REVIEW: MusclePharm Combat Crunch Bars (All of Them)
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about our fantastic readers, it’s that you all definitely want me to die. Before I even had a chance to digest the 220g of protein I consumed when I reviewed every OhYeah! ONE Bar ever created, I received a request to review every MusclePharm Combat Crunch Bar ever created. When I’m on my death bed (just my regular bed on any given night), I expect you all to come pay your respects, armed with a list of Oreos that you’d like me to give my final thoughts on.
Well guys, you’re in luck. My only current life goal is to look exactly like The Rock, so tonight I will be eating 9 more protein bars in my best attempt to do so.
MusclePharm Combat Crunch bars are gluten-free, multi-layered protein bars that boast the following description on their packaging: “Combat Crunch baked protein bars are made with a proprietary baking process for superior taste and softer texture. The bars are high protein, with low active carbs and tons of fiber. Unlike hard-paste, “taffy-like” sports bars, Combat Crunch is like eating a soft-batch cookie.” This will be sweet music to the hollow shells of Team #FitFam, who haven’t eaten an actual cookie since the very last time they were happy on the inside.
I don’t mean to be so snarky… I was once exactly like you. But cookies are now a staple in my diet since I discovered #IIFYM, a wonderful diet that encourages people like me to get as fat as they can as long as they track whatever they’re eating and post pictures of it to Instagram.
I’ll be ranking all flavors of MusclePharm Combat Crunch protein bars from what I liked most to what I liked least, then assigning an overall score.
Here are the macros for all bars bars: 210 calories, 20g of protein, 7g-10g ,and 25g of carbs. Subtracting the 12g of dietary fiber and 1g of sugar alcohol, we’re left with 12g of net carbs. If you’re wondering what the significance of net carbs is, take it from me: ¯\_(?)_/¯
I must admit – the fact that the macros are identical for nearly every bar makes me feel like these are Frankensteined together with “natural flavors” that everybody knows aren’t natural. This is nothing to worry about if you’re a human garbage dumpster like me… the type of person who would eat this many bars in half an hour for 2 new followers on Instagram.
1) Cinnamon Twist: Let me open with this: MusclePharm Combat Crunch Cinnamon Twist is a serious contender for the best protein bar I’ve ever had. If you only try one bar in this line, make sure it’s this one. What I’m about to say is no exaggeration… MusclePharm Combat Crunch Cinnamon Twist has a greater cinnamon bun vibe than Cinnamon Bun Oreos. It’s heavier on the cinnamon, it’s got the butter, the glaze… all of it.
MusclePharm Cinnamon Twist has a really complex flavor profile that put it leap years ahead of the rest of this list. I’ve been getting a lot of concerned looks for crushing Cinnamon Bun Oreos between sets in the squat rack, but I now have a more socially acceptable alternative thanks to MusclePharm Combat Crunch Cinnamon Twist.
2) Chocolate Coconut: When you’re on the beach trying your best to hide your insecurities, reach for the only bar with tropical fruit in it: MusclePharm Chocolate Coconut.
The shredded coconut layered in this bar makes it the most natural-tasting of the bunch by a wide-margin. You know what else is natural to me? Covering everything with chocolate. The chocolate tastes genuine and not protein-y in any way. MusclePharm Chocolate Coconut is a great balance between both flavors, similar to a Mounds Bar or an Almond Joy (because nobody eats Mounds Bars). In fact, I forgot it was a health product by the time I finished this and the three king-sized Almond Joys I packed for lunch.
The real coconut offers the bar some additional sweetness that keeps any sucralose flavor at bay. The chocolate is milky sweet and pairs harmoniously with coconut. It’s also painted like a Zebra Cake which will make the fat kid inside you very happy, assuming you haven’t killed him with all the rice cakes you’ve been eating.
3) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: In many ways, MusclePharm Combat Crunch Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough tastes a lot like a Chip Ahoy! cookie smothered in milk chocolate. Since my favorite workout is the one where I skip it altogether and eat chocolate chip cookies while watching the Food Network, MusclePharm Combat Crunch Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is one of my new favorite pre-, post-, and mid-workout meals.
Underneath that sweet chocolate is an undeniable butteriness that sets this one apart from many of the others. Given its chocolate ensemble, it carries more chocolate flavor than Quest’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, but therefore tastes a little less like a homemade chocolate chip cookie. Stuff these into your gym bag unless your workout partner is a blue Sasquatch with googly eyes.
4) Chocolate Brownie: MusclePharm Combat Crunch Chocolate Brownie is a exclusive as of this writing, so you must first navigate a sea of shirtless men to obtain one.
This bar has a more complex chocolate flavor than the other chocolate options in the line. Though sweeter than Quest’s Chocolate Brownie bar, it has an appropriate saltiness to balance it out and keep it from tasting strong on artificial sweetener. The crunchy chocolate chunks in MusclePharm Combat Crunch Chocolate Brownie make me feel like I’m eating a protein brownie studded with chocolate chips, and the use of cocoa butter offered this bar a fudge-like decadence. Since the closest thing to an actual brownie many of you eat is a bag of steamed broccoli, you’ll want to add MusclePharm Combat Crunch Chocolate Brownie to your rotation.
5) Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup: If you love Reese’s Cups but hate looking like Jabba the Hutt, MusclePharm Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup offers a fine solution.
With peanuts so high on the ingredient list, it’s no wonder that a smooth peanut butter flavor shines. The peanut butter was much more forward than I expected. In fact, cocoa is but the second to last ingredient here. Still, a sweetened chocolate flavor is pervasive and makes this click as a peanut butter cup.
While it isn’t my favorite Chocolate-PB combo on the market (that title goes to Chef Robert Irvine and the Fit Crunch Peanut Butter bar), MusclePharm Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup is still one of the better peanut butter protein bars out there. It deserves much credit because PB protein bars are really tough to pull off – about as tough as doing one seated crunch after reviewing 8 Combat Crunch bars.
6) Chocolate Cake: MusclePharm Combat Crunch Chocolate Cake tastes great but it’s similar to a lot of other flagship chocolate protein bars on the market. I didn’t really get the cake angle here. It wasn’t a deep and bitter cocoa like a chocolate cake base, nor was it hyper sweet and reminiscent of chocolate frosting.
Its biggest strength may be its balance. What puts MusclePharm Combat Crunch Chocolate Cake ahead of many other brands is that it achieves chocolate without tasting chalky or fake. This thing tastes like a milk chocolate candy bar with crunchy bits in it. Since many of you bros who stumbled upon this article are taking some form of them, think Nestle Crunch on steroids.
7) Birthday Cake: When I reviewed Combat Crunch Birthday Cake against the OhYeah! ONE Birthday Cake, I noted this bar has a creamy vanilla frosting flavor combined with that of Froot Loops.
It’s a little odd, but I don’t dislike it. The flavor is a unique and refreshing option in a market dominated by chocolate flavors. I enjoy Combat Crunch Birthday Cake slightly more than the Chef Robert Irvine’s Fit Crunch Birthday Cake (review here), but it doesn’t hold a birthday candle to the OhYeah! ONE bar in terms of cake-iness.
8) Cookies & Cream: MusclePharm Combat Crunch Cookies & Cream combines lots of chocolate flavor from all angles with an underlying creaminess ala milk & cookies.
Three words: chocolate cookie gems. It’s one of the ingredients here, and the creaminess that follows this cookie flavor is massive and lingering. While most bars use vanilla, MusclePharm Combat Crunch Cookies & Cream is the one where I really tasted it. It’s more cookies & cream ice cream than it is an Oreo.
Though it works as advertised, I thought the sucralose was a little too prevalent and made this too sweet for my fancy. When you’re about to faint on the treadmill because you’re operating on a legendary caloric deficit, reach for MusclePharm Combat Crunch Cookies & Cream to spike your blood sugar.
9) White Chocolate Raspberry: MusclePharm White Chocolate Raspberry uses actual fruit, which is real food, putting it at an incredible disadvantage against most other flavors.
The freeze dried raspberries give MusclePharm White Chocolate Raspberry a flavor with hints of raspberry jam without all the sugary sweetness. That’s its biggest downfall – it’s far less sweet than Quest’s White Chocolate Raspberry, one of my my personal favorites across any line.
The white chocolate component was a complete miss for me; there’s a faint creaminess but nothing like real white chocolate. Oddly enough, this is one of the only bars that doesn’t use cocoa butter or vanilla – 50% of the ingredients necessary to make white chocolate. Still tastes okay, though.
10) S’mores: I was so excited when this flavor was announced that I ordered a full box before even trying one. I thought I enjoyed the first bar, but soon realized I actually hated it. (Rule #1: Never order a full box before even trying one.)
MusclePharm tried to bring the graham flavor forward in Combat Crunch S’mores. The more you eat it, the more it tastes really artificial and not all that graham-y. The chocolate isn’t sweet enough to compensate and the marshmallow is nowhere to be found.
Pass on this one.
Bottom Line: MusclePharm Combat Crunch bars are high-quality protein bars with friendly macros and a unique texture – a premiere option. Most of the bars taste like candy more than they do protein, and the Cinnamon Twist flavor is arguably better than its Oreo cousin.
Now that the foundation is laid, I would love to see MusclePharm roll out some more flavors that stray away from chocolate. Nine of the ten flavors feature chocolate and draw direct comparisons to multiple competitors. Results vary.
One other thing worth mentioning is quality control. I’ve noticed some bars to be really soft, and others to be rather stiff. The flavors are always enjoyable in any event.
I highly recommend you give MusclePharm Combat Crunch bars a try. They’re basically candy bars.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go use the bathroom… if you smell what The Rock is cookin’.
How Much The Rock Is Going To Kill Me Rating: 8 out of 10
How Wrong I’m Doing This IIFYM Thing Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 out of 10
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