If you are familiar with the Eat Smart program, you know that we recommend the Quest bar as a snack or on-the-go food choice for our clients. The Quest bar is unique in that it has quite a bit of protein and fiber while keeping the sugar content very low. This is unusual for protein bars as the sugar content in most is typically very high. Quest Nutrition seemed to have solved the high-sugar problem while, at the same time, creating a great-tasting product. The bars have been wildly popular with our clients and people everywhere. Unfortunately, times have changed. Quest Nutrition recently changed the formula of their bars. They switched the fiber in the bars from isomalto-oligosaccharides (IMOs) to soluble corn fiber. Officially, they state a lack in consistency in the quality of the bars as the reason to change the fiber source. The IMOs did not hold up to heat very well which caused problems in transit long distances. They also state that the soluble corn fiber has more health benefits than the IMOs. This article and associated links show that the soluble corn fiber may be beneficial to our health. (Side note: Soluble corn fiber is NOT the same as high fructose corn syrup. The only similarity is that they both come from corn.) Regardless of the reason for the change, the bars taste different. Very different. We have yet to meet anyone who likes the new taste better than the old. My husband used to eat the bars every day as a quick breakfast. Now, he won’t eat them at all. I tried the cookies and cream yesterday and I couldn’t finish it. The taste was nothing like before and, honestly, just as bad as typical protein bars have always tasted. I do plan to taste each of the other flavors to see if one will suffice for me in a pinch. In addition to the different taste, the new fiber, unfortunately, has caused gastro-intestinal distress in quite a few people we know who have tried them. The last two bars that Quest produced before the wide-spread ingredient change, Smores and Mint Chocolate Chunk, were made with soluble corn fiber. They did not officially announce the change until these two bars were on the market for some time. I just happened to look at the ingredients one day and noticed the new ingredient. I searched for an announcement of this change for a while and did not find anything. Later on I found this relatively low-key blog post announcing the change in formula (described as their latest ‘innovation’) . The questions we need to ask, regardless of why the change was made or we like the taste or not, are: Are the bars still healthy? Yes, the bars are still healthy as far as we can tell. The new fiber seems harmless and may have helpful health benefits. Will we still recommend them? Yes, we will still recommend them, but with reservations. Since we do not like the taste, it’s hard to encourage others to eat them, plus, the gastro-intestinal distress may be an issue for some people. More importantly, can we learn anything from this change? Yes, it is a great reminder that whole foods will ALWAYS be superior to processed foods. Even if we find processed foods that have a decent combination of ingredients and the nutrition profile is positive, whole foods should always be your first choice. You never know when food companies will change their formulas and you might not be aware of the change for a while.