Sunday, July 20, 2014

Why the Health Bar May Be Anything But

1. They May Not Contain that much Protein
Some meal-replacement bars may not have as much protein as you think. You won't find pig's feet or cattle hide listed in the fine print, but that's because they're hidden behind names like gelatin, hydrolyzed collagen, or hydrolyzed gelatin. Both collagen and gelatin lack an essential amino acid required to make them a complete protein, making the protein promised potentially inferior.

Look for a bar that lists whey or casein protein—or a blend of both—as the first or second ingredient. These milk proteins contain all the essential amino acids your muscles need. Baylor University researchers found that when men with at least 6 weeks of weight training experience were given a whey-casein mixture before their workouts, they built 50 percent more lean muscle mass over 10 weeks than men who took only whey.

2. They are Often Glued Together with Sugar:
 Many allegedly healthy bars contain high fructose corn syrup, which quickly raises blood sugar and cancels out any of the potential benefits you might otherwise get from healthy ingredients like oats. Take Health Valley Low Fat Chocolate Chip Granola Bars, for example. The main ingredient is brown rice syrup—a euphemism for sugar. You’re better off snacking on good old-fashioned cheese and crackers to swap out sugar and calories for protein and fiber.

3. They Don't Boost Energy:

Food companies out to make a buck capitalize on “energy’s” double meaning. Most customers expect an “energy bar” to make them feel energetic or like they could hammer out an extra set of reps at the gym. But to nutritionists, “energy” simply means calories. “Boosting energy is a completely bogus claim,” Bowden says  “It’s a weasel use of the word energy.” Unless you’re recovering from a grueling workout or running a marathon, opt for nutrient-packed snacks such as fresh fruit or vegetables.

4. They are Loaded with Sugar Substitutes:
To avoid the overload of sugar (#2) some customers will seek refuge in the reduced-sugar and sugar-free bars.  However, these may not be that much better as sugar alcohols like malitol and sorbitol can cause uncomfortable side effects such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea when taken in large doses—like you might get in an energy bar.  What’s more, “reduced sugar” does not necessarily mean reduced calorie—at least, not reduced enough to matter. Malitol, for example, has 75 percent the calories of sugar, and since it’s not as sweet as the real thing, more must be used to achieve the same taste.

5. Our Favorites
QuestBar: full of protein (~20g), fiber (~17g) and low in calorie (~200 calories each), and come in an all natural line that taste anything but!  These are my absolute favorite when craving anything processed.

Trader Joe’s FiberFull Rolled Oats Chocolate and Peanut Butter or Chocolate: these bars are all natural, contain a low amount of sugar (6g) a good bit of protein (6g) and a whooping 9g (36% Recommend Daily Value) of Fiber, all without sacrificing taste or price!