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Though I like to think my personality is as far away from "gym bro" as humanly possible, my slightly shameful secret is that I'm obsessed with my protein intake. It's the building block for almost any fitness gain, and when I'm lazy about getting it, my body returns the favor.
Yet protein shakes and bars have always been a struggle for me. Either they go too light on protein and too high on fat, tasting like an ersatz candy bar in the process, or they're so heavy on whey protein that they sit in my stomach like a ton of bricks. Beach body goals aside, when nearly every product makes me feel too sluggish to even enjoy my gym time, the verdict is one big old Not Worth It.
There's no denying, though, that few things beat the convenience of a grab-and-go bar. Try as we might to get our nutrients from whole foods, one less meal to prep amid a busy week is always a major victory. So when I saw the release of Mosh Nutrition Bars – which specifically market themselves as "brain fuel" – even my inner skeptic was intrigued. I'd noticed in the past that heavy protein shakes had also given me a kind of brain fog. And with energizing ingredients like Vitamin B12, lion's mane, ashwagandha, and Omega-3s, these seemed like a direct antidote to a problem I assumed came with the territory.
Could I dip my toes back into the fast protein world once again…? Oh, who I am kidding. They went right in the cart.
BUT FIRST, BACKSTORY
Mosh – smartly and succinctly subtitled The Brain Brand – was founded last fall by a mother and son. But they may not be the humble family duo you're expecting: it's Maria Shriver and Patrick Schwarzenegger, in fact. Unlike many celebrity founders, though, they have experience directly relating to the mission statement at hand. While Schwarzenegger has grown several companies as an investor, it's Shriver's decades of advocacy around Alzheimer's research that led to the brand's formation.
The bars, packaged in colors derived from the patterns in brain scans, were formulated with firsthand knowledge of what can lead to (and prevent) cognitive decline. Shriver launched the Women's Alzheimer's Movement, which addressed the blindspot the medical community had to the disease's disproportionate effect on women. Through encouraging novel approaches to research, new findings emerged like the possible benefits of a ketogenic diet and the negative effect of refined sugars on brain health. As such, the bars are both keto-friendly and made with zero added sugar.
Through encouraging novel approaches to research, new findings emerged like the possible benefits of a ketogenic diet and the negative effect of refined sugars on brain health. As such, the bars are both keto-friendly and made with zero added sugar.
Plus what's in the bar is just as intentional as what's left out of it – adaptogens like lion's mane mushrooms and ashwagandha bring a homeopathic complement to the findings based in Western medicine. Developing a following for preventative health measures can be tricky: we all like to see quick results, and staving off a hypothetical illness that could be decades off doesn't always carry day-to-day urgency.
That means product selection is going to be crucial for this fledgling brand, and protein-rich nutrition bars are a very savvy place to start. Take me for a test case: my priority was protein, not Alzheimer's prevention! Yet by the time the package arrived, I was fully onboard for the entire Mosh agenda, ready to see if both brain and body would appreciate the results.
After quite a few stints reviewing products for TQE, I was surprised to see the packaging for Mosh looked so… normal. Gone was the jewel-toned minimalism used by so many other DTC brands, and in its place were the kind of pictorials used by bigger, grocery-store brands. This most likely speaks to Mosh's aim to be anything but niche: Schwarzenegger has stated that he hopes the brand will one day be "the Nike of brain health."
After quite a few stints reviewing products for TQE, I was surprised to see the packaging for Mosh looked so… normal. Gone was the jewel-toned minimalism used by so many other DTC brands, and in its place were the kind of pictorials used by bigger, grocery-store brands.
Either way, the ingredients immediately caught my eye – and as a former keto adherent, so did the very helpful math for calculating net carbs. The bars seemed small, but given my experience in the past with hulking sandbags of protein, I had no complaints. All that remained was the taste test, and of the three flavors in the Trial Pack ($24.99) – Peanut Butter Crunch, Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch, and Chocolate Crunch – the choco-holic in me immediately sprung for the latter.
The Chocolate Crunch delivers on both halves of its name, with the pleasant bitterness of chocolate and the crunchy textures of almond, coconut and protein crisps. What instantly struck me was how light it tasted – because of the mild use of (all-natural) sweetener, the taste was clean and refreshing, not tinged with any post-sweet-tooth guilt. While it was dense enough to curb hunger cravings, it didn't weigh me down whatsoever. In fact, I was able to go for a run immediately after.
Peanut flavor infused every bite of the Peanut Butter Crunch, thanks to the peanut flour used alongside the titular nut butter. Even lighter, without the richness that chocolate inherently brings, this bar became my go-to at breakfast. What better time to get B and D vitamins, along with prebiotics, than first thing in the morning? And without rehashing the qualities of each bar again, I'll say that my favorite ended up being the Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch for giving me the best of both worlds. Anything that eats like a healthy Reese's gets a thumbs up in my book.
The mental benefits that come from these adaptogens and nootropics don't switch on overnight. No superhero origin story here – my brain still very much kept functioning at human capacity. But given the sluggishness and headaches I've gotten from protein isolates in the past, I was delighted to find that these bars kept me feeling totally clear and alert. Especially as someone who avoids caffeine, that's a big win, and a reminder of just how much natural lift there is to be found in simple vitamins.
In the end, what feels most impressive about Mosh is that it covers a lot of bases. It's not just fitness nutrition, not simply a brain booster – it's a toolkit for forming a whole new "mindstyle." So as I continue my pursuit for the perfect protein macro, I'll keep these in my back pocket. My old noggin just might thank me one day.
FIVE MORE REASONS TO GET MOSH-ING:
1. A portion of all proceeds immediately goes towards funding gender-based brain health research through the Women's Alzheimer's Movement.
2. The use of MCT oil and omega-3s ensures that every gram of fat is a healthy fat, the kind that has been proven to almost double the energy that flows to our brains.
3. The protein blend used in every bar is certified as Truly Grass Fed, meaning that aside from the cow's grass-fed diet, there are also no growth hormones used and the cow's milk is Non-GMO Project Verified.
4. Anyone sensitive to allergens will be stoked to know that these bars are also gluten-free, soy-free and kosher.
5. Mosh is so confident in its product that the brand offers a 100% Happiness Guarantee, aka a full refund within 30 days of purchase if anything is unsatisfactory.