“Energy” and “Protein” bars are marketed as “healthy,” but they’re usually not!
Food conglomerates have (unsurprisingly) taken advantage of our grab-n-go culture. Convenience is key in this fast-paced world, but nutrient-dense, healthy choices are often lost in the shuffle. Before buying/eating something, I often ask myself, “Would my great grandmother recognize this?” If the answer is “no,” I become a skeptic and take a closer look at the ingredients. Not all packaged foods are filled with sugar and foreign-sounding elements, but (unfortunately) most are.
Surely, our great grandparents would not recognize any of the processed energy and protein bars on supermarket shelves. Their wrappers contain eye-catching, colorful images, but most of their “health” claims are misleading.
What’s so bad about bars?
In my opinion, the worst thing about most of the popular bars is the discrepancy between the label’s promises and its actual ingredients. (Aside from bars, this statement applies to most processed foods.)
Let’s take a look at a few examples:
CLIF Chocolate Chip Bar
- Marketed as “made with organic rolled oats,” non-GMO, and containing 9g of protein and “certified cocoa.”
- In reality, it contains 21g of sugar (almost as much as a two Reese’s peanut butter cups), sunflower oil (see my post on vegetable oils here), and so-called “natural” flavors.
Yogurt Honey Peanut Balance Bar
- Marketed as gluten-free, wheat free, containing 15g of protein and 23 vitamins/minerals, and having “40-30-30 balanced nutrition“ (meaning it’s a part of a 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein, and 30% dietary fat diet).
- In reality, it contains 18g of sugar (more than a 4oz box of Reese’s Pieces) in four different forms (glucose syrup, fructose, dextrose, and honey), fractionated palm kernel oil, and so-called “natural” flavors.
Peanut Butter PowerBar
- Marketed as a “performance energy” bar that is gluten-free, “max energy” (what does that even mean?), non-GMO, and having 8-10g of protein.
- In reality, it contains a whopping 26g of sugar (more than a Butterfinger candy bar)…need I say more?
Few of us would pick up a Reese’s cup or Butterfinger bar in the middle of the day and call it a “healthy” snack. However, we’re lead to believe we’re snacking healthfully when we eat one of these grab-n-go, highly processed, sugar-laden bars.
Personally, I’d rather grab a smart snack (see my previous post titled “Snack Like a Smartie“) that’s devoid of excess sugar, refined oils, and not-so-natural flavors.
As noted in the title, most of the bars I’ve found on the market are hiding either sugars or unhealthy ingredients. However, there are a few grab-n-go choices that are truly healthy.
Take Phat Fudge, for example:
Its packaging lives up to its claims. The original flavor contains only 2.5g of sugar, and every flavor is made with only the most wholesome, organic ingredients. (The original flavor contains the following: grass-fed butter, tahini, cacao, ground coffee, turmeric, cinnamon, sea salt, maca, raw honey, vanilla, and cayenne).
Bottom line: You are way smarter than any colorful, eye-catching packaging. Maintain a healthy skepticism as you shop for convenient processed snacks!
What’s your opinion on the ingredients in popular “energy” and “protein” bars? Please share in the comments!
In each blog post, I aim to bring you food for thought (pun intended. See: my day job), but don’t take my word for it! Click on and read all of the links above to become your own expert on this topic; knowledge is power. The more you know and understand the “why” behind each biohack, the easier it will be to stick to it and realize you can’t live without it!
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