When I first heard about IQ BARs, I was perusing my Imperfect Foods weekly box options. I was immediately drawn to the company's clean-label ingredients and progressive approach to the nutrition bar market, but I was also a bit skeptical because this newfangled "brain food bar" seemed too good to be true. So when I got the chance to connect with Karo Caso, the company's creative director, I was excited to figure out these bars for myself.

The Story

IQ BARs began as a solution to founder and CEO Will Nitze's frustration with the limited ready-made options available to low-carb eaters. Nitze had adopted a low-carb diet as a solution to his constant headaches and mental fatigue, but he struggled to find a nutrient-focused bar that would satisfy his stomach and help his brain.

He also knew it would be important to make the bars high fat and low carb, with the intention of supporting brain function, sustaining energy, and avoiding weight gain. The brain-aspect of the bars is centered around six key nutrients shown to support sustained cognitive energy, performance, and health. These nutrients are lion's mane, MCTs, omega-3s, flavonoids, vitamin E, and choline—all of which were meticulously selected and tested in Nitze's product-design phase. 

The Bars

IQ BARs are currently offered in seven flavors, each of which contains 10-11g plant protein, 4g net carbs, and less than 1g sugar. The flavors are chocolate sea salt, peanut butter chip, almond butter chip, lemon blueberry, matcha chai, blueberry and banana nut. There is a slight variability in the brain nutrients and nutritional contents of each flavor, but the bars are all under 170 calories. Because the FDA has not issued recommended daily values for the included brain nutrients, the exact content is proprietary information. But since re-branding (and importantly, re-flavoring) in 2019 to be dually focused on brain and body, IQ BARs promise crash-free energy in all flavors.

The Taste Test

I was lucky enough to try all seven IQ BAR varieties, beginning with chocolate sea salt. The bar was softer than I expected, and tasted like chocolate blended with a hint of coconut oil. Next came blueberry, which was a bit more granular feeling in my mouth but tasted like a blueberry muffin in bar form. The almond butter chip and peanut butter chip bars were fairly similar in taste and texture, though the peanut butter came across stronger as a flavor profile. The banana nut bar is also pretty similar to the nut butter flavors, unsurprisingly. The banana element came through as a subtle flavor, but the overall texture was smoother than the other nutty versions.

I was most excited to test the matcha chai flavor, mostly because I generally find that nutrition bars with matcha flavors are either pretty chalky or lack flavor. The chai element was stronger than I expected, and it helped blend the earthiness of the matcha into the bar. I liked this one more than I expected, and the granular feeling from the blueberry bar had been elevated in this one to a chunkiness that worked better.

The lemon blueberry flavor was actually my favorite, not in the least because I'm a sucker for anything lemon. It was the perfect blend of light fruitiness and the hearty feeling that I expect from nutrition bars. The chocolate sea salt variety would definitely be my second choice, then matcha and the nut butters.

After trying every single variety and reading up on the science behind IQ BARs, I can pretty confidently say that I'm sold. The 2019 re-launch of these products successfully blends taste, texture, and health benefits into a nutrition bar that has happily replaced my usual post-workout snack. I don't know if I can say that my brain power has drastically improved, but I'm certainly not complaining.