Protein bars- they are found everywhere these days, touted as healthy snacks but is that really true?
Let’s go to the video tape.
Disclaimer: it is tough to cook/bake with protein since it is a chalky substance that turns bitter and chalky fast. During my swimming days I made my own bars, using a base of regular brownie baking mix, adding Nesquick, protein power, almond butter, eggs..and bake it. Taste= outstanding! Marco nutrient break down? Questionable but at that time I was more concerned with keeping weight on than anything else ( ahhh those where the days!!)
During my very rudimentary research I came the following stunning conclusion!
There are 3 kinds of bars:
Group A or “damn the torpedoes”: We will give you 25+ grams of protein but in order to make it taste good we need to add 15+ grams of and 20+ grams of sugar. basically a candy bar with protein, but tasty think 400 calories
Group B: we are serving 20 grams of protein with a relatively low carb/fat content but we are throwing a chemistry lab at you to make it taste good ( once you take out carbs and fat for taste, you need to add sweeteners and artificial flavors to make it taste good).
Group C; We are having your best interest in mind, using only very clean ingredients but sadly this makes for a carb and fat bar with some protein added. Most of these bars range somewhere from 12 grams of protein with 25+ carbohydrates and 15 grams of fat making it a poor choice for a physique athlete.
So what should you do? Skip group B, you might as well eat ice cream with a glass of milk it is cheaper and less processed.
Use Groub in moderation such as when you are in a pinch at an airport or have a late night craving
Consume bars group C as a pre workout snack if your diet allows for it.
Ingredients to shy away from
1. Maltitol and sugar alcohols
For one they can make you queasy and bloated, furthermore, the term “Net carbs” is a clever little semantic gem the food industry cooked up. A loophole in the FDA code allows companies to label maltitol as non-sugars since they do not affect the blood sugar levels; therefore, they miraculously lose their caloric value. Again, if you are not a diabetic, this has no bearing for you but they make you gassy.
The only grey zone is fiber, but even that has about one calorie per gram so, if you are eating a box of Quest bars a day (who would ever do that?), it adds up.
2. Tapioca: That one is not dangerous but a sure sign you are being ripped off . Remember bubble tea,? The bubbles are made from tapioca starch, which is simply cheap carb. you can spend your money in better ways.
3. Protein mix: this basically means we bought a bunch of different proteins but we are not telling you the percentages .
4. Xantham gum: a polysaccharide used as a sweetener , often causing stomach pain/
5. Fractionated palm kernel oil: it contains lots of saturated fats, it is cheap way to increase the bars shelf life Look for cashew butter or almond butter instead.
6. Soy isolate Soy isolate is used as a protein in bars because a. it is cheap and b. it does not harden as fast as whey. But…there are actually a few different ways to make soy protein isolate, but the most common way is pretty disturbing.
Through a process called hexane extraction, the fats are separated from the soybean. This hexane bath the soybeans soak in is actually super dangerous.
Hexane is a gasoline byproduct that is extremely explosive… do you really want to eat it??
7. Glycerine : this one is also used as an add on for softening the bars, seeing it stable on the shelf and it helps with taste. While not dangerous on its own, it can cause digestive discomfort and should not be over consumed.
8. Gelatin or hydrolysed collagen is often used in bars because it is one protein that does not get hard as the bar ages, is inexpensive, and does not taste bad. Collagen is not a biologically high quality protein, meaning the amino acid profile is not optimal for humans. It basically means you are paying fro protein that you are not being able to digest.
In conclusion I want to state that while bars are food but so are nacho fries. With some bars, you might almost eat a dessert since the calories are the same . Real food rules supreme any day.