Reviewing Clif bars should be easy – eat them, and then tell everyone how delicious they were. But since we don’t all share the same tastes, that would be a disservice to our readers. So instead of just enjoying them after a trip to the gym or a bike ride, I have to make a few notes about each one, and also share a tiny bit with some of my associates, to see if we all agree on flavors and textures. Obsessive? Maybe. But before you hand over your cash for the Clif Builder’s Max, you’ll know what to expect.
Each Builder’s Max pack 30 grams of protein, without any artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup, trans-fats, or any of that other stuff we shouldn’t be eating. At 380-390 calories, they’re more than just a snack, and make a great post-workout meal. And they’re certainly more portable and convenient that egg whites or chicken breasts. Because they’re so nutritionally dense, (and quite chewy), you’re going to want to drink a lot of liquids with one. I prefer water, since the Builder’s Max already has 15 vitamins and minerals in addition to the protein, and anything else is going to add to calories, which I personally don’t need right now. If I was doing some hard intervals or an epic mountain bike ride, it might be different. Like taste preferences, your needs are probably different. With that in mind, here’s how they stack up on the taste buds.
My favorite flavor in the original Clif bars is the Cool Mint Chocolate, and has been since I first found them on the shelf at Trader Joe’s. If you like that one too, the Builder’s Max in Mint Chocolate Chip will hit the spot, but with the benefit of that extra protein. Of the trio reviewed here, it’s also the one with the truest flavors. Mint and chocolate will always be a winner for that reason. My hands-down favorite, although I’m a bit biased towards them.
Caramel Peanut. A bit light on both flavors, which may be good if you’re not looking to get overwhelmed with peanuts. I like them in my trail mix, but not to the point of overpowering other flavors. The caramel texture does get a bit lost in the rest of the bar, but it’s also overall pretty smooth chewing, rather than crunchy like a candy bar. Clif did a good job here of hinting at the peanut and caramel, without making them “in your face”, even if they actually are.
Last up is the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Thanks to the soy cocoa crisps, these bars have a pleasing, lightly crunchy texture to go along with the chocolatey goodness.It does indeed have a taste reminiscent of chocolate chip cookie dough, but there’s a slight aftertaste which comes on rather shortly after, that reminds me it’s a protein replacement bar, and not a dessert. It’s not so strong as to be objectionable, but if you’re looking to reward yourself with some forbidden fruit after a good workout, this may bring you back to reality a bit too quickly. On the bright side, at least it’s not some artificial flavoring that tastes legit, but is actually bad for you. That makes it a fair trade off. So it’s good, but not my favorite.
If you’re pushing yourself at the gym or giving 100% during your favorite sport, the Builder’s Max may be just the ticket. They’re a welcome addition the Builder’s family for anyone that needs some serious protein replacement. If 30 grams of protein and nearly 400 calories is too much, keep in mind that the Builder’s also includes a 20 gram bar, as well as a 10 gram snack size. All with the goodness we’ve come to expect from Clif. For full ingredients listings, nutritional content, and everything else Clif, go to clifbar.com