I‘m not a fan of “meal replacement” anything to be honest; shakes or bars just don’t cut it as a meal for me. But when PhD Woman got in touch about their new chocolate peanut (or Snickers?) and caramel crunch (sounds like a Crunchie, right?) meal replacement bars I wanted to see if they were as good as they sounded… macro-friendly bars based on my favourite chocolate bars.
Tailored just for women…
First up, aside from the meal replacement issue I’ve already mentioned, there was another thing that bugged me about this brand, and that’s the fact that it’s female specific. I’ve always had a bit of a gripe about female specific nutrition: is there really a need for pink tubs of protein powder? Why can’t women have plain-old whey like everyone else?
PhD Woman claim that their bars contain “a special blend of vitamins and minerals, tailored just for women”. These vitamins and minerals include:
- Vitamin C to help maintain a healthy immune system
- Iron to help reduce tiredness and fatigue
- Protein to help maintain muscle tone
- Calcium and vitamin D to help maintain healthy bones
- Biotin to help maintain healthy skin and hair
- Vitamin B6 to help regulate hormonal activity
Now, call me a cynic, but don’t men need all of those too? Sure, you may argue that women have a greater need for calcium iron due to certain times of the month, and also when pregnant… but then I’d also argue that meal replacements shouldn’t be on the cards at all when pregnant.
In fact, a number of other supplements out there (e.g. whey protein shakes) are fortified with an array of vitamins and minerals, and in order for any food to be legally classed as a “meal replacement”, it must conform to a specific range of macronutrient levels (protein, carbohydrate and fat), and provide a minimum amount of various micronutrients too.
So guys, if you want a protein replica Snickers or Crunchie… go right ahead – you won’t grow breasts or start ovulating. Promise.
Anyway, back to the meal replacement concept
The average woman should aim for approximately 2000 kilocalories (or kcals) per day, according to general advice, which, if you eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, works out around 500-600 kcals per meal, with 200-250 kcals left for a couple of snacks. True, some people choose to eat around 6 meals per day instead, but even then, at 216 kcals per bar these bars would have to be replacing a pretty small meal.
PhD woman recommends using “up to two Meal Replacement Bars daily at any time during the day to replace a balanced meal”, which I think could take a woman’s intake below their floor limit for macronutrient intake.
Taking that aside, with 14-15 grams of protein per bar they are a pretty good way of getting extra protein content into your day, and definitely a more macro-friendly replacement for a real Snickers or Crunchie.
Do they taste the same? No, but then they never would. Do they satisfy a craving while helping you reach your protein targets? Yes.
Onto the actual bars
The bars were probably a couple of the nicest protein bars I have had. I don’t think I’d be too popular in the fitness world by admitting that I’m not actually that keen on Quest bars (the apparent industry favourite). These are a much nicer texture, and the chocolate peanut one has nice chunks of peanut in too. The caramel crunch was more of a fudgy texture, but with a few sprinkles of crunch in the top layer, but overall was pretty tasty. My favourite would definitely have to be the chocolate peanut.
(I didn’t eat them both at once, honest!)
My verdict is that, if you want something that feels like a chocolate bar, but gives you a better nutrient profile, then the PhD Woman Meal Replacement bars are a pretty good choice. Comparing the macronutrient profile to the original chocolate bars that these emulate, then the trade-off of a Snickers for a PhD Chocolate Peanut is probably the best one. A Crunchie/Caramel Crunch swap would see you on similar macros in all areas except the protein and with a few extra calories – still worth the swap though, if you’ll get the same satisfaction out of it.
The bottom line? These are pretty damned tasty, but be careful when supplementing. I personally would suggest having these only as a snack, or perhaps to replace a single meal if pressed (but even then I’d suggest having greek yoghurt, fruit and/or nuts with it!).
PhD Woman Meal Replacement bars are available here for £1.99* bought singularly, or £23.88* for a box of 12… if only they did mixed boxes! Thanks PhD Woman for the samples, I’d definitely consider stocking up my cupboard with these for when the cravings call.
* Prices correct at time of writing.