“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. Note: my day job is teaching English), 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!
DON’T MISS A POST! FOLLOW ME VIA EMAIL, INSTAGRAM (@BIOHACKINGWITHBROOKE), AND/OR TWITTER (@BIOHACKERBROOKE)
13 thoughts on “Beware of (Most!) Bars”
Love the point about grandmothers (and the double entendre title). We’re not so far removed nutritionally from our ancestors that our food needs to be radically different. I’m discouraged by how much sugar/junk is present in protein bars and other “healthy” snacks. The uncritical look these products get from health organizations only makes the charade worst (see: “Protein on the go” in https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/good-protein-sources)
LikeLiked by 1 person
UGH! It’s so annoying that even WebMD is pushing meal replacement drinks (the worst!), cereal bars, and energy bars. So many well-meaning people are continually mislead by supposed well-meaning organizations and websites. It’s infuriating!
Hear hear! I used to eat these all the time and then a year ago i binge googled them and now i eat them only in desperate times! But – thoughts on Kind bars? They seem a whole lot more natural and REAL.
Sent from my incredible iPhone!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I definitely think KIND bars are the lesser of the unhealthy bar evils, but I’d still prefer to snack on a handful of nuts or chopped veggies instead of any processed food. For example, some KIND bars contain “vegetable glycerin” (https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/what-is-vegetable-glycerin/) and other highly processed ingredients. I just steer clear of the bars altogether!
If I’m in a pinch (read – lazy) I usually grab a Quest bar. The consistency of the bars is pretty terrible and they’re relatively expensive, so naturally they have to be healthy! 😬 I’m sure they have mucho sugar though 😢.
I’ve also had RXBars, available at your local Trader Yo’s, which seem to be pretty legit. I think they only have like 5 or 6 ingredients in the bars.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for your thoughts, John!
I just did some quick research on both types of bars. At a glance, it seems as if RXBars contain a lot more sugar than Quest bars (bummer!), but RXBars do have more wholesome ingredients. Quest bars contain unnatural additives like Cellulose Gum and Xanthan Gum.
I’ve recently been experimenting with recipes for my own freezer bars that I can grab when I’m lazy. Once I perfect the recipe, I’ll share! Stay tuned…
You actually make it appear so easy with your presentation but I to find this matter to be actually something which I believe I would never understand. It kind of feels too complicated and extremely extensive for me. I am having a look forward on your next submit, I’ll attempt to get the hold of it!
Thank you for reading my blog, Alex! I think the most important thing to consider when eating any foods is that we must carefully read all labels. Unfortunately, processed foods are labeled with qualifiers like “natural” and “healthy” when they’re really not. I agree with you–it can be difficult/challenging/overwhelming to find the right foods to eat. If you avoid sugar (at all costs!) and eat whole foods (especially vegetables!), you’ll be off to a great start!
hi!,I love your writing very much! percentage we communicate extra about your article on AOL? I need a specialist on this area to unravel my problem. Maybe that is you! Looking ahead to look you.
Hello! If you’re interested in chatting one-on-one, please feel free to reach out to me via the “Contact” page on my site.