at $1.50, 3Bar is
a reasonably priced alternative with much better ingredients than
You can find store locations nationwide on the 3Bar web site, but
there are no locations listed for California. I’m sure it’s just a
matter of time before the most health conscious state starts
selling the most nutritious bar on the market.
Before graduating from the University of South Florida, Erin DeMarines
became a certified personal trainer. Her clients loved the chocolate
peanut butter cookies she made from her grandmother’s recipe, so after
working for years on improving her product to be all-natural and more
balanced, 3Bar was launched in 2006. With projected revenue of
$361,000 in 2008, it looks like Erin has found a winning recipe and a
market for people who actually want something that’s good for you.
4 lattes in my book belongs to gear that will unmistakably give you a competitive edge, like a nice wheel set on your bike. There isn' t a food item in the world that can belong in that category.
But I' ll give 3Bar 3 lattes for having far superior ingredients than anything else in its category.
EveryMan “Gotta Have” Latte Rating Scale: Rating Scale (based on the amount
of lattes per day you’ll give up to buy this product)
• 4 Lattes: A must have product that will make your friends
jealous and your competitors cower in undisguised fear and trepidation.
• 3 Lattes: A very good investment that is well worth
forgoing a year or two of your children’s college fund.
• 2 Lattes: One of those products that actually does what it
says it does, but with the same pizazz as a Q-Tip.
• 1 Latte: The best thing said about this product is that I
wouldn’t send it back if I got it for free.
• No Latte: So excruciatingly lame that you would get more
value by crossing the street for some discarded and well chewed gum before
buying this product.
You can read more by Lynn Astalos HERE on the Blog I Swim Bike Run.